We have been under quarantine for quite some months now. Most of us have either adapted to this temporary yet long lifestyle or have worked our schedule around it.
As students in undergrad or grad school, most of us are now having classes online or our universities or colleges have organized different means of studying. In either case, being in quarantine has taught all of us a thing or two.
In today’s blog post, I would like to briefly list out a few things that quarantine has taught me that I will incorporate into my everyday life even when all is over and we return back to normal. I usually do not do these kinds of posts, but I believe it will give us all a great opportunity to discuss what we have learned and share it with others so we may help each other out!
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1. Money Management
Not a lot of us are comfortable talking about this topic, but I honestly feel that it is necessary. Managing money and personal finance is one of the most important life skill that we can learn and practice especially when we are in college. Being in school, where we are on our path towards building a career gives us an opportunity to learn, make mistakes, and re-learn so we can embrace personal finance as we grow.
Before quarantine began, takeout was a very reoccurring part of my everyday routine. Well, at least 3-4 times a week, which can add up for the entire month. It was probably 40% of my entire months’ expenses! 20% was the occasional visit to the mall where ‘a small purchase doesn’t matter’ but it adds up!
Believe it or not, ever since quarantine began I have not had takeout ONCE. Yes, I couldn’t believe it either! I never really thought that I could stay without getting meals from outside, but I have. And that has ultimately reduced my credit card bills to almost NOTHING! As I am writing this, I realize how much money I had spent in eating out, where I could have planned meals and saved LOADS! Basically the 15-20$ takeouts just add up over time.
But this does not mean that no take-outs ever again. I just want to keep it to a percentage. Now, my strategy is not to jot it all down! I don’t have the time to record each meal, and I am pretty sure you don’t either. So my strategy is simple. 2 meals per week such that they only spend 20% of your total budget. Say, for instance, if you allocate $1500 for the entire month, you are free to spend $300 dollars on eating out (which is still quite a lot). The money you save, out of these $300 (congratulations on that!) you can save up into your next month fund or invest!
2. Investing is Important
Before quarantine began I didn’t know the ABCD of investing and why it is important. The only thing I had heard when it comes to investing is that “the stock market is risky” and “people can lose a lot of money”. These things, now I realize are far from the truth, when you look long term.
After educating myself more on investing, which is an ongoing process, what I have come to realize is that investing is a part of personal finance which can have a lot of benefits.
So let’s look at it this way. You save up some money in a bank account, say $1000. You get am interest rate of 1.5% compounded annually (which is also on the high spectrum), after 10 years you will be at $1161. That’s an increment of $161 in 10 years.
Now say, you invest these $1000 long term stocks with a diversified portfolio. According to stock market analysis, on an average, the increment to long term stocks is about 12% annually (and when I say long term, we are looking at LONG term). That means, after 10 years, the amount will be around $3000.
Now, when I say this, its based on statistics and depends on how much risk you would like to take. Some great places to learn about stocks are cointocapital.com, stock market basics on Linkedin Learning, and Rachna Ranadhe’s YouTube channel. There are many more sources you could look at. These are the channels that started me out!
3. Working Out
Believe me when I tell you this, but I am one person who thought that I can NEVER exercise a day in my life. In school, I was never a part of any sports (apart from dancing) or liked the gym class much. We were given an option to drop physical education as a course in my final year of high school if the student got a grade more than 85% and that’s exactly what I did.
In short, I dreaded any form of physical activity. I still am not a big fan of cardio.
I thought I will maintain my physique forever (which is a joke, now I understand). But after my senior year of university, I started to put on weight. The last few years for 2018 took a toll on me and then the months leading into 2019. By the time I realized my unhealthy habits, I was already a bit late.
Maintaining my habits from 5 years back was doing no good to me, and how much ever I tried, I could not divert away from those habits. When I came to Canada for my Masters, I tried to start working out again, but once everything stopped so did my 2-3 days of workout in a week. I fell into the same habit all over again.
On May 12, something hit me, I don’t know what it was, but that’s when I joined one of the sessions offered by fitnessblender.com. I have been trying to put a bit more of my focus on fitness since then, and as of the day of publication of the article, I have tried my best to eat healthily and stay active. (If you are in any way interested in following my journey, and you have no need to be, I post about this on my Instagram frequently)
But one thing I have realized for the past one month is that, no matter how many excuses we make, at last, our health is in our hands and we are only answerable to ourselves and no one else. It’s our choice what we want to do, and when we want to do it and only we decide what time is the right time for us 🙂
Productivity is one that I have been trying to reach throughout my school career. The way I had modelled my productivity was different during undergrad and different during grad school. And ever since quarantine began it has been morphed into something else.
Since starting grad school, I had designed my schedule such that work was completely done in my office and everything personal at home. That helped me be on top of my game and help my brain adapt to work and home. Ever since both work and life need to be done at the same place, my approach towards achieving productivity had to be changed.
Most of us students in college have usually just have a room and don’t really have a spare room to be used as a home office. One technique I learned and have been sticking to is to assign a corner of my room as a – for better lack of words – to be my imaginary cubicle. My desk, PC and work files all go into that one section. All other parts of the room are for non-work related activities.
But let’s be real. It is VERY difficult to always keep everything separate. But, I try to keep my ‘workspace’ and ‘fun-space’ as apart as I can. This helps keep productivity up.
I have also adopted the 8-hour work shift where I keep my work hours fixed from 9-6 pm (with sometimes a drive to Tim Hortons). Staying at home can provide an easy fluidity to schedule but it can prove to be unproductive and unstructured for a lot of people. It’s about finding your rhythm and a schedule that works best for you.
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5. The Internet is Filled with Resources
I knew that the internet has almost everything we can fathom. Yet one thing that I realised during quarantine is that you can do almost anything online! From classes to exams, everything has turned towards an alternate platform. One of my friends is actually learning how to play soccer ONLINE!!
Online courses have become even more accessible which is spreading knowledge far and wide. Websites like EdX, Coursera, Udemy, Udacity and so many others are offering free courses, some of which even let you get a minor degree for FREE! You can learn to dance, sing, cook and almost anything online!
In the world of academia, MANY conferences are now happening all online. This is shaping the accessibility of such events for the future and is connecting research like it is ought to be. A variety of software is coming online for free and big tech companies are trying to be as exclusive as they can get.
During quarantine, I have learned python, basics of web development, adobe XD and of course, cooking! What skills have you developed during this time?
6. Get some me-time
One thing that quarantine has introduced us to is to ourselves. After a very long time, we have had a chance to just sit with ourselves and reflect on the good and the bad. At one point in time during quarantine, we have had to be alone for a few days. This gave me some time to reflect on what I want and what I have been doing.
Some alone time can prove to be beneficial as it helps rejuvenate and reset the clock. It has a great effect on concentration and can help you boost memory. Your me-time can include a small walk around the neighbourhood or even just some self-care. It can be a day where you pamper yourself and reflect upon anything you want. It is important to know yourself and be mindful of your everyday life.
Even when all this is over, I will strive to spend some me-time so as to get back and reflect upon what is to come.
7. Connecting to loved ones
That being said, humans are social animals. We thrive living in communities. One thing quarantine has taught almost all of us is how much we need the company of other people. Those stuck away from family and friends, especially a lot of international students studying abroad, it can feel a bit lonely.
However, one thing that quarantine lead me into is to connect back with family and friends, I had not interacted in a while. Technology has bought us closer to each other than ever before. Quarantine phone calls and facetime back home and with friends have become a daily routine and this is one thing I would like to stick to even when all of this is over.
8. Routines are a must
To many, routines can be mundane and take the excitement out of everything. But something that I realised during these unprecedented times is that no matter how fluid your everyday work life is, you need to have a routine without which productivity can take a back seat.
What does my everyday routine look like?
My usual routine now is to wake up at least at 8-8:30, grab a cup of coffee and check my emails. I then go about my research till around 5. I tend to workout each day around 6:30 and then do what the heck I want to. While most days are more sluggish than the others, the routine keeps me in check.
Some sort of accomplishment
Routines can also give you a sense of accomplishment. Even though I feel that some days I do not achieve anything at all, I know for a fact that through such a routine I will achieve at least one thing in the day rather than just swaying away on Netflix (I have done too much of that before this) or even just scrolling through online stores not buying a thing.
At least I will do some exercise, or finish one tiny simulation or post-process at least one video. Baby steps, you see?
I think during quarantine many of us have become chefs of our own making. I honestly thought I won’t learn to cook (so did my mom), but I am glad I did. My quarantine began with me learning how to make pizza (see below). And to my surprise, it turned out to be pretty good! I did end up putting a LOT of yeast to the dough, so I had enough dough for quite a few days.
One thing I realised, which you all might be aware of, is that cooking is one of the most important survival skill we can have. Knowing how to cook not only leads to a healthier life but can save you a ton of money! Especially for us college students, a home-cooked basic meal can come up to a cost of just 5-6$ whereas the same in takeouts costs 15-20$. It is a great tool for those looking into making a better budget!
Now that I know what a great chef I am, I will be cooking more homemade meals!
What all have you learned during quarantine which you strive to keep on doing? Let me know in the comments below!
Quarantine has been an unprecedented time where many of us have been going through a lot! I hope all of you are safe and doing well.
Thank you so much for reading this article. If you enjoyed reading and if it helped you in any way please do share it with your family and friends. Subscribe to my email list to get access to a whole lot of free resources like cover letters, CV templates and much much more!
Stay safe and have a good day!
Some related posts in technical me section are:
5 Online Course Sites Every College Student Should Check Out
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