I had written this in 2020, as part of the Sādhanā series, and I don’t think I thought it would be as relevant even today.
But as I spoke to my team today, I realized that it still is. The average commute to ad fro from office is at least an hour, after you factor in the getting ready and unwinding time associated with travel. Which means, when you work from home, there is leeway. And so, here are some things (non Netflix) that you can do with that extra time.
A lot of people seem lost right now. Being confined to their homes is not something that they had factored into their schedules, and so it is quite uncharted territory. From sending in instagram videos of them performing daily chores like sweeping and cleaning, to ‘workout-from-home’ videos, people seem to be struggling to prove that they are filling up their time, and not wasting it. It’s ok to take a step back, and relax for a while. By relax, I don’t mean wasting time. At home, for three weeks, with the power to be in control of your time, your routine, and also the savings in travel time (at least an hour for most people), this does not seem to be as bad as it looks, does it?
Here is something that you can try to do with that one extra hour. 30 minutes of exercise, and 30 minutes of learning.
We do exercise quite a bit without us even noticing. Take metro travel for instance, which involves walking up to the station, mostly standing for the duration of the journey, climbing up and down stairs at the station, walking to your destination…twice a day, is quite an exercise in itself. Those who travel by car may clock in lesser minutes, but you do get some by walking within the office, to meetings, to lunch etc.
While at home, you are missing these bits of exercise.
Let’s compensate by performing basic stretching/warm-ups, yoga, breathing exercises, pushups and squats, whatever can in some way make up for this. At least 20-30 minutes. Remember, you don’t need to take out time – this is something that you already factor in when traveling to and fro from work, and at work.
And then, 30 minutes of learning something new.
Learning has never been easier. Material has never been more accessible, and best of all, a lot of it is free.
By learning, I don’t mean just a book, or a syllabus, or a course. You can learn anything, a new skill, for instance. If you have a garden, attempt to grow something new. If you don’t have a garden, but have at least 80 square feet of indoor or outdoor space, try creating a kitchen garden. There are many tutorials on the internet that take you through the process, step-by-step. Want to try your hand at cooking?
Google any dish or cuisine and you would find a lot of recipes, with photos and videos to help you.
Hebbar’s Kitchen is one such site, that I use for trying out new Indian vegetarian dishes. Want something more comprehensive? I would recommend All Recipes. You may end up making a great meal, or burning food in the pan, but what’s important is that you tried.
You can also learn a new language. I am learning Sanskrit (rather revisiting it, since we did learn it in school). Duolingo is a good site that I’ve heard about. Babbel is another. Of course, these online resources would only help you get started, but that is the point of the exercise.
A lot of us don’t even get to the stage of getting started on what we want to do…
For those looking for more formal skill training, I would recommend MOOC. It’s got courses for every subject that you can possibly imagine, from Harvard, MIT, Boston University, Caltech…most of the top universities in the world. And they are all free. Yes. FREE. So what’s your excuse now?
Learning is just one part of it. The more important part is sharing your knowledge.
It’s true – knowledge grows by sharing. Encourage your loved ones to learn something new. Teach someone a small skill, that you know and they don’t. We may be very learned, educated, and intelligent, but that doesn’t amount to a lot once you are dead. The only way that our learning can grow, and survive our mortality, is through sharing. It may make someone happy, but it surely makes you content. Try it sometime:)