Stay Home. Stay Healthy. Stay Sane 2: How To Be Productive And Not Go Stir Crazy.

This is the second post regarding staying at home. In the previous
post I discussed some happy things for those of you who are feeling anxious and afraid1 in these new times and listed some of my credentials for handing out this advice.2

In this episode, we will be looking at some practical advice for what to do while hanging around the house. Some of it will focus on being productive, especially when you are supposed to actually be working from home. Other suggestions will be more of a “let’s not try to lose our minds” stuff. I’m presenting it in no particular order.

Make your bed in the morning. I know, I know, we’re all supposed to do this and our Moms would be really upset if we didn’t. Still, there is a part of you that is saying “Well, crap, I’m not going anywhere right now, why bother?” The answer is two-fold. First off, it will provide you with a sense of normality. Even though things are very bizarre, you still own this little piece of the world and you can impose order over the chaos. The second reason is much more practical -- you are less likely to climb back into bed in the middle of the day and just sleep away your time.6

Shower and get dressed. Similar to the previous post, this is something you regularly do,7 so this will help you feel a little more normal. Feeling normal is important when the world is going batshit coo-coo bananas. Also, there is the distinct possibility that others (loved one, housemates, pets) are home with you. You will be getting on each other’s nerves enough as it is. Let’s not add stinking to the equation like that episode of MASH.

Limit your non-productive on-line time. If you need to be productive, try to stay off social media. If you are working from home, ask yourself, is this something I would be doing at work? If the answer is yes, then by all means, go ahead. I’m not jealous at all that you have a job where you can check Facebook all day.8 This is closely related to:

Avoid the rabbit hole. We’ve all done it. Hell, I make entire evenings out of this practice. However, if you are going to try and get something done, YouTube, Facebook, whatever streaming service you get, they are all going to be complete time sucks. It always starts with “I’m going to watch one video only.” The next thing you know, the sun has set, your phone is dead, and the dogs are seriously pissed at you for not letting them out for 14 hours. Conversely:

Binge and dive. If the goal of the day is not to get some work done, but is instead to not go crazy, then by all means, dive down that rabbit hole! Binge watch a few seasons of the British mystery show you’ve been meaning to get to. Clear off the frackin’ DVR.9

Alarms are your friends. When working from home, or just hanging on the couch, alarms can be your good friends. They can remind you when it is time to take a break, time to eat, time to stop working and do something for yourself, even time to just get up and walk around.10 Chances are you’ve got half a dozen devices with timers on them. Maybe you’ve even got one of those watch dealies that buzzes every once and a while to make sure you aren’t dead.

Know when it is time to stop. It can be quite tempting to keep working long past when you would have clocked out for the day. I have chatted with a number of people who feel like working from home doesn’t quite count as much as from the office, so they are willing to keep going after when they would have driven home for the day. Similarly, they work through what would have been their lunches and put off their dinners. This is not a good idea. You need fuel to survive. It’s how bodies work. And on that note:

Don’t Snack! No bullshit, this is a tough one for me. I’m one of those types who will eat just because I am bored. Try to avoid this. I’ve already heard the phrase “Self-quarantine fifteen” used in relation to the weight they’ve gained since the introduction of this foul disease.11 Use those alarms I mentioned before to set a time to eat so you are not tempted to get up every ten minutes.

Schedule. This is another one of those “create a normal situation” things AND it has the benefit of setting up a sense of accomplishment. Every time you cross something off, you have a little something to feel good about.12

Get up and move around. As hinted at in the previous note, it is good to move around a little throughout the day. Take the dogs for a walk.13 Go outside. Shake the cobwebs and the cramps loose. It will keep you healthy. I try to do this every 90 minutes or so.14 You’ll come back refreshed and ready to rock and roll.

Hydrate. This is something I learned the hard way. Sitting at home on the computer, it is easy to keep going back for another cup of coffee. Before you know it, you’ve killed a whole 12 cup pot all by yourself and you’re jittery as all fuck and can’t focus on everything and start writing long, drawn out run on sentences that take of almost three lines of a paragraph. My solution is to have an 8 oz glass of water for every 6 oz cup of coffee. That way you dilute the caffeine. Plus, you will be going to the bathroom hour and a half, which will make sure you keep moving.

Have fun and do something for yourself. One sure way to go insane is to spend all of your time indoors doing drudge work. Put aside some time to read15, listen to music, whatever you do for yourself. If you are having a hard time looking for something fun, take a quick peek online. I belong to a number of groups that routinely host watch parties for horror movies. A number of museums and zoos have virtual walkthroughs that are free. Neil Gaiman will read to you (and your kids)!17 Set up on online RPG session. This is a great way to connect with all of those friends you don’t see often because they don’t live near you.18 Go online and pwn some newbs.19

Don’t believe everything you read. Finally, get your news from a trusted source. It kills me to say this, being a former journalism major and all, but too much news in a situation like this can be a bad thing. It can be very tempting to just plop down and watch the news all day in an attempt to keep updated on what is going on. Personally, I feel that the 24 hour news cycle does more damage than good.21 Select a trustworthy source and find out what is happening, then shut the thing down and get on with your life.

Hopefully this is at least a little healthy. Stay well. Stay sane.

1 Which is totally ok.

2 Other than just being a know it all blowhard, but if you didn’t know that already, you must be new here.


4 Because I’m too lazy to organize it, not in a desperate attempt to get you to read the whole stupid thing.

5 That’s just a side benefit.

6 This may or may not be something I just made up.

7 It
is something you regularly do, right?

8 Ya big jerk.

9 People still have those, right?

10 You don’t want a bedsore on your ass, do you?

11 Not to be confused with CORVID 19 which is a fowl disease. Man, I wish I could take credit for that joke.

12 Pro Tip -- make the first thing on your list “Make To Do List.” That way you get to cross something off right away.

13 They will be thankful and will be less likely to keep bugging you while you are trying to be productive.

14 You can even set one of those alarms I mentioned.

15 You know that TBR list is huge. Now you have the time to attack it.

16 What? No giant pile of books you were looking forward to reading? I’ll just leave this link
here for you.

17 Having Neil Gaiman read to you is one of the great joys in life. Trust me on this one.

18 And who you might have missed getting to see because your convention got cancelled.

19 But try not to be a dick about it.

20 What? I said

21 For example, a ton of crap that is not newsworthy like celebrity gossip is now considered news because all-news channels needed something to fill the dead air with.

22 Yes, I realize the hypocrisy of me saying this. Shut up.