Originally published as Girls' Night In Newsletter Issue #183 Editor's Note. Subscribe here.
I’ve reached the point of quarantine where I’ve run out of things to do. Or at least I feel that way. I’ve realized that most of this stagnation stems from a few things:
1) We’ve run out of new shows and movies to watch, which breeds its own unique mix of sadness, guilt, and boredom.
2) The nearing end of summer and the realization that we don’t have travel plans as we normally would.
3) Finally having all the big “to-do’s” out of the way for an upcoming move and wedding (eek!).
4) The novelty of Facetimes and Zooms with friends is long in the rearview mirror for me.
In a way, running out of things to do is freeing. I’ve embraced boredom and downtime like never before - I’ve experimented with watercolors, I’m mapping out what fall bulbs I want to plant. I don’t feel comfortable gathering or going to restaurants yet, so most of my time is still spent indoors, aside from the occasional walk.
Still, I can’t shake this feeling of monotony as my weekdays become blurred with weekends. After complaining about this for a bit to my partner 😅, I decided to do something about it and switch things up a bit by making “mini plans” for our weekend (and sometimes weekday) nights in.
Mini night-in plans are great because they give you something to look forward to, allow for flexibility in case something changes (i.e. your mood!), and help break up the monotony of indoorsy, social-interaction-less nights. Here’s my suggested “mini plan” for your feel-good nights in:
Your Friday Night In Plan
• After work, shut down your laptop. Close it and put it away. G’bye, email, Slack, and Zoom.
• Set the mood. Light a candle, and put on a playlist. Turn off your work brain and enter a relaxed mindset.
• Got watercolors, colored pencils, or even just a pen/paper? Try doodling something from the @stillherestilllife challenge to get your creativity going. Set a timer for 15 minutes and see how far you get.
• Choose a feel-good movie or show (my go-tos are Pride & Prejudice, Always Be My Maybe, Never Have I Ever, or any Nancy Meyers movie), pop some popcorn to go along with it, and make a night of it.
• Bonus: Plan a group text thread with friends while you watch (or use netflixparty.com)
Your Saturday Day and Night In Plan
Set your intention for the day to allow yourself to take things slow and not feel like you have to check off anything big and/or stressful from your to-do list. Big and/or stressful is key — I’m a firm believer in the power of low-stakes productivity wins.
• Challenge yourself to a no social media day. I did this the other weekend and it was refreshing and embarrassing just how many hours (literally, hours) of my life I gained back. (Here’s a quick guide from VICE on how to actually limit screen-time.)
• Enjoy a slow morning. Sip a cup of coffee. Read some pages of a book. Go for a stroll outside if you can, while listening to an audiobook. Make an easy breakfast, like scrambled eggs.
• For the afternoon, take a peek around your home for a low-stakes productivity win. For example: tidy the "junk drawer" in your home. For me, it was recently cleaning out the “dark and never touched corners” of some of our lower bathroom and kitchen cabinets.
• For the evening, find an exciting project recipe to try out to give yourself something delicious and fun to look forward to.
• Challenge your partner, roommate, family, etc. to a “no technology night.” Personally, I think this is key for meaningful connection with zero distractions. Explore your boredom together! You can spend your night reading together, playing a board game, going for a night stroll, listening to music and dancing, or tackling a house project.
• Finally, have a true pamper yourself night. While we all know face masks do not equal self-care, I’m a big proponent of mapping out one night to luxuriate in whatever “longer” version of your body and face-care routine is. For me, it’s doing the works with a double cleanse, face mask, serum, moisturizer, and sheet mask.
These plans aren’t perfect and I know not everyone has the luxury of free time, solitude (hello friends with kids), weekends off, and so on, but I hope it sparks your imagination for setting up a “mini plan” to break up the monotony of these slow summer nights. Let us know what you’re up to!