Don’t get sucked into futile social media discussions, endlessly spin your wheels and spiral into anxiety. Instead, beat the stay-at-home blues by putting your mind to good use, benefiting your business and enhancing your life. Here are some ideas to get you going.

Jay Thompson is a former brokerage owner who spent six years working for Zillow Group. He retired in August 2018 but can’t seem to leave the real estate industry behind. His weekly Inman column publishes every Wednesday.

Journal Entry: Self-imposed quarantine, Day 8

This place is really small. Fluffy, the 19-year-old cat can be annoying as hell. There are crazy people and a stunning number of experts in infectious disease on the internet. This place is really small. Let me out of here.

Sound familiar?

Welcome to … what do we call this? “Pandemic” is the official word, I guess. How the whole coronavirus situation is impacting you depends a lot on where you live, as well as your personal situation.

Me? I live in the hotspot of Seattle, which still has the dubious distinction of having the most deaths related to COVID-19 in the U.S. The fact that I’m knocking on the door to 60 and have a history of heart disease doesn’t help. 

As mentioned in last week’s column, my wife and I recently went on a small-ship cruise to the Caribbean. Since we’ve been traveling out of the country and on a ship, we decided to heed the Centers for Disease Control’s advice to self-quarantine.

Deep into Day 8, the boredom has set in. Even for an “extroverted introvert” such as myself, it isn’t easy being trapped inside, isolated. 

Desperately needing something to pass the time (and with a column deadline looming), it seemed prudent to create a list of things to do to ward off cabin fever.

It’s easy to get sucked into discussions on Facebook, where you spin wheels in a futile effort to share science-based information in conversations formed from fear, hype and misinformation. Instead, you can do things to stay busy, keep your mind sharp, and just maybe benefit your business and life. 

In no particular order: 

  1. Read a book
  2. Listen to music
  3. Clean your desk 
  4. Deep clean your house
  5. Call past clients
  6. Meditate
  7. Sing
  8. Write
  9. Stretch
  10. Do a puzzle
  11. Learn a new language
  12. Play an instrument. Don’t know how? YouTube lessons!
  13. Nap (Naps are very under-rated)
  14. Cook
  15. Bake
  16. Memorize Hamlet’s soliloquy
  17. Send five handwritten notes a day 
  18. Listen to a podcast
  19. Start your own podcast
  20. Learn to play chess
  21. Read a classic literary work
  22. Paint
  23. Draw
  24. Make an Amazon wish list
  25. Call your mother
  26. Watch a movie with subtitles
  27. Write a poem
  28. Write a song
  29. Write a haiku
  30. Make pasta by hand
  31. Toss playing cards into a hat
  32. Learn to whistle
  33. Give your food delivery server a 100 percent tip
  34. Make and share Spotify playlists. (Here’s what Rita Wilson came up with in isolation with husband Tom Hanks.)
  35. Listen to an artist way outside your usual genre
  36. Reach out to “dead leads” from three years ago
  37. Play a full game of Monopoly or Risk. Without tipping the board over
  38. Make a Google Map of all the places you’ve traveled
  39. Organize your computer files
  40. Write letters to friends and family
  41. Write a letter to “Any Resident,” and send it to a local nursing or assisted living center
  42. Show your spouse that you love him or her
  43. Wash your hands
  44. Paint your nails. Yes, guys too. No one will see you 
  45. Learn to sew
  46. Vacuum
  47. Understand that the cat is 19, old and a little senile. Love her like she’s loved you
  48. See if you can make a list of 100 things. Any topic. It’s not easy!
  49. Turn off your phone for 24 hours. 
  50. Call someone you haven’t talked to in awhile
  51. Watch Godfather and Godfather: Part II back-to-back. Skip Godfather: Part III
  52. Turn that clothes rack back into a treadmill or stationary bike
  53. Binge-watch a new series
  54. Don’t watch the stock market
  55. Be nice
  56. Plant a window herb garden
  57. Change your wifi network name to “Beers not viruses.”
  58. Research your family tree
  59. Order take-out from a local restaurant
  60. Read The Stand, watch Contagion. Remember, they are fiction 
  61. Build a fort with chairs and blankets
  62. Organize your photos
  63. Write evergreen content snippets for use on social and blogs
  64. Clean up your contact relationship management systems
  65. Change your air filters
  66. Take belly-dancing lessons on YouTube 
  67. Learn a magic trick
  68. Refine your listing presentation
  69. Teach yourself origami
  70. Keep a positive attitude
  71. Craft that perfect newsletter
  72. Virtually interview local business owners
  73. Take deep, cleansing breaths. In through the nose, out through the mouth
  74. Make your own hand sanitizer
  75. Eat your vegetables
  76. Tax Day is still April 15. Deal with it 
  77. Give to a food bank
  78. Donate to the Beverly Carter Foundation
  79. Reach out to someone less fortunate
  80. Offer to help
  81. Color your hair 
  82. Talk to your kids
  83. Play with your kids
  84. Read to your kids
  85. Just be with your kids
  86. Grow a beard
  87. Shave your head!
  88. Stop shaving your legs
  89. Take a bubble bath
  90. Drink wine by the box
  91. Take a bubble bath while drinking boxed wine
  92. That junk drawer? Fix it 
  93. Go through your closet. Send anything you haven’t worn in a year to a charity
  94. Check the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization websites 
  95. Ignore the conspiracy theorists
  96. Vote
  97. Wash your hands, again
  98. Do yoga, right there on the living room floor
  99. Show someone how to use Zoom, GoToMeeting and other virtual solutions
  100. Detail your car
  101. Teach your old dog a new trick
  102. Be kind
  103. Love more
  104. Dance like nobody’s watching

These are strange times. No one knows how this will all pan out, and the world is a different place than it was just a few weeks ago. It’s likely to get worse before it gets better. You can make the worst of this, or suck it up and try to make the best of it. 

We’re in uncharted territory. Tempers are short, people are stressed out, financial markets are melting down. As tempting as it is, curling up in the fetal position and hoping it just goes away isn’t very productive or realistic. 

Stay home as much as possible. Be kind, understanding and empathetic. We will get through this, and we just might come out better on the other side.  

Jay Thompson is a real estate veteran and retiree in Seattle, as well as the one spinning the wheels at Now Pondering. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. He holds an active Arizona broker’s license with eXp Realty. “Retired but not dead,” Jay speaks around the world on many things real estate.

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