Ways to productively occupy your mind during COVID-19 lockdown

Productively occupy your mind during COVID-19
While most of us remain busy as ever working at home, COVID-19 social distancing measures mean many of us are saving time throughout the week without our daily commute in addition to having a lot more spare time (or time required to occupy the kids) at the weekends. If you’re new to remote working or are maybe working in a public sector or charity team assisting the community with support during the Coronavirus outbreak, it can be tempting to push yourself to overwork. Spending each and every moment of your working hour either ‘at work’, doing chores or looking after loved ones, however, is a recipe for burnout. It’s just as important to spend some time just for yourself.

For some though, the issue with simply ‘resting’ or ‘relaxing’ is that it can result in us focusing on our stressors even more so and then getting even more stressed out about our stress! Instead, if you’re in need of a break but still want to be using your mind productively, here are some of the best online resources we’ve come across to help you zone out, chill out and get creative in the moments you’re not on-call.

Take a Coursera

Taking an online course can be a satisfying way to spend your free time. It is not necessary though to always study topics related to your work. There are plenty of non-work-related seminars out there that can fulfil you on a more personal level and perhaps even indirectly teach you some unexpected workplace lessons too.

ROI(ή) associate Lee has recently been taking The Science of Well-being course on online education platform Coursera. The 20-hour course taught by Yale University Professor Laurie Santos, was developed for students of the Ivy League US school. It’s completely free and engages students in a series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits.

The best thing is you can completely work at your own pace, so there’s no worry about missing out on lectures or assignments if you’re busier one week.

Go to the theatre

There are a bunch of cultural institutions from all corners of the world currently streaming performances for free on their social media channels – and what could be a better way to spend your lunchtime or evening downtime than ‘going’ to the theatre?!

The National Theatre, for instance, is currently streaming One Man Two Guvnors (James Corden) on its YouTube channel. A new production will be available each Thursday and streamed for one week.

Here is a great article by Time Out London about some other productions currently streaming free or for affordable prices: timeout.com/london/theatre/the-best-theatre-shows-to-stream-online-right-now

Learn through listening

There is an endless list of fabulous podcasts available to inform and inspire you. They also make great background noise if you find it difficult to concentrate without the usual buzz of the office. A few great ones include:

–         Entrepreneurs on Fire: This award-winning series has hosted more than 2,000 interviews with inspiring entrepreneurs and is sure to inspire anyone, whether you are a business owner or not

–         The Content Champion Podcast: Dive deep into the science and art of content marketing with step-by-step techniques explained in compelling detail.

–         The Art of Charm: Improve your social skills, relationships and overall happiness with this podcast based around boosting your performance.

–         The Minimalists:  All about learning to live happily with less.

–         Where Should We Begin? Step into the office of iconic couples therapist Esther Perel, who is currently focusing her podcasts on couples across the globe in isolation.

–         One Team Gov: Featuring inspiring stories of social good across the public sector.

–         Nonprofits Are Messy: A different look at charity operations.

–         Impact Boom: Experts in change-making discuss how to create lasting, positive social and environmental impact.


If you’re struggling to focus on books during this time of heightened anxiety, it could be a good idea to join one of the many online book clubs currently running. A few popular clubs include: BookSparks, the History Book Club on Good Reads or Poppy Loves Book Club, a club specifically for women readers.

Visit a museum or gallery

Some of the world’s greatest exhibits have been opened to the public for free. While they may be closed in real life, you can virtually tour The Louvre, New York’s famous Guggenheim museum or The Met and even NASA , among many more.

Simply do nothing

In the corporate world, we can easily get obsessed with productivity. Ironically though, always doing ‘something’ does not necessarily lead to increased productivity levels. Remember – it’s perfectly OK – and in fact, recommended – to do ‘nothing’ some of the time.

Never underestimate the power of gazing out the window, taking a lunchtime siesta or simply sitting with your thoughts and seeing where they take you.

Happy self-isolating, everyone!