Three offline activities that helped me through the quarantine

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I’m a freelance translator; therefore, I’m supposed to wear glasses and sit in front of my computer in my pyjamas with a cup of tea or coffee, depending on your taste, all day long.

I have to say, I pretty much adhere to the cliché. I’m short-sighted, work from home, and like to work in my pyjamas drinking coffee. Nevertheless, I sometimes feel the need to go outside and interact with people without a computer in between. I go to the gym, I go for a walk in the city or a hike in the near Wienerwald and I have my weekly Italian courses at the local adult school. These activities help me structure my daily routine and separate my private and working life.

Mid-March started the quarantine in Austria, and the occasions to go outside were significantly limited. It took me a couple of days to adjust my new routine; I didn’t want to spend even more time in front of my computer, so here are the three offline activities that helped me better schedule my time at home and maintain a (mostly) healthy balance between work and leisure without compromising my productivity (maybe even improving it!). I hope these ideas can be useful for others too!

1. Reading for the love of it

It may be commonplace, but I rediscovered the little pleasure of reading a good book just for the love of it. I’ve always been an eager reader, but for the last years, I’ve mostly been reading papers or articles that could be useful for my work or my specializations. During these two months, I started two classics and on weekends or before going to bed, I finally had the time to indulge in reading as mere entertainment, like when I was 15.

2. Taking care of my plants

I always thought I didn’t have a green thumb. I recently understood there’s no such thing. I simply didn’t have the time and the perseverance to look after my plants. I like them, though, especially flowers and I would like to have a colourful balcony. This goal is still far away, but I started reading up on the plants I have at home and I wrote down their characteristics and needs. Half an hour dedicated to my plants almost every day has been a pleasant afternoon break and although I don’t have the Amazon on my balcony, I think they look pretty healthy.

3. Cooking

Another commonplace. I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 10 years now and that made me explore new recipes and ingredients to avoid meat, but it was often just easier to eat in a restaurant or have it delivered. In the past two months, I committed to cook at least once a day and to try a new recipe at least once a week. I stumbled on pleasant and less pleasant surprises, I made a mess in my kitchen a couple of times, but I always felt satisfied with my undertaking.

Now the quarantine is over, and we are gradually getting back to our “normal” life. I will introduce my new offline habits to my daily schedule because they help me rest my eyes and my mind and I think it’s important especially in a time like ours in which we are always asked to be online. As a consequence, I also noticed an improvement in my concentration and productivity during work. A little more time spent offline can make a huge difference!

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