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Welcome to our new trapped-in-our-apartments blog series, where we tell you how we workerbees are coping with our coronavirus confinements. Mary Renaud is kicking it off with her strategy of challenging herself to finish fun or difficult feats before we’re released from captivity. She’s got some great suggestions! My favorite part is where she gets herself on the hook to work through a paper backlog, play through a [fitness] video game (!), and write through a full draft of her PhD dissertation (!!). All via Beeminder goals of course.

By 2 PM yesterday, I was jumping out of my skin. I haven’t been further than the balcony in twelve days and I’m going just a little stir-crazy. Waiting for the end of anything, especially something of an undetermined length, can feel pretty long. Heck, I find even the feeling of anticipating something enjoyable a little aversive. A master of patience, I am not. As our city and province strengthen their not-quite-a-lockdown-yet guidelines, I’m starting to think about ways to keep myself feeling healthy, happy, and patient while we’re all doing our parts to practice maximal social distancing and flatten that curve. Here’s what I plan on doing and why, in case it’s helpful to others.

I like to distract myself from thinking about an upcoming event that I’m looking forward to with something I’d prefer to have more time for. I find this helps tip the scales a little and make the wait not feel so long. One of my favourite ways of doing that is to take on a challenge, to pick something I’ll try to accomplish or complete before the arrival of the date or hour I’m looking forward to. That way, I’m almost rooting for having more time so that I can meet that challenge and satisfy my completionism, and that’s one way I plan to weather waiting things out now.

“I’m almost rooting for having more time”

If we need to stay home longer than it takes me to complete whatever I set out to do, I’ll have achieved something that I wanted to achieve, which’d be a boost, and I can pick another to ride out the remaining time. If things go better than we expect and I don’t win the race to the finish, I’ll be excited about the state of the world. Either way, I win.

I like to pick something I’d be doing by choice. Picking something I already have to get done in that time won’t really add anything extra, so I avoid aiming at those things.

If you want to try something similar, here are some ideas of the kinds of challenges you could take on:

  • A project that’s been on your to-do list for ages and that isn’t urgent, but that you’d feel great having off your back. (For example, getting through any digital or paperwork backlogs.)

  • Something that has a deadline that falls outside of the range of time you think social distancing measures will need to be in place and that you want to try to complete more quickly. (Finishing the first draft of your thesis or dissertation, maybe.)

  • A stretch goal that you’d never need to do, but that it would be fun or exciting to have done. (Finishing something you’ve been writing for fun, for instance, or trying to walk the distance to your dream vacation spot, which also keeps you moving.)

  • Learning something you haven’t had time for. (You could watch a self-selected curriculum of online courses or even take a self-paced massive open online course from a top university, or you could get through the next level of a language-learning course.)

  • Something purely for fun. (Like finishing the full storyline of an especially long video game, watching all of the Star Wars movies, or reading that trilogy gathering dust on your bookshelf.)

  • A competition with a friend. (Which of you will take more steps, get to inbox zero first, learn more new recipes, read the most books…?)

I want my own first challenges to include something that’s on my to-do list, but never makes its way to the top. I’m going to try to eliminate the non-urgent paperwork backlog that’s been back-burnered by more important things and that just keeps growing, like a colony of tribbles.

Mary's paper backlog goal on Beeminder

I also want something that’ll be a bit of silly fun while being more active, so I’m going to try to play through all of Ring Fit Adventure on the Switch.

Mary's Ring Fit Adventure goal on Beeminder

Finally, the biggie: I’m going to try to finish the first draft of my dissertation. I’m going to restart it from zero, rewriting the parts that are already written and drafting the remaining pieces that are still just collections of notes. I’m also going to give myself a hefty reward if I beat the clock on this one!

Mary's dissertation goal on Beeminder

I’m hoping these challenges will help keep the time from passing too slowly, and I hope something in here is useful to you too. If you give this a try, leave a comment about what challenge(s) you’ve picked! And if you’re using a Beeminder goal to track it and feel like sharing it, paste the link too!

Good luck with whatever you take on!


Image credit: pexels.com