I’ll be honest: I didn’t accomplish a whole lot this week. As of right now, COVID-19 appears to be more or less causing the world to fall apart in a way that most of us have never really seen. It’s, uh…not great!

So it’s been genuinely tough to focus on much of anything. On the face of it, my week shouldn’t have been particularly disrupted by any of this — I work from home every day anyways, and thankfully most of the work I’m doing right now hasn’t (yet) been meaningfully impacted by what’s going on — but it turns out global pandemics are distracting and stressful all on their own. Who knew?

Trying to do work in a room that's on fire

This is fine.

Nonetheless, the show must go on. From the sounds of it, we may all be practicing social distancing for quite some time, so it’s on me to make sure I don’t fall down an endless rabbit hole of hourly news updates and anxiety, and instead stay motivated to do the things I love to do and build the app that this blog is ostensibly all about.

So, this week, I thought I’d keep it light and write up a short list of things I’ve been doing in an effort to stay on track and prevent my brain from melting out of my ears. This list is presented in order from “frivolous and possibly unhelpful” to “earnest and well-meaning,” so feel free to skip ahead if you’re not particularly interested in the 25-year-old sitcom I’ve been binge-watching.

I promise I’ll get back to writing real, well-considered articles about indie app development next week. For now, stay safe out there, listen to the experts, and enjoy whatever nonsense I’m about to come up with 👇

Watch Seinfeld

In a time where the walls of our modern globalized world are falling down around us, our reliance on technology is absolute and unsettling, and the true implications of this pandemic feel altogether too big to wrap your head around, consider watching this self-proclaimed “show about nothing,” steeped in 90s nostalgia, full of humour that (aside from the poor handling of certain social issues that so much 90s comedy cringily veers into) holds up remarkably well.

This is such a dumb show, but it’s a nice bit of respite from the real world in 2020.

Play Alto’s Odyssey

A bunch of wonderful indie game developers have decided to make their games free this week as a small gesture to help us all deal with this wacky and stressful moment. I picked up Alto’s Odyssey this week, made by Snowman, a game studio in Toronto, and Harry Nesbitt, an artist and developer in the UK. It’s simple, it’s meditative, and it’s visually and aurally stunning. I’m not typically someone who plays many games on my phone, but this game has been a joy to pick up here and there over the last few days.

A couple other chill games I love that you can grab for free right now are Mini Metro by Dinosaur Polo Club, and A Short Hike by Adam Robinson-Yu. Check ‘em out!

Make good coffee

I’m a big coffee nerd, so this isn’t new behaviour, per se, but I’ve been trying to really appreciate the ritual of making and enjoying a great cup of coffee or two in the morning. It’s a good excuse to take a break from your screens, do something with your hands, and check in with your senses. Coffee is the best ☕️

If you’ve only ever thought of coffee as bitter wake-up fuel, but you’re bored and stuck at home and want a new hobby: it’s not hard or particularly expensive to massively up your coffee game! Order some whole beans from a good local roaster, get yourself an inexpensive manual burr grinder, a v60 and some filters, and you’re off to the races.

Play Pandemic (and win)

If you don’t know, Pandemic is a cooperative board game about a rather far-fetched scenario where the world is at war with a dangerous and highly contagious virus, and it’s your job to contain the outbreaks and find a cure before it gets out of hand.

Anyway, we thought it’d be funny to play last night, and I’m happy to report that we won handily. We can beat this thing, folks!

Actually, we played twice and lost pretty badly the first time, but that first one was just bad luck or whatever. Doesn’t count.

Listen to some good tunes

Music can be a great tool for both relaxing and getting focused, provided you find some stuff that tickles your brain in just the right way. Here are a handful of records I’ve been listening to this week to help me chill out, be productive, or both.

  • Fellow Twitter user @mattie tweeted about Slumberville this week, and I’ve been grooving to these lo-fi beats ever since.
  • For a similar but fuller, more jazzy vibe, I’ve really enjoyed putting Sweatson Klank’s new record on in the background.
  • If you’re looking for some more folksy tunes to get wistful and hopeful to, I highly recommend Walter Martin’s latest, The World at Night.

Get excited about news from Apple

It’s been a little bit weird and disorienting to scroll through Twitter this week and bounce wildly between sobering tweets about the world being on fire, and giddy tweets about the new Magic Keyboard and cursor support in iPadOS 13.4. My initial impulse was to wonder: is it somehow insensitive or unhelpful to be focused on relatively frivolous product releases from one of the world’s richest companies at a time when so many people’s finances and well-being are being thrown into disarray?

Ultimately, I’m confident the answer is no. I think it’s important and healthy to find things to get excited about as a community, and do our best to find some normalcy in all the uncertainty. I’m really jazzed about what looks to be a really thoughtful and well-crafted implementation of mouse/trackpad support on iPad, and I can’t wait to see where the iPad goes from here.

Let’s just remember how lucky we are to be able to keep doing and talking about this stuff for a living 🙂

Improve your approach to project & time management

Here’s an actual work-related thing I did this week: I could already feel my motivation and focus fading pretty quickly last weekend, so to try to get a step ahead of it, I made an effort to refine and improve the way I plan my time.

I ended up leaning into Notion pretty heavily, and for all my whining about not getting much done this week, it’s actually really helped to keep me on track, all things considered. Without getting too far into the weeds, the crux of what I’ve got set up is a kanban board that I’ll clean up and review every week, with a calendar view hooked up to it that allows me to easily schedule and adjust my tasks throughout the week. The bigger point is this: if you’re lacking motivation and having a hard time getting stuff done, now might actually be a good time to think a bit about your tools and habits, and see if you can’t leverage some new ones to give yourself a bit of a boost.

Be kind to yourself

Despite my best efforts — and despite being in the extremely fortunate position of not having had my world turned upside down by layoffs, business closures or illness — this week was still…a total mess. I slept like garbage, didn’t exercise enough, wasted an unbelievable amount of time staring at my phone, and got done about half of what I was aiming for. But, ultimately: who could blame me? We’re all still learning about this strange new reality, and it’s going to take some time to get the hang of it. Even if this week felt like a total write-off, don’t beat yourself up about it. Let’s be thankful for what we’ve got, stay positive wherever we can, help out those in need, and take another crack at it next week 💪

WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE. Let’s get through it together. Find me on Twitter and let me know how you’re doing 🦆