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Plans in the Time of Quarantine & the Great Re-open

5 min read

By Sarah Buhrman

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Making plans right now is hard. So much is still not open and, even when it is, there’s no shortage of caution about going to public places. The guidelines are all over the place, and we aren’t really sure who we should be listening to. But listening to everyone causes anxiety.

Whether we are being super-cautious or deciding to embrace re-opening the US, we are trying to get some work done. A lot of this is because staying at home for a couple months sounded like the vacay we always wanted, but it kinda isn’t.

We need to do something. We need to feel productive. And we really need to be busy.

What to Plan

Planning your day can be easy with vague stuff, or complicated with details. Here are some ideas of plans you can make.

  • Update your social media profiles. Whether you are a work-from-home type or a nine-to-fiver, it’s probably been a while since you updated your bios. With social media becoming more of an extension of your professional life, you need to make sure you are up to date on information and, perhaps more importantly, up to date on how you want your privacy settings.
  • Make a (brief) five-year-plan. A five-year-plan is nothing more than a written and thought out plan of where you want to be in five years. Is your current job the One? Would you like to be promoted during that time? Any personal/work-from-home projects you want to get done? Write it down.
  • Make a one-year-plan. Now that you have a five-year-plan in mind, consider what you can do over the next 12 months towards that goal. Get some step-by-step milestones that you can start working on now.
  • Revisit those resolutions. New Year’s Day was less than half a year ago, but statistically the resolutions made are long gone. Which ones can you resurrect? Consider some outside-the-box solutions – a 15 minute dance-a-thon makes a great daily workout. Or search YouTube for guided meditations.
How to Plan
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ADLs
  • Keep things small. We are all stressed on a psychological and emotional level. If you were already stressed (3/4ths of Americans reported stress-related symptoms in 2017), it’s likely gotten worse. If not, you are probably overwhelmed by how exhausting stress can be. Keep your goals smaller than you think. Now is not the time to over-reach. You just need to do something. Keep it chill and easy.
  • Don’t forget ADLs. ADLs are Activities of Daily Living. They include brushing teeth, making supper, getting dressed, etc. If you are working from home or laid off, these have probably fallen by the wayside. Now is the time to get back on the self-care saddle. Plus, it’s likely been a while since you got a check mark or gold star for making your bed.
  • Make a schedule. Pull out that planner you never use (’cause you’re too busy, am I right?) and make up some daily tasks with your new to-do’s. Put the planner in a place where you will pick it up every day. Keep it open to encourage you to check it.
Keep it Going
  • Check them off. Whether you schedule it in or just make a daily list, check off the things you get done, no matter how small it seems. Having that little tick next to your to-do’s makes getting it done worth it. Then you’ll never have to say you’ve done nothing all day again.
  • Celebrate milestones. Learning a language? Reward yourself when you remember a tricky phrase or grammar rule. Struggling with mental illness? Give yourself a treat for brushing your teeth every day. No milestone is too small to celebrate. Pro tip: if you are doing several, smaller milestones, get a candy bar and break it up into pieces (you can freeze it to help with this). Reward yourself with a small piece instead of the whole caloric thing.
  • Give yourself a break. We all got hit in the face with a flounder with this pandemic. No one saw it coming. We couldn’t have possibly thought to prepare ourselves. You are here and you are trying. That’s good. Don’t expect perfection from yourself. We have been simultaneously stressed (fight or flight, anyone?) and bored (streaming videos and lunch meat sandwiches again?) for a while. Give yourself some credit while you get back in the swing of it all.

The Great Re-Open

This is going to be all over the place. Some people will be going back to work. Others will continue working at home. Some will have lost their jobs and have nothing to go back to. And most of us have no idea what’s going on day to day.

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Figure out what you know about your situation. Write it down and/or talk it out with your SO or bestie. Then, decide what you need to do moving forward. Once you have that, you should be able to see what your first step will be.

Especially if you have to look for a new job, now is the time to get started. Set a goal for each day, such as updating your resume, finding job listings, applying for 3-5 jobs each day, etc. Pro tip: build in a day each week to respond to emails, etc. If you are job hunting, it can get really easy to focus on applying and forget following up.

If you have a job that you will be returning to, whether you work from home right now or not, start getting back into that schedule. It can be really shocking to go back, especially if you’ve turned into a night owl during the pandemic. Take the extra time to ease back into it.

If you are returning to work now, or never left (blessings to our front-line workers!), good luck, stay safe, and we see you for the essential workers you are.

Wash your hands!

What are your plans for the next few weeks? Are you working or still at home?

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