Staying Productive In Quarantine

Andy McErlean
4 min readMar 27, 2020


^ Ya mans trying to get quarantine tight.

In Austin, it came down Tuesday that we will be sheltered-in-place for the following three weeks. For over 500 hours, myself and other residents will be limited to walks, gas stations, grocery stores, and a shit ton of Netflix. Like I mentioned in my post about Coronavirus changing the way we work, our days have become much freer now that our options on how to spend them have narrowed greatly.

Many will ride out the next three weeks (God, please just let it be three weeks) via drinking, devouring streamed content, and inundating themselves with vapid distractions in hopes of waking up to this being all over. If you’re reading this, you’re probably not in that former category. Don’t get me wrong, all of those things are fun and have a time and place, but we have been presented with a gift. For the first time in our lives, the world is appearing to hit pause. We have been granted an opportunity to accelerate our self improvement. Three weeks doesn’t sound like much, but let’s do some rough math and see if it is.

In three weeks, there are 504 hours. Let’s assume the standard: you work ~8 hours a day in a normal business week, have ~8 hours of recreational time, and get ~8 hours of sleep each night. Pretty normal, right? However, we are in lockdown. Most of how we’d spend our recreational time is unavailable. Now, let’s use Pareto Principle figures and say 80% of our normal daily activities have been suspended and only 20% remain due to shelter-in-place. Assuming we have one third of our 504 hours to use, we’ve just lost 80% of our activities which provides ~134 free hours to wield as we like. If my math is shoddy, you see what I’m getting at.

So, how are you going to spend your new hours? Are you going to sit on your ass cracking beers at 2pm and firing up your ex’s HULU account for eight hour stints until this thing blows over? To note: I’m not knocking either of those activities in isolation. Sometimes it feels fucking great to kick back, crush a six pack, and binge shows. Sometimes. But day in and day out that is a lousy use of time, sorry. I hope you embody this opportunity and find ways to be productive so that coming out of quarantine, you’re better than you were when you came in. Productivity is a wide spectrum with no absolute ideal, of course. It is relative to each person. Perhaps you decide to read up on investing or go on more walks. Maybe you decide to do yoga in your living room or finally re-organize your garage. Maybe you want to break out that paint set or pickup learning to play guitar. Regardless of your choice, you are trending in the ideal direction on the productivity spectrum.

Cue sarcastic 10 year old voice:

“OK, Andy. What is your ass doing, then, huh?! You’re high and mighty on your dumb website spitting opinions over the internet. What are you doing to be ‘productive’?”

Fair question and it hurts my feelings that you call my website dumb. Well, for one, I’ve started doing After Effects tutorials on YouTube. My favorite channel to follow is Avnish Parker. I plan to also learn from Motion Science. I could probably set a goal to do x amount of tutorials in three weeks, but haven’t fully budgeted my time out. I’ve also endeavored to create workout videos for coworkers to keep them motivated to stay fit and active during quarantine. You’re reading another endeavor. I wanted to get back into writing, so here I am…writing. Pala is also continuing to work on releasing music. We are covering The Promise by When In Rome, and I have been working on its release in April. We have another song, Quantum, that I will be tracking vocals for.

None of the above is meant to be boastful. I’m simply noting I’m adhering to my own sentiments about wielding this new found time productively.

Anyhoo, I hope my words have inspired you to be a bit more intentional with your time during quarantine. Think of three things right now you could do that you’ve been wanting to for a while. Start attacking them. Have fun. Mess up. Discover new shit. It’s your time. You’re only ever going to have less and less of it.




Andy McErlean

Slingin’ pixels outta Austin, Texas. Product Designer @ Praxent. Playing music in Pala. BJJ practitioner. Say hi: