Hopefully, most of us know the importance of staying safe and being considerate. But let’s not neglect our mental health, sanity, and the opportunity to use this time for personal enrichment. So here you go…
It allows you to borrow someone else’s brain. It makes you smarter, richer intellectually, more interesting, and a better person. Here are The 100 Books Every Man Should Read, but my quarantine list includes: Billion Dollar Whale, Skin In The Game, The Man Who Solved The Market, in addition to re-reading Too Big To Fail and The Road.
Learn a game that isn’t Fortnite
Backgammon — the game of Pharaohs — is the greatest board game ever created. There are essentially an infinite number of outcomes. And when it comes to cards, I highly recommend the games our grandparents taught us: Hearts, Rummy and Spite & Malice. (A YouTube video explaining the rules can be found here.)
Many personal trainers (currently deprived of income) are offering daily classes on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. Or keep it simple like me: 50 pushups, 50 sit-ups, 50 dips, and 50 squats three times a day + 45 minutes of cardio in the evening. And stay off your bikes; emergency service and ER personnel are busy enough without worrying about fixing a broken arm.
Clean out your closet
By the time we get over this, spring will be in full swing, so start with your clearing out your winter wardrobe. More important, there are a number of worthy charities desperately in need of clothes — Dress for Success, Career Gear, The PTSD Foundation, among more-recognizable names like The Salvation Army and Goodwill.
Freshen up your wardrobe
It’s a great time to support smaller brands and e-commerce startups. Also, working from home gets boring; I reach the end of the internet by about 10am. So it’s a great time to shop online. Start with Brummell, and the neglected top drawer. (They’re also donating 25% of revenue to The Bail Project and The PTSD Foundation.) Now that we’re all more aware when it comes to germs, we should replace our basics with material that is anti-odor, anti-bacterial, and moisture-repellent. And if we’ve learned anything from WFH, it’s that it feels great to be comfortable while working. This doesn’t have to end when we go back to the office. I love these “commuter pants” (chinos), these jeans that feel like sweatpants, and the most comfortable undershirt on the planet.
Enjoy your kids
Cherish this time with them, because hopefully, we never have to live like this again. Be patient (we’re all frustrated — most of all, our kids). Balance education, fitness, fun, and non-academic enrichment, and limit their iPad and screen time. This (from Andrew Ross-Sorkin) is a bit pretentious, but makes some sense as a framework, especially as it relates to maintaining a schedule during a time that feels like that weird period between Christmas and New Years where the days bleed into each other — only with added anxiety and stress:
Don’t get fat — The Covid-15
Since working from home means having a less-defined schedule, and social distancing keeps us mostly indoors, close to our Costco rations of bread, frozen pizza, and pasta, this recent WSJ article on healthy eating piqued my interest. Takeaways include:
- Make mealtimes clear, and stick to it
- Infuse water with fresh lemon to boost vitamin C and encourage hydration
- Try out some periodic fasting techniques. Set a food window: “no eating between 7pm and 10am” as an example
- No pretzels. They’re just white flour and sodium. Snack on nuts or chopped veggies; they have a higher nutrient density which makes them more filling
- Eggs are the perfect food
- Sugar and starch are bad for your immune function
- Don’t forget about spices; many of them have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral qualities. Add garlic, oregano, onions, turmeric, ginger, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, and miso to your diet
Turn off your TV
Nothing is happening on CNN, except for biassed political noise and hysteria-inducing Coronavirus coverage. Granted, it’s important to stay informed. And for that, I’d suggest coming back to Twitter. But, if you really want to kill time with mindless entertainment, don’t bother getting into a new series. Re-watch The Sopranos or Curb Your Enthusiasm. Also, There Will Be Blood is now on Netflix. (Confession: I watched Frozen 2 three times last weekend, so nobody’s perfect.)
Support local small businesses
Order takeout, buy gift cards, and tip big. Seek out establishments that are continuing to support their staff. Remember being a kid and asking your favorite restaurant to sponsor your baseball team or school raffle? Now’s the time to return the favor.
I rolled my eyes the first time I heard the term “virtual happy hour”, but it’s not a terrible way to spend an hour reminiscing with high school and college friends all over the country, all of whom are experiencing various forms of the same angst. And then, at least you can say that you’re not drinking alone.
Get fresh air
Obviously, be safe and courteous to the more vulnerable members of our population, and make sure to follow local ordinances. My city (Houston) is on full lockdown, but I still intend on spending time in the yard, walking to get takeout or to the grocery store or pharmacy.
Other people are probably in greater need of hand sanitizer, N95 masks, and toilet paper. If you’re actually worried about this getting much worse in the short-term and persisting longer than forecast, focus on the basics like rice, pasta, water, soup, dried lentils, frozen vegetables and proteins (chicken and salmon), and spices.
Reach out to elderly people in your community and do their shopping for them. Or foster a dog or cat from your local animal shelter. You can pick out an animal online, get approved, and then they’ll bring the animal out to your car.
Pump up those rookie numbers
John LeFevre is the creator of @GSElevator, the founder of a fashion line, a podcast host, and the author of the New York Times bestselling book, Straight To Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, And Billion-Dollar Deals, currently in development as a major motion picture.