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
Make a fort in the living room with the kids
Teach the kids to cook
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
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.