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Lockdown is a difficult time for all of us. Since our school days, we were never trained to have downtime. At best, we plan for vacations. But we are not prepared to sit idle.  Being at home changes the rhythm of our lives.

There is an inherent need to focus on keeping yourself engaged during these lockdown periods. Once this time is over, life will get back to business as usual with some changes here and there. But you will get back to your daily commute and social responsibilities. Instead of waiting for this time to get over, why not use it to contemplate about new perspectives and learning new skills.

For people who have regular work, time is a very limited currency. COVID-19 has forced us to take a certain number of days from our ‘bank of life’ and put them to use differently. So, instead of focusing on what will happen next, here are a few things you can do in the 21-day lockdown and beyond.

Things to do while in Quarantine

1. Movie Marathon

Movies help us immerse ourselves into a world, where our interests are aligned with the characters of the movie. When they win, we win. This immersive experience is almost like meditation – if done properly, it calms you down. All the entertainment you get on top of it is a bonus.

From the outset, you can watch any set of movies that interest you. But, you can also take this time to revisit or visit stories that will add a  fresh perspective to your thinking. Here is a list of movies you should consider. These movies have stories of curiosity, optimism and entertainment. These are three things we all need in this hour.

With Family: Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar, Despicable Me Series, Up, ET – Extra-Terrestrial, Taare Zameen Par, Kung Fu Panda, Inside Out, Toy Story Series, Monsters Series, Finding Nemo, Big Hero 6, Begin Again, Frozen Series, Incredibles, Home Alone Series, Dangal

This list is designed for individual consumption; if you have the company of only adults in the house, you can watch this entire list with them as well.

Alone: The Godfather, Shawshank Redemption, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, 12 Angry Men, Dumb & Dumber, Dark Knight, Dark Knight Rises, Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, Schindler’s List, Forrest Gump, The Matrix, Saving Private Ryan, Her, Interstellar, The Martian, Whiplash, The Prestige, Good Will Hunting, A Beautiful Mind.

2. Binge-Watch Series

Series are like movies; except – you get to spend more time with the characters. Most of the series that are well-written, will engage you in every episode. And before you get to know – you would’ve watched an entire season in a day.

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You can pick up any of the commonly discussed and highly followed series like Game of Thrones, Friends, How I Met Your Mother or Seinfeld. The given list will take you through some very well designed characters and plots that engage you. Some of them can be a little discomforting initially, but they will keep you hooked up for a few weeks.

Pay special attention to the list on feministic stories. We can all use some fresh perspective in the form of female gaze!

Mystery, Thrill and Crime: Fargo, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Sacred Games, Black Mirror, Sherlock, Daredevil, Westworld, Mind Hunter and Arrow.

High Society: The Crown, Billions, Succession, House of Cards, Designated Survivor, Madam Secretary and West Wing.

Feminism (Movies Included): Marvellous Mrs Maisel, Fleabag, Crashing, Killing Eve, Queen, Little Women, Kahaani, Pretty Woman, Parks & Recreation, Veep, The Mindy Project.

Comedy Specials (All Works of These Comics): Kevin Hart, Gabriel Iglesias aka Fluffy, Ricky Gervais, Ali Wong, Chris Rock and Taylor Tomlinson.

3. Acquire New Skills

Movies and series are a great way to engage in something entertaining. But you should invest this time in acquiring new skills. Most of the time, people who have a regular job or a small business don’t get the time to go out there and learn what is critical to their role. They are highly dependent on learning from other’s experiences or learning on the job. Going back to school is seldom an option.

So, this ‘unplanned vacation’ will give you unobstructed access to one resource that you have been lacking for a while now – time. You can pick up any amount of professional skills that will aid your career’s growth. Most of the working class is thinking about the safety of their jobs after this pandemic settles. With the right set of skills on your CV, you would be one of the very few prepared for growth in a market of existential jobs.

Programming: There used to be a time when programming was limited to software engineering and IT jobs at the best. Then came the Quants in finance and business analysts in management. With greater availability of data, the way companies are run and managed has changed forever. If you have the right programming skills, you will be able to do your job with greater efficiency and will be able to pick up new technological skills, whenever necessary.

Freecodecamp, Google’s Python Class, Udemy: Python for Absolute Beginners, Coursera: Python for Everybody and AI for Everyone

Marketing: Most of the people in marketing roles have an MBA or got promoted from Sales roles. These certificates will help you sharpen your digital marketing skillset. Whether it is briefing your agency partners or building a growth strategy for your brand – these certificates will help you out.

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Google AdWords, Google Analytics, HubSpot Inbound Marketing, Facebook Blueprint, Hootsuite Social Media

Data Analysis & Visualization: Since everything is coming down to data and its analysis, you can use some new skills in analysis & reporting. These are foundational skills that will show returns no matter what  role you are performing at your job right now.

Data Analysis with R (by Facebook), Power BI Free Tutorial (by Microsoft), Tableau.

Foreign Languages: Knowing a foreign language will help you grow your horizons. It’s also a great way to challenge your brain into thinking in new directions. The plus point here is that you don’t have to spend any money. As far as you are disciplined enough, you should be able to make considerable progress in three weeks with any of these platforms.

Duolingo, Memrise

4. Develop a New Hobby

New skills give you tangible growth. But, not all skills are meant to give you tangible growth. Some are there just to help you become a better person – physically and mentally. The same three weeks can be used to inculcate some new habits into your lifestyle.

Mental & Physical Fitness: Practice Mindfulness, get familiar with meditation, have an HIIT session at your place.

Storytelling: Sit around with your family and children in the house. Talk about past experiences and practice concise storytelling. This will singlehandedly bring your family together and enhance your communication skills.

Pencil Sketching and Colouring: It’s fine if you don’t have colours. Try freehand drawing. It will relieve your anxiety, make you feel relaxed and might even connect you with your creative side!

5. Spend Some Quality Time with Your Family

You must have noticed by now that every activity given here focuses on keeping yourself engaged and motivated for a better tomorrow. But we cannot forget that the time we have right now, may never return in the same form. So, why not invest it in bonding with our family!

You can start cooking for and with your family. Pulling out an old family photo album always brings out the best stories from the past. You can also sit with your parents and teach them how to properly use their phone. Or sit with your mom and learn about her famous recipes.

As far as there are smiles on their faces and warmth in your house – you are using the COVID-19 shutdown to your advantage, and protecting the people around you.

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