The COVID-19 virus is a big enough threat to people, and at this point we’re unsure how it travels, that most states have asked businesses and schools and their own offices to close down until April. The purpose is to limit contact so the virus doesn’t have a way to jump and infect people. The result is a lot of time on our hands at home while you are actually feeling healthy enough to do stuff.

TV is boring. Complaining and social media both ruin our moods. Here are a few things you can do to feel productive and improve your quality of life. Lots of people think this time without a lot of expectations or demands is going to be personally really fulfilling.

Around the House:

  • Improve your mind! The big 8 Ivy League colleges made their courses available through Coursera. Click here for a full list of courses and easy access to get started. These universities now offer free online courses across multiple online platforms called MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses. Take Columbia University’s Big Data and Education course, Yale’s offering for Introduction to Negotiation: A Strategic Playbook for Becoming a Principled and Persuasive Negotiator or very relevantly, Harvard’s Humanitarian Response to Conflict and Disaster. Several offer certificates and are real courses with teachers and assignments. Try it out and see how smart you get before you’re called back to work.
  • Clean your screens. It’s not exciting but it keeps you busy and when you get back in the house, you’ll enjoy the bright light and how much cleaner the whole place feels. You can be sure Clorox has some handy tips on how to clean the windows and mirrors. Today do the outside, tomorrow you can do the inside!
  • Clean out closets! It is amazing how great it feels to clear out closets and cabinets that have been crammed for years. Think of all that space you get back. And your mind will actually feel more relaxed knowing those spaces are yours again and that nagging To Do item is checked off. The items you haven’t been using can go on resale sites like, and you can even make a little money at the same time. Be smart about having people over to the house of course:
    • set a firm appointment for them to come over to see your items
    • take the items outside if possible so you don’ thave new people leaving their germs all over your place
    • sanitize your hands before you come back in the house after helping them load things in their car
    • avoid handshakes
  • Change out your old lightbulbs for LED bulbs: This might take a few days to order in from Amazon or Home Depot, but this is a perfect time to get the ladder out, and improve your home’s energy efficiency. LED bulbs now come in more watt equivalents and are dimmable so you can vastly improve the mood of your home. Since you’re up there, it’s easy to dust out those old cobwebs, too.

Enjoy the little joys:

  • Puzzles: We won’t tell if you don’t have any kids to do a puzzle with. They’re a happy challenge and clear the mind, and you end up with a little accomplishment. When was the last time you had enough time to put 2000 pieces in the right places?
  • Read a book! Not on your Kindle. An actual book! With pages. You probably have some around somewhere. You’re not late for anything and you just cleaned out a closet, so you probably found something.
  • Bake something. Take a look at that pantry you just stocked up. If you can find flour in there, then anything else you can get your hands on can become a bread or a pie or an invention all of your own. The Pantry Recipes on is really clever and flexible for making the most out of those cans of beans and extra soups.
  • Decorate a Spring Tree! Why not? You’ve got some time on your hands and you were already cleaning out the closet so set up the tree and have the kids make Easter and Springtime ornaments.
  • Make a dollhouse out of cardboard: You certainly should have a lot of cardboard around from all those Amazon shipments of hand sanitizer. Put those boxes and all that creative energy to work for the fun and enjoyment of the kids and their stuffies. Make the house you always dreamed of! Just add tape!

Connect with others:

Going to church is out, having a party is out, going to a party is out, so are vacations and road trips and bumping into friends at the grocery store. But here are some meaningful ways to stay in touch while everyone is distancing from social contact:

  • Call friends: You know they have time to sit and visit, too! You’re not interrupting anything! You’ve been thinking about them so pick up the phone and settle in for a nice long chat. Ask about family and about what’s on their mind. It’s a gift to let someone talk about their concerns because you might be able to help them, but also just talking about worries or fears goes a long way toward releasing anxieties and tensions.
  • Take yourself for a walk: No dogs required. There are bound to be others out because they need exercise and the walls are closing in. Wave and catch up with neighbors. They might know of another neighbor who needs help getting food or other resources. They might have ideas for things to do around the neighborhood. Or they might share a laugh with you. Between the fresh air and a neighborly laugh, you’ll feel refreshed when you get back home. If your enforced family time is driving you nuts, a solo walk gives you a little mental space, too.
  • Stay off social media. Even the best of us having trouble minding their manners on social media. Don’t let the toxicity ruin your day.

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