Because most of us are cooped up in our houses, we have some more free time, me included. To avoid falling into my classic vacation routine — waking up at noon, watching TV all day and struggling to get any exercise — I have extended my daily checklist of school activities to my off-Grounds life.
At school I would normally keep a checklist of objectives that I wanted to accomplish for each class by the end of the day. There was space for career or exercise-related activities. I didn’t really focus on leisure because the divide between work and leisure was more clear cut at school — most of the time I was either doing work or relaxing with friends. At home, that division is not so clear. Here, my default state of being is to relax and do some work when I am up to it. My checklist aims to correct this inefficiency.
Crucial to staying productive in my childhood home is this daily checklist, which is in the form of an Excel spreadsheet. The spreadsheet is very simple — on the leftmost column are all the subjects into which I categorize my daily life, such as “Fun,” “Career,” “Exercise” and my various classes. On the topmost row is the day.
I’m sure there are plenty of websites out there to facilitate schedule-making, but I like doing it myself because the act of creating a schedule makes me feel a little bit creative because I color-code my schedule according to priority. Once each task is completed, the color is switched to yellow. Once a whole week of events fills out a spreadsheet, I have a palette of blues, greens and oranges. As someone who doesn’t paint or draw, Excel is the closest thing I have to an artist’s canvas.
This checklist is crucial to avoiding falling into that vacation “fugue state” in which I don’t get out of my pajamas. Lazing around like this isn’t so bad for a few days, but because I’m simultaneously living at home for the foreseeable future and being a college student, I cannot afford to live this way. I’m not the kind of person who can switch between leisure and work activities. I know if I start off down the Netflix rabbit hole when I wake up, I won’t come up for air until it's dinnertime.
Getting into a routine was difficult at first because being at home usually means I’m in vacation mode. Things can feel kind of stagnant at home, and this mood can easily kill my need to get work done. That’s why my checklist is so important. When I open my laptop in the morning and write down my objectives for the day, I feel motivated to get things done.
Tackling those tasks gives me a sense of satisfaction. I need something to measure my accomplishments by, and I think we all do to some degree. That’s one reason why we frame our college diplomas and boast of our technical skills on our resumes. While my daily checklist measures much smaller accomplishments than receiving a bachelor’s degree, it keeps me feeling productive day-by-day. The checklist standardizes my day into a routine normally lacking at home.
As someone who really needs structure in their day-to-day life to avoid feeling stuck, I was at first hesitant to include objectives like “Play Call of Duty” in my checklist. After all, playing video games is usually considered a leisure activity that takes away from being productive. However, I noticed that before I included leisure activities on my checklist, I felt guilty whenever I wasn’t doing schoolwork. Now, with their inclusion, I don’t have that unnecessary guilt clouding my mind during my free time.
Sitting in the living room typing this up, I’m watching “Curb Your Enthusiasm” with my brother, Jesse. I’m really testing the strength of my checklist because watching “Curb” isn’t on there. I have two options — retroactively add watching TV to my checklist, or swallow the fact that sometimes life at home can make me feel lazy. I choose the latter — the former is plain silly — because I can handle a little bit of laziness in a day where I have gotten a lot done.