A Nerd’s Guide to Using The Lockdown Wisely

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Stay At Home, Stop The Spread, Save Lives.

Well, here you are!

Hell is raging outside – Your country is in lockdown, a virus is spreading, and you’re stuck at home, in your bed, your sleep habits destroyed, and your diet crumbling. You’re twiddling your fingers, asking yourself: How long will this go on? All amongst your stockpile of toilet paper, canned produce and memes.

Okay, I probably over exaggerated that.

During this lockdown, you’re probably going to be very bored. Unlike before the lockdown, (If you’re a school kid like me) the bustle and hustle of the classroom is non existent, the authority of your boss/teacher has weakened, and you’ll have nothing to do, other than, sit down, watch cat videos and eat a pack of Doritos alongside some Pepsi.

Unless you live in a really great country that is handling this crisis really well… (not the UK)… I’d assume you’d have a minimum of 2 months under a lockdown.

Doing the math: 2 months is 8 weeks, 8 weeks is 60 days and 60 days is 1344 hours. Not only can you just “do stuff”, but you can also come out with more knowledge and possibly better shaped mentally and physically.

So, here’s a little guide on how to use this lockdown to your advantage.

Organize your life

Structure! Structure! Structure!

It was the heading of one of my sections on my last blog post. At the moment, you might not be following a good structure and the path of disorganization, especially at this time, is quite easy to walk through.

Creating a structure is a good way to create a moral figurehead of authority and self-discipline. You don’t need to create a precise structure, and if you feel like all you need is a core structure, you can just schedule in wake up, lunch and dinner.

Personally, I prefer a digital approach to organization: Using Calendar apps, clock apps, To-Do list apps and habit tracker apps in conjunction to schedule in habits that I want to follow, is a great way to make yourself organized and stay engaged in the things you want to do.

My calendar service is Nextcloud Calendar, however it’s not a widely available service, so I would recommend Apple Calendar or Google Calendar.

I used to use Microsoft To-Do for all of my To-Do lists as it has a really aesthetically pleasing interface, all of it’s features are free, and it has this very satisfying ding when you tick off a task. I’ve since been trying out Todoist. I’ve not used it enough to give a concrete opinion so I might create an article on what I think about it or update this article.

However, there are other ways of going around it. If you’re a bit more creative and you want to spend a bit of time away from screens in general: Bullet Journals are a great alternative to keep track of your life

They’re books that you’d be able to log and organise your life, kind of like a diary, but you can use it as anything. I’ve seen people do sleep trackers, a book planner and a mental health log in them.

A really aesthetically pleasing and amazing Bullet Journal by @Anna_bel_9 on Instagram 🤩

Start Meditating

A common stereotype about meditating is that it’s something Monks do, it’s something to do about buddhism, it’s about sitting cross legged (which I don’t even do myself, IT HURTS!) and it’s also for hippies.

I was introduced to meditation by my sister (there’s your shout out) and it benefits have really helped me cool down my emotions and stress and create a stronger image and personality for myself, especially when I really needed it.

Starting to meditate is quite easy – there are plenty of meditation apps on the Play Store and the App Store.

When I was starting, I used Headspace to help guide me through meditation. It might seem very weird at first, sitting on a chair and just breathing deeply for 5-10 minutes over some guys voice, but by the end of my first meditation session I felt like all the stress from me disappeared; I’d describe it as magic.

When my Headspace trial expired, I started to piggy back off my sister’s Calm login and then I started doing non-guided meditation.

You don’t have to start learning on an app, there are plenty of free guided meditation resources on YouTube and if you have an Apple Watch, Fitbit or a Wear OS watch, you’d be able to use the breathe apps that should be preinstalled.


Start reading books

At school, I have this friend, let’s call him ‘Grade 9’, who is a really huge nerd, is a really expert academically, and I think I’d probably see him going to Oxford or Cambridge one day.

Well, Clark, what is his secret?

Grade 9, after school, always heads down to the school library and returns a few books and picks up a few more. Oh and, he and the librarian are practically friends.

The outbreak can be very daunting for some people. An escape from everything that’s happening all around us would be welcomed by some people, and books are a great way of learning things and powering your imagination.

The standard for reading online at the moment and the most accessible service is Kindle by Amazon. At the moment in the UK they’ve priced a few e-books for free, just get the Kindle app to read them.

Audiobooks are increasingly becoming popular. Instead of reading a book, the book gets read to you. Audible by Amazon (yet again) is the most accessible service. Unlike traditional books or digital books, you can only listen to one audible book at the time.

https://b-ok.cc

A free way to read books is the site https://b-ok.cc. It’s by Z-Library, a place that sources books and articles. You’ll be able to download books in formats like PDF and EPUB. To read them, you’ll need a e-book client.

Whatever you decide, it’s great to have a little bit of downtime and to absorb yourself into a good book.


Learn a new skill

The internet can be used as a tool, if you use it properly. There are mega amounts of information scattered around the internet, and you can learn how to do anything, big or small, by just typing away.

YouTube is a great place to start learning anything. From cooking videos to D.I.Y tutorials and coding classes, It has a wide selection of courses and resources that should help you do whatever you need to do.

If you want a better experience, Udemy is another great place. There are a mixture of paid and free courses on the site ranging from Python to the Stock Markets and they are really well presented, with clear and concise sections that you can use to skip to certain parts of the course.

If you don’t want to shell out cash, UdemyFreeCourses.com is a good companion site where you can find free courses.


Get some exercise

Exercising has never been any easier. Unlike the past, exercise content is being pumped out all online and unlike only 3 months ago (for most of us), it’s possibly the only way you can keep your physical health intact.

I find YouTube a very fascinating and magical place – not only there’s learning videos to help you gain new skills but there are also loads of workout videos, ranging from HIIT workouts to 1 mile walks.

If you live in the UK, you must be living under a rock if you don’t know who Joe Wicks is.

At 9am (BST) everyday on his YouTube channel ‘The Body Coach TV, he does a live workout session called ‘PE with Joe’. The classes are designed for children and teens, however, I doubt he’d mind anyone above that age joining in.


Stay in touch

This lockdown doesn’t have to be a indication to the end of your social life for the foreseeable future. With the power of the internet, you can be right there with them!

If your friends all have iPhones, FaceTime is, hands down, the best video calling option. It’s widely integrated into iOS, You don’t need to make another account and it’s secure.

If you don’t have an iPhone or just want an alternative, Google Duo is your best bet. The service is secured by end-to-end encryption, the video quality is really good and you’re able to have video calls up to 12 people.

Unless you’re a massive nerd like me, I wouldn’t worry too much about trying to find the best video calling app, as video calling is already a standard feature in most messaging apps including Instagram DM’s and WhatsApp.


At the end of the day, we’re in the middle of a pandemic.

The burden of responsiblity has doubled on our shoulders, perfection is impossible right now. It’s fine to take a day to sit, let go of that responsiblity, breathe and just ‘live’ for a bit.

How To Home-School Yourself During a Lockdown 🎓

The past month has been a roller coaster.

Teachers start going off-sick, your peers start disappearing one by one, and out of nowhere, your school gets shut and you’re being asked to work at home, be more responsible and start home-schooling yourself.

A lot to take in, right? Before I was thinking that home-schooling myself would be a great idea!

So, on what would be the week before the end of my school’s Easter Holiday, This is how I try to maintain my memory and home-school myself during this entire crisis:

My school has set us work instead of creating online classes, so feel free to skip individual tips if you don’t need them.


Structure, Structure, Structure!

The most crucial 2 things I’ve learnt from one week of this – Planning ahead and structure is a must.

Take 30 minutes each week sometime in the weekend to plan your entire week on a spreadsheet or your notepad and putting the resources you need into folders. By doing this, you’ll be avoiding the ‘What am I doing?’ question that takes time away from studying and dedicates it to trying to find the work you’ve been set.

Create a schedule, allow for a varied amount of subjects everyday, and stick to that schedule. It doesn’t have to be your exact school schedule, however I tweaked my school schedule so it had more breaks and an earlier start.

I’ve also planned late starts on the days where I have PE. If I don’t have PE in my first period I move my first lesson to the period where I normally have PE in as I feel like if I have a big free period then I would loose a lot of momentum.

I set alarms on my clock app to help me stay engaged with this schedule (it honestly looks very satisfying) accompanied with Flipd, an app that’s a mindfulness timer but makes a great study timer.

Probably should of counted the time I was writing this blog post as Flipd time

I’d also recommend afterwards noting down that you’ve done something or if something is unfinished so you know when to start from again when you’re planning.


Take regular breaks

Breaks are a great way of refreshing your attention span and keep it running at high capacity, The average human brain can only concentrate for 45 minutes straight before loosing it’s concentration.

It can also boost your productivity, make you more engaged with the task at hand and make you more efficient when you work.

According to research by an app called DeskTime that tracks computer use by employee’s, the most productive workers work for an average of 52 minutes at a time, then take a break for 17 minutes before working again. (I know, the numbers are a bit goofy)

Those 17 minutes were often spent away from the computer, either taking a walk or having an exercise and not engaged or thinking about work.

The 52/17 technique works because during those 52 minutes, you are working with purpose and focus. And then when you have a break, you are allowing yourself to refresh and ‘recharge’.


Get away from your phone!

The biggest distraction you could probably have while studying is your phone. It’s your gateway to procrastination: cat videos, BuzzFeed quizzes, Instagram!

If your teachers have set you paper homework and/or you have a second device or computer you can use to view or answer digital questions, then mute your phone and put it in a drawer or keep it away from sight. It’s scientifically proven that having your phone even in sight makes you less productive and less able to recall answers.

If your phone is your only device, and you don’t have a computer you can use to answer or view digital questions, then you can configure your phone to make it more helpful.

On iOS 12+ and some Android 9.0+ phones, there are features like Focus Mode in Digital Wellbeing and Downtime in Screen Time. They allow you to restrict certain apps from being used at a certain time.

Another method you could do is try making it more complicated to access your distracting apps. If you have a phone that can have multiple users, then create another user just for productivity and school.

You can also try to make it more complicated to access them by hiding them into folders or deleting the apps all together.

On iOS and Android, there’s a feature called Greyscale that makes your screen black and white. Turning it on will make you want to use your phone less if you get distracted and creates a mental barrier between you and the content.


Switch things up

Novelty, change, and really just new stuff stimulates the brain. That’s why whenever you get a new phone, or a new set of pens and pencils, or eating at some fancy restaurant (when we were able to) makes you feel so good, other than the taste of the food.

Studying in a different place, such as sitting in your dining room, or your garden, creatives novelty, which can help you release dopamine which tightens concentration and helps you to motivate.

Novelty doesn’t just mean moving rooms, something just needs to be different: Maybe try using a different pen, getting a new notebook, or try laying out your work in different way, or using different colours, or even using the tips in this article? (following article tips could work if you’re as nerdy as me)

Scientifically, studies have shown that the plasticity of the hippocampus (the ability to create connections between neurons) was increased by novelty, and has also shown to have increased the memory retention of test subjects.


See where your gaps are

A benefit of this whole home-schooling thing is that you’re free from restrictions of a teacher and a curriculum to follow. You can finally get the opportunity to spend time on things you don’t really get.

A way you can see what you find hidden gaps in your knowledge is…. surprise surprise… testing yourself!

Find a test paper and a mark scheme from the internet that matches your exam board and exam qualification and do that test without revising to see what you actually remember, then highlight the questions you found difficult and put them on a To-Do list so you can dedicate your lessons to them, Redo that same test, or another test with the same topics on, and keep doing this in a cycle until you get near enough 80% – 100%.

This will perfect your knowledge and allow you to come back into school knowing what your weaknesses and what you are doing.


Hold yourself to account

Keep a record of what lessons you do everyday. I use an app called Loop Habit Tracker on Google Play and F-Droid (There’s probably a similar app on iOS if you look around).

The app is very simple and it allows me to uncheck and check certain days if I’ve done a certain habit or not, and oh boy, the misery of an unchecked box is very scary… at least to me 🤷‍♂️

On mine, I’ve listed out all 5 school periods to really give myself a challenge but you can just have a “study” task.

absolute satisfaction

I hope this has been helpful for you, especially in these uncertain, weird but historical times.

Don’t beat yourself up if you procrastinate a bit. You’re at home in the middle of a pandemic, no one can blame you. Just use your time wisely and treat it like a normal day of school, albeit with maybe a bit more Netflix 🤷‍♂️

🤓 If you’d like to join a little Flipd group I made, then join it here: https://flipd.app.link/R1KWJz1er5