First things first, stay home
Stay home, stay home, stay home, stay home, stay home, stay the fuck home. Unless you absolutely need to go outside for essentials like medicine or food. Yes, there is also the option, depending on where you live, to rush to the hospital for an emergency, an option I don’t wish anyone to deal with in these times. Don’t touch your face, wash your hands, we all know the advice, and the memes, and the songs. Outside of that time, what do you do? What do I do? There is actually a whole bunch of options available to us thanks to the amazing internet which I guess you are using to read this so you’re good to go as well.
Tap into your creativity
You definitely have a remote memory of hearing somewhere about Isaac Newton observing the fall of an apple. You probably know that it started a train of thought that led him to formulate his law of universal gravitation among other things. A lesser-known fact is that he made this observation while in isolation in 1665. As it turns out, Cambridge University, where I believe he was studying, closed its doors following a bubonic plague outbreak in England.
Everybody has a certain level of creativity, connecting an observation with another. Combining images and thoughts and concepts to then come up with something beautiful whether you see it right away or not. Actually one thing you can do to kickstart or re-ignite your creativity journey is read that post on the importance of creativity from PersEd. You can probably pick up a few tips to get started and check out their creativity quiz to see where you are and decided where you will go.
Personally I decided to pick up a guitar again and put some more time into my podcast. My girlfriend got herself a ukulele so we can play music together and she also created a new Instagram account @ourquarantinetogether. Not too sure what’s going on there but here’s a post illustrating what I just wrote.
View this post on Instagram
This is probably the only vaguely Instagrammable corner of our flat – which still party unfurnished! Jd bought a guitar, I bought an ukulele – both very cheap. Neither of us have ever played an instrument before so this is totally new to both of us. Who knows, maybe after this quarantine we’ll be able to support ourselves playing gigs at Wembley Stadium 🎤 🎸 what are you planning to learn during this isolation?! #guitar #ukulele #selfisolation #stayhome #savelives #antisocialsocialclub #london #instagrammers #top #music #neverstoplearning
Help building a better, safer world
There we go, there is the part that justifies the presence of this entry on this blog and not on the PDW website. The part for the coders and hackers around the world. For the last couple of evenings, I have been playing around with Huntr. It’s a fairly young platform built by former colleague Adam Nygate, even though we didn’t get the chance to work on a project together I know that he knows his stuff when it comes to security. He decided to go on a venture to make the open-source world more secure.
How? You can use his platform to report an issue in any Github codebase or fix one visible in there and get rewarded with cash, credit, and prizes. I’ll definitely keep an eye out to see where this goes. I’ve actually pushed some code for a fix just before I started writing this post.
Maybe you’re not after some cash to take on security challenges. What if I told you that every year companies lose 400 billion dollars because of cyber-attacks every year? At least according to another stranger on the internet. The actual number might vary but you get the picture, right? Right? Oh, you don’t care about companies, right. What if you get your identity stolen because you are using a system built with NodeJS using an AWS s3 CLI wrapper that allows for command injection? Won’t be much in the grand scheme of things but maybe a whole world of pain for you. But if you don’t have the time for that it’s fine. If you don’t have the skills just go and get them.
Learn new things
The lack of commuting and social interactions definitely allows for the room you may not have been able to make yourself to try new things. Whether it is that Duolingo course you’ve always pushed back for lack of time.
Don’t forget Zombieland’s first rule: Cardio
So, you do stay at home, fortunately, following the rules given by various health organizations and reasonable governments. Yeah, those that don’t believe that this situation is an elaborate hoax. You still need to keep your body moving now that you lost what may be your biggest source of movement. Commuting.
Personally, I opted for a mix of pushups, Fitbit on Xbox and Just Dance to get the blood flowing. Find whatever works for you, some will go for yoga, others will get order a treadmill from Peloton. That it works for you is all that matter but cardio is key.
You don’t know that aren’t in a simulation and that this isn’t the warmup round to a messed up game where we’re getting groomed for a zombie apocalypse. If not for that, exercising helps to bolster your body defenses and assist in fighting viruses like that COVID-19. Better stack odds in your favor. Also, you wouldn’t want to develop inactivity related health issues since if things take a turn for the worse, hospitals will need to choose who can get treatment and who rolls the pipped dices. Hopefully, we get to flatten that curve soon enough that this doesn’t become a reality for everyone. Keep moving.
Build or maintain routine
If you are fortunate enough to be working from home right now you already have a structure for the weekdays and that could be enough. Your daytime activities are basically built around your workday as usual minus the commute. If you are not that fortunate, you need to find something to find some structure that works for you. It could be expressing yourself creatively, crafting your resume or going through these free Udemy classes for a few hours. Without structure, you can end up with a whole bunch of nothing to show for your day. While that can be fine, it can take a toll on your mental health if it starts repeating over and over.
Mix things up with breaks!
Once you have your structure set up, you bring in some flexibility to avoid going nuts. Personally, I have a pretty straightforward day. I wake up, grab breakfast then exercise. After the post-workout shower, I jump straight into work. A thing I recommend doing is to take frequent breaks every 60 to 75 minutes for 5-15mn in order to keep your mind fresh.
During these breaks, I try to stay away from screens but can have the occasional FIFA or read a few more pages in my book of the moment. I currently read that Visual doing book which unfortunately isn’t available on Kindle, you’ll know why if you get it. Interesting book tapping in that creativity aspect by the way by learning to communicate ideas visually. If you don’t live alone, talking to whoever shares your space is great to take your mind off work.
Hear more than the voices in your head
At work, we have a zoom channel to emulate our kitchen to chat with other colleagues which I am guilty of skipping for now but it is a great idea. I’ll definitely jump in there tomorrow. Talking to someone or just hearing someone’s voice can be great especially if you are going through that lockdown alone. Another thing that can help is turning the radio on or putting a podcast. I even put a list of 10 podcasts I enjoy listening to so that you don’t have to find some yourself.
I can’t believe I forgot to mention gaming, playing online chatting with people over Discord is also a great option to hear people’s voices while having fun. Just don’t turn the sound on if you’re playing with strangers especially if you’re discovering a new game.
Last but not least, keep strong! We’re all in this together while keeping our distances and I’ll keep writing posts and code on my end while you do you.
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The cover pic is the painting “Master Isaac Newton in His Garden at Woolsthorpe, in the Autumn of 1665” from Robert Hannah.