12 Projects that Will Make You Feel Accomplished While Social Distancing

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home projects

We are all stuck at home social distancing, so why not complete some home projects? In fact, home projects will help you pass the time and fight cabin fever while giving you a sense of accomplishment that will help counter some of the anxiety you’re likely feeling.

Here are 12 projects to keep yourself busy (and sane!) while whittling away your time at home:

Work on Your Emergency Kit and Family Emergency Plan

Many people have put off creating a family emergency preparedness kit and emergency plan . What better time to put one together than during an actual national emergency? Especially since, you know, this emergency has us at home with plenty of time. 

Start small. You can purchase a premade kit online, but it’s much cheaper to put one together on your own. Take the time to customize the kit for you and your family, listing out any unique needs. 

Draft up your emergency plan, which includes contacts, meeting locations, and instructions on what to do when an emergency occurs. Our current crisis is a reminder that it’s important to be prepared before it is too late.

Write

Writing is a great way to pass time and ease your stress. Journaling, drafting a biography, creating some therapeutic poetry, or starting a blog are some ideas of how you can start writing. Writing generally requires dedicated quiet time (i.e., self-isolation). If you’re just starting, journaling, or writing about your own life and how you feel, might be a good choice. If you want to do something more structured, you can Google “writing prompts” to help you come up with other ideas. Start with an outline and fill it in. For something more complicated, you should set aside more structured goals, like writing a chapter a week or an article a day. No matter what the ultimate intention is, there’s no wrong way to write.  

Work on Your Family Tree

No, I’m not talking about getting busy — though that is certainly an option! I’m talking about writing down your entire family lineage. You can start simply by creating a spreadsheet or using a piece of paper, then documenting what your siblings’, parents’, aunts’, uncles’, and grandparents’ names and birthdays are. You can then use this site to create a piece of art in the form of a tree or just keep it for posterity (your kids, niece, or nephew may thank you when they have to do this for a school assignment one day). 

The next step is to document your first cousins and their kids or even your parents’ cousins and their kids. You’ll be surprised by the large network of blood relatives that exists around you. My husband’s family has 30 first cousins alone, so for me, recording a family tree for my daughter will definitely require intent, patience, and heart. 

Learn a New Recipe

Consider using this time to prepare a month’s worth of stockpiled frozen food or just try out a new recipe from YouTube or your favorite cooking blog. Baking is actually a great stress reliever.

With all the panic buying that’s happened, you may have to substitute ingredients. You could also have fun challenging yourself to a dish out of what’s left on the shelf. Just remember to practice good hygiene and wear protective gear while grocery shopping. Shopping late at night or early in the morning can help you avoid crowds.

Purge & Organize

There’s probably nothing on this list that will make you feel better than this activity. Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a great place to start. I love how her method actually considers and addresses the mental bond that we have with our belongings to better get us to detach from them. Practical tips include, “If you haven’t read a book within a few attempts, you’re likely never going to finish reading it” — and Kondo would say it’s served its purpose so get rid of it.

Once you’ve been able to purge, the next step is organizing, and here’s the part of Kondo’s method that really shines. She asks her clients to imagine what a space is going to be used for and then to imagine yourself in it, using it, and living it. Only then can the space fulfill its purpose. If it’s a pile of books, perhaps you need a reading space. If you have a lot of clothes spewing from your closet, perhaps you’re someone who would thrive with your closet organized in a way that helps you view it easily — by color or type, for instance. No matter how you choose to do this activity, it will leave you with a sense of mental relief (and space) in the end. 

Do Some Home Improvements

Most people have at least one thing they’ve put off in their home, whether it’s baby-proofing the television set to the wall, rearranging the living room furniture, or even something as simple and mundane as vacuuming behind the couch. The length of time it’s taken for my husband to hang a single hook rack in our apartment has gone into double-digit months.

If you feel overwhelmed, break down the larger project into smaller ones. If it’s vacuuming behind the couch, start by moving smaller pieces out of the way before you get some help to move the couch and begin vacuuming. If you want to hang something up, lay your supplies out, look for your studs, measure, then hang. 

Create Art

There are so many options when it comes to art. You can create tile magnets or pictures from your photos, do a watercolor painting to hang in the hallway, try your hand at drawing via a YouTube tutorial, or order an embroidery kit. The internet is full of ideas and instructions, so these are just a few!

Catch up with a Friend or Family Member

Take a moment to reach out to someone you haven’t had a chance to talk to in a while. Before texting was the status quo, I used to write really long emails to friends, documenting my weekly life and current-day musings. My recipients used to respond with long emails in return that were equally as thoughtful.

Today we are so used to texting culture that even a phone call feels intrusive. Try texting a friend or family member to set up a phone date. Open yourself up, and you’ll be amazed how close you can feel to someone virtually — just like having an online coffee date. Using this method, email, and spontaneous “thinking of you, when I saw this” texts, it’s no wonder I’ve kept in touch with dozens of others over the years. I guarantee you’ll be surprised how many people appreciate the effort and the chance to connect meaningfully.

Make that Memory Book

Most people have photos from a memorable trip or special occasion that they want to have made into a physical, tangible photo book but they just haven’t done it yet.

There are some great options nowadays, from easy (like Mixbooks and Shutterfly) to elite (Artifact Uprising and MILK). I personally like the idea of using the Chatbooks app to make a minimalist photo book in “under 10 minutes”. Don’t feel overwhelmed about making it perfect, or if you’re concerned about the cost, start with a smaller book with a few pages.

Secure Your Future and Your Finances

Perhaps this one is a downer and the biggest chore in the bunch, but it’s incredibly important to secure your future. We recently had our estate plan, will, power of attorney, and health directives completed, and boy was it a lot of work. This is one activity where nothing but focused execution will get you through it, and the easiest way is to start with a lawyer. But if you have several weeks at home coming up (ahem), save that cash and get it done.

Make a Bucket List

Have you ever made a bucket list? Well, I haven’t, but now is as good a time as any. At 37 years old, married for 5 years to someone I’ve known for 12, and raising a 3-year-old daughter, I can hardly be called young or old. But in between youth and death, wouldn’t it be nice to have a list of experiences, places, and things to accomplish, see, and try one day? Bucket lists don’t have to be full of cliches like parachuting from an airplane or having a heart to heart with your father (but they certainly can be). So go ahead and make a list: foster an animal, get married, have two kids, see the lights of the Eiffel Tower, scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef, and record an interview with your grandfather. Even better? Execute it. 

Make Plans for Your Future

These plans are not about writing your will or buying life insurance. Ideate and imagine your future, even if it’s uncertain right now. I have hope (hey, I’m a human and an optimist) that we’ll weather through this disaster and make it out the other side. Planning is what gives us hope, so with that being said, this can be as simple as making a top 10 list of restaurants to try for the rest of the year or as detailed as creating — what we call at work — an Individual Development Plan (IDP). An IDP asks you where you see yourself in one year, five years, and ten years, and then asking yourself what steps it would take for you to get there. Work IDPs are obviously for organizational planning and professional development, but a personal IDP can include places you want to travel to, where you see yourself living, how much you want to have saved by a certain age, and much more. It’s amazing what happens when you imagine what you’ll be doing ten years from now. It’s incredible what you will consciously and subconsciously do to make that version of you come true. So go ahead, dream of the future and what it holds for you. 

by Isabel Nguyen

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