Some analogies I’ve heard about where we are in terms of the pandemic are “we’re in the 3-4th inning,” and “we’re on a cross-country drive and in the Midwest about now.” Unfortunately, these analogies are probably correct, as even the development of a safe and effective vaccine is just the beginning of the end. Facing the reality that we still have a long way to go sucks, but according to the Stockdale Paradox it is probably the appropriate worldview to adopt. Keeping up social distancing through the winter will be especially tough.
Given that we will be hunkering down through the winter, it probably makes sense (if you can afford it) to invest in some things that can make staying at home and working from home a bit better. Take some of the money you aren’t spending on travel and upgrade your nest!
1. Upgrade internet/wifi. Having plenty of speed and bandwidth to stream TV shows and Zoom calls is a must. Go to ookla.com to run a speed test of your internet and wifi. If you have below 100 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload you may want to look into upgrading your service with your internet service provider. Also, if your speed degrades a lot as you move away from your router or your house has wifi dead spots, consider replacing your standard router with a mesh system. I replaced the router supplied by my internet provider with google’s mesh wifi system. No more dead areas or slow spots! Here’s a competing product from Linksys: Velop Home Mesh Wifi. Mesh systems aren’t just extenders, rather they are interconnected nodes that create a strong network.
2. Treat yourself to a new laptop. Are you frustrated by an old computer? Given the time we’re spending at home, having a new laptop may make all the difference. My father and wife have both upgraded their laptops in the past few months and have really enjoyed the newer, nicer, faster and all-around better computer experience. Also – if you have a desktop computer, having a laptop allows you more mobility – a change of scenery can break up the monotony of working from home at the same spot.
3. Get a webcam. Getting a high-res webcam can really improve how you look during videocalls! Early in the pandemic you couldn’t find one. They are now back in stock at Amazon, Best Buy and other places.
4. Buy a good pair of headphones and/or microphones for Zoom calls. Sounding good on a videocall can be challenging. Investing in a good set of headphones with a microphone can make a big difference. I use these gaming headphones: Gaming Headphones. Or, a good microphone can make a big difference, here’s a fantastic one that I use when I’m not using my headphones and for video blogs: Yeti Blue
5. Add an external monitor. Don’t like just using a laptop screen? Buying one or more external monitors is not very expensive and can really make your home office feel like an office!
1. Subscribe to premium streaming: HBO Max, Disney+, Hulu, etc.
2. Buy some great books. Lose yourself in some great books. Here are a few recommendations: Axiom’s End is a brand new Sci-Fi book about first contact. I loved it. Why Fish Don’t Exist is my book of the year thus far. Looking for a great work of Victorian fiction? Check out Vanity Fair. The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles is dynamite as is his other book A Gentleman in Moscow. IFOD on why reading fiction is great: Fiction or Non-Fiction, Which is Better?
3. Get a New, Big TV. Tv’s are super cheap these days. Splurge on a big 4k TV to make your stay-at-home viewing more fun.
4. Get Some Sonos Speakers. Music can really have a positive impact on your mood/outlook. Adding some Sonos speakers around your house can add to overall happiness. Sonos also has some great soundbars to compliment your TV watching. Having good sound while watching movies and TV shows really adds to the TV watching experience.
1. A LightBox to fight SAD. Many people struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder and adding social distancing and increased isolation on top of the seasonal change may make this winter worse than usual for our psyches. An effective treatment is to use a full light spectrum lightbox. Here are some recommended lightboxes.
2. Exercise Equipment. Many gyms are back open but most Americans still are not comfortable going to the gym. If we’re in it for the long-haul, investing in some weights, a Peleton Bike, Treadmill or Maxtrainer may be worthwhile. Imagine emerging from Covid in the best shape of your life!
3. Workout Subscriptions. I did an entire IFOD on good workout apps. Here it is: Killer At-Home Workouts.
4. A Good Office Chair. If we’re going to be working at home more often, getting a comfortable office chair for your home is a worthwhile investment. The Herman Miller Aeron is the gold standard and here it is on sale!
5. Comfy Leisure Attire. Like most people, I’ve invested in sharp work outfits, but don’t have as much Zoom appropriate comfy clothes. Buying some athletic/leisure attire that looks good on video calls might be a worthwhile investment.
6. A New Pet. If you are staying home a lot, a new kitty or puppy may be just what the doctor ordered! You can bond and train your new pet while social distancing. My daughter got a pair of kittens in May and it’s really added a bright spot to her pandemic experience.