Stay Productive at Home: Taxes, Organizing Photos, Community Outreach
So you’re stuck at home. Let’s assume, for a brief moment of Best Case Scenario, that’s the worst of your problems—that you’re otherwise healthy, just in self-imposed isolation for the foreseeable future while the world tries to stop the spread of Covid-19. You or your family are somehow holding it together; occasionally you have a short reprieve from keeping your kids occupied; and you’ve already cleaned your home or apartment top to bottom.
Now might be a good time to reset and address some of the personal-life projects you’ve been putting off. It’s one of a few ways to stave off anxiety, feel less stressed about your personal affairs, build community, and maybe even learn a thing or two.
This doesn’t mean you have to develop new methods of mathematics or pen Shakespearean masterpieces; it’s annoying, truly, that a modern society so intent on maximizing human output would default to these suggestions during a pandemic. And a little mental break in the form of Netflix or TikTok is justified when the lines between work and personal life have become so blurred and the news is mostly bad. But there are some small things you can do that might help temporarily void feelings of existential despair.
Do Your Taxes
Just kidding, it’s miserable to lead with that one. But we’ll come back to that. You’re going to have to do it eventually, even if the US deadline for federal tax filings has been pushed.
Smash That Unsubscribe Button
Back when life was normal, you opted into emails from barre studios, your kindergarten alma mater, custom woodworking shops, and every newsletter known to man. Now your inbox is a dumpster fire, only made more evident by the many letters of notice being sent out about how businesses are responding to coronavirus. Time to unsubscribe.
There are apps that offer to unsubscribe you from emails in bulk, but I’ve found the best way to tackle this is to just do it one-by-one. Look for the Unsubscribe option that often appears in minuscule text near the footer of an email. Frequently, clicking on that will kick you out to another web page and require you to check “Unsubscribe” again. Gmail and Outlook also offer List-Unsubscribe options in the header of emails; Google says it does some “extra stuff” when you use this option, including automatically moving emails from that sender to spam for 30 days since it may take time for the sender to remove you from their list.
What’s frustrating is that, even with those measures, you might still get unwanted marketing emails for a while. Some businesses, like clothing retailer Reformation, have continued to send me emails weeks after I first clicked Unsubscribe. But doing this should eventually put you on the path to a more organized inbox, one that prioritizes personal emails, important news alerts, and updates from services you care about.
Organize Your Photos
The coronavirus generation might not have boxes of physical photos to sort through some day, but a lot of us still have photographic relics from a previous era. Now’s a good time to open those boxes, scan your photos, and store them in the cloud.
The WIRED Gear writers are fans of PhotoScan by Google Photos, a free app from Google that works on both iPhones and Android phones. The app does a remarkable job of helping you line up and frame photos and eliminating glare from glossy printouts. And it auto-shares the resulting image to both your phone’s camera roll and the Google Photos app. Bonus: If your child is old enough to play games or snap their own selfies with your phone, they might be fantastic little helpers with this project.
Wear Out Your Kindle
We all have those friends who post their end-of-year reading lists comprised of the dozen (or 15!) books they’ve managed to read that year. This is your chance to join the club, and also, to get off Twitter for a short period. WIRED writers and editors have compiled several great book lists for you to consider, including this list of 13 must-read books for spring and 12 science books you should read right now (along with my colleague Megan Molteni, I can personally recommend the top item on the list, Inheritance by Dani Shapiro). If you’re not able to browse the shelves of your local bookstore—and many of us are not right now—you can download these to your Kindle or Kindle app.