If your lifestyle and work schedule is like mine, this Covid-19 lockdown must be giving you at least 2 hours of extra time every day (less travel!). If your job has been impacted due to the pandemic, then that extra time will be higher. Some people are making the best use of this time – learning, resting, retrospecting, creating. Watching the number of infected people 5 times a day on 3 news and 4 social media channels won’t add any value. This is the time to get healthy, up your game with new skills and declutter your life.
Here is a list of things that you can consider to make the most of the COVID-19 lockdown
1. Sleep More, Sleep Well
As sleep scientist Matthew Walker explains in his bestseller Why We Sleep, Sleep is one of the most important drivers behind your productivity, emotional well being, learning ability and recovery. Ensure you are getting 8 hours of quality sleep every night. I also covered this as one of the biggest learnings in 5 things that I learnt from my first Marathon.
Some key pointers from the book worth sharing here. All these tips have a scientific reasoning that you can find in the book –
- Stick to a sleep schedule – go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday
- Don’t exercise too late in the day (not later than 2 hours before bedtime)
- Avoid caffeine late in the day (can take up to 8h for the effect to completely wear off)
- Avoid large meals late at night – can cause indigestion. Drinking too many fluids can make you wake up to urinate
- Relax before bed. There should be a time for unwinding – reading/ listening to music. Gadget free, dark bedroom
- Hot bath before bed makes you more ready to sleep
Whoever said “You can sleep when you’re dead” was wrong. You can die if you don’t sleep.
2. Learn a New Skill
2.a. Programming Language like Python
Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.Steve Jobs
Coding develops creative and structured thinking. Before you even start writing the first line of code, you break down the problem in smaller chunks and gradually build the solution in your brain by joining those smaller chunks. Overall, you start tackling every problem in a faster, more efficient way.
Why Python? It’s a language which is very high on demand and is easy to learn. There is a massive online community to support you during your journey. There are over 15 million students learning python on Udemy.
Just for you to feel a bit better, Python has been used to built websites like Google, Youtube, Quora, Dropbox, Instagram. The list goes on!
There is a reason why baking products are out of stock in supermarkets and Whatsapp groups, Instagram is full of it. During the lockdown, Indians have found a new passion for baking bread. In the UK, the fastest-growing category last week was baking goods, up almost 50%! This is the 3-month search trend for “baking” on Google in India (100 on Y-Axis just represents the peak value) –
The internet and social media is full of recipes and you most likely will have friends who will be happy to help if you’re stuck. Here are some amazing results –
If baking is not your thing, pick up cooking! Below is the Shakshuka dish I cooked last week after a great workout session using a slightly modified version of this recipe on Instagram.
I know a lot of people who picked up gardening as a hobby during the lockdown. It’s a rewarding exercise regimen, both for you and the planet. Tilling the soil, planting, weeding, repotting, and watering gets you outdoors and help burn a few calories while you are at it. According to The British Medical Journal, spending time with the greens helps reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke and prolongs your life by up to as much as 30%.
As per google trends, this is how home gardening got popular in the last 12 months:
If you have never gardened before, and wondering how to make your grow-your-own dreams a reality, click here for some expert tips on gardening for beginners.
3. Declutter your laptop and mobile phone
Trust me, this will give you an awesome feeling of achievement. You have no idea (actually you might have but are too lazy) how much trash you have in your mobile phone gallery and in the downloads folder.
- Delete Photos/ Videos – Most of those images have solved their purpose. You have shared it on social media/ Whatsapp/ email so don’t need them anymore. If you have auto-download enabled on Whatsapp, you will have tonnes of photos you might not even know about.
- Delete the apps that you haven’t used for over a month. You can always reinstall later.
- Delete music you don’t listen to anymore. Move to Spotify/ Apple Music/ YT Music/ Google Play/ Gaana/ Saavn!
- Turn off useless push notifications (Android/ Apple)
If you are into adding a lot of bookmarks, create topics/ folders for easy access to the links you’ve stored.
**Update ** Added this 4th point in December 2020
4. Learn to invest and then invest
It would have been much better if I had included this point when I initially wrote the article. But well, still not too late. Returns from the equity market over the last decades surpass any other asset class – including gold, real estate. The only and only thing to keep in mind is that you need to be an investor and not a trader. Invest in good companies and invest for long term. Longer the better.
As you can see below, even the worst dip of 2007/ 2008 took less than 2 years to recover. COVID19 dip took just 6-8 months. Don’t try to time the market. If you do not have time to do your fundamental analysis for stocks, direct mutual fund SIP is your way to go.
All the big names of the investment world – Ray Dalio, Warren Buffet, Peter Lynch – all say the same thing. I wrote another article on the same topic – Coffee Can Investing – this investment technique is the extension of the same “hold for long” ideology. I have included a structured way to execute that with the tools you can use and listed the stocks that came out of the analysis.
Zerodha Varsity is another great online resource to get stock market and financial education.
What did you learn (.. still learning) from the Covid-19 lockdown? Share in the comments!