How Not to be Useless (The Corona-Files #02)

It’s a funny thing time, isn’t it? Usually, we complain that we don’t have enough of it.

“Oh man, I would LOVE to do XYZ, but I simply don’t have the time…”

“I’m telling you, I have so many ideas, but I simply don’t have the time to follow up on any of them”

We have all uttered phrases like these at some point. And in a certain way, they are not completely wrong. Especially nowadays, life is stressful. We work longer and harder, even though we get less out of it than previous generations (thanks, Capitalism!). If we have children, we are happy if we get to spend any time with them at all. Therefore, it does seem like there is no time for any sort of hobbies at all. Well, until Corona turned the whole world upside down of course.

The Pitfalls of Suddenly Having Time

Nowadays, we face a new problem. In the Corona-Age, most of us are confined to our homes. Sure, there is home-office and online classes, but because we don’t have to travel anywhere anymore there are suddenly many more additional hours in our day. Thus, one would assume that our problem with time would be solved. Finally, we have the time to do XYZ! We have the time to work out our many creative ideas, to learn an instrument, or a new language…

However, as it turns out there is one more problem: Our own minds. We are very easily overwhelmed, and even if we say to ourselves, “Great, now I am going to XYZ every day starting tomorrow” chances are that we will never actually do that. Alternatively, we may start, let’s say, a piano course and follow it for one, maybe two days before we give up on it again.

How do we avoid falling into the black hole of procrastination? The answer to that is actually quite simple, yet its importance is often underestimated by most of us: effective time management.

Step 1: Set yourself a Schedule

The first thing I would advice you to do, is to set yourself a schedule. I did the same a couple of days ago:

Bildschirmfoto 2020-03-22 um 10.44.57

As you can see, I tried to fill my days with as much activities as possible. I will still have to adjust the schedule slightly in the following days as I have just very recently started working as an English translator for a Luxembourgish news site, and therefore I will have to fit in some shifts for them.

I want to focus on two main points:

  1. How did I set up this schedule?
  2. How do I apply it in daily life?

In this post, I will take you through the process of setting up a schedule, using my own as an example. We will then look at applying our schedule in daily life in the next post.

What to keep in mind when setting up a schedule

The first things you should fix in your schedule are the ones that are “not up for debate”. In my case, this applied to the online classes from my school and lunch breaks. So let’s fill those in first!

Bildschirmfoto 2020-03-22 um 11.04.51

I decided to use one-hour time slots for simplicity’s sake, but sometimes it doesn’t quite work out. For instance, you can see that on Tuesday my BiT class starts at 9:20 AM, not 9:00 AM. In those cases, I put in a little clarification. For the next slots, I would think about something you would like to do after waking up. For me that was meditation and Spanish lessons. Every morning after waking up, I meditate for about 20 minutes followed by some quick Spanish exercises in an app on my phone.

Bildschirmfoto 2020-03-22 um 11.05.44

Oh, wait. Are you seeing what I’m seeing? My little morning routine doesn’t fit in on Tuesday and Wednesday! That’s not a problem at all actually, but we’ll get back to it later. For now, let’s fill in some of those late afternoons because as you can see, so far I don’t have much going on there. In the past, I started getting into piano playing a little bit, but I never really had the time to fully invest myself in that hobby. So why not make that a daily thing from now on?

Bildschirmfoto 2020-03-22 um 11.15.12

Now, most of you know that I like to write. Here on just thoughts of course, but also my own books from time to time. It’s great and all, but I do suffer from quite an irregular rhythm from time to time. When I look at this schedule, I notice that I often have some free time in the mornings, so why not use that to my advantage?Bildschirmfoto 2020-03-22 um 11.20.18

Great, now my mornings are pretty much taken care of! However, when it comes to the afternoons, there is definitely still some room for improvement. Well, I definitely need some time to do all of the homework for my online classes, and I should probably also spend some time studying for my BiT Oral Exam this summer (should it ever take place). So let’s put those right after lunch!

Bildschirmfoto 2020-03-22 um 15.16.22

 

Alright, that’s starting to look quite good already! Now, let’s see: As of right now, I have put down time slots for meditation, writing, online classes, lunch, studying, and practicing the piano. All quite “intellectual” stuff, isn’t it? Yes, I should definitely practice some sort of physical activity each day.

Bildschirmfoto 2020-03-22 um 15.16.48

Okay, so we’re almost done. When I look at this schedule now, there are two things that I notice:

  1. My evenings are still unaccounted for.
  2. There is still the problem of where to put my meditation and Spanish lessons on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The first issue is easily resolved. Since I am now quite busy throughout each day I feel like the evenings are the perfect time to just relax, watch some films, read some books, or whatever. Thus, I am simply going to declare them as “leisure time”. Regarding the Tuesday-Wednesday situation, I am going to solve it like this: On Tuesdays, I am going to swap out one of the piano practices for the meditation and Spanish lessons, and on Wednesdays I am going to split them up. I don’t feel like meditating before lunch, so I am going to practice my Spanish after the online classes, and meditate between 2:00 and 3:00 PM.

Bildschirmfoto 2020-03-22 um 10.44.57

And there we go! Now I have a fairly thorough schedule for my isolation period. You can inspire yourself by my thought process to create your own schedule, or you can go about it in a different way. Here are some bullet points that I would generally keep in mind:

  • Start your days off right. Meditation, or some light physical activity are great ways to create a positive mindset for the rest of your day. You’d be surprised how much a good start to your day can change your whole experience!
  • Change it up. Our minds are restless, and tend to get bored quite easily. If possible, try to include different activities throughout your day. For instance, try to include some sort of physical activity after intellectual work.
  • If possible, plan a maximum of two hours for each activity. I know that sometimes this just isn’t possible, but if you can, try and diversify your activities as much as possible!

I designed my schedule myself in Excel. You can work out your own, or if you want to save some time you can download mine as a template right here:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/7579eeg1pnutuwz/AADni_lEs7vlK_Sozcbn8G-pa?dl=0

Okay, so now we have a super awesome schedule, but how should we actually go about applying it to our daily lives? We’ll tackle this topic in the next post, so if you’re interested, maybe now would be a great time to subscribe to the blog! 🙂

See you soon

– T.W.

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My website: https://webertom.com/

Follow me on Instagram: @weber.tom55

2 thoughts on “How Not to be Useless (The Corona-Files #02)

  1. I love this! I work from home regularly so coronavirus hasn’t affected my day to day as much as others. But working from home all the time can be tough so I have gotten myself into a daily schedule and routine to keep myself productive without feeling chained to my desk. Thanks for sharing your routine!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you very much for you kind comment! Our situations are fairly similar then. I also love working from home, but it is exactly as you pointed out – it does require a little bit of extra self-discipline haha
    Once you get into a nice rhythm though, productivity really flows much easier :))

    Like

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