Okay, so I don’t know about you, but I’ve just about exhausted my initial list of quarantine activities. I had a pretty ample to-do list to start things out, but seeing as this has lasted quite a few weeks longer than expected, I’m now working on finding more ways to be productive around the house.
What is productivity
I’ve seen a quote circling around that, in summary, says you don’t have to be productive to be valuable. What an important truth! Out value doesn’t come from what we do but rather from who we are.
With that said, though, the majority of the time, being productive makes us feel good. We were made to accomplish tasks, to do good work, to take steps forward.
But productivity doesn’t have to look like learning a new language, completing a massive DIY project, or starting a new side-hustle. Self-care is also productive. Taking care of your loved ones is productive. Exercising and meditation are productive. Board games are productive. Anything that leads you to a better place is productive.
According to the dictionary, the word productive means: achieving or producing a significant amount or result. If what you are doing achieves a significant result, you are being productive. That can mean you have achieved a renewed state of peace in your own life through self-care, a deeper connection with friends and family through time spent together, a clean home by vacuuming and picking up after yourself.
Just because it’s not trending doesn’t mean it’s not productive.
Ways to be productive with your time
1. Clean out your closet
This can be as quick and easy or tedious as you want it to be (and either way is fine!). A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you’ve worn it in the last year. If you haven’t, let it go. Also, if you have multiples of a similar style shirt or same wash jeans, pair it down to one or two. Bag up your giveaways and take it to your local donation center.
Start a journal, try your hand at poetry, or write your friends a letter. You don’t have to be a great writer to get the benefit of writing. Writing is cathartic, helps you sort out your thoughts, and exercises your brain. It’s also a great way to find new, creative ideas.
Consider reading a variety of fiction and nonfiction. You don’t have to read copious amounts, but consider having a bedside book or two to grab when you don’t know what to do. And don’t feel like you have to force yourself to read something overly academic or impressive. Pick back up your childhood favorite novel or go for a book you’re interested in, something that grabs you that you know you’ll keep chugging forward on. Don’t be hard on yourself either. You’re reading for you. Any amount of reading that satisfies you is enough.
4. Paint or draw
Much like writing, you don’t have to be good at art to enjoy it. In fact, a lot of the beauty of art is subjective anyway. We’re all artists in our own unique right. Need some inspiration? Look up ideas for drawings or paintings on pinterest. You could also get yourself an adult coloring book, known for their meditative quality.
Need a boost of energy? Get your blood pumping with your favorite exercise. Getting your body moving and taking care of yourself is without a doubt productive and worth your time and energy.
6. Try a new form of exercise
Exercising is one thing, but trying a new form of exercise is another. If you normally run, try out yoga. If you’re normally all weights, add in some cardio. You’ll expand your body’s repertoire of abilities and strengthen it in new ways. You may even find you enjoy new forms of exercise as much or more than your old faithfuls.
Meditating is one of those things that if you don’t practice it regularly, you may not see it as productive. However, meditation is so good for the mind, body, soul, and spirit. It’s a way of letting go that allows you to listen to yourself and the Holy Spirit to a greater degree. Meditation isn’t just reserved for eastern religions; in fact, God tells us to meditate on His Word day and night. Quiet the racing of your mind and get centered with meditation. You’ll find you are much more calm, collected, and focused afterwords.
8. Give yourself a spa day
Sometimes the most productive thing we can do is take care of ourselves. Whether you take yourself to get your nails done or pamper yourself at home, treating yourself to a spa day will help rejuvenate you for what’s ahead. Looking to do a spa day at home? Get yourself a nice face mask or facial kit, some bath salts or bombs, an exfoliate, and a nail polish or press on nails you love!
9. Plan a family night or date night
Making time for those you love is a great way to spend your time. Make plans for a fun family or date night. Plan dinner, dessert, and games or a movie. Come up with a unique way to really spend quality time together. Consider all cooking together or enjoying a picnic or game night under the stars or in your pajamas.
10. Research something you’re curious about
We all have random topics we are curious about – a recipe we want to try, something health-related we want to learn more about, ways to go green, you name it! Instead of just being curious about it, take the bull by the horns and learn more. If you’re looking for something productive to do, take the time to research one of these topics. Self-education is a great use of time that will help satisfy a curious mind and lead to growth.
11. Organize your physical and digital files
I highly recommend taking the time to do this periodically. Grab your file folders and make sure they are up to date. Chunk any old documents that are obsolete. Add new folders for new categories or add sub-folders for folders that are getting too full. Make sure you know where your important documents are, both physically and online. Especially with digital files, it’s easy to start saving documents in willy-nilly places or to change up systems or start new files when you forget you already have a folder for that. Go through every folder and document and make sure your documents are organized in a way that makes sense. Go with your gut. You’ll be more likely to remember where to put files and documents physically and digitally if you label and place them in an intuitive place.
12. Reassess your finances and budgeting
This is another productive project that should be tackled at least a couple of times per year. Take the time to reassess your finances. Has your income changed? Have your bills increased or decreased? Do you need to cancel a service you are no longer using or call your phone or cable company to renegotiate your bill? Do a full top to bottom assessment of your finances so you know exactly where your money is going. If you don’t run your money, it will run you (and you will run out!). Decide how much you want to be spending, saving, and giving and then allocate your funds accordingly. Percentages are always a good way to go instead of using hard and fast numbers because no matter what your income is, percentages can stay consistent in budgeting. If you haven’t reassessed your finances lately, this productive project could take a while, so make sure you set aside the time to finish what you start. Once you make it a habit to periodically review your finances, it should only take a few hours (plus any time needed to call and make changes to your billing).
13. Organize your kitchen
This is such a satisfying project to me and one that I try to complete monthly or quarterly. Over time, our kitchens tend to accumulate uneaten food, Tupperware containers will missing lids, and dirt and grime in hard-to-reach places. Set aside an hour or so to organize your kitchen, top to bottom.
Start in the pantry and throw out any out of date food, then organize what’s left so items are arranged on the shelves in a way that makes sense for your family. Move on next to the fridge and freezer and do the same thing. After that, you can move on to cleaning out your cabinets and reorganizing them. Cups out of whack? Stack them up and arrange them in a new order that will help keep them in place. Spice rack or cabinet in disarrays? Make sure your spices are still good and you have plenty, and then reorganize them in a way that makes sense for you so that the most used spices are the most easily accessible. Once you’ve gotten all your cabinets organized, do a deep clean of your sink and surface spaces. For extra credit, do a good disinfecting clean of your fridge and pantry while you reorganize them.
14. Complete nitty-gritty chores
Scrub the tubs, take a duster or the vacuum attachment to your baseboards, re-caulk, sweep the cobwebs from corners on the exterior of your house, weed your flower beds. The list goes on and on, and it’s different for almost every household. Whatever those pesky chores are you’ve been avoiding, set yourself a timer or a goal and get at it. These nitty-gritty chores normally aren’t as terrible as we make them out to be in our minds. Once you get to it, it’ll be done in no time, and the productive project will have been well worth it.
15. Get your photos printed and update your albums and frames
This productive project pays major dividends. These days, we all tend to keep our photos on our phones or floating in a cloud somewhere. Choose to take the time at least once a year to get photos printed and update your albums and frames. Don’t have a photo album? Add that to the list! Get yourself a photo album, even if it feels antiquated. You’ll be glad you did. Thumbing through a physical album is much more enjoyable than scrolling through old pics. And you don’t have to print your whole camera-roll. Just pick the highlights from the big occasions or the candids that make you smile.
16. Complete a DIY project
DIY projects are a great way to be productive, save some money, and learn a new skill. If you already have something in mind, look up some how-to’s online. If you know you want to do a DIY but don’t know what you want to do, there’s lots of great sites that can give you some ideas. Consider searching Pinterest for some easy DIYs. You can go big or small. For example, I redid my cabinets, which was a week long DIY project. But you could also tackle some DIY planter boxes or customized flower pots that will only take an hour or so. The world is your oyster when it comes to DIY.
RELATED POST: DIY Guide to Refinish your Kitchen Cabinets
17. Set goals or start a vision board
Assessing where you are at and where you want to go is a great way to be productive. Especially if you are feeling aimless, a list of goals or a vision board can help you clear your head and get some direction. Any time you are setting goals, be sure to consider short and long term goals and set milestones for yourself so you can track your progress as you move forward. Sometimes you need to set goals for the year and sometimes you need to set goals for the week or for the day. Whatever it may be, setting achievable, measurable goals is a great us of time if you use it to propel you into action. Goals are a launch pad for getting things done.
18. Clean out your emails
I literally did this one just today. This is quite the chore and will likely need to be done in parts. Start by creating new folders for the different types of emails you get if you don’t already have an email folder system in place. Make some email rules that automatically send your various types of emails to their respective folder-homes. This will take more time than you might expect as you will need to scroll through your emails and make sure you get all your major senders assigned to a folder. Don’t worry if you miss some. As new emails come in that should be assigned to a folder, you can create new email rules.
After you’ve done that, consider taking the next oh so daunting step and delete, delete, delete. At some point, you’ll need to get ride of those emails from five years ago. The longer you wait, the harder it is to do. Bite the bullet on a day you are looking for something productive to do, and get to trashing. Once this is done, it will be much easier to keep a handle on your inbox.
19. Call your loved ones
If you’re feeling chill but looking for something productive to do, calling your loved ones is a great way to go. We all know how good it makes us feel when someone calls to let us know they are thinking about us. We can do the same for the loved ones in our lives, too, simply by taking a few minutes to give them a call.
20. Start a garden (or get a couple of plants)
Gardening is a new trendy pastime many are taking up these days. And it’s a great way to have something productive to do and something worthwhile to steward and take care of. I personally just have a couple of small plants that I like to water and tend to. They don’t require a ton of effort, but it’s fun to have.
A friend of mine just recently purchased a couple of vegetable plants, though, and it has inspired me. You can get a couple of vegetable plants for just a few dollars at your local hardware store or garden center and look up care tips online. You can even take the steps to go green by making your own natural pesticides and herbicides. Starting a garden (big or small) is a great use of time because the output means quality, healthy food for yourself and your family. And even if you are just enjoying tending to a couple of flowering plants like I am, you get to enjoy the beauty and health benefits of have nature around you.
21. Make something
Maybe this is technically part of DIY, but I’m categorizing it differently. DIY to me pertains more to utilitarian things, stuff that gets everyday use. When I’m talking about making something, I’m talking something artsy-craftsy, something fun for the sake of itself. Make a bracelet like you used to in grade school. Make a no-sew blanket. Put together a scrapbook of a stage of life or a recent trip or occasion. Find a project in which the process itself is enjoyable in and of itself no matter what the end product ends up like, no matter if you will ever use that item.
Let’s be honest. Not everyone loves to cook. But there’s certainly no doubt that it’s productive because we all have to eat! There’s been a recent bread making fad that’s circulating as well as plenty of influencers frequently sharing recipes online. Find a new recipe that appeals to you, and go for it. Plan to enjoy the time at the grocery store picking up your items. Allow yourself the time to enjoy the process of assembling the meal or food item. I personally enjoy one pot meals that don’t require too many ingredients. Find a recipe that’s up your ally or concoct a new recipe yourself to try! Cooking is a great pastime and it’s a surefire way to be productive.
Why Be Productive
At the end of the day, productivity has to start from inside. Why are you wanting to be productive? Productivity gives us purpose in life. It validates our existence and makes us proud of ourselves. Again, productivity doesn’t mean you have to have some major instagrammable output. Taking care of yourself is productive. Spending time with loved ones is productive.
Productivity brings about a significant result. Why do we want to be productive then? To move forward in our lives, to gain momentum, to grow and learn and live! Productivity, significant results is what we live for. Significant results are happening all around us each day, and as we continue to be productive in our day to day life, one day we will turn around and see we have come much farther than we ever realized we could.