As I write and publish this, we are in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Each of us is going through the same event, but it is affecting each of us differently. Many people though are asking some variation of “what should I be doing with my time?” or even “what should I be doing with my life?”
If you find yourself struggling with these same questions, here are a couple of ways that you can move forward. I have put these in order of effort required, as sometimes it’s easier to start small and work you way up. If you stop at #1, that is fine too.
First, it’s OK to not be productive. Give yourself permission to focus on taking care of yourself and your loved ones. Maybe reach out and make a virtual connection with that person you keep forgetting to call. Even better, this is a great time to cross things off your to-do list as things that maybe just don’t matter that much. Relax. Many of us wish for an excuse to just do nothing for a bit – consider this an opportunity to do just that.
Pick one thing near you that is not as it should be and do something about it. That could be something as simple as cleaning out your junk drawer or closet, or as deep as asking someone how they are doing and then really listening. If you have found yourself with lots of extra time and have not picked up that hobby or long term goal, maybe focus on it for the next 15 minutes. Try meditation or a pushup challenge, just something to switch things up a bit. I am sure there is something near you (or you yourself) that could stand a little bit of care and attention.
If you are ready for deeper work, do a brain dump of all the actions inside your head. You can do this on your computer or phone – there are some good apps for this – or just with pen and paper. I like sticky notes because you can then move them around. Dig deep and try to record everything. I have given this advice before but try to make each thing on our list actually actionable – take a bike ride is better than get in shape.
Try to imagine your ideal life. This is a great thing to do during a walk. Think about how you would like to be living 3 years from now. Include everything from where you will be living – another state, a new home, right where you are now – to who you will be living with and how you will spend your time. Use your imagination to really fill in all of the details. If you are interested in a structured format for this, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you something I pulled together as one of my own projects during this time.
You may have run across this next one before. Think of your funeral or your retirement party. What do you hope people will say about you – how you have impacted them, what you have accomplished, what kind of person you proved yourself to be? Go wild with this – what is left on your bucket list?
What each of these have in common is that they will help you get closer to your goals. We communicate to others what is important to us by how we spend our time. If you don’t overthink this and just do, you will be giving something your attention.
Now if you find it hard to commit to any of this, I won’t judge. One day recently I took not one, but two naps. I have also though taken care of some things that I had been neglecting. I bet you can find this sort of balance too.