The whole world has been turned on its head by the COVID-19 pandemic and we hope everyone stays healthy and safe. While entire countries are shut down or have severely restricted activities, it is only natural to worry about the unknown and what we can’t control. As one day blurs into the next, stuck at home, we realize how precious time is. In these trying times, there are five concrete ways to make your time count.
1. Be mindful
It’s easy to let time slip away when chaos is all around. To counter that tendency, pay attention to the present. Being mindful keeps our mind off past and future worries, while focusing on the here and now. Mindfulness means filling our mind by choice with things that are renewing. It can be as simple as appreciating the beauty of spring as we see the color of flowers and trees in full bloom. This type of mindfulness is the opposite of escapism, because it involves being wholly present.
2. Be thankful
Instead of complaining about what we can’t do because of “shelter in place” rules or being quarantined due to the COVID-19 virus, we can choose to be thankful for what we can do. One of those things is expressing thanks to family, friends, neighbors, and strangers, for what they are doing. Know a person who works in a grocery store? Thank him for making food and other necessities available for us. Know a health care worker? Thank her for risking her health and caring for those who are ill. Know a trash collector, cab driver, police officer, or other service person? Thank him for what he does to make your life safer and healthier. Write a thank you note and send it to someone you have not communicated with lately, especially someone you know has a small or nonexistent social network.
3. Be productive
One way to make difficult times count is to be productive. Routine provides a framework that you can fill with any activity or no activity. Within that routine, you can still set and accomplish goals, have deadlines, and work to complete tasks successfully. Productivity applies both to your job and to your personal life. You may be able to work from home and be productive for work. You may be laid off or out of work and need to structure your time otherwise. If you’ve been putting off certain tasks for lack of time, then now’s the time to do those things. Clean your apartment or house or garage. If not now, when? Ever want to write a book? Start by typing one paragraph today. That paragraph could be the first of many and the beginning of a book.
4. Be engaged
While physical distancing is a wise and necessary practice during the COVID-19 pandemic, it doesn’t mean you have to withdraw from social engagement. Find creative ways to stay engaged. Social media is a useful tool to stay connected with people. Call your immediate family regularly to share your status and hear about theirs. Reach out to people you’ve lost touch with to tell them you are thinking of them during this unusual time. Contact organizations where you are a member and ask what you can do to volunteer during this emergency. You’d be amazed at the valuable contributions you can make from home. Being engaged is a balancing act when it comes to staying abreast of current events. It is so easy to consume way too much news and get overwhelmed. But it is important to know perhaps once a day what is going on near and far. This information will help you remain engaged during the hiatus and be prepared to jump back into the routine once it is reestablished.
5. Be ready
Being ready is the culmination of doing the other things on this list. Have a plan in the event you or someone in your family or close circle catches the virus. Don’t hoard foodstuffs, cleaning supplies, or other necessities, but have a bag packed in case of emergency. Stay active through regular exercise, eat healthy meals, and carve out time for having some fun. Dream or at least think about what you want to do once restrictions are lifted, and get ready for that day.
None of us know what the future holds, but we do have a say in what we do with the present. Make these difficult times count, by being mindful, thankful, productive, engaged, and ready. You and the rest of us will be all the better for it.