What to Do to Stay Busy and/or Stay Focused

A list of activities, programs, and more to help occupy your time while social distancing

May 5, 2020

Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license
Students over 6 feet apart with masks learning to socialize from a distance

Online Resources To Keep Busy During The Coronavirus

As many adjust more to social distancing guidelines after school closed on March 13th. It has been a long few weeks and there is still another month or more ahead of social distancing and quarantine. The boredom has set in and it can be extremely difficult to be productive in times like these. It is difficult to get used to this new situation and a balance needs to be found between ways to cure boredom and loneliness and ways to be productive with school and work.  as we adjust to online classes and work from home. Here are a few resources to help do both.

Online Resources for Productivity

  • Google Calendar(And Google tasks)
    What my google calendar looks like while we are in quarantine-photo by Mia Stebenne
    • Since most people already use Google Classroom anyway, it is incredibly easy to access Google Calendar and Google Tasks with a school account. The features are extremely helpful to assist in planning out your month(even if there aren’t that many events going on right now). One great way that it can be used is to organize events such as zoom calls and due dates for homework. Google calendar can also be paired with another google feature, Google Tasks, which is a To-Do list that is super helpful in helping organize all the work you have to get done in a day.


Planting a Wisteria tree in the forest app to be productive for 60 minutes-Photo by Mia Stebenne
    • While this is an app that costs a little bit of money, if you have $1.99 to spend I highly recommend the forest app. This is an app that will help keep you off your phone by planting virtual trees. While the tree is growing you can’t exit the app without killing the tree, keeping you from scrolling through Instagram or Snapchat when you should be writing your English paper. As you grow trees they will be planted in a little virtual forest for you to see, and for every tree, you get coins to buy more trees and decorate your forest even more. It’s an adorable app that keeps you productive when you’re stuck at home.  


  • Productivity Owl
    • If you’re looking for an extension that will keep you off of distracting websites on your computer, the Productivity Owl could be helpful. If you are working on your computer and on a website that you shouldn’t be on (ie. Scrolling through Twitter), the owl will swoop across the page and close those tabs for you, guiding you back to the pages you should be on. It’s a little more aggressive of an approach, but helpful if you’re constantly getting distracted. 



Mia Stebenne
The momentum extension on desktop
    • This is another browser extension for your computer, so if you use an iPad sadly you are out of luck. For laptop users, Momentum is a beautiful browser extension that replaces your normal browser when you open a new tab with a pretty background picture, coupled with a to-do list, the time, and motivational quotes to keep you working. It even addresses you by your name. It’s a pretty and helpful replacement to just using Google as your browser. 




Movies available from Kanopy
    • This is a great online streaming service that provides free movies as long as you have a library membership. Each person is given a certain amount of credits each month and each credit stands for a movie you are allowed to watch. They have a variety of movies, and if you are looking for something free to watch as long as you have a library card there’s plenty of movies available. If you don’t have a library card, you can get an online ecard from the Boston Public Library(also free) and that is enough to give you credits for free as well. 
  • Libby
    • Libby is essentially the online book version of Kanopy. With a library account, you can loan online books, audiobooks, or podcasts for 14 days for free. Some books are extremely popular and you may have to wait for them to be available, but for most books, there’s no wait and plenty of things to read when you’re home and itching for something to do. 


Shows available for free on HBO-Photo by Mia Stebenne
    • HBO has decided to stream some of its more popular shows for free during the quarantine to give people something to do. You can now watch Big Little Lies, Veep, The Wire, and more without an HBO subscription. Just click this link or go to HBO NOW to access the free shows HBO is offering. 



  • Online Puzzles
    • There are millions of online puzzles available; some good websites are jigsawpuzzles.com and jigsawexplorer.com. These can be a great way to pass the time when bored and can be extremely entertaining, this is a great hobby to pick up while at home!


Solitaire on Google-Photo by Mia Stebenne
    • This is another online game that is a great new skill and way to pass time. Online versions of the game can show you how to plan and even Google has its own version of the game. All you have to do is look up Solitaire and the game will come up, with options for you to play either the difficult or easy version. 



  • Yoga
    Mia Stebenne
    Cosmic Kids Youtube Channel
    • Yoga is a really great form of exercise to do at home! It is low impact and relaxing. You don’t really need any equipment to do it; a yoga mat can be easily replaced by a blanket, carpet, or towel. Yoga has been proven to relieve stress, increase flexibility, and improve general strength. Videos can range from 10 minutes to a full hour depending on how much of a workout you want, and here are a few good videos for reference if you’re interested in a calming, but effective workout.


    • If you have younger kids in your family, Cosmic Kids does story-themed yoga classes for kids that are a great way to spend anywhere from 10-30 minutes with your kids. 
    • General Workout
      • If you are looking for a more intense workout, and are looking for something a little more upbeat than yoga you can try some more general workout videos. There are hundreds of resources on YouTube, including core workouts, strength training, cardio, and more. Here are a few different workouts to try that are different time intervals, for whatever you’re in the mood for. 
Move With Color Youtube channel-Photo by Mia Stebenne
  • Move With Color Dance Class
    • If you are looking for a more fun workout, or something slightly less traditional, you can try an online dance class like Move With Color. These are fun, short dance classes to teach you different dance combinations for a more fun workout. Some good ones include this 80s dance class and Jive Turkey.





This is a very difficult time right now.  It can be difficult to find activities and resources to help cope with cabin fever and social distancing. The way of life is new to everyone. These resources are all online and easily accessible and may help people utilize their time better, as well as relieve some of the stress and boredom that comes with social distancing and quarantine. If you have any other resources or ideas for keeping busy during this time, feel free to comment below!

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Activities to Keep One Busy During Isolation



Photo of the popular board game Trivial Pursuit

During the past few weeks, it has been extremely difficult for the majority of Americans to keep themselves busy. With nonessential businesses shutting down, schools adjusting to virtual learning, and six feet “social distancing” guidelines being put into place, it seems there is not much one can do. Yet with the time of this period of isolation unknown, individuals have the opportunity to explore new passions and interests, and rediscover old ones. While these activities may entail a mask being worn or hand-sanitizer being reapplied, they are not impossible to take part in, even in our current conditions. While it might seem like an uneventful time, there are plenty of activities you can do. From biking to taking up guitar, there are a variety of ways people can successfully make use of this time.

Indoor Activities:


Play a board game! This is a great way to pass the time, while spending quality time with family. One positive to this crazy situation is that people have more time to spend with family. During the school/work week, most families are lucky if they even have time to have a sit down dinner together. But now, since everybody is home, what better time to reconnect with those you love? A board game is a great way to relax and blow off some steam with the family, not to mention an excuse to get away from screens. There are countless options too, so you’re able to mix it up if you see fit. A few of our personal favorites include Monopoly, Apples to Apples, and Settlers of Catan.

Binge a new TV show! This is definitely a popular one for many people, and for good reason. Few things are better than getting wrapped up into a new show to the point where you’re just physically unable

Photo of the popular Netflix Original You

to stop that little timer from hitting zero and starting the next episode. If you’re looking for recommendations, we got you — there are many options to choose from. If you haven’t seen Tiger King yet, you must be living under a rock, because the internet has been raving about it nonstop for about a month. Some other classics include, Breaking Bad, Rick and Morty, Lost, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Narcos, The Walking Dead, and Parks and Recreation. Some shows you may not have heard of that we personally think are worth checking out include Bojack Horseman, White Collar, White Gold, and The Ranch. 

Take up a new instrument (even singing)! I think everyone has had some of those days when everything you usually do just seems unappealing. In quarantine, it’s difficult to wake up and just try to pass the time any way you can before eventually you go to bed just to do it again the next day. One way to fight this feeling is to learn something totally new. An instrument is a great thing to learn because it makes you more well-rounded, it’s a productive activity, and it’s a useful skill to have. Don’t have any instruments in the house? Why not sing? It’s a good way to let some energies out and pass the time while enjoying your favorite music. Maybe find a quiet place to do it though, because your family might get annoyed if they’re trying to work, especially if you’re inexperienced…  Apps like “Red Karaoke Sing and Record” and “Pocket Pitch” are great places to start, as well as YouTube channels like “Sing King” which offer free karaoke tracks to your favorite tunes.

Try your hand at art! This is a great activity because regardless of how skilled you are, you can still express yourself and create something tangible that you’re proud of. Art comes in so many shapes and variations, that it’s impossible to run out of things to do. You can draw, paint, sculpt, color — and this is just barely scratching the surface. Also, it’s rewarding once you finish, as you can admire the masterpiece that you have created. Like anything else, creating art is a skill, and it takes practice to get better and develop an artistic style. It’s easy to track your progress, and see how you’re developing by looking at what you create. During a quarantine you have nothing but time on your hands, so who knows — you might be a natural!

Make a new playlist and have a dance party! Sitting at home with nothing but time on your hands, odds are that you’ve been listening to a lot of music. I know that in my experience when I listen to a lot of music, I tend to get tired of it, and am in need of new songs and artists to keep me interested. Well, what better time to search for songs and musicians you love than a quarantine? It’s the perfect opportunity to discover your new favorite artist, and jam out to your music. Nothing relieves stress like blasting some of your favorite songs and just having a good time in your room. When we’re all cooped up like this — it’s a great way to stay positive and enjoy yourself. 

Learn how to cook/bake! With all the stress of not being able to find baked goods, such as bread, at grocery stores you can try to make your necessities from home! If you usually go out to eat and don’t really know how to cook a good nutritious meal, you may be wondering where to get good, simple recipes. Good places to get quick and easy recipes is on Pinterest. Before you choose a meal, you 

A nice healthy home-cooked meal eaten in the Riccio household

should consider the ingredients you already have and the ingredients you have access too. With grocery stores being almost empty it may be hard to find some essentials. During this quarantine, it may be hard to motivate yourself to cook or bake something, but it will keep you busy and help you learn new skills that may come in handy down the road. There are plenty of easy-to-follow recipes on the internet that require minimal ingredients and offer a healthy amount of nutrients. We recommend forksoverknives.com, which includes step-by-step tutorials of amazing meals like Shepherd’s Pot Pie or Quick Chickpea Bolognese.




Outdoor Activities: 

Go for a bike ride (safely)! While experts have warned us to be cautious in ventures outside, as long as you cross the street when you see another person and stay six feet away, biking is always an option! With the vast number of recent nice days, biking is a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the good weather. Even if it’s just around your neighborhood, it is a refreshing, rejuvenating activity to get a smile on your face — not to mention your blood pumping.

Go for a run! With governments at the national and local levels urging citizens to social distance, it is important to maintain a healthy level of daily exercise. In other words, going from room to room or, let’s be honest, chair to bed, isn’t sufficient. While going for a run may sound exhausting to some, it is that heart-pumping cardio that we need in times like these. Whether it be one mile or five, a run will not only burn calories (a selling point for impulsive snackers in quarantine), but increase your levels of adrenaline, something worth trying after sitting on the couch for a few days. It is often difficult to motivate oneself to run; yet, the feeling of accomplishment they receive afterward is definitely worth it.

Have a picnic in your yard! With all the nice weather we’ve been having lately, bringing the minimal rations you have outside for a picnic is a great idea. Even though you’re only traveling a few steps from your house, getting outside in any way shape or form is refreshing — it’s not healthy being cooped up for so long! If you’re growing a little sick of your family and are looking to try something new, slap together your favorite sandwich, toss a few snacks in a tote bag, and set up shop in your yard for a sunbathing session. There is nothing better than feeling the sun on your face as you consume fresh fruits or satisfy your sweet tooth with a chocolate bar while your favorite tunes blast nearby. Not only will you fill up on delicious treats, but you’ll get a sun-kissed glow while you’re at it!

Try out photography! Now, getting into photography and snapping pictures of the beautiful spring days does not require any fancy equipment — an iPhone will work just fine! If you take a minute to soak up the blossoming tulips in the backyard or vibrant green of a withering oak tree, it may distract you from our unfortunate circumstances. There is so much to appreciate about the world around us, and New England Spring is one of those things. So stop scrolling through Instagram and take some photos of your own! You never know what you might capture. 

Do some yoga! It’s times like these we must prioritize our mental health. Staying at home for all hours of the day and only seeing extended family members and friends over Zoom is difficult to adjust to — it is important that we take time for ourselves to process this new normal and accept the uncertain future that lies ahead of us. One way we can take care of our mental states is yoga. Not only is yoga good exercise, but it’s relaxing as well. Stretching your muscles and focusing on your breath can take you away from the stress and unpredictability of the current situation, and put your mind at ease. Yoga is also incredibly easy to learn and requires no additional materials — if you don’t have a mat use a towel! There are countless instructors on YouTube who post helpful tutorials for beginners, and may lead you to adapt a new hobby. Popular ones that many cite as effective include Chloe Ting and Pamela Reif. If you find yourself getting distracted and scrolling through TikTok, follow the TikTok account Blogilates — it features short, 30-second clips that do wonders in boosting your enthusiasm to work out as well as teaching you certain exercises you may be unfamiliar with.


Nicholas Riccio walking his dog Rudi on the Wenham Canal

Take your dog for a walk! Along with you, your pets need good exercise as well. Going for a walk with your pet can help you take a break from sitting and doing work all day. You can also get some fresh air which can help you be more rejuvenated and focused to do work. Be careful when you are out, if you see people make sure you stay at least six feet apart from them.

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