Nine Semi-Productive Things to Do Instead of Wasting Your Time

Photo by Laxmi McCulloch

As someone who is prone to overthinking and stress, it’s no surprise that quarantine gives me an adequate amount of anxiety. At first, I spent my quarantine lying in bed and enjoying the fact that I had nothing to do. But for me, like for most people, not having anything to do got old pretty quickly. So, I decided to develop ways to cope with the monotony of everyday life. Here are my top nine recommended activities  for when you get tired of binging Netflix shows.

  1. Spending time on Coursera is a great way to start taking courses on specific or broad topics that you’re interested in.  I’ve been taking a course called “The Psychology of Popularity,” where I’ve been learning about how psychologists study popularity and cliques in teens and how it affects adult life.  You can take a course for credit (it costs money, and you get a completion certificate), but I’ve been taking classes for free. There’s a structured schedule for assignments and lessons, which is nice if, like me, you need more scheduled events during this up-in-the-air time.

  1. Watching improv

An old friend of mine, Julian Shapiro-Barnum, has been working on creating an improv show called “The Social Distance,” and it’s truly hilarious. It covers a wide range of topics from bleach, to puppets, to family dynamics. I’ve watched every episode, and it’s been totally worth it. 10/10 would recommend it if you’re in need of a good laugh. 

  1.  Museums, museums, museums!

I’ve never liked museums; I’ve always found them boring. But right now, they’re about the most interesting things I could possibly explore. The Philadelphia Museum of Artthe Eastern State Penitentiary, and other museums around the world have made their content completely virtual. It’s a great way to step out of your own world and experience the works of others.

  1.  Taking a dance class

For those in the GFS community, try joining the Drama Department’s Google Classroom with online resources about theatre and dance all across the country. For those not in the Classroom group, there are dozens of Philly-based and non-Philly based art and theatre companies that are going completely virtual. Koresh Dance Company has been having virtual dance lessons, which have been a great way to get some exercise amidst all this sitting around.

  1.  Writing the next great American novel

Well, no. Not really. But I have been spending a lot more time writing (e.g. this piece) and doing things I love that I normally wouldn’t have time for. Maybe for you that means finally sitting down and writing that story you’ve been dreaming up or the song you hear in your head before you go to sleep. Whatever it is, there is no better time than now to start.

  1.  Reading

Lately, I’ve had a lot more time to read, and read a lot. I’ve been keeping a reading list. Here’s some recommended books for those who haven’t gotten into it just yet: 

  • Normal People by Sally Rooney.
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  • Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
  • Educated by Tara Westberg
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. 
  • The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Look up some great reads in your favorite genre and start reading! To make things even better, local bookstores like Uncle Bobbie’s and Headhouse Books are offering book deliveries. 

  1. Baking

Yeah, I know, everyone’s doing it, it’s so mainstream, basic, whatever you want to call it. But it’s a cliché for a reason: it’s actually pretty fun. Recently, my brother and I worked really hard to make an apple-peach pie using four different online recipes, and it actually was pretty successful. 

  1. Self care

Whatever this means to you. To me, it means making time for my skin care routine. It also means spending a lot of time looking up makeup tutorials to try to turn my less-than-basic skills into something actually visually pleasing to the eye. Take time to improve yourself, your mental health, your spiritual health, and your emotional health. To be able to relax and do things for myself, whether it’s trying out a new eyeliner look, or spending some time meditating with Headspace, has been a great way for me to make sure I stay sane.

  1. Making (and sharing) your own art

The Kimmel Center #ArtHappensAtHome campaign is a great way to get started! Lots of places are opening opportunities to people that will allow them to create and present their art to the world whether it’s a song, a skit, or a piece of visual art that you’ve made, quarantine inspired or not. I haven’t actually had a chance to participate in this, but I’ve been watching the submissions regularly and hope to see some familiar faces in upcoming weeks!