I wrote this list ten years ago as an imagination exercise because I am one of those people who thought it was wise to prepare for an apocalypse. It was originally part of the 'How To Series – Helpful Hints For The End Of Days.'
Self-isolating is very similar to living like a hermit and, that being the case, I have a lot of experience. Behold the sacred text of 'The Hermit's Guide for Staying Creative with Cabin Fever.'
1. Keep it clean.
Take this unprecedented moment in history to change your surroundings. Open windows, burn a scent, sweep everything off desk tops like an over-eager lover then clean every single one before placing them back on a sparkling surface. (I take no responsibility for breakages).
This is a foundation and there's no excuse – you have time. While you are doing this, your brain will throw up notions of how you can be organised more efficiently. Listen. (Or don't. If you thrive in mess then who am I to say).
2. Separate your spaces Make stations. If you don't have the room for this then get storage containers or drawers out of a cupboard and make specific homes for each set of tools to live in while you are not milking them for their magical properties.
Even if this just consists of transforming an at home desk to a dinner table to a coffee and reading table, pack away your lappy and notebook then store them like they are precious. Go online and procrastinate for at least a whole day buying cool looking containers that match your personality and home décor. (With full permission to tell your inner critic that you were advised by a hermit. They are always smarty-pants. Or was it crazy pants…? Perhaps the two are not mutually exclusive.)
3. Stay Regular Keep a routine of some sort. This could be as simple as writing or drawing every day for half an hour, any time you want or at a set time. To as complex as a whole time table that you write out in graph form. If this tickles your fancy then spend another day drawing up a flow chart. Preferably in crayon or texta and then stick it on the wall. Yep, you could totally have it on your computer too or get onto Canva and go modern with laminated posters and laser cut MDF Hello Kitty home-painted chalkboards.
4. Mix It Up Get spicy. Do more than one project at once. That way when you get stuck on one flow you can switch to something else and let your subconscious do its problem-solving thang. This is where separate stations or clear boxes are your alchemists gold.
Now, this is some old school hermit behaviour. If you find yourself staring off into space and daydreaming (which I also highly rate as a sometimes activity) and want to get stuck back into it then try active or passive mindfulness.
Passive – find an object, nature people might want to select a stone or leaf and city people use your pen or troll doll, even a spoon will do. Have a moment with the object. Hold the object, feel it, think about it. What is a spoon? Now associate, extrapolate, be with the spoon thoughts. Set a timer or know before you begin that it is a finite window. If you have a productive time or discover untold genius then start a contemplation journal. You will be pleased with how quickly these thoughts begin to inform your practice.
Active – This involves using your body. Almost every yoga, tai chi and martial arts group will be making online offerings. Support one of these groups by signing up for something, it can be five minutes or a regular class. There are also lots of fabulous activities for free. Active contemplation can also come from walking or working out. Concentrate on the activity while you are doing it. Really get into it, if you find your thoughts wandering to a 'to do' list then congratulate yourself for being so dedicated then let it go, come back to your body. If none of this appeals to you then I suggest Beyoncé your day and have an outfit change, use that time as your active contemplation.
Feeling stuck? Make a research list. Now I don't mean the research list you already have of things you want to do but are avoiding, make a list just for your curiosity. Silly, off the cuff subjects that seemingly have no connection to your work. Stick a page on the fridge like a shopping list so you can add to it when inspiration strikes. The threads of connectivity that appear may turn you into a conspiracy theorist and then you're really doing cabin fever right!
7. Random and Delightful
Do something wacky for pleasure. On purpose, as part of the routine. Write lists that are for the express purpose of ticking. While you're writing the lists practice forming letters in different ways. Leave love notes for yourself in post-it stickies. Go outside and talk to a plant like you would a co-worker. Download Duo-lingo and take Mongolian classes. Order some weird indoor plant seeds online and get obsessive about growing them. Make a replica world map out of buckwheat flour on the kitchen table, then use the flour to make muffins that are neither sweet nor savoury but a combination of both. Anyway, you guys have got this part.