How I Structure My Week During Isolation

EngineerQuartet Health

Blog | Stories | Mar 27, 2020

I usually leave my apartment when I’m bored. After losing that option, I had an uneasy first week in quarantine. Time felt like it was both rushing past me and standing in a gross puddle that I was too lazy to mop up. But that feeling began to evaporate after I held myself to my typical morning and evening routines. It gradually occurred to me that

most of my hobbies, activities, and interests were all still available to me, and I even started to do some of them as I #stayhome.

Reading tips on isolation made it clear to me that planning and building routine were essential in these circumstances. So I decided to start an experiment where I planned out my entire week. You might not believe this one paragraph from now, but I’m extremely not a color-coded-calendar person, and I try to avoid thinking about time outside of work as something to “optimize.” My goal was to help myself think less about what I should be doing in any given moment while still maintaining leeway and freedom.

I made a color-coded calendar for four days of work and three days off, which you can see below. My color scheme was as follows:

  • Purple: Self-Preservation. This is stuff I need to do to keep myself on track during the quarantine. Chores, personal hygiene, making food, etc.
  • Lavender: Self-Improvement. These are activities that are important to me in developing myself as a person. Although I hope that planning helps me spend more time on these things, I added very little that I wasn’t already doing, and going overboard here would make the plan much harder to follow.
  • Yellow: Work. Work. If this is your first time working from home, you should read tips from my remote colleagues on how to best do so.
  • Green: Self-Care. Lower-effort activities than self-improvement, and more specifically devoted to my physical and mental health.
  • Red: Relaxing. Low-effort, less-structured stuff without any payoff beyond keeping me happy doing things I enjoy.
  • Orange: Other People. Any activity that involves other people (I’ll recolor any of the above to orange if they involve other people in that instance).

I’ve also added “PIA” to activities that I want to plan in advance — I want a mix of stuff I can choose based on my mood and stuff that I have settled ahead of time.

Here is the end result of my work week:


And these are what my days off look like:

Despite the regimentation, I’m finding early on that there’s lots of room to move around within each block. For instance, I have an exercise bike with a desk, so those light green blocks are pretty close to free time as well. I also don’t plan on following this religiously — I’ll move things around each week based on plans with other people, and if I really don’t feel like doing what’s on the calendar at any given moment I just won’t do it. The main goal is to always have an easy, well-considered answer to the question of “what should I do right now?”

I’ve only been at this for a few days, but still wanted to share in case anyone finds themselves in the same ennui bubble as me. Hope this helps!

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