I wake up around 10am—just in time for my first-ever teleconference. It’s about a week into the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine, meaning no driving out, no public transportation, and no commutes to the office.
Thankfully, I have the privilege of being allowed to work remotely and maintaining my income during these trying times. Not wanting to give off the impression that I’m taking this setup for granted, I hop straight out of bed and in front of my laptop.
Never mind that I’m still in my boxers—it’s not like anyone’s going to notice, after all—but in my hurry, I can’t be bothered to at least wash up. Hopefully, my webcam’s video quality is shoddy enough to keep anyone from noticing any dried up saliva on the corner of my mouth.
I log into the chat, and my face pops up in the middle of the screen. There are no other faces in the room, so I sit there staring blankly into the camera. “Nice, I’m early,” I think to myself.
It takes me a good minute before I realize this teleconference is audio only. And it takes me another couple of seconds of fiddling with the settings before figuring out how to turn off my video feed.
Such are the growing pains of life in social distancing. Lessons must be learned, adjustments must be made, and, likely, lives and routines will be turned upside down. Thankfully, the human brain is a malleable thing—adaptable, willing to compromise, and able to adjust to changing circumstances. It’s all a matter of initiative. All this considered, here are 10 skills you need to learn now that you can’t drive out on a regular basis:
1) Online banking
Banks are open, yes. But do you really want to risk standing in line, potentially exposing yourself to contracting COVID-19, just to make a deposit or pay some bills?
No. The answer should be no. These days, bank transfers and bill payments can be made via the convenience of a tap on a smartphone screen. Most mainstream banks, if not all, allow clients to make various transactions online. It’s just a matter of registering your device and getting the hang of using your bank’s app or website.
If, like me, you have the privilege of working from the comfort of your home during the enhanced community quarantine, chances are you engage in teleconferencing, whether via a proper remote office platform like Slack or Microsoft Teams, or something less professional like Facebook Messenger or Zoom.
If you’re new to this, be sure to learn the ins and outs of whatever platform you and your workmates plan on using. Make sure your home setup is conducive for this, too: If your laptop’s sound setup and mic are subpar, use a headset. If your webcam’s quality isn’t up to standard, switch to a higher-quality one. And don’t forget to lean in close when speaking so that your colleagues hear you well.
Oh, and don’t be that guy with a dog barking nonstop or a vacuum cleaner running in the background.
3) Online shopping
Again, if you can accomplish a task without leaving the safety of your home, do so. Online grocery shopping has been a thing for quite a while now, but it has only recently started gaining in popularity because of the pandemic.
Some popular online grocery platforms right now include MetroMart, WalterMart, and Session Groceries. Admittedly, though, reliability and product selection can be an issue, taking into account the kind of traffic groceries are dealing with right now.
4) Doing your own laundry
Admit it: You groan at the thought of doing your own laundry. You don’t like having detergent on your oh-so-precious skin, and your spine hurts just at the thought of washing your clothes.
Is it really that hard, though? Time-consuming, perhaps. But actually difficult? Not really.
Separate your colored laundry from your lights and wash them separately, and use just enough detergent and fabric conditioner relative to the amount of laundry you need to do. It’s also the perfect opportunity for you to master your washing machine’s timer and settings, or finally trying some good old-fashioned hand-washing.
5) Washing your car (properly)
Since we’re on the topic of washing, you’re going to have to learn to give your ride a bath since most car-wash places in Metro Manila are closed at the moment. And no, we don’t mean grabbing the nearest garden hose and spraying water on your vehicle. We mean it’s time to learn how to give a proper wash with soap, a good wipe-down, and maybe a little wax afterward.
Our website is an excellent resource for handy car-washing tips and tricks. If you need help, click here. Grab a vacuum cleaner and some microfiber cloths, and work on your interior, too, while you’re at it.
6) Working out at home
Just because your local gym is shut down for the duration of the quarantine doesn’t mean you can’t work on getting a few reps in here and there at home.
Sure, your gym might come complete with all the proper—not to mention expensive—exercise equipment, and chances are you’re used to using them on a regular basis, too. For now, though, working out at home is your only option.
YouTube is an excellent source for simple, easy-to-do home workouts, and most of the time, all you’ll need is a little free space or a cheap yoga mat. Speaking of yoga, it might be a great way to lessen the stress of being stuck at home for the next few weeks.
7) Cutting hair
Tread carefully if you plan on going here. Sure, you can get by with a pair of scissors, a mirror, and, most important, an F1 racer’s hand-eye coordination, but we recommend having someone with experience work on you if possible. Remember: If you mess up, there’s no going back—or you could always pop out a razor and go zero. There’s that, too.
8) Making a decent cup of coffee
This is entirely dependent on your taste. If you’re content with ripping open a pack of instant coffee and poring in some creamer, you’re probably not going to have any problems coping. If, however, you can’t get by with throwing a sizeable chunk of your income at a mainstream coffee chain, you’re probably going to have a problem.
If you belong to the latter half of the population, hopefully, you have a legit coffeemaker at home. Alternatively, you could try your hand at concocting some homemade cold brew—all you need is some ground coffee (or beans and a grinder), a jar, and a refrigerator. A quick browse through YouTube will show you how.
9) Segregating waste
You are going to have a lot of trash at home now that you can’t drive out as you please: Used tissues, leftover food, random junk you’ve decided to get rid off now that you’ve had time to acknowledge that they are, indeed, junk.
If you don’t manage your waste properly, you’re going to have a very bad time during the enhanced quarantine period. Remember: The collectors aren’t going to throw just anything into the truck when they pass. Separate your dry waste from your wet waste; otherwise, you’re going to have a stinking trash bag full of rotten food wasting away in front of your house. Also, reserve a corner somewhere for larger items you plan on getting rid of in the future as, chances are, these won’t be making their way into the garbage truck.
Oh, by the way, be sure to put used gloves, tissues, and masks in a separate trash bag. The collectors are frontliners, too, you know.
10) Trying something new
Keeping your sanity while quarantined can be much, much easier said than done. Hopefully, you have family or friends to keep you company wherever you’re stuck at, or a stable Internet connection to help pass the time. If you have neither of these things, you might have your work cut out for you during the enhanced community quarantine.
That said, it’s the perfect time to try out something new. Maybe start writing a journal to document your lockdown experience. If you have an Internet connection, you can even set up a blog or YouTube channel, or finally get around to setting up a social media account. Hell, try your hand at art while you’re at it—it’s not like there’ll be anyone around to judge, right?