Despite frequent updates from relevant experts, cautionary advice from government officials, and constant chatter from the media, the evident truth is that no one knows exactly how long this pandemic is going to keep people stuck in their homes. It could somehow blow over faster than we imagine, or it could drag on for the rest of 2020 (and possibly beyond).
Hope for the best but prepare for the worst, as they say. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that this lockdown is only going to get stricter in the coming months. What should you do to get ready for that time spent in isolation? In this post, we’re going to set out four meaningful things you should do now in case this situation lingers for a long time. Here they are:
1. Get Your Finances In Order
The world of business has been damaged in broad and extensive ways by this lockdown, and even companies that can keep operating are finding this situation challenging. I’m going to assume here that you’re still employed and able to work from home amidst this mess, but if you’re not then this part is even more important. Perhaps you’re the sort of person to avoid thinking about your outgoings unless it’s strictly necessary: well, it’s necessary here.
How are your savings? Do you have enough to cover your expenses for a month or two, factoring in the need to avoid leaving home? If you have subscriptions that aren’t vital, cancel them immediately (a service like Trim can speed this up).
If you’ve been shifted down to part-time hours, had your salary reduced in some other way, or lost your job and had to look for temporary work, then do everything you can (up to negotiating a new mortgage; a mortgage broker can help with this: here’s a resource).
Depending on where you live, you may be able to get financial support from your government, so take that into account. Just remember that it isn’t a good idea to keep spending at the same rate while economies are falling apart everywhere.
2. Stock Up On Provisions
Panic buying is terrible for everyone, so I’m not saying you should hoard rolls of toilet paper and tins of fruit like you’re getting ready for a nuclear war — but you should stock up on provisions for two key reasons. Firstly, the more you buy now, the less you’ll need to buy later, and the less often you’ll need to go to stores. You might as well make the most of your trips.
Secondly, you don’t know how stock for particular things will hold up. Supply chains have done well so far, but if infections spread far enough then we could see them grind to a halt. You’ll find it difficult to endure a lengthy lockdown if you’re unable to get hold of your creature comforts: your preferred snacks, for instance, and any other products you regularly buy.
3. Optimize Your Home Office
If you’re going to be working from home, then you need to make it as easy and productive as possible. Working in a messy area with frustrating equipment is going to seriously affect your mood. A good home office isn’t going to fully replicate the traditional office experience (nor would you want it to, really), but it will keep you both comfortable and alert.
Order whatever you think you need — your employer might want to help you with this for HR reasons. A chair that supports your back, an ergonomic keyboard, a large display… anything that will boost your productivity and minimize your strain. Ensure that you get even lighting, as it will help your concentration and make your day more enjoyable.
Also, ensure that you keep distractions to a minimum by not getting too comfortable. It’s all too easy to slip into bad habits when you’re not being watched by critical managers, especially in such an anxiety-inducing time, so don’t let it happen.
4. Identify Clear & Realistic Goals
Imagine for a moment that this is going to continue for six months. It could have a faster resolution, sure, or it could take longer, but let’s run with six months. What could you achieve in that time during a lockdown? Are there skills you want to develop? Milestones you want to reach? There are certain things you can manage while stuck inside, so line some up.
You might, for instance, want to get fitter. Well, you shouldn’t be going outside too much, but you can exercise at home. Or maybe you want to read that book series you’ve meant to start for a long time. Now’s your chance. While you’re cut off from a lot of regular activities, you can commit to other things that tend to get pushed aside.
What’s more, having clear goals will help keep you sane and motivated. Days can blur together when you’re not getting out, so marking progress towards goals will make a big difference.
No one knows how long this lockdown will last, but it could go on for quite some time yet. Getting ready for that eventuality is the smart play. Take the suggestions we’ve set out here and put yourself in a good position to make it through with minimal difficulty.