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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”

  • As usual, Matthew, you make sense, and once again I find myself smiling at your words that I am sure must have come out of my own mouth. I am afraid of being anxious when I hit the seven day mark….knowing that I’ll have another whole week ahead of me. However, I will do it for the cause.
    And the TEA video was cute, so now when you visit me I will know what you like in your tea. . A devoted fan.

  • This is me to a T, minus binging Hunters. I got sucked into Friday Night Lights and I don’t feel bad about it. Thank you for writing this. Put my jumbled up thoughts, feelings, and emotions into more clear words. And I agree, the memes have been pure gold.

  • I am releived that even you are cluless or desorientated with this situation. I am from Argentina and hee the situation is pretty much the same, today I dare to go for a run on a Public Park (I go every day to the office or to see clients, so staying at home all days is challenging), people in just stared with disapproval. Even something just like that, can be wrong? I hope that I can cope with it and get a new rutine quickly. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • Matthew! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this letter to yourself which is also a reminder for me no one is completely alone in this. We’re in a complete lockdown in Spain. I do hope people come out of this better, Kinder and stronger. I realized that awareness is knowing how to appreciate things before they’re taken away from you. Be safe.

  • Knowing you, someone that tells us to live each lives also loves to just recluse away, makes me feel so much better about not feeling guilty about saying no to invitations. Yes I want to live an amazing full life and meet the man of my dreams blah blah blah, but I don’t want to completely change the things I love to do like sit in my comfy house and read, study at home, garden, make the best cup of tea in the world and enjoy it in silence. During this time, I’m still working in my restaurant on a to go only basis, but the times I’m home, I don’t really want to do much. And I’m okay with that. Thank you for making me feel like it’s okay to do that right now. There will be a time when I want to run a Spartan race, write my book, meet the guy, but for now, I’m happily cocooning. Thanks Matt. Sending you so much love xx

  • I am retired, and usually have a lot of time to do whatever I want, so I’ve been taking Tai chi, Qi gong, and yoga classes. Boom, they’re all gone. I was supposed to have lunch with a friend on Monday; boom, restaurants shut down. There went my social life that I have been working so hard to build. Now what? I go for long walks. I try to get my church online through Zoom; there was a glitch there somewhere. I’ve really been doing well since Sunday, considering. Now, not so much.

  • Thank you for sharing. I’m an introvert and I’ll admit I love the solitude. Solitude is a mirror, it makes me enter into a deep level of introspection. I’ve realized that my parents and I haven’t faced anything like this. Now that I have so much time on my hands. I’m thinking about my grandparents more. I vaguely remember asking them in my childhood why they stockpiled so much food. They were around in the 30’s during the great depression. I remember them talking about the major food shortage. They had a deep knowledge bank and link to past historical events that would be useful. Thanks for the good post. I also liked the tea video. Please create more content like that Stay well.

  • After being devasted the last year from my spouse moving on with someone else, I finally felt I could start moving on. Now being truly on my own the silence is overwhelming. Fell out of the social scene. Feeling truly alone…..everyone seems to have someone during this time to turn to

  • This resonated with me ridiculously well! I’ve been working remotely / travelling for the last 6 months and thought I’d better come home before I was locked out – I stay with my elderly parents when I’m in the UK so thought I’d be wise to self isolate after 3 airports and multiple flights before I go home – I’ve had no time for anything other than work and lots of fun recently so I was actually quite excited at the prospect of all this time to work on personal growth / decide what I want to be when I grow up as I’m about to be made redundant in a month and spend some time on reflection! But all I’ve done is work and laugh and forward funny memes to my friends!! Some of them are so brilliant!! Who actually thinks of them?! Maybe that could be my new job?! I also spent hours on a 4 way WhatsApp call With my best mates which was amazing!
    Hopefully I’ll be more productive tomorrow! It’s a new day!
    Stay safe x
    Ps I Love you and your work you’re an actual living legend – I’ve been telling all the women I meet around the world to follow you! You helped me escape from a really shit place / relationship and develop into a super happy person living my best life haha

  • It’s about tea. I saw it. I started to wonder what would we all do if there wouldn’t be internet for next 2-3 weeks. Probably I would start with more sleeping hours (because I couldn’t work then), then I would finally choose photographs for developing. Day 1 would be gone or even 2 days

  • It’s a lovely letter. I found myself in what you wrote. Here in Italy we are living apart, isolated at home, and it started 8 days ago. For me it’s not a sufferance staying at home. The world has stopped. The sound outside is silence. It seems to be in a cosmic environment. May be you can feel the noise of the world which keeps on moving around itself. It’s a way to connect to our soul. Xxx

  • Keeping it real and relatable. Thank you. Chocolate and cheeseburgers sounds great. Throw in a glass of wine and you have a deal. Stay sane.

  • Thank you for being vulnerable by being honest about how you spent your weekend. There is so much strength in that. Thank you for leading by example. Much love.

  • Matt you are a breath of fresh air! I loved this article (and just generally the nature of your written word). I’m in Australia, also somewhat in isolation and relate to the irony of time met with the feeling of being completely stumped by what’s happening. I could rave about my deeper notions on the context of these shifts but I’ll spare you from yet another distraction! But in all sincerity, thank you for your work.. I follow your videos quite often. It’s comforting to me to know their are guys with your integrity and soulfulness our there. So.. enjoy your ‘time’ (no more cheeseburgers! haha) and every time over the coming weeks as I’m making my tea, I will pause for a second and smile at the beauty that still exists in this world. Heidi xx

  • This is literally everything I’ve been thinking. I’m so amused. Thank you for sharing.
    Annnd now I’m in the mood for tea.

  • Very well written, Matt – and accurate. It’s such a weird time. I have kids at home – a toddler, and an almost eleven year old who might be finishing grade 5 at home because of this – and it does feel like they’re “swinging from the rafters” from time to time. I work in healthcare so still have to go to work, luckily in the evenings only so we can cope without childcare. Some people aren’t so lucky. Best wishes to you and your loved ones.

  • I attended your retreat last year in May and I purchased the membership along with the additional programs. I haven’t had a chance to go through them and last night I managed to go through Attrack Any Man. One goal I want to achieve while I’m staying home for a couple of weeks is to declutter my paperwork. I just signed up for one great hour to help me do this. Thank you for coming up with such a great idea to help your tribe use the time productively. It’s these 1% shifts that get us success!

  • Searching for available PPE as I’m in healthcare and our supply is low and being rationed already. I work in a potentially high risk environment – respiratory and airway management/ anesthesia. We were told to consider buying our own. Otherwise, I’m enjoying seclusion. I’m off due to cancelled Europe trip.

  • “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. “

    THIS ALL DAY. And also feeling tremendously bummed about the 2020 plans that received so much careful planning and time that are now indefinitely delayed. 2020 was to be a big year-just not quite in the way we all expected.

    Ps-I’m feeling the introvert rallying cry IN MY SOUL though.

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