Except for a select scientific few, most never saw the coronavirus pandemic coming. We couldn’t have imagined the swift exit from normalcy to simulated beleaguerment. The mental and emotional toll that the shelter-in-place and self-quarantine mandates have evoked is real. We have gone from an extended spring break to a forced lockdown faster than you can say, where’s my facemask?
There is some good news, however. Many feel that the current COVID-19 crisis will pass in a reasonable time. Stocks will rise, jobs will return, schools will reopen, and we’ll all have a better sense of what items will serve as the proverbial prison cigarettes in the end-time economy.
Until then, those unaccustomed to having vast amounts of unstructured time at home need to keep busy and avoid letting worry and frustration become the overriding theme of the home.
Keeping your mind busy and off the current situation is easier said than done. Useful tasks that not only accomplish this but have a lasting benefit to the home are ideal, provided you can find them. Here are just a few to help you get started.
1. Digitize all of your important documents
While this is something that should have been done years ago, it’s also a pretty easy thing to put on the back burner, saving it for someday. Whether your inspiration is COVID-19 or plans to full-time RV in the years to come, we now have the perfect confluence of cheap or free scanning hardware, cloud storage, and time.
Multi-function printers with built-in scanners and phones or tablets with built-in cameras provide all the digital technology we need to scan documents and papers that we have been saving for years. Cloud storage solutions such as iCloud, OneDrive, and DropBox provide vast amounts of storage for pennies a day. Once you push your scanned files to the cloud, you’ll have access to them from virtually any phone, tablet, or computer.
Our primary obstacle to this has always been time. It takes time to scan and upload both sides of a document, let it synchronize to all your devices, and then check it for accuracy. Once you have done this, however, save all your paper documents for another few weeks, then spot check your cloud documents again. If all looks good, take those boxes to the shredder. Certain documents such as passports, marriage certificates, or citizenship documents should be kept in a fireproof safe.
2. Digitize all of your RV manuals and paperwork
The same strategy can be applied to the huge box or bag of RV documents you received with your RV. The one advantage here is that much of your equipment documentation has already been digitized and can be found on the various manufacturers’ websites.
Manuals for your chassis, appliances, leveling system and more should be available. If not, simply take the same approach to digitizing them as you did with your other documents.
3. Review your services bills and compare prices
In the process of digitizing your important papers, bills among many of those, you may discover you are still receiving paper statements from those service providers you use. Now is the time to not only move to paperless billing but to shop around and compare prices.
Whether it’s TV, internet, electricity, or insurance, you owe it to yourself and your family to make sure you are getting the best deal. Do some shopping around. Even if you don’t find a better value, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that you tried. Hopefully, in the process you’ll have moved to paperless billing as well.
4. Write heartfelt letters to all your loved ones
Thinking about our immortality often brings our feelings for one another to the surface. In all likelihood, the majority of us will survive the coronavirus. However, we shouldn’t let those resurrected feelings go to waste. Now is the time to write them down. Ideally, of course, that will be digitally. Google Docs is free, so those of you that don’t have Microsoft Word need not fret.
Here is your chance to say those things that have remained unsaid, or reiterate those thoughts that you may have already expressed. Even if these documents never see the digital light of day and are not read by the intended loved one, creating that clarity in your mind and putting those feelings into permanence will be beneficial for you. Even if you never relinquish the fullness of your thoughts to those you care about, you’ll have plenty of snippets available to use on birthday and valentine cards.
5. Make or update your will
The clarity you received in the previous step will carry over to this one, making or updating your will. Over ½ of Americans do not have a will. For some, it may be the emotional stress of planning for their own demise. For many others, however, it’s simply a lack of time.
Online services such as LegalZoom let you create a will in the confines of your own home, which many of us are currently restricted to. Although somewhat of a somber subject, now is a good time to broach the subject with your entire family and take care of this important step, without it feeling out of place.
6. Perform and teach auto or RV maintenance
Once your 16-year-old learns that the car will be theirs if you kick the bucket, they may be more inclined to learn how to do some basic maintenance on the family vehicle.
Now is a good time to teach simple tasks such as changing the oil, tire inflation, battery testing, brake checks, and general inspection. If mechanical aptitude doesn’t run in the family, you can stick to cleaning, vacuuming, and detailing. The idea is to pass along a skill, and get out of the house for a while.
Those with RVs could spend the next six months doing maintenance and learning about the systems on the RV. Whether you have impressionable youth on hand or not, now is a great time to really dig deep into your maintenance needs. Since you no longer have the excuse of not knowing where your RV manuals are, performing and tracking maintenance now just makes good sense.
7. Clean out your email…finally
While we may play in social media, we work in email. Email is still the digital life-blood of the marketplace. Your email is a mess, and it’s time to fix it. There are a few simple things you can do to make your daily foray into your email better, both for now and the long term.
Start by unsubscribing to everything that is non-essential or that you find you never even open. You’ll find that to be most of it, and you’ll find it to be somewhat of an ongoing process. All those department store emails, car wash emails, and joke of the day emails you never read…get rid of them. Of course, those emails that you read daily and look forward to regularly you should keep.
For the rest of it, unsubscribe. Personal emails that you receive on your work email address should be unsubscribed and resubscribed on your personal email. If you don’t already have a junk email account, now is a good time to create one. Create a Gmail or Yahoo account that will be used exclusively for junk email.
For example, signing up for a discount coupon or free haircut will inevitably get you subscribed to several new email lists. You can use your junk email account for these things without compromising your regular accounts, and thereby cutting down on the clutter.
Your regular personal email account that you receive legitimate correspondence from your bank, credit card companies, city, and civic organizations should be kept as clean as possible. Here too you can allow relevant content that you regularly access and look forward to, like your pertinent RVing email newsletters and source information.
Email providers such as Google usually have an archive option for your email so that it’s out of sight and out of mind, but can be found later if needed. Try and keep your Inbox as clean as possible and your Junk mail folder empty. Keeping the Junk folder empty is important. Should a legitimate email get stuck in there for some reason, you need to be able to identify it quickly. You can’t do that if you have 4,000 emails in Junk mail and have grown accustomed to ignoring it.
8. Organize your computer files
Like your email, this is a great time to organize your computer files. Here, you can take the steps you learned in digitizing your documents to the cloud by moving all of your files to the cloud. This will allow them to be available to you on any device at any time and provides peace of mind should your computer crash or get lost or stolen.
RVers who take a lot of pictures will need to be more cautious of the file size and storage limitations as photos tend to take up more space. Here again, with the price of cloud storage dropping regularly, this will be less and less of a concern. Those that are diligent about backups should still consider a cloud storage alternative, or in conjunction with an external storage device that mirrors its contents to the cloud.
9. Start that novel you always wanted to write
Most people can write, given the inspiration and time. Now you have both. Writing about the world around you or the feelings that the current crisis has created in you is a good start to your new writing vocation. Whether you write a novel, a short story, a poem, or a children’s book matters not, only that you create.
Whether it gets published, is self-published, or resides only for you to see isn’t important. What matters is that you do it, and you turn maybe someday into remember when.
10. Take an online course
Whether you are inspired by your own writing or despise creative writing with every fiber of your being, an online course is another great alternative to sitting idle and worrying. Online courses aren’t always about higher education. While there are certainly higher education courses available, and many universities today are mandating that the school year be continued online, there are hundreds of other courses available.
Computer programming and specialty design software make up a large portion of the available online offerings. Classes on other topics such as marketing, communication, finance, law, entrepreneurship, and even firearms have all made inroads into the online arena. Online staples such as learning Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word are readily available.
RVers familiar with the Escapees RV Club will appreciate the RVers Online University offered by Escapees. Do It Yourself RVers will appreciate the RV Repair Club for online RV repair and maintenance tips and education.
It’s not just busywork
The idea behind these ten tips is not to create busywork, but rather to busy your mind and encourage long-term growth. While our goal is certainly to survive the current COVID-19 crisis, it should not be at the expense of our integrity or ingenuity. Put that mind to work and do more than survive, thrive.
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