It seems kind of basic, but it makes a huge difference. This doesn’t mean you need to create a dedicated home office or buy a bunch of fancy notepads and paper clips. I just mean take a few moments before you sit down to work to nest a little. Here’s what that entails for me:
Tidy up the space if needed. Move used coffee cups to the kitchen, put scattered pens in their designated holder, stack those miscellaneous papers into a neat pile. Boom, that’s it. Don’t actually WASH that used mug or start sorting papers—that’s a recipe for procrastination. Just neaten up a bit so you start your day a little more organized.
Accumulate the necessary work comforts. In order to actually get anything done, I need a mug of coffee and a glass of water by my side at all times. I tend to like having my phone nearby, but that’s debateable in its helpfulness. And I need my headphones within arm’s reach in case the neighbor kids start screaming.
Create the right ambiance. Take a minute to sit at your workspace and assess your current mood. Then figure out what kind of atmosphere you need to create in order to make it a successful work day. Feeling sleepy? Cue up the Lizzo playlist to give yourself a boost. Stressing about the work ahead of you? Light a scented candle and put on your comfiest leggings. Starting to feel stir crazy? Open all the windows and blinds in your space, or even consider working outside if you can.
See? Not complicated or time consuming, but SO much better than plopping down in front of your computer amidst a mess of papers and needing to interrupt yourself every 5 minutes to grab coffee, then find a snack, then go down a rabbit hole searching for the right playlist.
I’m doing surprisingly well in quarantine, but one thing I’m really missing—that there isn’t a good substitute for—is the library. I can still see friends and family through zoom, and I like cooking enough that I’m not really missing restaurants just yet, but there’s a hole in my life where the library used to be.
I can’t read a book on my phone or computer. I just can’t do it. So even though my library lets me check out ebooks for free with Libby, it’s not helping. I’m trying not to buy more books at this point either. I’d end up spending all my money and would quickly run out of storage space since my book shelves are already stacked.
So I’m stuck with actually reading the books I own. Which happens to be quite a lot. The problem is, I bought most of those books YEARS ago and let them gather dust until I eventually lost interest. A LOT of them are written by long-dead white guys, which doesn’t exactly spark my interest like it used to.
One thing I do like about those old dead white guys is the way they use language. Here are some choice quotes from what I read in April.
As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.
from Walden and Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
I looked up at the mass of signs and stars in the night sky and laid myself open for the first time to the benign indifference of the world.
from The Stranger by Albert Camus
Everybody needs his memories, they keep the wolf of insignificance from the door.
Things are very weird right now. I made a playlist about it when we first went into quarantine last month. Obviously, it’s still relevant.
I know lots of people are looking for soothing, relaxing music right now, but I think the opposite can be helpful too. Sometimes you just need to blast something loud and wild to channel how you’re really feeling and take the edge off. If that’s your thing, have a listen.