A COVID-19 Bucket List
Ten things to do before we're released back out into the wild
So, here we all are – at home.
For many of us, this is a maddening experience. Being stuck inside, all day, either by yourself, or a house full of children. Both can probably bring you to the brink of madness. Prior to the shelter-in-place ord, with all the outside relationships we have in our lives, it probably seemed impossible to get any alone (or family) time. But for better or worse, now's your chance! By this time, each of us has been quarantined for about a month. Outside of a trip to the store, or my business (or the occasional walk outside when it gets above 30 degrees), most of my time has been spent within the walls of my brick home. This isn't the best place for me. Not necessarily because of the lack of human connection (I do so miss my family and friends) but moreover because I'm a goal-oriented person. I feel productive when I accomplish something. It doesn't have to be monumental, but knowing I checked some boxes at the end of the day gives me some peace of mind. As such, I'm trying to find ways to do this in my house. It's been a challenge, but so far, I've completed or am working on ten of them. Some of them are silly, some of them are more meaningful, but all of them fill some of the void during this time. I wanted to share this list with you – because if you're anything like me, these small things will help pass the time (and check that box). And invite you to share your ideas and/or photos with all of them.
Except number 10.
1. BUILD A PILLOW FORT
This simple idea is at the top of my list. Just because I love it. This goes for adults and children alike. In my adult world, pillow forts are still the rage. Bed pillows, couch pillows, throw pillows — all equal opportunists. Sheets, blankets, towels, tablecloths, etc..- now is the time to be innovative! Form and function is important – I recommend being able to see the television (or at least have a laptop or iPad); then pop some popcorn, grab some snacks, crawl inside, start a classic/funny/scary flick and curl up for the day/night. Now go forth, pillow fort-ers and report back your experiences. Seriously, I want pictures.
2. LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
I recognize this might be a little tough to dedicate to. But I'm not talking about having full-blown conversations in German. Even taking the time to learn a few words or a few phrases will give you something to throw out from time to time in random conversation. I always wanted to learn Italian, so I downloaded Rocket Languages on my phone (rocketlanguages.com) and I listen to an episode once a week when I head to bed. It's a great alternative to scrolling through Facebook, plus your brain learns better at night. And since these days, everyone always asks how we're doing, my new phrase as of late is, "abbastanza bene, grazie" (I'm alright/okay – thank you).
3. EXPERIMENT IN THE KITCHEN
I don't know about you guys, but as much as I'm a planner by trade, I was NEVER a planner when it came to preparing for dinner. Or lunch. Or breakfast. I enjoy eating out and my schedule was always a bit more hectic prior to the pandemic. As of late I've been looking for different recipes to try out. Sometimes, something as simple as making a new meal or dish can bring a sense of accomplishment for the day. I recommend looking for a family recipe you have yet to test out. Even a simple dish. The smell of home-cooked food is always welcoming, and you'll be surprised at how nostalgic (and comforting) it can be.
Now this seemingly falls into the category above, but for the sake of argument, let's just separate sweets from everything else. Take the time to bake a cake, a new type of cookie, a classic cookie, fresh banana bread – anything. Your tomorrow self will thank you for it. Anything homemade is always heartwarming – for just yourself or your entire family. And eat it without guilt. I just made homemade chocolate chip cookies the other day. And it's a delightful little thing to enjoy with my first cup of coffee in the morning.
5. TRAVEL – WITHOUT LEAVING YOUR HOUSE (YET)
Now is a great time to pick a trip that needs to be booked one year out. Plan for a safari, a trip to the Galapagos, go island hopping in Indonesia. Although we all enjoy spontaneity from time to time, some things take a little more effort and coordination. You'll be able to figure out all the exciting things you'll want to do – along or with a significant other – and enjoy the preparation element of it until the day arrives.
6. CREATE A LIST OF LIFE GOALS
Now is the time to put pen to paper and determine what are some of the things you really want to do with your time on Earth. This isn't about adding pressure to your life, it's about stretching your imagination and seeing where you can take yourself.
7. READ A BOOK
This may seem so simplistic in design, but for so many of us, reading is a past-time. Not scanning headlines and paragraph long Instagram stories – but an actual PAPER book. Something classic, something on the best-seller list – something trashy. It doesn't matter. Just read something from cover to cover. It's an accomplishment and it pulls you away (once again) from the computer. Bonus points if you can get through War and Peace.
8. TAKE ON A HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
Now is the perfect time to finish your home office. For weeks I was working at the dining room table and after a while it got, well, a little bit depressing. I opted to take one of the extra bedrooms upstairs and change it up. While this wasn't a massive undertaking (I ordered a desk and chair from Wayfair), I was able to re-arrange a few other things so the ambiance just "feels" more productive. And if you're more ambitious than I am, think about the thrill you'll get when you walk into that freshly painted room, your remodeled outdoor patio, the fresh mulch and yard work you can get done now while you have the time, knowing you did it all yourself, will be worth it.
9. GET DRESSED UP AND STAY IN
This may seem counterintuitive, however, if you're like me, you're probably out of your regular routine (I'm wearing jeans and a hat almost every day). And disrupted routines can disrupt our sense of self as we identify often by what we do almost every single day. And many of us feel out of sorts (I do right now). But something as simple as going back to what you knew every day (even one day a week) can make a world of difference. So, get up, take a shower and get dressed for work. And then stay home.
This is going to be the hardest for all of us (myself included) but for a few hours or one day (gasp!) turn off your phone, computer, TV, and everything else so that you can simply be alone – with yourself. When we are on our phones or social media, most of our attention goes to mindless scrolling, wishing for things that don't really matter, and wasting time unnecessarily. As such, the need to disconnect becomes that more important. If you can't commit – even something small like taking Facebook off your phone will be rewarding. You'll be surprised at how addicted you are to it (you may have to consciously remind yourself to stop reaching for your phone or to see if anyone has liked your last post) but once you do this and commit to it for any period of time, you'll recognize your senses open up just a bit more. You'll start to notice the tiny details, life seems a little more at peace, and you'll enjoy the meal you're having without worrying whether or not you took a good photo of it.
Rebecca Styn is the proprietor of Room 33 Speakeasy. She is also VP of Ventures at Erie Innovation District and completing her Ph.D. in Leadership and Organizational Learning from Gannon University. Follow Rebecca on Twitter at @rstyn.