Well, ‘survive’ is a stretch. If you know me even a little bit, you will not be surprised to hear that I am thoroughly enjoying quarantine time. In fact, every lockdown extension the Spanish government issues, fills me with creativity, ideas and possibilities. So much time, so little distractions! Obviously, the causes as well as the consequences of what is going on in the world right now are very concerning. And definitely no reason to have a house party. So please know that whenever I am happy or positive about this, I refer to my own personal situation. Because gosh I am grateful to be me right now.
I am very much aware of how lucky I am to be healthy and safe. To not have to seriously worry about friends or relatives. To be a homebody. And to be able to work and still have an income. But just like anybody else, I had to make some changes to make quarantine time enjoyable and worthwhile. I am sharing them with you today, in case you do feel like you are struggling to ‘survive’ (it is okay!). Or if you are fine like me, but could use some inspiration.
Disclaimer: everyone deals with this situation differently. And if simply being a couch potato, watching Netflix, sleeping in or chilling around the house brings you all you need right now, please do. For some it works to stay productive and keep doing all the things (me), for others it is a better idea to do absolutely nothing. If the latter is you, do not guilt trip over this blogpost. It is only meant as a list of ideas that worked for me and might work for others too.
I guess now is the time when a lot of people realize that ‘holy fuck, my income derives totally from one source and if that one source is gone, I’m F*CKED’ (excuse my French). Maybe you can live off your savings for a while. Maybe you can rely on help from the government. But in any case, it ain’t pretty. As a freelance copywriter, I have multiple sources of income in the sense that I work for different companies. Not all of them are effected by COVID-19, so some income streams remain intact. But even so, I could use this time to brainstorm new flows of income.
Do you sell products or services that are not relevant in these challenging times? Think about how to adapt. I see photographers now selling (digital) prints of their work (looking at you Aline) and creative entrepreneurs switching the focus of their creativity (looking at you Audrey, going from vintage webshop owner to Patreon writer). These new endeavors may not bring in the big bucks. In fact, they often do far from that. But they are a sign of willingness to explore opportunities, to market your business in different ways, to gain valuable experience, and – maybe most importantly – to keep you busy. I am toying around with some passive income stream ideas and can finally commit to writing a book.
Have you always wanted to start your own business? Now might be the time. Especially if that business has nothing to do with going outside. I, for one, am busy reviving my knitwear brand Chain Twenty. I have spent years in the past building that brand, but just when I started to profit from it, I moved to Málaga and was in desperate need of a ‘normal’ job with accompanying salary. Chain Twenty has always been in the back of my mind though. I put my heart and soul into it and I know I can make a full-time income from it one day. So I decided that now is the time to give it another shot (next to my normal copy writing job).
Do not take investing advice from me, but if you have loads of money saved and you could miss some: start investing. You do not need to be an expert to know that the stock market is at an all-time low right now, and that it could potentially be very profitable to buy cheap stocks now. I personally do not want to put any savings in stocks right now, but I did put ‘research investing’ on my to do list. In case there are any Dutchies reading along here: I worked on the manuscript of Blondjes Beleggen Beter, a Dutch book by Janneke Willemse about investing for beginners (especially women – not necessarily blond). I did not expect this to happen, but it even inspired me to dip my toes in the wonderful world of investing. I even created a savings fund for it!
And to help businesses that are struggling: use your extended social media time to promote them!
I am loving @laurabrijde’s stories about small business she loves. And super famous @inthefrow asked her followers about their favorite small businesses so that she could publish an extensive list of them in a blogpost. If you can, support your favorite businesses in small ways. I actually did subscribe to Audrey’s patreon, because I feel so sorry for her that she cannot continue to grow A.L.V. (her awesome vintage clothing brand) and I have always loved her writing.
Is there anything you need to learn to create new flows of income? Learn it, now! Or is there something else you always dabbled into every now and then, but wanted to spend more time on? Nowww!
The most obvious way to learn new things is to read. I never read fiction anyway, but if you do, add another non-fiction book to your reading list. At the moment, I am in the midst of How Now To Die, learning a lot about nutrients and food with the idea of implementing more of that into my diet. Take a study approach to your reading. While you read, take notes and turn those notes into plans and actionable steps. I made a list of my favorite non-fiction books if you need a little inspiration.
Next to the bazillions of online courses that already exist, lots of business owners now pursue new income streams through creating online courses that teach you their skills. Help someone out and take such a course. I am contemplating taking a (Dutch) productivity / planning course from Structuurjunkie, but I am also using SkillShare to learn about a variety of topics. I took a SkillShare class on writing and Instagram use. And I have a few classes about branding, graphic design and minimalism lined up. Simply watching videos or tutorials on YouTube or listening to a podcast counts as taking an online course too, if you ask me!
I know, such an original idea. Please do not start learning a new language if you have no idea why you would. But I live in Spain for three years now and I still do not speak Spanish properly. So speaking Spanish is definitely on my goals for 2020 list. This quarantine is the perfect opportunity to reboot that daily-DuoLingo-and-learning-words habit that used to be so beneficial to me in the past. I also added Spanish podcasts and Netflix series to the mix, for a bit of fun.
The most important of all: stay healthy. Which in my opinion first and foremost equals to: stay home. I understand if you need to go out for your sanity. If you simply need to take a detour to the supermarket or an extra long walk with your dog. But other than that, please do not bend the rules. Quedate en casa, as the Spanish would say. (See? Language learning is paying off.)
Especially if you miss going out of the house and have no idea where TO BURN ALL THAT EXCESS ENERGY, ;) make sure to stay active. I must say, even for someone who used to work out a lot, I struggle with this one a lot. I miss running so much, and no indoor exercise can replace it. But I have implemented the new habit of starting the day with yoga, which is something I have been wanting to do for ages now. And in the afternoons I work out with the Nike Training app and a jump rope. I do not find it nearly is fun as running or going to a proper gym, but it is what it is. However, I do appreciate the fact that I am trying out new ways of exercising that I can definitely implement in my normal routine when this is all over.
I do not know about you, but eating better is forever on my to do list. Eating a warm meal in the afternoon instead of at night is too. A long time ago, I started making this deliciously healthy oatmeal bowl for breakfast and that has now become my standard dish in the morning. How about implementing such a new habit for lunch? I have nowhere to go, doing groceries are the highlight of the week, so 1pm cooking sessions with fresh ingredients are easier to implement than ever. Side benefit: I can workout in the afternoons (fueled by a healthy lunch) and have something small for dinner before going to bed early.
I hope this helps you to stay sane and make the most of this weird time at home. Wishing you all the best for the next weeks of quarantine to come. When this is all over, may we be grateful for all we have and proud of how we took care of ourselves and others.
Rope jumping during quarantine.