Coronavirus disruption — use your slack time productively!

As the hourglass topples
Illustration credits – Sanjana Jain

(What to do now that you have the time to do more?)

When we thought nothing could slow us down, came Coronavirus (COVID-19). We were just about warming up to 2020 and everything we wanted to achieve in this year and before we realised, we have been thrown into one of the most chaotic times of the decade. In a time when everything is available at the tap of a button, we are preparing ourselves for scarcity that we may never have experienced before.

If anything, in this turbulent period, we seem to have more time at our hands, maybe more than ever before. We have to accept that for most of us the pace of work has slowed down. Even if quite a few of us are working from home, things are not at as intense a pace as we might see on our regular days. It is up to each of us as to see how we will use this time; we can crib and fear the unknown or binge on all the OTT content until our eyes become blurry and red or we can use these precious moments to do things we have not been able to find the time to do. 

Now is the time to focus on those important rather than urgent things, which you always wanted to work on but never had the time as the excuse of lack of time has somewhat diminished. Friends I have spoken with have the following items on their list and maybe some of these will also inspire you to make your own ‘slack time’ to-do list.

Purpose and Direction: Thinking about where we are and where we want to be. Are we happy with what we are doing and where we are, in work and life? Is your current agenda leading to the larger purpose that you are looking for? If you want to do some course correction, this is the time to reflect on the same.

De-clutter: We have spent our entire life hoarding things — clothes, souvenirs, gifts. Now could be a great moment to take stock of all that we have but we don’t need. It is time to de-clutter your wardrobe and your storage spaces, giving out what you don’t need and creating space for more in life or even living a more minimalist sustainable life.

Organise your finances: I am always surprised when I realise that even CXOs, who manage large companies, hardly focus on their personal finances. Many of us don’t know how our funds are deployed, we haven’t revisited our financial decisions in years and have not done any conscious retirement planning. The fact that this may not be the ideal time to make fresh financial decisions should not hold us back from at least organising our financial information. This could be the time to review how optimally your funds are deployed, with what time horizon perspective and to take stock of returns for each of your investments (ignoring the immediate upheaval in financial markets!). If you haven’t done any estate planning or written a will, this may be a good time to do that as well.

Catch up on reading: All the books that you bought and never read and all the ones that you want to read but never got yourself to order, this is the time to do it. Either order a hard copy (most of these are still getting delivered in a day or two), else even better just get yourself some e-books and go on a reading binge.

Take that online course: Which are the personal development areas and upskilling initiatives that you have been putting off? You may already know what you need to work on, else refresh yourself with the last couple of years of appraisal forms and ask around, to zero in on those one or two areas you want to work on. Find yourself an on-line course and get started.

Exercise: Gyms may be closed, but that doesn’t stop you from getting on to an exercise routine, especially when you have the liberty of time at your hand. Get up, move, do those push-ups, planks and start with the runs (if possible) that you always wanted to start with but never had the time.

Connect with family and friends: Being at home means your immediate family is more accessible, use this opportunity to connect and pursue activities together within the confines of your home. Friends may not be physically accessible, but this could be the best time to pick up the phone and renew connections with people you have lost touch with. This is one time when your excuse to yourself that ‘they may be too busy to take your call’ is not a good enough rationalisation.

So, what does your slack time To-do list look like?

Also, while we attempt to productively use the extra time that we have, let us find few moments to express gratitude to the medical, para-medical and sanitation community, government bodies and many others who are working overtime to contain this pandemic and keep us safe.

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