Not Your Average Quarantine Productivity List
You know all those things you say you’ll get to but then you never seem to have the time to actually do them? This blog post is for you friend. Now that we all have a little extra time on our hands, I’ve compiled a list of things I’ve been doing to simplify my life. This list isn’t the same stuff you’ve seen all over the internet (like how to set up a home office or clean your baseboards) but instead those random little tasks that annoy us frequently but not enough to immediately take the time to correct. Pause Netflix, use your quarantine time for some good, and work your way through the following list.
The first week of social isolation, I actually ended up taking off my Apple watch for a few days because I couldn’t stand the constant stream of news notifications. I don’t know how I’ve ended up with so many push notifications on my phone but I finally took the time to organize what I actually wanted to see. I’m not kidding when I say I have hundreds of apps on my phone and most of them were set to deliver push notifications. If you’re anything like me, a push notification comes through, you pick up your phone to check, 30 minutes later you’ve fallen into a deep dark hole and you’re following along to the newest TikTok dance video. Don’t do it. Don’t tempt yourself. Spend the ten minutes going through the list and disable notifications. While you’re at it, browsing through this list is actually an easy way to remind yourself what apps you don’t actually use and can delete. Not only will your phone not be constantly going off but I’m also convinced that it’s actually made me more productive and reduced the amount of time I’m on my phone just by removing the reminders.
To change your push notifications:
- Go to “Settings”
- Select “Notifications”
- Select the app you want to change.
- Customize the notifications. You can choose to display on your lock screen, notification center, or banners; add or remove sounds; change previews; or disable the notifications altogether.
- When you’re done, in the upper left hand corner, select “Notifications” to return back to your list.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Update Your Work Email
There may be a day that you’re no longer employed. For too many of us, we realized this abruptly just a few weeks ago. While most of my friends & coworkers are planning to return to their jobs once this pandemic is over, the reality is we have no idea what the new “normal” is going to look like or if our jobs are going to be available. I had been working at my job for almost six years so you can bet that my professional and personal emails have somewhat merged. My HelloFresh subscription? Going to my work email. The professor I guest lecture for at SDSU each semester? Emails my work email. The log in for my Mastermind group? You guessed it, my work email. My JustFab membership? Yah, work email too.
Export Your Outlook (Contacts, Calendar, Etc.)
I’m fortunate that I still have access to my professional email account so I logged in and exported my contacts/address book and Outlook calendars (I use my calendar for everything!). I’ve also set up a monthly reminder (in my personal calendar now) to export my work email file once a month in the future.
How To Export Your Info From Outlook (for Mac users):
If You Use The Outlook Program:
- Open Outlook.
- Select “Tools” from your main navigation bar.
- Click “Export”
- Select what you want to export. Choices include Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Notes. You can also select to export specific categories.
- Select “Continue”
- Name your file and select where you’d like to save it on your computer.
- Hit “Save”
- The export process will finish and you now have an Outlook archive file (olm).
How To Export Your Contacts Easily Using Webmail:
*I found it easier to export contacts from the webmail portal than the actual Outlook program
- Log into your Outlook webmail (I use outlook.office365.com)
- On the lower left hand toolbar, select the people icon.
- In the upper right hand corner, the “Manage” drop down option.
- Choose “Export Contacts”
- Select which contacts you’d like to export from the pop-up window.
- Click “Export”
- This will create a .csv file that you can easily add to most emails (including Gmail).
Out Of Office Emails
If you don’t have an out of office message up yet (make one!) or even if you do, make sure that it includes your personal email contact too (be sure to check your company’s policy on this first).
You can also spend a few minutes emailing select contacts that you know you want to keep in touch with to let them know that during this crazy time, you hope they’re safe & healthy and that you wanted them to have your personal contact info. You can really customize these messages for your current situation.
I personally am so close to many of my vendors and partners and they knew what was happening at our company (all our venues are currently closed) so I actually spoke to most of them on the phone and let them know I was good, I’d send them any business or referrals that I could, and that if they needed any marketing help, I’d be happy to help in any way. I also know friends who have emailed their contacts and gotten side gigs during this time.
The last email to-do on our list is unsubscribing. I know when I sit down at my computer in the morning, I’m immediately met with a bunch of junk emails. Instead of taking the time to open, scroll to the bottom, click unsubscribe, and complete the process I just delete the email. I’ve been spending a few extra minutes each morning during quarantine actually unsubscribing instead of just deleting these messages.
I’ve also started using Unroll Me which is a great (and free!) service to help declutter your inbox. You can easily unsubscribe from emails using their platform or pick your favorite newsletters and have them rolled up into one daily message.
Update Your Log Ins
I’m not going to lie, this part was sort of tedious but I went through all the emails I get to my work email (Hello Fresh, Just Fab, certain newsletters, etc.) and updated their platform login information to use my Gmail personal email account instead of my work email. I feel like it’s probably best practice to just do this from the get-go but hey, it wasn’t my reality so I’m getting back on track now.
Create A Password Sheet
While we’re talking about logins. If you’re updating subscriptions and login information, go ahead and create a password sheet. Everyone should have a master password sheet but I’m guessing it’s one of those things you’ve put off; well no excuses, now you have the time. If you already have a master password sheet, this is also a great time to go through and update the information. I’m willing to bet, you’ve reset a password and told yourself you’d update your password sheet later but you never did. (We have a spreadsheet at work like this that has SO many outdated passwords. #dobetter lol)
I’ve recently begun using LastPass and couldn’t be happier! I use the free version but they also have affordable and premium plans available.
Tackle The Photo Albums On Your Phone
Looking for something you can do on the list while binge watching Netflix? This is the task for you! At the time of writing this, I have 39,773 photos in my recent camera roll. Old screenshots from an ex that you circulated in the girls chat? We can delete those now. 90 different photos of the weekend special? See ya never! 16 different “candid” poses before you got the perfect angle for the gram? Goodbye and good riddance. Create folders, purge duplicates, take a walk down memory lane, send photos to friends – just clean out your massive collection of photos so you can actually find what you want when you go to show someone without having to scroll for 20 minutes before giving up.
Look At Your Subscriptions
Now that we’re getting back to the basics, it’s the perfect time to go through your bank statements (and hopefully it’s easier with less charges since we’ve all been sitting at home for a month) to look for recurring charges that you no longer need but never seem to find the time to cancel. Fab Fit Fun box? Do you enjoy it and actually use the products? Monthly membership program? Are you logging in and getting your value? LinkedIn Premium for that job search last year but you forgot to cancel? Do you need it now? Monthly donation to a charity? Do you need to adjust the amount? Use this time to analyze those charges and decide if they still have a spot in your budget (Hulu & Netflix – you all aren’t going anywhere).
While we’re on the topic, anyone else see a recurring $1.99 charge from iTunes each month but you have no idea what it’s actually for? Spend the few minutes going through to look at specific invoices to make sure you actually use what you’re being billed for.
How To See Your Subscriptions
- Go to “Settings”
- Click your name at the top of the menu.
- Select “Subscriptions” (4th choice down from the top)
- Review your subscriptions.
- If you want more details about any specific subscription or to cancel, click on the option.
- You’ll then be able to see billing details, renewal dates, and have the option to cancel the subscription.
Update Your Autofill
The last thing to round out our list will vary from web browser to browser so I won’t include specific instructions but when was the last time you updated your autofill settings? I know I still have old addresses and expired credit cards saved and just have never taken the time to remove them as an option.
I recently went into my Chrome settings and updated my autofill settings. I changed passwords, payment methods, and addresses. I haven’t really been doing a lot of online shopping right now but it has been nice the few times I’ve recently used autofill to not have to sort through 19 old cards or update my old college address.
How have you been using this quarantine time to be more productive?