The way I see it, there’s only one silver lining in the coronavirus crisis we’re currently facing: We have a lot of extra time on our hands.
While it’s in no one’s interest that the world is on its back, on an individual level, we now have the opportunity of a lifetime if we’re healthy. Look at it this way. ALL your plans for the next three-six months are canceled. You only have today.
We’re forced to live day by day. In fact, most of us live hour by hour. We’re glued to our phones and TVs. We need to keep up with the news. But is that really necessary? You now have seas of time. Is that the best use of that precious time?
Think about this for a minute. Eventually, life will get back to normal. We will all go to the gym, restaurants, office, and so forth. We will visit our family and friends in their homes. We will shake hands again.
When all this is over, will you be satisfied with the way you’re currently spending your days?
Be brutally honest with yourself. Until last week, my answer was no. Like millions of others, I consumed the news all day. At some point, the message was clear.
But I kept on watching. Why? The answer is obvious: The shock of the news causes confusion. We don’t know what to do with our time anymore. To be honest, this is not something new. The stoic philosopher Seneca famously said in On The Shortness Of Life:
“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.”
We’re wasting more of our time than usual now. Ask yourself: Are the things that I’m doing while I’m quarantined worth my time? I’ve done that. And most of the things I did simply were not. But distinguishing wasteful activities from worthwhile activities is hard.
As an exercise, I recommend everyone to sit down and think about what activities are worth your time. This is a personal exercise. Everybody values different things. To give you an idea of how I spend my time, I’ve made a list of 18 activities that I consider worthwhile right now.
- Sleeping (a lot) — It’s not like you have to be anywhere. If you can’t get eight-nine hours of sleep at night, squeeze in some naps during the day. It’s good for your immune system and you’ll feel better. But you must adjust your mindset: Instead of grabbing your phone, grab a pillow.
- Working out — Don’t have a home gym? Turn your bedroom into one. Get a kettlebell and some resistance bands. You’re good to go. There are a million YouTube videos about working out from home.
- Spending time with people you love— I’m spending this time together with my close family. It’s more about being around people you genuinely care about. That will lift your spirits and give you energy.
- Learning how your body works — Everybody should know how their body functions. I also like to read about the latest scientific research about health and fitness.
- Journaling— It’s always nice to sit down at the end of a day and reflect. What did I do today? What did I learn? What am I going to do tomorrow? Answering those questions is the best time you’ll spend every day.
- Learning a skill— Always be learning a new skill. I started practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a year and a half ago. But I can’t go to classes now. I also picked up archery a while back. Fortunately, I have enough space at my office so I built a small indoor archery set up. I always want to learn a new skill because it reminds me that I’m always a student.
- Making a financial strategy— I like to read and hear about investing strategies of different people. Even though I consider myself a value investor, I still look at what day traders do. I’m interested in finance because I don’t want to waste my hard-earned money. This will come in handy when the coronavirus crisis is over.
- Watching good movies/tv shows— I sometimes make fun of people who binge-watch tv shows. I still think that’s a waste of your day. But I love movies and good shows. At the end of the day, I like to watch a movie, or maybe two episodes at most. As long as I’m healthy, I’m not going to binge anymore.
- Listening to music— I listen to music a lot. It gives me inspiration and energy. The best thing is to listen to music that fits your mood. The Weeknd’s latest album, After Hours, is what I’m listening to now.
- Reading— I start and close my day with reading. And I never miss a day.
- Talking about life— It’s nice to have a good conversation with someone who has the same mindset as you. I’ve grown to hate shallow conversations. So I don’t waste my time anymore on people who I don’t have a deep connection with.
- Skimming the news— Yes, I’m not totally shutting myself off from the news. I still want to know what’s going on. But I limit my consumption to 3/4 times a day. Last few days, I’m only watching the evening news. That’s it.
- Discovering new books— I can spend hours browsing books that I want to read. But I try to not overdo it. Otherwise, you’re reading more ABOUT books than reading actual books.
- Playing games— Board games, cards, or even video games. Do something that requires you to think and be creative.
- Laughing — I love some good banter. Life is hard and if you don’t laugh about yourself, you only make it harder. This is very important during difficult times. If you don’t know how to laugh, listen to a podcast by your favorite comedian. You’ll find out what I mean.
- Meditating— By simply observing your mind, you can learn a lot about how you operate during a crisis. How do you respond to fear? What do you think about all day? Simply observe and learn. That brings you more inner calm.
- Working on your goals— Every minute you spend on advancing your life is time you don’t regret spending.
- Creating something — Everyone should create something now they are at home. Think about what you can do with what you already have. I’m currently working on two new books and an online course. You can create digital products or services. But you can also create something physical if you have the resources. Be creative.
As I was creating this list, I noticed I can do all these things whether there’s a coronavirus crisis or not. In fact, I need to be doing these things.
At the end of a day, you must look back and think to yourself, “If this was my last day, I’m okay with that.”
Can you honestly say that? Look, it’s not about living every day like it’s your last. If everybody did that, we would have total anarchy.
Instead, make sure you spend your time well. Are you proud of how you’re spending your days? Answer yes, and you’ll never live with regrets.
Darius Foroux is the author of Think Straight. He writes at DariusForoux.com, where he publishes weekly articles on productivity, habits, decision making, and personal finance.
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