LAST week, I wrote about ways to ensure that you’re able to stay productive if required to work from home due to the Covid-19 situation. Since then, our government has decided to impose a “lock-down” until the end of the month to stem the rapid increase in infections.

While drastic and inconvenient, this “lockdown” isn’t actually a curfew. People can still move around However, as only grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential services will remain open you can’t go to restaurants, bars or cinemas etc. during this period. But you’re not confined to your home.

You would be if you were self-quarantining, which is something very real for many of us. I recently had a brief stint of doing that when I had exposure to someone who had exposure to someone else who had tested positive for Covid-19. Although I didn’t have primary exposure, self-quarantining is advisable until the person with primary exposure tests negative.

For a few days, I had to stay at home. I couldn’t do normal activities like going to the bank, buying groceries at the supermarket, training at my judo club, etc. I suddenly found I had a lot of time on my hands. I used the time to do many of the things I normally struggle to find time for. Here are some ideas in case you find yourself self-quarantining.


Self-quarantining doesn’t mean you have to stay locked inside your room or your house. But even if that were the case, you could do plenty of exercises that don’t take a lot of time and hardly require any equipment. A really good one is the “New York Times 7-Minute High Intensity Interval Training” exercise that takes only seven minutes to complete. And the only equipment you’ll need is a chair.

Look it up on Google if you’re keen to try this. You can also step outside and go for a brisk walk. Just stay clear of other people. Remember, self-quarantine isn’t jail. You just don’t want to potentially infect other people — that’s all.


If you have a pet dog or cat, most likely you haven’t been spending as much time with them as you should be. That’s the harsh reality of our hectic, modern lives. Our pets get neglected. We make sure they’re fed of course but do we really play with them? If you’re home-based for the time being, you can spend more time playing with your pets. They’ll be delighted.


You shouldn’t be meeting anyone in person but nothing’s stopping you from catching up with old friends online or through the phone (or Skype). Let’s face it; just like the case with our pets, we all tend to neglect old friends who mean so much to us. And like your pets, old friends will be delighted to hear from you. Or write them a long e-mail to update them on what’s been happening with your life.


I love music and I’m a huge movie fan. But I rarely get to indulge in any of these things because of my busy schedule. I’m sure it’s the same for many people living in the big city. When self-quarantining, it’s a great opportunity to spend more time discovering music on Spotify or checking out shows on Netflix, etc.


Most of us probably have rooms or workspaces that could be tidier if only we had the time to clean up a bit. Similarly, our computer desktop is probably not as tidy as we’d like it to be too. This is certainly the case for me. “Clean up the room” and “Sort out folders on laptop” is perpetually on my to-do list but keeps getting postponed as deadlines and other things get in the way. When self-quarantining, this isn’t an excuse anymore.


For those of us who do like to cook, we usually end up buying our meals just to save time. But cooking at home isn’t only a healthier option; it can also be fun, especially if you try out new dishes. You don’t even need to buy a cookbook. All you have to do is search online for meals you wish to cook and there’ll be tons of recipes and even video tutorials for you to refer to.


In the past, whenever I travelled to another city for work or for some judo competitions, I’d usually take a taxi or Grab to go to a local café or restaurant to have my meals. Hotel food is usually not very good and very pricey. One day, when I was in another city for a judo competition, I noticed another coach in the lobby of the hotel. I asked him if he was waiting for a taxi to take him into town to get some food. He said, no, he was waiting for FoodPanda to deliver him his meal.

I had of course heard of FoodPanda and GrabFood but never thought to use it until then. Suddenly, I realised I didn’t have to waste time and money taking a cab into the city just to eat. And I didn’t have to spend a mini-fortune on hotel food. I could have my meals delivered to me at a very reasonable cost. Since then, I’ve used online services to order food whenever I’m too busy or too lazy to cook.

Figuring out how to use online food services isn’t rocket science but if you’ve not done it before it does take some getting used to. One time, I accidentally clicked on “pick up” instead of “deliver” so I had to go to the restaurant myself to pick up the food (they couldn’t change it to “deliver” once the order is made). So, some simple trial and error needs to be done to learn how to use these services properly.


Similarly, I had of course heard of online grocery services but never thought of using them until I was in self-quarantine. I wanted to do some cooking but couldn’t go out to buy groceries so I ordered online. Ordering groceries online is a bit more complicated than ordering meals because there are so many more choices of items involved and frankly, the search engines on these online grocery services aren’t great. So, you have to do a lot of browsing and scrolling to find the items you want.


Sure, we read social media postings every day. We probably even read news articles every day. But how often do any of us read whole books anymore? Well, this is your chance to do some long-form reading. If you don’t fancy reading a physical book you can read on your computer, tablet or even phone (I don’t recommend that unless you like squinting your eyes). If you’re too lazy to read, you could even get audiobooks and have it read for you. All these things are readily available now.


This is related to reading except it deals with non-fiction matters. We live in an age where anything you want to learn about, you can find it online. Even the most obscure stuff is available out there. Sometimes it’s free but often you have to pay for it if you want quality content. E-learning can be done via reading e-books or watching videos. It’s very convenient and you can learn at your own pace. What’s probably stopping you in the past is time (the lack of it). So, this your chance to upgrade yourself. You have Covid-19 to thank for that!

Oon Yeoh is a consultant with experiences in print, online and mobile media. Reach him at [email protected].