As a firm, we’ve been blogging and talking to clients like crazy about the markets, the economy, investment strategy, etc. Much of that communication comes from Matt Garrott, our Director of Investment Research. But you may not know that Matt also maintains his own website and blog, at www.matthewgarrott.com. While much of his blog is investment-oriented and aligns with Fairway’s content, he also posts about a wide array of other topics. I thought his most recent post, copied below, was particularly applicable for many of us who are stuck at home and looking for productive things to do.
9 Ways to Wait Out the Remainder of the Quarantine
Got a deck of cards of Windows 95?
POSTED BY: MATT APRIL 14, 2020
Depending on how prepared you were, the early days might have been manic, establishing supply lines and hoarding toilet paper. As churches and bars (trying to cover all bases here) stopped regular service it sank in that this was something that would last weeks, not days. Now you’ve reached the end of the internet and you hold a strong opinion on Tiger King. Here are 9 ways to wait out the remainder of the quarantine. Some are productive while others are just stress relievers. Regarding links: I don’t get anything from anyplace I’m linking to and I’m not endorsing anything, but hopefully they are a good place to start if something catches your eye. In no particular order:
Now is the perfect time to set up a password manager. You’re already cruising a ton of websites and logging in to buy groceries and rent Rise of Skywalker. Stop using the same three passwords for every site. A password manager gives you one place to store all your passwords. You no longer need to remember if you used Bosco, B0sc0, or Bosco123 to log in to your college roommate’s Netflix account. The downside is that if you lose or forget your password, you’re going to have to jump through some hoops to get access back. What if your password manager gets hacked? I worried about this, too, but then I had to admit that most of my passwords were stored in Chrome anyway so why not just make them more secure? Tom’s has a great review of options. I use 1Password, but there are plenty of great options and they all do pretty much the same thing. I particularly like the option to have 1Password create a strong password for me and I don’t need a rolodex of 15 digit multi-character passwords. It takes care of everything for me. I can even set it up to fill in my name and other info for webinars and online conference calls. It was a bit of work up front, but I really appreciate it now. Definitely some extra peace of mind when it comes to security of my financial accounts.
I do a good bit of writing for my job. The thing is that I can’t just shut off my brain at 5pm. The way I’m wired, I’ll often have a sudden idea over dinner or at 2am. I used to have to write on a piece of paper and pray that it was legible and that the paper made it back to the office with me the next day. Now I use Evernote. It’s a note-taking app that syncs across platforms. I can write an idea down in my phone (which, let’s face it, is always with me) and it will appear in my Evernote app on my work computer. There’s also a new app called Roam which does something similar, but uses machine learning to link your notes together. I tried it a bit, but it wasn’t super intuitive for me.
Picking up clutter provides a stress relief for me. There are areas we’ve always meant to organize that are either getting organized or are just getting completely wiped out now that we’ve got time to do it. Do we really need 17 ceramic clowns? Who keeps buying us these clowns? Is this half-full bottle of Captain Morgan from 2007 still good? Was it ever good? Beyond the accumulated clutter of decades gone by (where did all these bobble-heads come from?), I have a toddler. I can either give in and just allow his messes to fester or I can take 15 minutes to tidy things up after he’s asleep. Ok, it’s not exactly fun, but at least is makes me feel like I did something today. Looking at the glass as half-full, I know I’ll have another opportunity to stress-clean tomorrow after he dumps his tub of cars out and plays with them for 5 minutes before moving on to the next mess.
Cut the Cord
If you’ve got a reliable high-speed internet connection, now is the perfect opportunity to try cutting the cord. Cable and satellite companies love the slow creep of adding fees to their bills. It’s positioned as discounts expiring, but if we’re honest these are price increases. You can usually get the “discounts” extended if you’re willing to spend an hour on the phone with “Mary” in Bangladesh. If you’re tired of having to play these games, cut the cord. As usual, Tom’s has a great guide. Most streaming services are pay-as-you-go. So no two year contracts. No bundling stuff you don’t need. If you’re willing to put in a little effort, you can even get Sports Time Ohio if your wife is a Cleveland Indians fanatic. Our bill for TV entertainment has been cut about in half while we added HBO.
My theory on baking is that it’s genetic. Yes, if you practice, you can bake tasty food. However, some people are blessed with being able to just toss together some ingredients and turn it into something magical. For the rest of us, we must practice precise measurement of ingredients and deal with finicky ovens. My sister-in-law can go cold into a kitchen and turn a bag of old flour into comfort food. The baking gene did not make it to the other three sisters. They’re all good cooks, but I can tell blindfolded who baked the cookies. Now is a good time to at least get familiar with that Kitchen-Aid mixer you put on your wedding registry and never used. Even if it’s not magical, the smell of a baking oven can turn a house into a home.
Learn a Language
Rosetta Stone is offering their course for free for three months for students. Duolingo is free. Babbel is kind of in between. This is definitely one of those “I would love to if only I had the time” type of activities. Well guess what, we’ve all suddenly got a lot more time.
Working out is a tried and true stress-reliever. What many guys don’t know is that yoga is easily a top bang for the buck workout. Right up there with deadlifts and pull-ups. If I notice some muscle tightness, or just need a minute of peace and quiet to clear my head, I look to Adriene. Perfect for a yoga newb like me. Instant attitude changer.
Times of stress and uncertainty are great opportunities to edit your news feed. Is there a particular source that posts outrage-generating headlines that look embarrassing in hindsight? Is there someone doing real homework on an issue important to you? Maybe there’s someone actually living in a region in turmoil and would be better to follow than Buzzfeed. You can also mute people in your social network. Uncle Tommy won’t know you muted him after he posted about the aliens living under the Denver International Airport again. It really does make a difference to occasionally clear your feeds of people who occupy your headspace with negativity rather than data or reality. Just mute a couple of the worst offenders for a little while. You can always unmute them later. You won’t miss them and you’ll find they don’t have exclusive access to breaking news.
This is a catch-all, but if you’ve been meaning to do something if only you had an extra hour each week, now you’ve got it. Maybe you always wanted to sear a perfect steak or paint. By now, we’ve all gotten into a bit of a groove and know there are some holes of time we can fill with something productive rather than binge-watching Kids Baking Championship (guilty). It’s a great time to figure out if that frivolous thing you wanted to do is really fun or you just like the idea of being a person who knits/home-brews/operates a ham radio instead.