Hello there from quarantine. You might be feeling some shame for being unproductive or lazy or depressed during this time of crisis and social distancing. Please allow me to make you feel better. I am doing this worse than you, I promise.
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Did you go for a walk in the rain on your birthday and cry for an hour?
Did you spend an hour making dinner then spill hundreds of peppercorns all over the food… and eat it anyway? (My mouth is still burning, by the way.)
Do you wake up every day with the best of intentions to do something productive during the day and end every night watching “Community” on Netflix, swearing tomorrow will be better?
Has your diet gone out the window?
Is ice cream your new best friend (cookies ’n’ creme, of course)?
Have you wondered what the point of “you” even is?
Do you find yourself saying ridiculous things to friends just so they keep texting or talking to you?
Have you failed at every goal you set, including the one to stick with a single television show for more than an evening?
If not, then you’re doing this better than me. And if you still think you’re worse off, I dare you to email me with your situation, and we can commiserate together.
But the truth is that even though I am a hot mess right now, I’m still making it through. We all are. If you’re still here, you made it another day. And that’s wonderful.
Admittedly, this has been a challenging time for me: socially, psychologically, physically, vocationally. And I’m pretty fortunate. I realize I still have steady work to do, still have a home, still have all my family members. So I don’t mean to be glib about any of this, but I do feel like I could be way more productive. Most days, I simply go for a bunch of walks and spend too much time on Instagram, then wonder where all the time went.
That said, there have been a handful of habits that I’ve accidentally stumbled upon that have been super useful to me during this time, and I’d like to share them with you in hopes of helping.
- Stick with something stable. This may be a day job or a relationship or a workout regimen — anything that creates a sense of routine and stability for you right now is a good thing. When the days blend together and none of us can remember how many weeks this thing has lasted, a little stability isn’t a bad thing. For me, this has meant maintaining my current work commitments, writing books and teaching online courses for writers and creatives. That said, work has been all over the place, but I’m grateful to have work to do and an online business that allows me to work from home and continue earning an income and helping others do the same. I am often obsessed with the next new thing, but having a few things I have to do each day has helped me feel a little less insane.
- Create something stupid. A little levity never hurts. There’s a lot of “productivity porn” being spewed out on the Internet now, with plenty of people telling you to maximize the time you have to make the most of this season. And yes, I’ve said similar things; if you have the capacity to crush it at work or home, please do so — I don’t want to stop you. But if you’re like me and feeling a little stir crazy, a little distracted, and sometimes frazzled, well maybe you need to do something stupid. Like start a cooking show on Instagram or learn a completely useless habit, just for the fun of doing it. Maybe you should start knitting dog sweaters or throw dance parties with your friends via Zoom. Whatever it is, it cannot be practical. It cannot be monetizable or useful at all. It needs to be stupid. Do it without guilt or compulsion to make it anything other than a silly but helpful waste of time.
- Have something new to start. Now is the time to begin. That writing habit. That blog. That book. Something. Something you’ve always wanted to create. Currently, I’m working on a new podcast with a partner that we hope to release in the coming weeks. I’m also working on a new program for creatives wanting to make a side income from home and a potential new membership site. I’m also writing poetry on the side that I might start publishing. In other words, I am trying a lot of different things. Why? Because, well, I probably have ADHD but can’t concentrate enough to get a diagnosis. Also, I think now is the time to try lots of different things that might or might not work. Insecurity and possibility always go hand in hand. When things are certain, there is less room for surprise. But when life seems uncertain, everything is a possibility. Yes, this can be a scary time for many, but it can also be a time of excitement and opportunity. I don’t mean to diminish the hardships many are facing, but because normal life has changed so dramatically, why not try a new beginning? There’s no guarantee that it will work, but that’s part of the fun.
How are you coping in these times of uncertainty? What stable, stupid, and new things are you doing to stay sane?
I’d love to hear about it.
And if I can make you feel better about your situation — because I swear I am quarantining worse than you — please shoot me an email and let me know. You can also find me on Instagram @JeffGoins where I am sharing daily videos on my thoughts on what you can create in a crisis.