Be honest, did you even in your wildest of dreams think of such a situation where you would be locked inside your house, cut off from the world outside, looking out of the windows and balconies as the day changes to night? Never, right? Same here. I mean the reason we are where we are is because we didn’t take the warnings seriously. There are some serious lessons to be learnt from this experience and to put them in practice for a better future. And hope like hell we do not forget tomorrow what we learn today (sorry but I can’t help but think like a teacher!). I have a few take-aways from the lockdown. And may I ask for your undivided attention and not to get distracted by words like ‘take-aways’?
1. Start the day early
The early bird gets the worm. It’s so true. The earlier your day starts, the more time you have to do the things you want to get done. Not just that, since we are not in a rush to step out of the house and join the rat race, it allows us to enjoy our life at a more relaxed pace. Take a cup of tea and watch that sunrise. When was the last time you did that? One can hear the twittering of the birds so clearly now that their voices are no longer getting suppressed in the raucous cacophony of the vehicles. The sky has cleared up and the air is so much cleaner. So, let’s take a step back and learn to relax.
2. Follow a routine
It gives some kind of structure to the madness around. Since its early vacations for the children (though many of them are busy with online classes) and Work-From-Home for the grown-ups, it makes life easier if we begin our day like any other normal day during the times when we did have a normal life. WFH does not mean you start working as soon as your eyes open till you drop dead at night. Online classes do not have be continuous classes. Take a break, breathe, stretch and relax. Close shop at the regular office hour. Finish your assignments during the scheduled school hours. Your commitment will show through the quality of work, not through the number of hours you are online. Avoid late nights and certainly don’t give in to the temptation of late-night binge sessions. Keep it for the weekends, I mean it’s not like you have anywhere to go, right?
3. Learn something new; practice what you know
It’s never too late to learn something new. Its no point complaining about the paucity of time. Look at the number of hours you are saving on commuting to work and back. Use them for learning something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time but couldn’t because of ‘no-time’. It would be playing an instrument or learning a new language or a new game. Pick up something and put in some of that time you spend of sending irrelevant and silly forwards on WhatsApp. Or better still, brush up your rusted skills. Instead of saying Once-upon-a-time I did this and that, show your family and friends that you can still do it. This sounds like more fun, so give it a shot.
4. Catch up on your reading
There’s never enough time for that, believe me. The more time I have, the more books get added to my reading list. I know, not everyone is into books but then there’s a book for everyone. Comics are all-time favourites across all age-groups. Recently someone uploaded the old Phantom and Mandrake comics and believe me it was just divine. I read through each of them. Archie, Tintin, Asterix and Obelix, Bahadur, I mean the list can go on. It’s very important for us to encourage our restless young ones to develop this habit. Reading will help them to focus and calm down while also enhancing their almost deficient vocabulary. A visit to the old classics would be an experience worth sharing with them. Draw up a reading list and circulate among friends to spice it up a bit. The more the merrier. So, go on, pick up a book and get cosy.
5. Spend time in non-gadget activities
Gadgets are our lifeline nowadays. We feel so helpless without a phone (a smart phone at that) in our hand. I agree Work-From-Home is possible because of our laptops and Wi-Fi.
We are able to connect up with friends and family because of these very same gadgets. But don’t you think, like everything else, this too needs to be optimally used and not abused? Being away from the gadget doesn’t mean cutting off your limb. Give it some rest and detox. Pick up some activities which do not require you to use your gadgets. Try gardening and you may discover your green thumb (you’re so blessed!). Or cooking – it can only be beneficial to all! I mean why restrict your life to the social media. Live your life in reality and see how much you’ll enjoy the experience.
6. Spend some time with yourself
In the humdrum of our lives, we’ve connected with everyone around us but have forgotten the most important person – our own selves. When was the last time you actually did something for yourself? And I don’t mean retail therapies or visits to the spa. I mean something purely for yourself. This is the time, believe me. Before the rigmarole of the day begins, take a few moments for yourself and spend it to meditate and exercise. Before you jump the gun and say no, just hear me out. Meditation does not mean you have to sit still for hours until you discover inner peace or whatever. It’s part of the exercise routine. You don’t have to be Shilpa Shetty or Milind Soman but you can do some indoor exercises. Some stretches, some own body weight routines. By the time the lockdown ends, you’ll be surprised to discover a healthier and fitter you.
7. Play board games, solve puzzles or crosswords
Sounds childish right? But remember the endless summer vacation nights when we used to play board games as kids? The shouting and screaming and getting all excited. It was fun and is still fun. And now that we’ve ample time in our hands and all of us are at home, what better way to bond with the family members than a game of Pictionary or Ludo or Carrom or Monopoly? Try it, it’s silly but it’s refreshing and engrossing. It gives our over-worked brain a break from the monotony of work and staying cooped up. Add to it, it gives the children an even playing field where they are at par with the parents, so the competition is intense! Enjoy it when you have a chance.
8. Help in chores
I know, I know, we all have promised to share the house-work but are we really doing it?
There, there, don’t skip this point, I mean it. House-work is the most boring, tedious, dreary and thankless work that one can think of BUT it’s the most important work of all. I mean you don’t go to office one day and you can do it the next day. But miss out on one day of house-work and then a sink-full of dishes await you, a pile of dirty linen call out, the corners catch your attention. And most importantly the kitchen beckons you with every grumble of the stomach. To expect that one person will deal with it all while the others enjoy their time at home is not fair. So come on people, pitch in. It gets easier and believe me the work gets over faster.
9. List out your goals
What better time to sit calmly and take stock of one’s life, figure out the direction it has taken, do some course correction, and see if it’s leading up to the goals you had set for yourself. This has to be done. These thoughts often occupy our subconscious and we know we need to work on them but who has the time? So, here’s the time, my friend. During the course of the day, I’m sure you can spare a few moments for doing this important task. The lockdown has forced each one of us, with no exceptions, to rethink about us, our lives, our goals. Let’s do it. One day at a time, one goal at a time. Once this is done, it’ll be easier to decide the path.
10. Respect time
Time doesn’t wait for anyone. We heard it so many times and we have seen it. Time has become our most valued yet fast depleting asset. We’re always running from one activity to the other. It’s always a race against time, never with or for time. And now to add to the already stretched-to-the-limit time, we have Work-From-Home. So now work doesn’t stop when you step out of the office; it continues till you call it a day. This is the time we need to seriously work on time management. Being a professional or WFH doesn’t mean you’re going to be available or be online 24×7. You need to understand this first yourself to be able to follow it in spirit. Family time also needs to be given priority. The family needs your undivided attention too, so don’t ignore them. Especially in these trying times, it’s important to be there for each other not just physically but also emotionally. Let’s not get obsessed with looking busy or being online. Respect your time and respect others’ time. It’s the most important lesson learnt in this period.