How To Make The Best Of The Lockdown

Written by Ravi Raman

April 18, 2020

The world is in the midst of an unprecedented state of lockdown. How are you coping? Everyone seems to have their own way of relating to whatever this new normal is. Some are harried. Others are relaxed. A few are continuing at the same pace as before.

I recently had a conversation with a client who asked how I was taking advantage of my newfound free time. The assumption was that I would be having tons of free time with all restrictions and elimination of leisure, travel, and work obligations. It turns out that with a toddler at home (and no daycare services) there is less free time now than before. Regardless, I tried my best to answer the question.

Our conversation went something like this:

Client: How are you taking advantage of your free time with the lockdown?

 

Me: I’m not trying to do much more in my free time.

 

Client: You aren’t reading more, learning something new, or trying to improve your health? Aren’t you trying to stay productive and make the best use of your free time?

 

Me: Well, some of those things are happening naturally, but I’m not trying to cram any more stuff into the time I have. The only thing I’m trying to do more of – is less!

 

Client: Huh?

 

Me: I’m doing one thing at a time. Mono-tasking. I am paying attention to what’s in front of me. I’m spending a lot more time just sitting around playing with 13-month-old son.

 

Client: I’m trying to figure out what else I should be doing with my free time. I have a few hours a day freed up with no need to commute to work. I want to make the best of this opportunity.

 

Me: Are you enjoying your free time?

 

Client: Absolutely! It’s awesome. I’m spending more time with my family and just hanging out at home is nice for a change.

 

Me: Maybe that’s what you should be doing? At least until an insight strikes and you feel naturally inspired to do something else.

 

Client: Perhaps. But I still have this nagging sense that I should be doing more with my time.

 

…and so it continued.

The perspective that more is better is a common one. Modern society praises advancement, as measured in specific terms such as speed, strength, income, knowledge, etc. However, who says that is the way to live? It’s also entirely unclear that performing well in any domain is a product of doing more. Productivity and effectiveness are altogether different things. The critical question is, how can we be more effective?

One way is to better align with the natural pace of life. Life, it turns out, does have a pace to it. Our psychologies have an entirely different pace. Life has a slowness to it. Thoughts move quickly. With the lockdown in place, we have a choice to make. Do we allow ourselves to quicken our actions to match the hectic pace of our minds, or do we become more comfortable with a slower way of being?

It’s a worthy experiment. Up for the challenge? Here it is:

Instead of trying to fill every waking hour of lockdown time with reading, virtual happy hours, online webinars, and home improvement projects, allow for ample free time. Find the capacity to live more slowly. Focus on one-thing-at-a time. Sit around with nothing to do. Cook and eat while noticing what you are doing for a change. Rediscover what’s on the other side of boredom. Here’s an advanced strategy: watch TV without picking up your phone!

This form of slow living has a remarkable side-effect. When we slow down to the natural speed of life, we give our creative selves a chance to arise. This is what’s on the other side of boredom. By doing less and slowing down, notice if something arises in you, something inspiring, that motivates you to take action in the pursuit of something with real meaning. Until then, keep sitting on the couch.

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4 Comments

  1. Lanka van Dort

    So true! I am having ample time to just grace out of the window and do nothing for a while when I am done with my work day. Catching up with friends I have not touched base with in a long time, checking up on friends who are vulnerable to be in public places and doing a grocery run for them every 2 weeks or so. I stood in line last Sat morning for 1.5 hours! But caught up on my reading, listening and watching my much needed on-line dance classes! I didn’t realize I was in line for that long!! This is amazing to me, in the world we live in even the response times from you computers are not up to par, stuck in traffic is unbearable, etc. how much we have lived with this reality without complaining is just amazing to me!! This is all because we are not rushed to do 100 things that we planned to do each day, so I am loving this part of the lock down myself!!

    Reply
    • Ravi Raman

      Thanks for sharing Lanka! It is indeed nice to relish the slowness and relate differently to things that we might usually relate to as “problems” (like standing in line for 1-2 hours!!!).

      Reply
  2. Christy W

    I agree with you. Physcologically we are all coping in ways we don’t all fully understand. The underlying stressors of not having our “normal” lifestyles, routines and patterns to fall back on is stressful in its own way. Not like a lion is going to eat me stressful, but different. It’s just there. Even going to the grocery store is its own version of stress. Am I too close, did I remember my mask, did I just touch my face, etc. It’s not insurmountable but not it’s not our routine and it’s got the underlying factor of fatal health issues as the cherry on top. I found myself wanting to paint this thing, teach the kids to cook all the things, etc. Now, we just try to keep the dishes out of the sink as much as we can, remember to walk the dog and are just going easy on ourselves. It does seem much more “us” than trying to keep up with the “shoulds”.

    Reply
    • Ravi Raman

      So true! I’ve stopped trying to do more and just relax into what is. Ironically, I’m doing quite a lot but it’s coming more from a place of effortlessness vs “should-ness”. Wishing you and the fam all the best!

      Reply

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