In Massachusetts, school has officially been cancelled for the rest of the year. I, for one, had been holding out hope that we might go back, so I had avoided doing any long term scheduling for my time. Not anymore. Just because we aren’t in school doesn’t mean that we have an excuse to become couch potatoes until September. Alright, we’ve got this, we’re motivated, and we’re going to be productive. But how?

If you haven’t taken the SAT or ACT yet, this time is a great opportunity to practice for them. Those exams have a huge impact on your future, and you want to prepare for them as best you can. Khan Academy has a fantastic, free study program that is personally tailored to you! You can take full practice tests, get help in your problem areas, and see tips and strategies on how to perform well.

Exercise regularly! Now that you’re staying home all the time, your activity levels will be cut in half without you even changing your exercise habits, unless you work to change that. Go for a walk, run, or bike ride outside or follow along with a Youtube workout video right at home! If you do go outside, remember to keep a safe distance of 6+ feet between yourself and others and that the CDC recommends you wear a mask at all times when outdoors. I know that exercising can seem daunting, especially if you feel out of shape. Start small, with 15 minutes of your chosen activity every other day. As you feel more comfortable, keep increasing that time. Doctors say kids ages 13-18 should get at least one hour of exercise most days of the week.

Get some sun! Vitamin D is important in your immune response. Open your windows, sit in sunny areas of your house or apartment, or go outside (while social distancing, of course). Put on some calming music, and take some deep breaths. Bring a smoothie bowl to enjoy, read a book, write a story, or draw a picture. Just take some time away from technology while you soak up some rays!

Have a project you’ve been wanting to do for awhile? Try it! You might have to make some modifications to it based on the circumstances, but do as much of it as you can with what you have. Even if you can’t finish it immediately, you’ll thank yourself when this is over that you gave yourself such a big head start while you had the time.

Learn a language. If you have travel plans for the future, try and pick up the language of the place to which you want to go. If you don’t think you have the motivation or the discipline to learn a language by yourself, ask a friend to learn it with you. You can keep each other on track and you get a partner with whom you can practice speaking. It’s a win-win! Duolingo is a great free app, and it offers six different languages. The lessons can be a little tedious though, so I’m on the lookout for more efficient ways to learn, and I’ll let you know when I find some.

Keep a journal. These are unprecedented times, and you may want to look back on them in the future. Write down how you’re feeling, updates on what new things happen each day, and any changes you notice in your daily life because of coronavirus, along with anything else you feel like writing! Journals can be a great way to relieve stress and get your worries or fears off your chest if you feel like you can’t talk about them to anyone else.

Make sure you keep in touch with your friends. Humans are not solitary creatures, and being cut off from all your social connections can take its toll. Schedule virtual game nights, movie nights, and hangouts. My friends and I like to play games you can find online like Pictionary and Cards Against Humanity over calls, along with games like Truth or Dare, Paranoia, Never Have I Ever, and Two Truths and a Lie. There’s also a Google Chrome extension that allows you to watch a movie with your friends simultaneously called Netflix Party for movie nights. Try some of these ideas out with your friends and see how it goes! I know you may feel awkward reaching out first, but isolation is probably wearing on your friends just as much as it is on you, and they’ll be glad you did.

Exercise your brain. Your brain still needs to be stimulated, and if your online schooling environment is not as rigorous as your in-person one was, try some brain games. Puzzles, sudoku, crossword puzzles, word searches, solitary card games are all ways you can use your brain while having fun.

Lastly, if your situation doesn’t permit you to do these things, don’t get down on yourself. “Productive” is a relative term. You’re doing the best you can, and that’s all anyone can ask of you. Hang in there, because we’re all in this together.

Have other ideas on how to pass the time productively? Want to share how you and your friends are having fun during the quarantine? Let me know in the comment section below!

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