Without a doubt, the current situations we are experiencing worldwide are pretty crazy. As I write this, more than a third of the world’s population is under lockdown due to COVID-19, which is caused by the novel coronavirus. Depending on where you live, this could look different, but a majority of countries and major cities have closed down all nonessential businesses. If you’re lucky, working from home is an option, but for many (especially those in the service and hospitality business) this doesn’t exist. The numbers are heartbreaking: the number of positive cases and deaths keep rising, while those who have lost their jobs, been furloughed or let go is skyrocketing, and is just one side effect of the economic downturn that is likely to be longterm.
All of this, understandably, can be hard to process. From the jarring news and alerts 24/7, to the uncertainty that surrounds our every move, it can be tough to know where to put your energy, or how to spend your day without distraction. If you’re working from home, but have found the workload reduced considerably, how should you structure your day? If you suddenly have found yourself with plenty of free time, what should your days look like? When should we be productive, and when can we rest? Especially when the days seem to just run into each other!
For everyone, this moment in time has proven to be a restructuring of our normal schedules, and the outcome appears to be different for each of us. Personally, I have been struggling to be present at home, get work done, work on personal growth, and have been having trouble getting to sleep at night. I turned to the resources below, with schedules, ideas and ways to find inspiration during this period, that just might help you cope with the uncertainty that lies ahead.
Influencer and DJ Hannah Bronfman posted her schedule online, using time management to structure her day. As someone who works for herself, I find her schedule appealing: it breaks the day down into hourly increments, highlighting what you can accomplish during different times of the day. This makes it easier to focus, as sometimes it can be hard to spend all day working on one thing without shifting gears.
What’s great about this schedule is the allocating of time spent not only working on business, but yourself as well. Bronfman mentions moments during the day when she specifically puts away her phone and concentrates on things to improve her career and mental/physical health. Now, more than ever, is the opportunity we have to shape our identities and paths we take moving forward. This doesn’t mean that you should be productive at all hours of the day, but if that works for you, that’s great! Find what works for you. Let those business plans, ideas and untapped gifts we have inside of each of us come out: what skills have you been holding out on, sis?
This post from Refinery29 includes different activities to do during the day, like cooking, starting a craft, or finally hitting that home improvement idea you’ve wanted to tackle for some time now. All great suggestions, these are ways to also relax, relieving ourselves of anxiety during this time. Another great option is online classes. Whether you are in school or not, keeping your brain and body active is important. I’ve been watching MasterClass, which features some of the best designers, make-up artists, writers and more of our time who provide insights into their career and how they got there. Learning something daily has become one of my goals, and helps to keep my mind active.
I’m also a huge fitness junkie, and the closing of my gym has really affected my physical and mental health. Luckily, the Nike Training App is offering free classes and workouts, and staying fit at home has never been easier for me. I also love MyYogaWorks for online yoga classes, which you can curate to the level, body part/pose target, teacher and more.
While the above techniques have helped me learn how to distract and keep myself busy during the day, I found that at night, sleep wasn’t coming easy. Not surprising, I was stressed and anxious. Nights became an endless tossing and turning, and I would wake up exhausted, even though my days were not strenuous at all. I consulted several articles, like this one from the nytimes, which suggests maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and wake-up time each morning. Taking a hot shower before bed and allowing yourself 90 minutes of wind-down without electronics (phone, TV, news especially!) is important as well, and helps to transition your body.
Another great study of sleep during COVID-19 comes from uchicagomedicine. Their suggestions are similar to the ones above, but put things more in perspective: sleep is good for our immune systems. While it may be difficult to set boundaries for ourselves, especially when we are spending our days at home without a typical schedule and usual activity, maintaining a healthy immune system is more important than ever. Meditation and breathing exercises have also proved to be a source of calming down. I try to do at least 5-10 in bed before turning the lights off, which helps to relieve any of the stresses I have been feeling.
Using the ideas above has helped me figure out how to spend my days and adjust my schedule. As a freelancer, it has been tough to see most, if not all, of my work dry up for the time being, with uncertain dates on when things are going to open back up. This caused plenty of anxiety and stress for me, especially in the first couple of weeks, when I was completely blindsided and upset.
It’s taken me some time to come to terms with what I cannot control, but I still have days when I feel lost, that I am not doing enough, or when I want to do nothing. If you’re like me, know that it is okay. Use this time as you need it: if the schedules and ideas above work for you, do it. If only parts of it apply to your life, that’s perfectly okay too. Now, more than ever, we are learning what each of us are made of. This is a challenge, and unlike other situations, we’re all figuring out how to get through this together.
Taj Cutting is an interior and experience designer who loves to travel. When not exploring the world, she enjoys writing, kickboxing classes and eating more Mediterranean food than she can manage!