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What to Do With Nothing to Do

By Matthew Hussey

As I was about to write this piece, I instinctively reached for my shoes. I would normally walk to grab a coffee from my local before starting. I promptly remembered it’s closed for the next 2 weeks.

It’s particularly strange, this global crisis. Not just because most – if not all of us – have no way of relating to it from any other period in our lives, but because we don’t actually know when it will end. That’s just weird. 

I live in Los Angeles, where everything has pretty much shut down. I won’t pretend this means wholesale changes to my entire routine. It doesn’t. I’m a homebody. I work from home. I regularly refuse invitations to go out – so it would be pretty childish of me to mourn the loss of these events now – and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t mildly excited by having a cosmological excuse for staying in my underpants all day.

I currently get to say no to things with complete impunity whilst taking zero responsibility for being the recluse that I sort of am anyway. I can hear the quiet war cry from my introverted brothers and sisters already: “This is it brothers and sisters! We’ve trained for this! This is our time!”

My normal routines that take place outside the house mostly involve driving to Jiu jitsu, running to the gym, and walking to coffee. The occasional visit to the movies. This may not sound like a lot, but they are still my routines. And when our routines get taken from us, we get a bit, well, strange. We find ourselves doing laps around the house, looking out of windows for a bit longer than normal, investigating drawers and cupboards we haven’t had the time nor the boredom to look inside for a very long time (so that’s where I left that iPhone charger). 

And then we realize it’s only day 2, and we’ve been told we have at least 2 more weeks like this. Maybe more. Likely more. That’s when we begin to extrapolate just how weird we might get by the end of the month.

I also appreciate how extraordinarily hard this must all be for people who are finding themselves adjusting to working from home for the first time (or no longer working, as the case may be), many of whom have children who are also ‘working’ from home for the first time. 

The great irony of all this unexpected time we are finding ourselves with, is that it seems disproportionately difficult to concentrate for long enough to get anything done with it. Some of this is simply our coming to terms with how badly our phone addictions have eroded our ability to focus for longer than 5 minutes. We are functioning novelty-addicts.

But there’s also the low level anxiety many are feeling right now. We are scared, and completely in the dark as to when this will end. We feed our fears by being glued to a news cycle that looks more like a post-apocalyptic movie everyday. Is that an empty WholeFoods I see on CNN or did I accidentally switch the channel to The Walking Dead? I’m really not sure. 

Not to mention the ‘high’-level anxiety that so many people are experiencing from the imminent loss of jobs, worrying about their parents, providing for their children (who are now swinging from the rafters) and even from having a family member or friend suffering with the virus. 

The loneliness compounds it. We turn to social media for connection, but ah, there it is again, the news. Or at the very least, our friends opinions about the news. These factors combined are a winning combination for wasting time, and ignoring the very actions that might help us feel better in this situation.

It’s as if some ingenious little procrastination demon tried to think of the most vile combination he possibly could: “Ok my little cherub…you been complaining all this time you haven’t had enough time for the things you really want to do…well here…have as much time as you want. When will it end? Who knows! Will you get horribly sick at some point along the way? Maybe! So you better not get too close to anyone. Good luuuuuuck.” 

It’s a horrible feeling to have something you’ve been telling yourself you wish you had the time for, only to find you now have oodles of time but the wrong state of mind to do it. 

Then there’s these inspirational Instagram quotes going around politely reminding us what the brilliant people that preceded us did in their isolated time. Did you know that Isaac Newton invented Calculus while he was forced to stay home during the Great Plague of London? Well? Did you? 

But we must remember, Sir Isaac didn’t face the challenges we face. Take me for example. I’ve been distracted by at least 5 hilarious memes just in the last two hours. He never knew such struggle. And if there is a modern day Isaac Newton, I have a feeling he or she is the one creating all these memes. I mean some of them really are brilliant. Didn’t you ever stop to wonder what genius is making them? 

We may not be about to do anything as ground breaking as inventing calculus. At least I’m not. But we may want to consider the possibility that there is an alternative to spending several weeks merely forwarding the funniest corona-memes to our friends. Or panicking.

And before you think I’m preaching, I’m not. This is really a letter to myself. While my self-development peers have been posting about controlling your focus and sticking to your positive habits, I just spent the entire weekend eating chocolate, cheeseburgers, and binge-watching the amazon series Hunters. Everyone has their process. 

And yet if, like me, you’d like to adapt to occasionally using this time for something meaningful – in spite of yourself – I have an idea brewing that I’ll tell you about later today.

(That’s a corona cliffhanger right there.)

Love you all

Matthew x

P.S. Speaking of brewing, my tea tutorial is a must watch for anyone with way too much time on their hands. And for everyone who saw it, stop looking for the deeper meaning. It’s about tea.

P.P.S. Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

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72 Replies to “What to Do With Nothing to Do”

  • School’s now cancelled here in the UK….., I’m looking on it as a great opportunity to teach our boys some new skills…..and to drink more Prosecco. Hang in there. We’re here for you too X

  • Great,(as usual)
    There are two blessings in which many people incur loss (They are) health and free time ( for doing good)

  • Hey Matt,
    First, let me say that I loved your tutorial on making a damn good cup of tea. Your posts, podcasts, and videos have been the highlights of my days these last few months.

    Just this morning I was scamming through your YouTube channel. I stopped and watched the one where you were in a tub (and eating donuts). Much like the post here, it had valuable information for me.

    Thank you for all your words and I can’t wait to meet you in may… Praying it doesn’t get canceled.

    Much love

  • I’ve just had to cancel my 2 crossfit sessions for this week as I’m worried about the spreading the virus. I’ve been I contact the day before with someone who showed symptoms today. So today instead of crossfit all i did was some cooking and cleaning and lots of memes hunting haha

  • appreciate your honesty about how you are dealing with the current situation. I see a beautiful thing happening to us right now which sounds weird. But imagine that I live on the other side of the world and I experience life almost the same way as you are and people all around the world. When else do we get to have such a collective dreamlike reality? Much love to you.

  • As I have to graduate this year from highschool, I am indeed quite nervous – it’s still unclear whether our exams will be postponed or if we will have less lessons to prepare. It’s crazy. And I am deeply hurt that Divine Liturgy is not allowed anymore to take place inside the churches. It will be performed outside and I truly hope that this last solution won’t be forbidden too… :(

    Despite all this, I am grateful for this spare time. We are still allowed to get outside, because, in my city, there are only 3 cases and the number hasn’t increased so far. So I thank God I have the possibility to rejoice over the sunny days here ❤

    Guys, I hope you all have inspiration and creativity these days!!! Do what you wanted so much to do when you had less time – this crazy period will be over! And before that, you will have completed some tasks, you will have fulfilled some of your dreams!

  • I’m a homebody too, as well as an introvert, and usually I have a 1.5 hour commute to work each day, and another 1.5 hours back, so I’m pretty happy I get to work from home now.
    Having said all that, I’m definitely going a little insane. I can’t focus on work. Replying to your blog right now is an example of me getting distracted by my phone. I’ve also been dancing around my living room, making up songs on the fly about how much I can’t concentrate, and about how insane I’m going.
    Thankfully, I live 2 blocks from a lake, so I make myself go out into the sunshine for a walk to get a mental break.
    I definitely have cabin fever and it’s only day 2 working from home.
    I think we’re all more or less in the same boat right now and I think it’s really important to support each other, help your neighbours, don’t panic buy, keep in touch with loved ones, and do activities to benefit your mental health.
    It is comforting to know that, though we may be physically alone in our homes, we’re not really alone. We’re all going through this together. And remember that change is inevitable. This is temporary. We’ll all get through this!

  • Great post! I love the honesty of you eating cheeseburgers this past weekend compared to other self improvement coaches. Also… I literally did laps in my apartment this morning… on purposes… to get exercise
    I’m one is the ones struggling to adapt to working from my home. Since I’m sure a lot of people are gonna take a back seat to trying to “get the guy” right now, maybe we can get some advice on how to be productive while working from home.

  • Hmmm, you’re sitting around in your “underpants”, love it!!! Good post Matt. I look forward to hearing your great idea.

  • This was a nice read Matthew. Cheeseburgers & chocolate sound great to binge on. I’m catching up on books that I’ve half-read and working out using videos on YouTube since I’m staying away from the gym. Since I enjoy driving and listening to music in my car, I’m happy that I can still do that & I don’t have to worry about catching the virus. To keep my spirits up and staying mentally positive, I will only watch or read things that bring me joy, and that’s including food. Hope you and your family are staying healthy and safe and thank you for all the videos you have put out over the years, they have helped me so much. Take care!

  • Love the candor & knowing I’m not the only one who had junk food for dinner…(and maybe breakfast too)
    Looking forward to more.

  • Its like you read my mind!!! As much as writing up an undergraduate psychology lab report is fun… I think you’ll be thrilled to know I’ve been reading your book instead. If this apocalypse ever ends I’ll get to put it to good use! As I live in London myself I fully support the tea video – thank you for highlighting the importance of a good cup of tea and maintaining our British integrity x

  • Just realised the sticker on the laptop says ‘You’re gonna die’!!! Not if I stay cocooned under my duvet for the rest of the year… Netflix, popcorn, antibacterial wipes and I will fight to the end ;)

  • Loved your raw honesty. I am turning 35 tomorrow and just a few months ago I started to breath again and feel I will be fine… went through a heartwrenching break up. Took me 2 years to stop crying. We dated for 7 years.

    My greatest anxiety now comes from this… I already fear of running out of time and now the loneliness in this sense is crippling… and seeing him marrying someone after 2 months of a relationship hits deeply now. I don’t want him back but the fact that he has someone to hug in these challenging times while I’m alone…is ….hurting…badly…

  • I was thinking about what would you like to hear that would reflect what I think. You are so funny and in this time it’s I good thing so thank you for making as feel and think about love :) Emi

  • Thank you for this Matthew. I was just noting in my own podcast what feels like a noticeable lack of leadership or engagement with the present topics from many within my own subculture. How alienating that is and disconnecting. And then there you are again with just the right level of humor and sincerity. Thank you

  • That was very genuine and funny. Especially the Isaac Newton part! I am a nurse and today I had to stay home sick. Mostly due to profound fatigue and stress. I am not sure if I am in complete denial or just my training has caused me not to be afraid of illness. I haven’t had any crippling thoughts of dyimg alone and I am not particularly feeling like it would be great to have a guy beside me right now. I have people in my life that truly love me. I have found a weird sense of peace in knowing that life is really not under my control. So, just enjoying my bed, reading how people are experiencing this event. Showimg my kids and my staff that well, shit happens! You either run or face the music. Much love Matt thanks for sharing!

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