List Of Productive Things To Do While Self-Isolating During Coronavirus Outbreak

As the world is changing rapidly due to the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of us here in Canada are now self-isolating and practising social distancing. We are spending a lot of time in our homes, avoiding crowds, visits with family and friends, and going out only when necessary. 

My boys are on Spring Break for two weeks, and I have found I now have some clusters of time when they are happy and occupied, playing or working on kid activity printables, and I am looking for productive things to do at home, while they are busy.

I have been trying to find things to do that don’t involve Netflix; there’s only so much T.V. you can watch each day. So I have put together a List of Productive Things to Do While Self-Isolating During The Coronavirus Outbreak. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments. Hopefully, we can all find inspiration as we find ourselves spending more and more time at home. 

List of Productive Things to Do While Self-Isolating During The Coronavirus Outbreak


  1. Take an online course: Sign up for an online course, now is a great time to learn that skill you have had no time to learn before. There are so many websites with FREE and paid options, or you can simply go on YouTube and find tutorials for free. So many possibilities.
  2. Spring Declutter: Staying home gives you a chance to Spring Clean your place at your own pace. You can start slowly, find old toys the kid’s don’t play with anymore, donate baby books, look for things you don’t use and have stored somewhere and forgotten about. Collect all unwanted items to donate and give away. 
  3. Organize your closets: Do a closet clean, check to see if you have any clothes that don’t fit or you don’t wear anymore. Get your spring wardrobe ready and put all your winter clothes away. Organize your kid’s closets too, and “Marie Kondo” that mess.
  4. Create a photo book and organize your photos: If you have been waiting for free time to finally organize and create photo books to print your favourite books from your last family holiday or celebration, now is the time. Finally, organize and make a baby book and get it printed—so many websites to do this online from your home.
  5. Learn a new language: Remember when you got that course or bought that book to learn a new language? Maybe you never got to it because you had no free time. Well, now you’ll have some extra free time to get to it finally. Find a Skype video friend to practice with.
  6. Deep clean your kitchen: Now you can finally focus on deep cleaning your kitchen. Organize your kitchen drawers, clean your oven, deep clean your microwave, clean your dishwasher, move the fridge and stove and vacuum behind them.
  7. Work on your taxes: Taxes needs to get done anyway. Maybe this is a good time to organize all the receipts and get those taxes done.
  8. Start a new book series: Do you have a book you want to start that you haven’t read yet? How about a book series that you have always wanted to read? Join an online book club. You can get ebooks from your local library or buy new books or ebooks online from Amazon.
  9. Meal plan for the next two weeks: If you usually don’t have the time to sit down and meal plan, try it now. You can go online and look for new recipes, shop for ingredients online, and have all your meals for the next few weeks planned. 
  10. Start a YouTube workout challenge: No going to the gym for a few weeks? No problem. If you have a TV or laptop, even from your phone, you can start a free Youtube workout challenge to stay active from home. So many good free workouts online. I put together a post with a week full of free daily 15-20 min long workouts.
  11. Sort, clean and delete photos from your phone: I am so guilty of never doing this, my phone is FILLED with so many photos, including duplicates and photos I don’t want to keep anyway. It takes time to go through your phone’s photo folder and delete unwanted photos—the perfect thing to do right now if you have some free time.
  12. Organize your computer’s desktop and files: If your computer’s desktop is filled with random files, photos and documents, take some time to go through them and organize everything. Having a clean desktop feels so good.
  13. Descale your coffee makers: If you have never done this, or can’t remember the last time you did it, then go and do it now—Google instructions on how to do it for your specific coffee machine. 
  14. Vacuum your vehicles: Time to head to the garage and clean your car, pick up all the garbage your kids have left in the car and vacuum underneath their car seats. Great use of your time.
  15. Give yourself a mani-pedi: When was the last time you got a mani-pedi? Since you are not going to the salon, gather all your tools and polishes and give yourself a mani-pedi.
  16. Do a face and hair mask: Bring the spa to home and give yourself an extra-long hair mask or facial mask. Pamper yourself for a bit.
  17. Clear your inbox: Perfect time to go through all your e-mails and respond to those that have been waiting to hear from you for a while. Get that inbox to zero and feel the satisfaction.
  18. Bake and make pasta sauces, jams and things you can store/preserve long term: This one can involve the kids, get them to help you bake cookies, muffins, extra snacks, and things you can eat in the next few weeks.
  19. Work on your Will and other important documents you have been waiting to get to: Don’t have a Will yet? You can work on that right now. Time to organize all those documents you have been waiting to organize. There are online websites that can help you with that as well. 
  20. Create detailed playlists of your favourite music: This one is fun and productive. Create a playlist of your favourites and enjoy them while you work on it.
  21. Optimize your desk and workspace: Is your desk a mess? Time to file and organize those bills, documents and kid’s crafts. 
  22. Write letters to catch up with family and friends: Since we won’t be travelling to see friends and family for a while, writing letters and e-mails to loved ones is a lovely way to stay connected. Try sending snail mail for a change.
  23. Vacuum the inside of your clothes dryer lint filter: You should be doing this regularly anyway. 
  24. Check your medicine cabinets for expired products: A great time to sort through old expired products and medications and get replacements if needed.
  25. Go outside for a walk or go on a hike: Don’t forget to go outside and enjoy some fresh air. Find spots that are not busy and walk. We all need the fresh air and vitamin D right now.

Look at the positives of this situation and the fact that you have some extra free time at home to do things you used not to have time to do. Try to live a normal life as much as you can within our new “normal”.

Share your own ideas of productive things to do to inspire others, and share this post with friends and family looking for productive things to do while we deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

Stay safe, healthy, and productive, friends.


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Angela V

Founder and Writer at One Smiley Monkey blog
Hi, my name is Angela van Tijn and I live in Vancouver, Canada with my wonderful husband, our two boys and our puppy. I am the founder and primary contributor behind One Smiley Monkey. Welcome to my blog!

11 responses to “List Of Productive Things To Do While Self-Isolating During Coronavirus Outbreak”

  1. Thanks for sharing some positive in the middle of the negatives and scary stuff!

  2. Adding taking a warm bath to relax.

  3. Great list. Adding Read some educational and nonfiction books. Why not learn something, improve your mind while stuck there? Wouldn’t it suck to have NOTHING to show for your time away? What are you curious about? Find out!
    I can recommend many books, authors and subjects… F.A. Hayek you might start with the Law, Legislation and Liberty 3 volume set. Von Mises you might try Marxism Unmasked, from delusion to destruction, or Planned Chaos. If you want a change of pace and something …different… that may make you actually think about things you simply assume try Mind and Cosmos by Thomas Nagel.
    Get really good at the ‘cup song’, or if you want a REAL challenge, look up throat singers and try to develop your second set of vocal chords. (Yes, that is a thing.) See Tuvan throat singing, it is on Wikki and You Tube.
    Watch videos on how to cook more interesting things with basic pantry items… Prepper gourmet!
    Take up an exercise routine to build lung capacity. (I have asthma. If I get sick, I may NEED more lung capacity.)
    Phone old friends and family you and make sure they are OK. Be digitally social and supportive.
    Spread a warning not to send kids to live with grandparents until things settle down. Older people are more vulnerable. Some families that did that in Italy ended up adult orphans.
    Find out what is being done in your area to McGyver a DIY style cheap mechanical ventilator for home use or field hospitals, to be assembled as fast as humanly possible in large numbers. The shortage is predicted to be staggering. If nothing is being done, connect with others to organize it.
    Watch something upbeat on Netflix or some streaming service. You need a laugh.
    Dance like crazy where no one can see you!
    Put your darkest and most frightening thoughts on paper – and burn them. Try various coping strategies for stress.
    Search for new cat/animal videos
    Try a new hobby… maybe something musical?
    Watch belly dancing videos and try to imitate them. Or practice trying to mimic bird calls.
    Pick something you disagree with and try to seriously research the opposing view. Obviously someone disagrees with you. What would make a rational, intelligent person think something that you don’t agree with? Do any of them KNOW something you don’t? Find out.
    15 B If you interact with someone on the other side of an issue, do NOT troll. Follow the rules posted in Reddit change My View (CMV)

    make a list of anything you want to. silly, creative, challenging…
    take another sheet of paper and mark 1-6 down along the edge. Slide it up/down the list to randomize it slightly.

    roll the dice and do whatever came up. repeat for a while

    Pretend you are drunk and ‘drunk dial’ a random number. Try to keep the other person on the line as long as possible (time it, then try to beat your time)

    Movies SUCK. Hollywood has forgotten how to tell stories. Not everyone is Hollywood. Look up some indie film producers etc. and try to find a few interesting/good ones.

    Call one of your older relatives and ask about what they did in the old days when they were bored, or whatever other questions come to mind. They might have some good advice or a different perspective. Older people have been through more ups and downs than you have.

    Make a bucket list of everything you want to do to take advantage of things you took for granted.

    Decide on one good habit to cultivate, and do it consistently.

    Count your blessings.

    Pray. Not just once. Make a prayer list and pray deliberately and consistently, like a form of meditation or mental focus. Watch the movie The War Room (2015).

    Read about the history of the world’s most read book, the Bible. What current events were going on at the time certain things were being written down, or becoming part of the oral tradition before that? In what ways has it been read (other than literally)? One interesting source is Karen Armstrong The Bible. How when, and by whom was the Bible written? What impact has it had on human history, for better and worse? (Hate the history of slavery on every continent but Antarctica? Do not forget that the abolitionist movement was started by religious fundamentalists.)

    Read the Bible.

    Set up a chess board and phone someone else in lockdown. Tell each other your moves, and play a couple of games. Vary the rules to make it interesting. If they are a LOT better than you, give them a handicap and remove a piece before starting the game. There is also speed chess which denies either of you time to think for a long time before making a move.

    Facebook can be a real time suck. Open it up and start scrolling… Read the articles / watch the videos that come up and just keep going…

    Neck and shoulder exercises from sitting in one place too long.

    Do a digital cleanse. Cut off all media, internet, streaming services, internet…

    You are addicted, go cold turkey and make it stick. After a while, the quiet may be surprisingly nice. Bonus, you also get to avoid all the BAD news for a while. (Unlock and digitally peek outside for a bit before opening the door to the real world. You want to know what you are stepping into. )

    Make your own list.
    Not all of these are productive, but they are ideas some admittedly better than others. Take what you like, toss the rest.

  4. I agree with the above: read the Bible from cover to cover. God is real and He has given us His book for instruction. The most important thing is our spiritual life, not the physical life here which is temporary and could be gone tomorrow. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins so we could live forever in peace. Knowing God is crucial and we can only do that by studying His word.

  5. Currently dog sitting at my son’s house out of province. Don’t have a lot of my own stuff with me, so giving his house a deep spring cleanse and getting it ready for resale. Can’t wait till the weather warms up so I can go outdoors, clean the garage and vacumn his vehicle.

  6. now this is a fabulous and useful list!! i have done some of the things listed and there are a few that completely left my mind like descaling the coffee maker!

  7. The list goes on, for sure some awesome things to do, good opportunities to do stuff you never got the time to.

  8. Great suggestions, hopefully I’ll be able to do some decluttering around the house

  9. These are great ideas! Right now I’m working on cleaning up the house, decluttering and will do some small renos.

  10. I didi none of these things the first six months – I wish I had read this earlier but in all honesty I think the whole thing put me into a non motivated state. Plus I was homeschooling a 4 year old – it is basically living in a craft zone. Now that he is at school and I am not able to work still. I will accomplish many on this list!!

  11. These are some fantastic ideas. Good way to keep in mind off of terrible things.

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