Unless you work in healthcare, emergency services, grocery, or another field deemed “essential”, chances are you’ve got more time of your own than you’ve had in years. Try to remember the last time someone asked “How have you been?” and you didn’t answer with a sigh “…Busy!”
Well, now you’re not so busy. Of course that isn’t by choice, and I’m willing to bet that if you could, you’d trade your newfound free time for “a return to normalcy” (to quote Warren G. Harding, the United States’ most beloved and celebrated President). No shuttling the kids around town for school and activities. No evenings out for dinner at a restaurant or drinks at the bar. No sporting events to watch on TV. Not even the daily battle of the work commute. Some of us have an extra hour (or three) each day because we’re working from home. Others have had the misfortune of being laid off or furloughed. All of us are concerned. And now we have a lot of time to be concerned. With countless news and opinion outlets at our fingertips, we also have lots of fuel for the anxiety fire. The other option is distraction. Cable TV, streaming services, social media, movies, and video games already have more of our attention than they probably should.
There are better ways to fill your days.
Take advantage of opportunities for professional growth. If you’ve been forced to look for a new job, there are things you’ve obviously got to do. Update your resume, search for open positions, and apply for anything within reasonable striking distance. But if nothing’s happening for a while, don’t be discouraged. Computers seem to be immune to coronavirus, so you still have access to a vast array of learning resources from the comfort of your home. Don’t have credentials from a prestigious university to list on your resume? Well, here’s your chance. There are excellent online courses available for free from Stanford, Yale, Duke, and many others. If online courses aren’t for you, there are still plenty of ways to broaden or deepen your skill set so that you can cast a wider net in your job search. Listen to audiobooks. Learn a programming language or software application you’ve never used before. Publish a white paper and share it with as many people in your professional network as you can. The ability to converse about a topic intelligently, or better yet – demonstrate your understanding with the completion of a self-directed project could quite possibly open doors that would otherwise be closed to you.
Speaking of projects, maybe there’s one you’ve had on the backburner for as long as you can remember. Writing a book, building an application, and even the first steps in creating a full-blown business venture cost nothing except time. Now is the perfect time to start or grow your side hustle whether or not you have financial resources available to pour into it, so take action! Brew a pot of coffee and dust off your typewriter. Put away that game controller, sit down at the keyboard, and start coding. Do the research, validate your market, and create your business plan. Regardless of the type of project, the idea is to share it with others, right? So join or create Facebook groups, contribute to discussion forums and create valuable, shareable content. Once you’ve got something to market, you’ll have already established relationships with the audience you hope to serve.
We wouldn’t tell you to do this if we at Oddly Satisfying Software weren’t doing it ourselves. We’re actually just two brothers-in-law (Chris and Mike) working to share our indie game with the world. Together we created a casual mobile game called Diatom for iOS and Android. With the extra time we’ve had thanks to stay-at-home orders, we’ve compiled a list of nearly two hundred review sites and so far have contacted about half of them to request reviews of our game. This week we’ll be working through the remainder of our list of reviewers. I (Chris) have worked on promotional trailers and other videos, and now I’m writing this post that will hopefully encourage and inspire others.
The key thing is that whatever you choose to pursue, now is the time to go for it. Taking action will not only keep your mind occupied, but it will also instill the sense that you are gaining some level of control in circumstances that would otherwise produce nothing but uncertainty and stress. So stop worrying and learn to love the quarantine.