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10 worthwhile things you can knock off your to-do list from home

9 min read

A lot of us are spending more time at home than ever before. And, although there are some definite perks, it can be difficult to avoid feeling restless and frustrated. One simple way to combat those negative feelings is to stay busy.

It’s well-established that we perform better when we write tasks down—it helps clarify priorities, eliminate stress (by postponing or eliminating unimportant tasks), and facilitates accountability. And who doesn’t love the feeling of finally checking something off a to-do list?

We’re all about helping you feel comfortable at home, so we gathered a list of worthwhile (but commonly procrastinated) tasks for you to consider adding to your list to help make your days at home as fulfilling as possible.

1. Read a book

Read a book

A number of studies have shown that regular reading can lead to some pretty significant benefits, including: improved brain function, an increase in empathy, a larger vocabulary, and stress relief.

Here are a couple interesting things to keep in mind as you add this to your at-home to-do list:

- What you read matters: the benefit of increased empathy mentioned above is specific to literary fiction (stories that focus on the inner lives of characters). So consider mixing in a good novel or collection of short stories to your reading rotation.
- How you read matters: digital mediums have made it much easier to access reading material but this study suggests that reading comprehension may improve when reading off a printed page.

2. Start (and stick to) a budget

Most of us know it’s a good idea to use a budget to manage our personal finances but the majority of us still don’t do it. There could be a number of reasons for this but one of the biggest is simple: budgeting takes consistent effort. It’s easier not to, in other words. Here are a few tips that make this task more manageable:

  • Try apps like Mint or PocketGuard or a free spreadsheet template to simply the process
  • Set a day and time each week to take 15 minutes to review your budget. Breaking the task into weekly chunks makes it much more manageable.
  • Convince a friend or family member to start a budget too. Having someone outside your household to follow-up with (and vent to…) can help with accountability.

3. Schedule calls with friends and family

CallFamily

One of the biggest challenges of being stuck at home more than we’d like is feeling disconnected from loved ones. In the social media age, many of us are accustomed to maintaining some relationships purely through likes and comments on social feeds. But real-time, human interaction is an important aspect of maintaining relationships, and social relationships are crucial to our health.

When face-to-face interaction isn’t an option, consider calling friends and family or using FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, or other video call services. And if this idea sounds a little uncomfortable because you’re not accustomed to calling someone “just to talk,” here are a handful of questions that can lead to interesting conversations.

  • What was the highlight of your week?
  • What’s the last thing that made you laugh?
  • If you had intro music, what song would it be? Why?
  • If you had to pick any character in a book, movie, or TV show who is most similar to you, who would you choose? Why?
  • Would you rather be in jail for a year or lose a year off your life?

4. Clean up your email inbox

Around 300 billion emails are sent/received each year so it’s not surprising that YouGov research found that the average adult American has 500 unread emails at any given time. And that same research found that 79% of Americans care about keeping on top of their unread emails so, if you’re like most Americans, you have some inbox clean-up to do.

Set aside 5-10 minutes a day. That will make the task feel more achievable and anyone can fit in five minutes a day. And to keep those emails from getting out of control again in the future, try these tips:

  • Use filters or folders to automatically organize incoming emails. This will allow you to more quickly identify emails that can be deleted without reading.
  • Unsubscribe. The CAN-SPAM Act requires commercial emails to include an “opt out” link so you can unsubscribe. It’s tempting to just delete these as they come but unsubscribing from an email list as soon as you know you’re not interested will save you from deleting those unwanted emails once/week or once/month for the rest of eternity.

5. Start a hobby

Hobbies, and civic engagement in general, are on the decline despite evidence that they bring huge benefits. Engagement in a hobby can decrease stress, foster social connection, and make you a more interesting person to be around. There are too many potential hobbies out there to count but we’ll give you one idea that we recently looked into ourselves:

  • Beekeeping: this hobby is gaining in popularity so we investigated what it takes to do it in this article

6. Clean up your home

This is an easy one to put off because, well, most people just don’t like doing it. But it’s an important one not to procrastinate because clean homes promote healthy living. Filthy homes can cause sickness and a greater likelihood of developing allergies. And, even if you’re avoiding the kind of mess that attracts germs and bacteria, a constant state of disorganization can be a huge source of anxiety and stress. So, how should you tackle this chore? Here’s one approach that can make it feel a lot less overwhelming:

  1. Divide the project into tasks that can be started and completed in less than 15 minutes (e.g. dusting the living room, wiping down one set of blinds)
  2. Write each of those tasks on a separate sticky note
  3. Put all of those sticky notes on a wall that you see everyday
  4. Commit to one note/day.
  5. Once you’ve completed a chore, you can take the note off the wall.

7. Set up your will and trust

Wills and trusts are two of the more well-known documents in an estate plan and estate planning is recommended for anyone who owns a home or has children (even if the word “estate” sounds like it only applies to people like Bruce Wayne or the family from Downton Abbey). And there are affordable services that allow you to get this all done online so it’s now something you can do from home. Below is a quick list of what goes in a typical estate plan and why it’s important to have.

- Will: allows you to designate guardians for young children in case you (and their other parent) pass away before the children reach adulthood.
- Trust: allows you to keep your home out of probate court and let’s you make decisions about how and when your children will receive their inheritance.
- Health Care Directive: allows you to make big health care decisions (e.g. pull the plug or not) in case you’re ever incapacitated.
- Power of Attorney: allows you to pick someone trusted to handle your finances in case you’re unable (e.g. in a coma)
- Quitclaim Deed: allows you to transfer your home into your Trust so that it won’t go to probate court when you die.

8. Start a workout routine

Workout

This might seem like an odd suggestion if you’re not able to get to a gym. But there are plenty of great workouts you can do from home. And a big benefit to working out from home is that without even a short commute to the gym you can knock this off your to-do list in just 20 minutes total. For example, here’s a great at-home routine from our friend, and fitness expert, JJ Peterson, co-founder of Clean Simple Eats. This workout consists of five rounds of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest in each round (for examples of each step, view it here). Try going 8x through each round.

- Round 1: 10:1 high knees to burpee then plank hip dips
- Round 2: Double pulse jump lunge then cherry pickers
- Round 3: Plyo prison jack then sit-up and twist
- Round 4: Reverse burpee then plank toe taps
- Round 5: Criss-cross sumo squat jump then ab bikes
(And, as always, you should stretch/cool down when you’re finished.)

9. Learn to cook (or try new recipes)

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are a lot of benefits to cooking at home (as opposed to eating out). Forbes found that not only is it easier to eat healthy—because you’re aware of every single ingredient that goes in—but you’re likely to save a lot of money too. They looked at 86 popular dinner recipes, considered the average cost per serving of cooking from scratch, and compared it to the cost per serving of ordering from a restaurant.

Here’s what they found: it is almost five times more expensive to order delivery from a restaurant than it is to cook at home!

So, with that in mind, here’s a great original recipe using healthy ingredients from Clean Simple Eats co-founder Erica Peterson, for you to try at home:

LOADED CHICKEN QUESADILLAS 1 1024x1024

Loaded Chicken Quesadillas (makes 4 servings, 350 calories per serving)

Ingredients

  • 6 oz. cooked chicken breast (8 oz. raw)
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped red bell peppers
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped jalapeno, optional for heat
  • 3⁄4 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1⁄4 cup frozen sweet corn
  • 1 cup chopped baby kale
  • 1 Tbs. taco seasoning
  • 2 (70g each) whole-grain tortillas
  • 1⁄2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 100g avocado

Cilantro-Lime Crema

  • 1⁄4 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbs. green enchilada sauce
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil mayo
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1⁄2 of a lime, juice and zest of

Directions
1. Cook and shred the chicken.
2. Make the Cilantro-Lime Crema by adding all the ingredients to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Weigh the mixture and divide by four to get the amount needed for one serving. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
3. Add the chopped bell peppers, onions and jalapeno to a greased frying pan over medium heat. Saute until the veggies are tender. Add the beans, corn, kale, chicken and taco seasoning to the pan. Stir together until well combined. Remove from heat.
4. Spray a large frying pan or skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add one of the tortillas to the skillet. Spread the chicken and veggie mixture evenly over the tortilla. Top with cheese and the other tortilla. Once browned on one side, cut the quesadilla into four triangles and then flip each one and cook until brown on the other side. Serve one loaded quesadilla triangle with 25g avocado and one serving of Cilantro-Lime Crema.

10. Help the environment


This suggestion shouldn’t surprise you, coming from us. We’re all about making the world a better place. But the importance of being conscientious about the environment can’t be overstated and there are things you can do (even from home) to make a difference.

  • Consider solar, if you haven’t already. You can get a free system design proposal right from your couch to see what kind of positive environment impact it would make. And if you already have solar, consider suggesting solar to your friends and family.
  • Get better at recycling. It’s done incorrectly more often than you think, but doing it right can make a big difference.

See how much solar could save you!

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