I guess it’s been about a month since the quarantine started.
But I don’t think that term really makes sense. Quarantine. It sounds like you are thrown into the hole in prison. No contact with anyone, no sunlight, nothing to keep you busy… nothing but silence.
In reality, this period of isolation seems like a mild spring break vacation for a lot of people. We can come and go as we please.
I’ve been to the grocery about 5 times, I’ve been outside walking and running, I’ve been to a few different houses, I can drive wherever, and I see a ton of people out and about like nothing is different.
Luckily, my life is pretty much the same as usual, except for all of the truck shows being canceled, and this is probably the longest stretch of time in my adult life that I’ve gone without eating food from a restaurant. March 12 was the last time I ate at a restaurant, and March 11 was the last time I had Chipotle. If you know me, you know this is unheard of. I just don’t want to take the risk of getting sick just because I wanted the convenience of fast food. I guess it’s a good thing that I like simple meals that I can easily make at home, plus my girlfriend also enjoys cooking, so skipping restaurants for the time being isn’t a big deal for us.
This is also a great time to test your willpower. To abstain from something you’ve done so much in your life. Chipotle is one of those things for me. It’s funny how it’s just a restaurant, but it’s always been more to me than that. A place where I celebrate the good times, a place where I go to soak up the sad times, a place of familiarity when I travel to new places, and a place to share stories with others. So yes, I miss Chipotle, but I’ll have it again soon.
As far as work goes, I’ve been in the same funk for a couple years now. And this quarantine is no different. I still get work done. I have finished many projects over the past couple years, but I’ve been distracted way too much to stay consistent with things. Even this writing. I say I’m going to write every day, even if it’s just 15 minutes. But I usually write about my day in my pocket journal, which is fine. But I keep saying I’d rather publish more public things. But I never do it. So here I am, trying to do what I say.
I try to plan everything out, but that usually gets me nowhere real fast. I love writing, but I seem to only do it on social media, mainly Instagram. Nothing wrong with that, but why wouldn’t I write it here instead? This blog is indexed by Google and other search engines, plus it’s way easier to organize my thoughts on my own website instead of through social media. For example, if I wanted to find all of the posts I made about Chipotle on Facebook, that would be nearly impossible. But I could tag every Chipotle post on my blog with the “chipotle” tag, and instantly find them all.
It’s funny how I usually know what to do, I just don’t always do it.
I’ve taken on several website jobs, then procrastinated until the client asks what’s going on. I’ve setup pre-orders for things and didn’t deliver them on time, or at all (trust me, I’m going to finish that merch course). I’ve started reading new books, then drifted into other books, resulting in a stack of half-finished books. I go through my room and throw everything I don’t want anymore in a huge pile, super motivated to get rid of it all right then, then it just sits there for months collecting dust.
I write in my journal almost daily about how I need to do more podcasts, write more blog posts, do more online courses, shoot more photos, start a YouTube channel, finally give this Tik Tok thing a try (damn you GaryVee), etc. But I rarely do any of those things. Instead, I keep reading books and articles online, I research things to death when I probably won’t even go forward with a purchase of those things, I watch the news when I usually never do that, I plan vacations for the distant future, I start new businesses instead of focusing on the ones I already have, I play cards for hours, I talk on phone calls for too long, I stay up too late and sleep in (I still have the worst sleep habits), and ultimately I just find ways of distracting myself when I know what I should be doing.
So here I am, writing a damn blog post, because I’ve been talking about doing this for far too long.
The quarantine isn’t an ideal way of life, but it is what it is. So we can be upset about it and throw a fit, or we can do something about it. What am I waiting for before I actually start doing something?
I was debt free and nothing changed. Now I’m not debt free again, and I’ve said, “once I’m debt free again, all of this will be easier.” No it won’t. It was the same thing before I sold my house. “Once this house sells, life is going to be insanely amazing!” No, it wasn’t. I sold my house and life was the same. Even when all the stars align, your life is mostly the same as it was before. People (myself included) wait for all the luck in the world to be in their favor, for everything to be handed to them, and they think they’re magically going to change who they are as a person.
It doesn’t work like that.
You have to focus on your daily habits. Your consistent habits are the things that turn you into who you are. For me, I want to create things, I want help other people with my knowledge and skills, and I want to have great health. Just because we are told to stay home, doesn’t mean I can’t prioritize those things. Sure, some people have been workaholics for many years, and this is the first time they’ve gotten a break. They are relaxing, and that’s fine. Everyone knows what they need, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to any of this. We are all still figuring out how life works during a quarantine.
But there are plenty of others who have these big goals and aspirations that they want to accomplish, yet they are just watching Netflix all day and refreshing the news. That’s not helping anyone, and it’s pushing you further away from the life you say you want.
Figure out a simple routine that focuses on your priorities. We all have enough time to do the things we want. We all have different responsibilities, but we all have the same 168 hours per week, and you can think of several people who are crushing it out there. So what’s your excuse?
A basic daily routine for me could include an hour of creative outlet time (writing, photography, painting), an hour of helping others (providing a service like web design, offering private coaching, recording podcasts, producing online courses), and an hour of exercise (walking, bike ride, push-ups, hiking, jump rope). That’s only 3 hours per day. It might sound like a lot, but that still gives me 8 hours to work, 8 hours to sleep, time to eat, get ready, and a few hours of downtime. Of course you can tweak the numbers for your own situation. And if an hour seems too aggressive to start with, just do 15 minutes of each. Hell, do 5 minutes of each. Just get in the habit of doing it daily, and next thing you know, you’ll be so used to it that it would be weird to skip a day.
After writing that, it’s clear I know what I need to do, I just have to do it. I have written basic schedules in my various notepads for years, about how I would structure my perfect day. I think I’ve written about it a few times on this site too. But nothing sticks, because I don’t do it religiously. I’m not religious, but I need to treat this shit like it’s sacred. Nothing gets in the way. Nobody interrupts me. No other plans are too important. No excuses.
But nothing will happen if I spend days and weeks agonizing over the perfect routine. Perfection is an illusion. There’s no perfect schedule, for me, or you, or anyone. I think the issue is that I’ve tried too much, but I haven’t done enough. Stop trying, start doing. You either do or you don’t. There is no more trying.
So in closing, the quarantine life for me is very similar to my normal life. Yes, a lot of stores are closed, yes I’ve skipped all restaurants, yes I’ve missed all the traveling opportunities and all the events, yes I’m inside more than normal. But I can still make the best of my situation. Complaining about why this isn’t fair isn’t going to get me anywhere. I am lucky that I can do my work from anywhere, and I still have some clients sending me work, and I’m still getting online orders… so I have nothing to complain about.
I’m grateful and can’t wait to look back on this pandemic/quarantine/isolation period as one of the best things to ever happened to me. Will you say the same thing? I hope so. Maybe this will be the thing that pushes me out of my comfort zone and gets me to say fuck the fear. What’s the worst that can happen, right? I hope you are safe and healthy, and I hope you use this quarantine time to your advantage.