Being stuck at home is an opportunity we shouldn’t waste (100+ ideas)

Many people, like me, are finding themselves with extra time on their hands as they hunker down at home. Their job might be shut down or greatly diminished, threatening their income. For the first time in a long time, they have a great amount of free time, since they are not able to do their usual activities.

This is a great opportunity we should capitalize on. I often ask people what they would do if they suddenly received a million dollars. A windfall of money doesn’t happen very often and should be used wisely. Many people are experiencing a windfall of time. 

Some doctors will not fit into this as they might be, as my old partner used to say, up to their butt in alligators. Some though will get sequestered, isolated, or quarantined. Many of their family members will also be stuck at home as well. Others who do elective outpatient work, like dentists, dermatologists and podiatrists may not have any business to do for a while.

I have twice been in this situation where I had a lot of time on my hands. The first time was when I took three months off between residency and starting my attending job. I used the time to move, set up our new home and I spend much needed time with my family. I was making up for lost time during my 100 hour work weeks as a resident.

The second time was after I had an elective surgery. I could not go to work or do much of anything. I did not want to waste my time sitting around while I healed. I decided to purge my files at home. Before surgery, I set up a chair and surrounded it with my filing cabinet drawers and two big boxes, one for garbage and the other for shredding.

After surgery, I sat in the chair and went through the files, tossing out or shredding all the old stuff that was of no use anymore. Owner’s manuals to equipment I no longer owned, old insurance papers, tax information that was more than seven years old, and any other thing I filed that was no longer needed. 

By the time I returned to work, all my files had plenty of room for the next few years’ filings. 

What will you do to take advantage of this rare opportunity if you are one who will be home with nothing pressing to do? Here are a few ideas.

1: Catch up on sleep

Most of us are not getting enough sleep on a day to day basis. Now you have the opportunity to get to bed at a decent hour and not wake up to an alarm. Take advantage of this and get caught up.

2: Declutter the house

This is a good time to go through your house one room at a time and get rid of the things that are just piling up. If it is not adding value to your life, then you are just storing it. Either throw it away or give it to someone who will use it.

3: Do that project that keeps getting postponed

We all have things around the house we want to get done but don’t find the time to do. Now you have the time. Fix the broken item on the work bench, darn the socks in that pile, clean the garage…..

4: Read the novel on your shelf you bought three years ago

I have shelves full of books I picked up that I wanted to read. Now I can do it. Make some tea and sit in a favorite chair and just relax and read a book. 

5: Do something your spouse has been requesting for months

Some things take time to do and they fall to the bottom of your priority list. Your spouse would like you do it but doesn’t want to nag. You know what it is. Now is the time to get it done.

6: Learn a new song on your instrument

For those of us who play musical instruments, (I play the piano, guitar and bass) now is a good time to learn a new song. Every time I add a song to my repertoire I find a new appreciation for playing music and I have a renewed enthusiasm. It takes a lot of concentrated effort to learn a new song, so now that you have the time, what song have you been wanting to learn?

7: Make those templates on the EHR

I hated taking the time to make templates. But I knew that if I did it, I would save a lot of time in the future. I could get through my medical records faster. If you can work from your computer at home, set up the templates you need to streamline your efforts when you return to work. 

8: Learn something to improve your life

I’m currently reading a fitness book and have started the exercise program in the book. You could learn about real estate investing or some other financial topic. You could learn to dance via YouTube videos. It’s a good time to brush up on that foreign language or finally learn how to use Photoshop.

9: Clean out your email account

Almost everyone I know needs to do this. Having 900 emails in your inbox is not helping you in any way and uses a lot of your time every time you hunt for the email you are seeking. Go through each email one by one and either take care of it, delete it, or put it into a file for archiving. When your life goes back to normal, at least this one thing will actually be better than before.

10: Call your parents and just chat

If I asked your mother if you call her enough, I bet I know what she would say. Now is a great time, as I’m sure your folks have time on their hands as well.

I could go on and on about things you could be doing with this new found time. Things you can be doing to improve your relationship with your kids and your spouse. You could even read all of my books. Use this once in a lifetime reset button to take time to do the things you always wanted to do but haven’t found the time to accomplish. Don’t squander this opportunity sitting in front of the TV watching CNN for the latest rehashed gossip. Turn off the news and do something constructive with your time. You can watch the network evening news for 30 minutes every other day to stay abreast of what is happening in the world.

Here is a random list of additional things you can to do to help motivate you to use this down time to do something that is meaningful to you.


Watch a movie as a family

Play games with the kids

Help the kids with a project

Help your child with a subject at school in which they are struggling

Work in the garden/yard

Pressure wash the house

Paint the house or the trim

Clean the lawn furniture

Rearrange the furniture in your home

Take an on-line class

Have a theme party with the whole family

Put together a puzzle

Read that stack of journals on your desk

Wash the windows

Clean the baseboards

Prune the trees

Thin your closet

Learn to type faster

Learn a new skill

Write a story

Start that book you’ve been wanting to write

Try a new recipe

Organize a treasure hunt

Make a model airplane or car

Build a Lego monster

Deep clean/spring clean the house

Polish the silverware

Clean the garage

Shampoo the carpet

Learn a new language

Start a new hobby

Binge watch your favorite TV show

Darn socks

Mend clothes

Make a fort in the living room with the kids

Teach the kids to cook

Bake cookies

Read a book with the kids

Write a book with the kids

Make some crafts

Make a video with the kids

Skype your friends

Learn to use all the features on your phone

Set up the train set you tucked away in the attic

Call a friend

Make popcorn and watch a movie

Play basketball or soccer in the yard

Teach your dog a new trick

Learn to play a new instrument

Tie dye tee shirts

Make a quilt

Learn to sew

Make some Christmas/birthday presents

Plan a future vacation

Do the research for a paper

Have a push up contest with the kids

Do some home repairs

Catch up on the to-do list

Paint a room

Do an art project

Learn a skit and record it on video

Have a race

Learn a new skill

Form a family band with instruments made from kitchen utensils

Replace all the burned out light bulbs in the house

Write a poem

Organize your photos

Paint a picture

Make homemade cards (Birthday, Thank you, Christmas, Sympathy, etc.)  

Hand write letters or cards and sent them snail mail

Clean out that “junk drawer”

Knit a sweater

Start a journal

Write a short story

Interview your grandparents about their childhood and record it

Make a photo collage

Make a list of things you are grateful for

Review your budget 

Finish your taxes

Write a book with the family and each person writes one character

Play one of those board games that is always too long to finish

Read a book series

Learn to dance

Build a copy of your own house out of Legos

Watch a movie series in order (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings…)

Learn to make origami cranes

Do daily stretching exercises

Write a song or rewrite lyrics to an old song

Bake bread

Organize your spices

Redecorate the house

Take a long bubble bath

Paint some rocks

Have a tea party

Dig out your old favorite music and listen to it

Wash the dog

Do the crossword puzzle in the paper

Make a scrapbook

Update your Facebook profile

Write out your bucket list

Bake a cake

Learn to line dance from online instructions

Well, you get the idea. There are so many things to do that we don’t seem to have time for. Now is the time. Don’t squander this chance to get things done, get caught up on unfinished work or projects, and make fun memories with your family to increase your family’s bond. Being stuck at home can be a blessing to both your career and homelife.

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1 thought on “Being stuck at home is an opportunity we shouldn’t waste (100+ ideas)”

  1. There are some good ideas in here! My work schedule has increased with the pandemic, but I’ll consider this if things change in the future. This is a difficult time for many, and a perfect time for a lot of folks to do things they’ve been wanting to do but have had to put off.


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