What to Do With Nothing to Do

By Matthew Hussey

As I was about to write this piece, I instinctively reached for my shoes. I would normally walk to grab a coffee from my local before starting. I promptly remembered it’s closed for the next 2 weeks.

It’s particularly strange, this global crisis. Not just because most – if not all of us – have no way of relating to it from any other period in our lives, but because we don’t actually know when it will end. That’s just weird. 

I live in Los Angeles, where everything has pretty much shut down. I won’t pretend this means wholesale changes to my entire routine. It doesn’t. I’m a homebody. I work from home. I regularly refuse invitations to go out – so it would be pretty childish of me to mourn the loss of these events now – and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t mildly excited by having a cosmological excuse for staying in my underpants all day.

I currently get to say no to things with complete impunity whilst taking zero responsibility for being the recluse that I sort of am anyway. I can hear the quiet war cry from my introverted brothers and sisters already: “This is it brothers and sisters! We’ve trained for this! This is our time!”

My normal routines that take place outside the house mostly involve driving to Jiu jitsu, running to the gym, and walking to coffee. The occasional visit to the movies. This may not sound like a lot, but they are still my routines. And when our routines get taken from us, we get a bit, well, strange. We find ourselves doing laps around the house, looking out of windows for a bit longer than normal, investigating drawers and cupboards we haven’t had the time nor the boredom to look inside for a very long time (so that’s where I left that iPhone charger). 

And then we realize it’s only day 2, and we’ve been told we have at least 2 more weeks like this. Maybe more. Likely more. That’s when we begin to extrapolate just how weird we might get by the end of the month.

I also appreciate how extraordinarily hard this must all be for people who are finding themselves adjusting to working from home for the first time (or no longer working, as the case may be), many of whom have children who are also ‘working’ from home for the first time. 

The great irony of all this unexpected time we are finding ourselves with, is that it seems disproportionately difficult to concentrate for long enough to get anything done with it. Some of this is simply our coming to terms with how badly our phone addictions have eroded our ability to focus for longer than 5 minutes. We are functioning novelty-addicts.

But there’s also the low level anxiety many are feeling right now. We are scared, and completely in the dark as to when this will end. We feed our fears by being glued to a news cycle that looks more like a post-apocalyptic movie everyday. Is that an empty WholeFoods I see on CNN or did I accidentally switch the channel to The Walking Dead? I’m really not sure. 

Not to mention the ‘high’-level anxiety that so many people are experiencing from the imminent loss of jobs, worrying about their parents, providing for their children (who are now swinging from the rafters) and even from having a family member or friend suffering with the virus. 

The loneliness compounds it. We turn to social media for connection, but ah, there it is again, the news. Or at the very least, our friends opinions about the news. These factors combined are a winning combination for wasting time, and ignoring the very actions that might help us feel better in this situation.

It’s as if some ingenious little procrastination demon tried to think of the most vile combination he possibly could: “Ok my little cherub…you been complaining all this time you haven’t had enough time for the things you really want to do…well here…have as much time as you want. When will it end? Who knows! Will you get horribly sick at some point along the way? Maybe! So you better not get too close to anyone. Good luuuuuuck.” 

It’s a horrible feeling to have something you’ve been telling yourself you wish you had the time for, only to find you now have oodles of time but the wrong state of mind to do it. 

Then there’s these inspirational Instagram quotes going around politely reminding us what the brilliant people that preceded us did in their isolated time. Did you know that Isaac Newton invented Calculus while he was forced to stay home during the Great Plague of London? Well? Did you? 

But we must remember, Sir Isaac didn’t face the challenges we face. Take me for example. I’ve been distracted by at least 5 hilarious memes just in the last two hours. He never knew such struggle. And if there is a modern day Isaac Newton, I have a feeling he or she is the one creating all these memes. I mean some of them really are brilliant. Didn’t you ever stop to wonder what genius is making them? 

We may not be about to do anything as ground breaking as inventing calculus. At least I’m not. But we may want to consider the possibility that there is an alternative to spending several weeks merely forwarding the funniest corona-memes to our friends. Or panicking.

And before you think I’m preaching, I’m not. This is really a letter to myself. While my self-development peers have been posting about controlling your focus and sticking to your positive habits, I just spent the entire weekend eating chocolate, cheeseburgers, and binge-watching the amazon series Hunters. Everyone has their process. 

And yet if, like me, you’d like to adapt to occasionally using this time for something meaningful – in spite of yourself – I have an idea brewing that I’ll tell you about later today.

(That’s a corona cliffhanger right there.)

Love you all

Matthew x

P.S. Speaking of brewing, my tea tutorial is a must watch for anyone with way too much time on their hands. And for everyone who saw it, stop looking for the deeper meaning. It’s about tea.

P.P.S. Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

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72 Replies to “What to Do With Nothing to Do”

  1. Your job is as awesome as isaac’s after watching your video about the woman dropping the handkerchief, i messed my computer and called our IT engineer to fix it, he is now my husband thank u! we are staying at home as well and may this issue be resolved soon and may we all be safe. With love from Egypt ❤️

  2. It’s refreshing, honestly, to hear that we are all on the same level. For the first time in my life I feel oddly connected to the masses. Lonely from being isolated , but not alone. As odd as that sounds. I’m a single mother, and a Respiratory Therapist, who sees first hand how this is all playing out. Having to put my own fears and worries to the side to help serve everyone else. Having all this weight on you when you are indeed newly single, and wishing you had that person still to talk to in this time is indeed tough. Especially when you still care for that person that is no longer there for you. Hoping in the midst of all of this we all learn to grow and forgive. Funny how when the world stops we are all forced to take a hard look at what’s really important. Thank you for your posts, and for reminding me that we all aren’t so different.

  3. How can you and your partner do things at this time when you cannot see them and it’s really frustrating , you miss having them

  4. lol! Stop searching for deeper meaning
    It probably, or might be an even better tea with my Almond Milk I make at home…I’ll have to give you some one day.

  5. Wish i could write something. Just write anything.. hoping it might help. But i wouldn’t even know where to start.
    But thank you for this blog. I like reading it.
    Stay safe from the Netherlands.

  6. Interesting article Hussey, and great to know that even high achievers like yourself can waste time and sit for hours at end (occasionally) to watch series and eat a tad too much

    I also watched your tea tutorial from start to finish!! And agreed, lighting IS important in the process

  7. Do you ever put music and randomly start dancing around your house in your underpants like if you’re in a movie or something?

  8. As someone who is dreading spending the next few weeks/months on my own, I would like to thank you for this post. It made me smile and laugh and gave me some comfort. I’d like to think I will make the most of such a weird and terrible situation. Let’s see what unfolds.

  9. I think I’m one of those few, who still goes to work nowadays (I’m working in the healthcare as household help for elderly and terminally sick people), so my routine doesn’t change much (aside from cancelled gigs and rehearsals as a singer, although there are still funeral services at the church where I can sing, so that’s a good thing too – I’ve practiced Requiem mass today). But I’m not afraid. I have tons of things to do and finally I can find the time to continue my research, keep in touch with friends, continue my blog about the human side of a singer. Finally I have time to cook and bake – and I love to do both. I don’t have to be proactive, I can just do my thing, what I always wanted to do, and I kind of do my thing most of the time, but now with full steam.
    Am I afraid? Not at all. I will worry about getting sick when it will happen. I’m not afraid of death either. Why should I be? Anyway, there’s plenty to do around the house, in my tiny garden…

    Further I take care of myself and everyone around me. I eat healthy, support my immune-system with the right supplements. I help those around me as long as I can.

  10. So genuinely truthful
    You come across as a “” next door” “ normalish “ guy
    I think I like you more than I did before because I realised after your article that you are down to earth

  11. Procrastination – exactly what I’ve been struggling with. I suddenly have more time to do the job I was supposed to but can not stop checking the news and social media. No motivation for work, whatsoever. Could lay on the couch all day and watch tv. But then finding out I even can’t concentrate on that either.
    Thank you for this post Matt. It really reflects how we all are in this together.
    Loved your tea tutorial btw:))
    Sending love from Zagreb♥️

  12. Matthew,
    Following your social media has been tremendously uplifting for me-and has brought me-or is bringing me-to a place where I’m ok with just being me. I’ve stop trying to fit into everyone else’s idea of who I should be. But…chocolate, cheeseburgers, and binge-watching?? If I didn’t think you were “real” before, this just brought that idea on home. You crack me up!!

  13. I love it.Thank you for sharing your thoughts, it helps to explain why, even when I am used to work from home, I just don’t seem to concentrate for long. I also love how you are not about pretending to be cool or collected. Much love, Mariana

  14. How about a post about how to deal with relationship distance now? Is he telling me he can’t see me because of real virus social distancing, or is he just distancing?

    Or, how to keep up a positive relationship when you can’t see that person?

    Thanks!

  15. Great blog…we are all stuck in our homes…although, I will probably be taking some walks in the sun. We still have snow on the ground here…but, it’s sunny & not too cold.

  16. I’ve been waiting for your take on the situation. And it’s everything and more. Thanks for reminding us that we’re human and it’s ok to have a ‘process’. Would love to hear from updates! I find them refreshing.

    Ps Where are these funny memes?

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