25 Productive Things to Do While Social Distancing | Top Universities

25 Productive Things to Do While Social Distancing

By Julia Gilmore

Updated February 7, 2022 Updated February 7, 2022

Across the world, people are being told to stay at home and practice ‘social distancing’ in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic. If you’re usually a busy student, the switch from your everyday life to one indoors all day can be jarring.

However, there are plenty of ways to fill your time during lockdown – read on to find out 25 of the most productive things you can do while social distancing…

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  1. Learn a language
    I’m not suggesting you become fluent in French by the time the lockdown finishes but learning the basics of a new language using apps like Duolingo can be a productive (and fun!) way to pass the time and keep your mind sharp.


  1. Learn sign language
    Knowing the basics of sign language is a valuable skill to have, and British Sign Language are offering ‘pay what you can’ courses during the coronavirus pandemic to encourage more people to learn how to sign.


  1. Organize your notes
    This might not be the most thrilling way to pass the time, but now you’re not downing pints at the Student Union bar, you can finally organize all those loose bits of reading material and lecture notes floating around your room.


  1. Start a reading challenge 
    If you’re the sort of person who thrives off set goals, a reading challenge is a great way to up your literary intake. Goodreads allows you to set and track a reading target for the year, and you can connect with like-minded book fans for recommendations.

Start a reading challenge

  1. Read something completely unrelated to your subject
    Studying biology? Try a history book. English literature student? Why not give a psychology textbook a whirl? This is a perfect time to expand your horizons.


  1. Start an online book club
    Combine reading with socializing by starting an online book club with your friends. Pick a book, pick a length of time to read it in, then discuss over video call with a glass of wine and feel all cultured.


  1. Reading not your thing? Try an audiobook
    Audible are offering hundreds of titles completely free of charge, from Jane Eyre to Winnie the Pooh. Simply sign in with your Amazon account to get started.


  1. Join an online choir
    In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, online choirs like The Sofa Singers have been created to foster a sense of connection between people and to relieve anxiety (you can find out more about them here). Even if you’re a terrible singer, it’s hard to feel stressed when you’re blasting out Whitney Houston at top volume.


  1. Do an at-home workout 
    Even if, like me, you think exercising is The Worst, it’s vital to keep your body moving, particularly if you’re unable to leave the house. There are online workout tutorials for all levels on YouTube, and if you’re already a gym bunny, it’s worth checking to see if your gym is offering online classes for members.

Do an at-home workout

  1. Boost your pub quiz knowledge
    Eventually, you’ll be back in the pub, and you might as well use this time stuck inside to learn some facts that’ll come in useful in a future pub quiz. Websites like Sporcle have a great selection of online trivia quizzes to try out – who doesn’t want to learn all 44 countries of Europe off by heart?


  1. Listen up
    You can finally subscribe to those podcasts you’ve been pretending to listen to! If you’re a business or marketing student, check out our recommendations here.


  1. Take a virtual museum tour
    Many of the world’s top museums can be visited virtually through Google Arts & Culture, with the added bonus of not having to queue or jostle with fellow art-lovers to get a good view. Gift shop sadly not included.


  1. ‘Visit’ the wonders of the world
    Satisfy your unfulfilled wanderlust by taking in some of the most impressive landmarks in the world from the comfort of your sofa: The Guardian has a great round-up of must-see virtual tours here.


  1. Learn how to cook 
    Maybe you’re already the Nigella Lawson of your halls, or maybe you set off the fire alarm cooking pasta. Either way, this is a great time to expand your repertoire of meals (even if most ingredients come from a tin). Check out Jack Monroe’s website for great, budget friendly bites.

Learn how to cook

  1. Learn how to code
    Remember how you always said you wanted to learn how to code? Your time has come. Check out free programming courses on Codeacademy here.


  1. Learn a craft
    There are countless crafts you can turn your hand to, helping to soothe your mind while also (hopefully) producing something beautiful. Check out the myriad crafting communities on YouTube and Instagram for ideas.


  1. Watch documentaries
    Let’s be real, you’re going to be spending a lot of time watching TV over the next few months. You might as well expand your knowledge by picking one of the many documentaries Netflix has to offer, on subjects as wide-ranging as politics and pizza.


  1. Help people
    Although it’s frustrating being stuck indoors, you’re helping people just by staying put. However, if you want to take a more active role, you can volunteer with the NHS as a volunteer responder in the UK, provided you are over 18 and not in a high-risk group.
    There are loads of other ways to help people online – check out com, which donates rice while you boost your vocabulary.


  1. Deep clean your room
    Almost certainly the most boring thing on this list. Guaranteed to make you feel better and like you’ve achieved something amazing.


  1. Keep socially active
    Whether you’re living with friends, family, or by yourself, it’s so important to keep in touch with people to avoid loneliness. If you’re still doing uni work, consider setting up online study groups with course-mates to bring some semblance of normality to your week – it’s just like being on campus (sort of!)


Keep socially active

  1. Get green-fingered
    If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, or even just a balcony, take advantage of the soothing properties of gardening. If you plant herbs, you’ll even have a ready-made garnish for all those lovely meals you’ll be making (or your bowl of cheesy pasta).


  1. Do an email detox
    Unsubscribe from any mailings lists you don’t want to be on anymore and put important emails in folders so you can find them more easily. A simple way to feel smug.


  1. Sort out your finances
    Seeing as you won’t be spending any money on nights out for the near future, now’s a great time to sort out your finances. See if you could be getting a better deal on your bills, think about setting up a savings account…the possibilities are endless!
    Take a look at our dedicated student finance advice section here for more information.


  1. Keep a journal
    We are living through unprecedented times, and one day you might want to look back at a record of the days as they unfold. Note the headlines from the day, and, if you feel up to it, your emotions surrounding events.


  1. Take time to be entirely unproductive 
    It’s ok to feel frightened, and like you just want to curl up in bed with the sheets over your head. While it’s great to fill your days and feel productive, taking time to really chill out is essential for your mental health.

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This article was originally published in April 2020 . It was last updated in February 2022

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