29 Things to Do During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

A complete list of (mostly) productive things to do while in self-quarantine


Amanda Todisco

3 years ago | 10 min read

1. Learn to bake a new recipe

Most people cook dinner regularly, but far less spend time learning to bake.

The difference between cooking and baking is in the precision: cakes and cookies and pies require specific measurements, calling for more focus, which helps to curb boredom…at least for an hour or so.

I got this recipe for chocolate chip cookies on, and I swear they taste just like the soft ones you get in the big tub from Market Basket or Stop & Shop (but better because they’re fresh) if you undercook them just a little. I chose to forgo the walnuts, but that’s up to you!

Down side: my house is now full of baked goods that I do not have the self-control to stop eating.

2. Exercise

People should be exercising regularly, but with hectic work schedules, sometimes it gets dropped to the bottom of the to-do list. Fortunately, the majority of people are now temporarily unemployed or working from home, so now is the perfect time to develop a new fitness routine. If you have some work out equipment, that’s great! However, there are TONS of movements you can do that require nothing but your own body.

Don’t know where to start? There are infinite instructional videos on YouTube, or you can try downloading an app. I’m a big fan of OrganicFit, but there are a number to chose from, both free and paid.

3. Learn a new language

A few months is probably not enough time to become fluent in a new language, but you can definitely learn the basics. Take a course online through an accredited school or university, or you can take the self-learner route with free video tutorials or apps like Duolingo.

4. Take an online class

With most universities taking classes to the web for the remainder of the spring semester, there’s no better time to brush off your learning shoes and dive back into studenthood. You can sign up for a number of online classes (especially if you choose to take it uncredited) through pretty much any college or university, although community colleges will be the cheaper and easier option.

However, you can also take a class on pretty much anything you want, for free, through iTunes U. As far as I know, this is only available from Apple devices, and the lesson plans, while provided by working professionals, are self-guided.

5. Read a book

As an MFA student in Creative Writing, pretty much all I do is read books. Although I read a lot of artsy fartsy literary fiction, I do think I’m pretty good at book recommendations for the casual reader. Here are a few popular books that I recommend based on genre:

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (literary fiction)

Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds (young adult fiction)

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler (contemporary fiction)

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (historical fiction)

Pastoralia by George Saunders (short stories)

Dangling in the Tournefortia by Charles Bukowski (poetry)

You can also read/reread the Harry Potter Series. You can never go wrong with that!

6. Do a puzzle

Puzzles are very time consuming, especially when you splurge for those with 500+ pieces. It’s an activity that you can work on by yourself or with other people. You don’t have to finish it all at once, giving you something to do on more than one occasion.

7. Journal

Let’s be real: being in quarantine is making us all go a little (or a lot) stir crazy. Journaling is a perfect way to get your mind focused and reflect on your thoughts. Some may even use it as a form of meditation. Get a notebook, tablet, or laptop, find a quiet place, and take thirty minutes to write whatever comes to mind.

Try to do it everyday for a week, and see how you feel. It’s proven to have a lot of mental health benefits!

8. Early Spring cleaning

When the warm weather comes, you want nothing more than to go outside, lay in the sun, and enjoy the fresh air. But with spring comes the dreaded spring cleaning. However, with all of this extra time in the house, you can get it over with now. That way, whenever the restaurants and bars reopen, you can run to the nearest one and enjoy a Peach Bellini, guilt free!

9. Learn to play chess

You would not believe how many people do not know how to play chess. I only learned myself during a snow storm at the end of 2019. Although chess is a two player game, there is a lot of strategy to be learned. If you really enjoy it and want to get better, you can practice on your own or against a computer and read the ample amounts of literature available in books and on the web.

Check out this hilarious video of Magnus Carlsen (famous chess player) playing unknowing chess hustlers in the park. See how cool chess can be?!

10. Apply for temporary unemployment

I feel like this is a given for most people who are not salaried/can’t work from home, but here is your friendly reminder: apply for temporary unemployment to stay afloat for now. There is nothing embarrassing or shameful about asking for assistance when needed.

11. Write articles/blog

Writing articles can be fun and informative, and blogging is a good way to share your thoughts/ideas/opinions. However, it can also bring in some extra cash. In a time where almost everyone is out of work, a couple extra bucks can go a long way. I’d suggest starting right here on Medium (don’t forget to set up the pay wall!).

12. Early morning food shopping

Everyone is trying to stay away from each other. Everyone needs 24 rolls of toilet paper and 13 gallons of milk. Everyone will kill your first born child to get it.

Okay, I’m being dramatic. BUT I have noticed that people have become increasingly hostile and downright mean in this climate. You may want to avoid them as much as possible (also to avoid infection), so hitting the grocery store as soon as it opens is your best bet.

Just be sure to check your state’s hours of operation because some are dedicating the first hour to the elderly and people who are immunocompromised.

13. Binge watch a series

I mean, I do this anyway, but usually I’ll have to stop because I need to go to bed so I can wake up for work in the morning. However, now that I’m temporarily FUNemployed, I stay up into the wee hours of the night starting and finishing full seasons of popular TV series.

My most recent binge was HBO’s The Outsider (not to be confused with S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders), based on a Stephen King novel. Now I’m in the middle of Netflix’s can’t-look-away train wreck reality television hit Love is Blind.

10/10 recommend.

14. Watch movies

Also something I do pretty much everyday anyway, but now is a really good time to watch all of the Oscar nods that you didn’t hit up while they were in theaters.

My personal favorite this year was JoJo Rabbit, a fantastical tale about a little boy and his invisible best friend, Adolf Hitler. For a full list of Oscar nominated movies, click here.

15. Family game night

With families being stuck in the house together 24/7 for the unforeseeable future, parents/roommates are going to need something to break up the monotony. Some people may already have a weekly game night anyway, but others can start implementing them now (especially with more frequency). Here are a few suggestions based on age range:

Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders (ages 3+)

Guess Who, Connect Four, Sorry! (5+)

Clue, Life, Hedbanz (8+)

Monopoly, Scrabble, Pandemic (’tis the season!), Scattergories (12+)

Battle of the Sexes, Cards Against Humanity, Taboo (18+)

16. Draw/paint/color

If you’re already artistically inclined, then this is an activity that you can run away with. Challenge yourself. Paint outside of your comfort zone. Experiment with colors. Draw pictures of all your friends and drink wine with them.

If, like me, you can barely draw more than a stick figure, then this can be a fun challenge.

Find a tutorial on YouTube or turn on your favorite Bob Ross video, sit down at your canvas, and try to learn a new skill. If you create something half decent, you’ll feel accomplished and perhaps want to turn it into an ongoing hobby. If you don’t, at least the people stuck with you will have a good laugh.

If you’re not feeling confident enough to try something freehand, there are always adult coloring books. If you can color in the lines, you’re good to go!

17. Online shopping

I do not recommend this to those without any current cash flow, but if you’re working from home and still getting a salary, buy yourself something nice to make yourself feel better.

Be aware: Amazon is only delivering essential items, and packages from other stores and services (especially outside of the US) will most likely experience significant delays.

18. Learn a new skill

Have you ever watched your grandmother knit, but never had the time to ask her to teach you? Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn how to juggle, make jewelry, tie knots, press flowers, build furniture, write calligraphy…are you catching my drift?

There are an infinite number of new things out there to try, and you can do them right from home. Learning something new means you’ve bettered yourself in some manner, and it’s a way to feel accomplished outside of the workplace.

19. Brain workouts

Sudoku. Crosswords. Word search. Memory games. Riddles.

These are all things you can do to keep your brain working in between the hours upon hours of mindless television you’re bound to watch.

There are also websites full of brain exercises that will keep you thinking all day long. Lumosity is probably the most reputable and popular site out there, but there are plenty of apps you can download on your phone as well.

20. Go on a health kick

What better time to go on a health kick than when you have literally nothing better to do? You have all these extra hours to check out recipes, come up with a schedule, and meal prep the entire week’s menu. Plus, I’ve noticed that, unlike the toilet paper shelves, nobody has touched the spinach.

When you walk out into the sun for the first time months from now, your friends are going to see you and say, “who’s that hottie?”

21. Practice doing your hair and/or makeup

If you’re like me, you absolutely suck at this. I always want to put cute braids in my hair and perfect the sexy smokey eye, but I’d also much rather sleep later in the morning than wake up and try to do it. I never practice, and I never get it right.

However, now is the time to be bold and try whatever you want because if you look crazy, who’s going to see you anyway?

I do love me some good hair and makeup tutorials, and I watch Danielle Elliott’s videos religiously.

22. FaceTime with friends

This is a new trend, and people love it! If you go on Instagram, you’re bound to see an IG story or two of people group video chatting (most likely with a glass of wine in hand) with all of their friends. It’s like getting together for drinks, but without the threat of mortality!

23. Listen to music

I’m in a real Billy Joel phase right now, but your COVID-19 playlist depends on your taste and mood. If it’s a time of high anxiety for you, I do recommend trying out some classical music (I’m a huge fan of the classical piano station on Apple Music).

24. Meditate

Amidst all of this boredom, people still aren’t taking the time to breath. This is because we are a generation of stimulus, and the thought of simply being seems utterly preposterous. Put the technology away…or at least use a meditation app and then put the phone down while you follow its instructions. I recommend Calm as a starting point.

25. Plan a trip

So this may not be the best idea because nobody can really say when the pandemic is going to end. However, I suggest it because having something to look forward to is always helpful in dark times. If you plan a vacation for 2021, not only do you have a light at the end of the tunnel, but you can also keep busy checking flights, researching activities, and choosing between hotels and resorts.

I’m a fan of booking through Expedia because they offer discounted package deals and an affordable payment option (powered by Affirm)!

26. Home repairs

Roof need repairing? Walls need painting? Gutters need cleaning? Useless metal sun you bought on clearance at Marshall’s three years ago — and has been sitting in the corner since — need hanging (no? just me?)?

Now is the time to get. Stuff. Done. Plus, Home Depot is still open and pretty much a desert wasteland, so you can probably get in and out without any human interaction (self-checkout, duh!).

27. Listen to podcasts

There are podcasts available for virtually any interests. Unsolved crime. Politics. Personal stories. Sports. You name it, they’ve got it. You can do this at home, or if you’re going really stir crazy, go for a ride and pop one on.

My all time favorite podcast is The Moth. True stories are told, unscripted, live in front of an audience and then shared through the podcast. The best part about them is their diversity: people from all different backgrounds come to tell their stories. If you’re looking for something both funny and touching, definitely tune in.

28. Invest in stocks

If you don’t have money to spare, don’t do this because there is always a chance of a recession. However, stock prices are so low that if you pick them up now and have the patience to wait them out, you could end up making a bit of a profit. Airlines and banks seem to be an all around favorite right now, but you should definitely do some research of your own.

29. Take a nap

When all else fails, take a nap. Maybe you’ll sleep through the apocalypse and wake up feeling refreshed!

Originally published on medium.


Created by

Amanda Todisco







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