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Productive things you can do at home: From learning a language to making a bucket list

Are we heading into a second lockdown? Keep yourself busy

Megan Bull

If you've pretty much completed all of Netflix and the idea of spending another day on the sofa looking at memes is too much to bear, it's time to change up your routine and get those creative juices flowing. Being on lockdown doesn't have to be boring, not if you keep yourself occupied. From learning a language to organising your wardrobe, updating your CV to writing a novel, there are plenty of productive things you can take up to pass the time - why not start right now? 

RELATED: Fun things you can do to keep yourself busy at home while in isolation mode

1. Set goals 

mrs-hinch-book

Productivity is about progress - it's about breaking our long-term goals down into daily action so that we can grow and develop. Yes, we have an abundance of free time on our hands at the moment but that doesn’t mean having to spend every second of the day rushing about in a bid to get everything done. Instead, by setting regular daily or weekly goals we can prioritise what's really important without feeling overwhelmed or overstretched. Depending on what you're looking to accomplish, there's a range of goal-planning journals and notebooks covering everything from cleaning, exercise and diet to business and life goals. We're particularly obsessed with Mrs Hinch's The Little Book of Lists. 

Mrs Hinch: The Little Book of Lists, £6.49, Amazon

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PLAY: The best puzzles for adults to keep you occupied during isolation

2. Learn a language 

learning-a-language

Remember all those times you said you'd learn Italian, Spanish or French but just couldn't find a spare minute? Here's your chance. With a wide selection of YouTube videos and online tutorials at your disposal, why not use this time to learn a completely new language. 

Language learning app Memrise has recently launched its new Immerse feature, which includes thousands of bite-sized video clips shot by native speakers from their locked-down homes across the world. Offering authentic conversation and phrases that you'd need during your first post-lockdown trip, keep busy by immersing yourself in other cultures. 

START LEARNING

3. Practice nail art

nail-art

There's nothing better than typing on a keyboard or tapping on your phone with freshly manicured nails – you just can't beat it. Why not learn how to give yourself an at-home manicure? You'll be able to create a range of show-stopping looks using glitter, stickers, and gems. If you're in serious need of nail art inspiration, we'd recommend heading to the Essie website for top tips and tricks. 

Nail Art Kit, £8.99, Amazon

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4. Take a course

take-a-course

Whether you're looking to improve upon your professional portfolio or to pursue a new hobby, FutureLearn has a whole host of online courses provided by world-class universities and industry experts. Earn professional or educational accreditation, learn new skills, or simply keep boredom at bay. 

START LEARNING

5. Learn to cook

cooking

David Beckham, Geri Horner and Henry Cavill all used their free time during lockdown to improve upon their cooking skills. With an array of recipe books at your disposal, you can start with the basics and work your way up to Michelin star dishes.

Gino's Italian Express, £14.99, Amazon

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 5 Ingredients by Jamie Oliver, £15.99, Amazon

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6. Take up photography

photography

Always wanted to learn but never found the time? View life through a different lens as you capture all the important moments - big or small - on camera. 

CANON PowerShot SX540 HS Bridge Camera, £279, Currys

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7. Organise your wardrobe 

organise-wardrobe

Most of us have at least one dress that we know we'll never wear again or a pair of jeans that just don't fit the way they used to. It's time to declutter your wardrobe and get rid of those sad pieces that no longer see the light of day. Either pass them onto friends and family, donate them to charity or at the very least, find your nearest clothing bank and recycle.

Vacuum Storage Bags, £11.99, Amazon

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8. Learn to arrange flowers

flower-arranging

Perfect for anyone with an affinity for flowers, learn how to create an array of floral displays with this how-to guide for beginners. Gift your loved ones with a hand-crafted bouquet or bring a pop of colour to your home by curating vases with simple arrangements or the latest cutting edge contemporary designs. 

Flower Arranging: A complete guide for beginners, £18.25, Amazon

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9. Organise your photos

photo-frames-oliver-bonas

Guilty of printing out your holiday photos and leaving them in a drawer? Get nostalgic and organise your snaps into either a scrapbook or frames. Taking a trip down memory lane might just put a smile on your face. 

White 16 4x4 photo frame, £32, Oliver Bonas

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canon-printer

Canon Zoemini Mobile Photo Printer, £109.99, John Lewis

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GET INSPIRED: 14 wall art ideas that will transform your bare walls into a work of art

10. Learn to make cocktails

cocktail-making

Try your hand at mixology, courtesy of Taste Cocktails. Offering a three-month subscription, each month a new DIY kit full of premium ingredients and recipes will be sent your way. Find out how to make the following drinks: Espresso Martini, Margarita, Old Fashioned, Manhattans, Bramble, Long Island Iced Tea, Gin Martini, & Mojitos. 

Three Month Cocktail Kit Subscription, £89, Not On The High Street

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11. Create a mood board

cork-board

Feeling inspired? Create a mood board filled with new ideas, aspirations, and inspirational images. Visualising what you want from life might just give you the motivation and clarity to achieve it. 

IZSUZEE Cork Notice Board Set of Seven, £13.95, Amazon

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12. Make a bucket list

scratchmap

Think positive and look ahead to sunnier days by making a bucket list. Rather than wallowing in your pyjamas for the fifth day in a row (we've all been there) change your outlook and reflect on all of the things you'll be able to do once lockdown restrictions are lifted. Looking to travel more? These scratch-off maps are perfect for planning your next adventure post COVID-19.  

Scratch Map, £13.99, Waterstones 

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13. Plant a herb garden

herb-garden

Put those green fingers to good use and plant a herb garden - there's nothing better than cooking with fresh herbs. 

Herb Garden Seed Kit Gift Box, £14.99, Amazon

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14. Learn sign language

sign-language

A unique language in its own right, sign language may seem like an intimidating skill to learn, but with a number of easy step-by-step guides at your disposal, you'll be signing like a pro in no time. 

British Sign Language: Teach Yourself, £19.99, Amazon

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15. Repair your clothes

sewign

Been meaning to sew up that hole in your favourite coat? Need to fix that zip on the back of your dress? It's time to pick up a needle and thread and get to work. Just a few minutes of hard work and concentration could breathe new life into your wardrobe. Stop 'finding' the time to work on the smaller things - start now. 

TUXWANG Premium Sewing Kit, £8.49, Amazon

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16. Learn to play an instrument 

piano

Dust off that keyboard you got for Christmas last year, re-tune that guitar you've had for god knows how long and begin to fill your days with the sound of music. With so much free time, it's never been easier to pick up a new skill. 

17. Become a wine connoisseur 

wine-glasses

Discover which wines you like and why, read about the journey from grape to glass, and build on your understanding of wine tasting. 

Essential Winetasting, £12.79, Amazon

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18. Update your CV and professional accounts 

professional-accounts

Before lockdown, the idea of updating your CV, cover letter or LinkedIn profile might not have been very high up on your priority list. Rather than putting it off any longer, why not give all of your professional documents and accounts a total makeover? Use this present period to work towards an even brighter future. 

READ: 9 family-friendly board games to play during lockdown: Cluedo, trivia and more

19. Write a novel

writing-novel

The idea of writing a novel is one which can often seem daunting. How many of us have opened Word, stared at a blank page for a while and then admitted defeat? Enough is enough. Writing can be an incredibly therapeutic practice and one which can help to pass the time. Who knows, you might even be the next J.K. Rowling? 

Get Writing! How ANYONE can write a novel, £5.99, Amazon

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GET DOWNLOADING: 7 of the best free apps for your fitness and mental health during self-isolation

20. Start a blog

writing-blog

You can never go wrong with writing a blog. Whether you're using it as an online writing portfolio, a space to share your passions or as an opportunity to try something new, it's time to get those creative juices flowing. 

WordPress

CREATE A BLOG

21. Get fit

workout

Missing the gym? Working out at home can be just as beneficial for both your mind and body. Why not try out different types of workouts over the course of the next few weeks and find that workout that really works for you. 

Gym Equipment, Amazon

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 22. Do some gardening

gardening

Sick of spending all your time indoors? Transform your garden into a tranquil space so that you can venture outside for some much-needed R&R. 

Jardineer Gardening Set, £32.28, Amazon

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 READ: 10 creative things to do in lockdown from the comfort of your own home

23. Upcycle your furniture 

paint-brushes-diy-z

Can't stop staring at that annoying chip in your side board? Desperate to give those bookshelves a new lick of paint? Why not try your hand at a spot of DIY and transform those tired piece of furniture into something your friends will be jealous of. 

DIY, Amazon

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24. Learn to code

coding

In an increasingly digital age, the ability to code can put you at a major advantage. Ditch those technophobic tendencies and teach yourself how to master this highly sought after skill. 

25. Learn Calligraphy 

calligraphy

Bored of biro and pencil? Go one step further and transform your writing into a work of art by practicing calligraphy and lettering. With an array of tutorials and expert guides available online, you’ll learn the tricks of the trade in no time - all you’ll really need is a calligraphy set and the willingness to turn off Netflix. 

MONT MARTE Calligraphy Pen Set, £26.95, Amazon

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26. Write a journal

journal

The great thing about journaling is that you can write whatever you want, whenever you want. Jot down your best ideas, doodle, write about your day or even create a list of goals, the choice is yours. Who knows, you might even find yourself inspired. 

Beautiful Journals, Amazon

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27. Clear out your kitchen cupboards

kitchen-cupboards

Do a Stacey Solomon and organise the entire contents of your kitchen cupboards. Check the expiration dates on those canned goods at the back, clear out that junk drawer you've been avoiding or go the whole hog and colour coordinate your spice rack! Stacey loves labelling her kitchen drawers - get your hands on some personalised labels or make them yourself using a label maker. You know what they say - tidy kitchen, tidy mind.

Personalised Labels, £7, Etsy

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label-marker

Brother PT-P700 Label Maker, from £60.99, Amazon

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28. Wash your makeup brushes

makeup-brushes

Been meaning to wash your makeup brushes for a while now? Besides bacteria, your favourite beauty brushes can also accumulate dead skin cells and oils over time, so it's pretty important that you keep them fresh and clean. Avoid makeup streaks and patches by painting your face with a smoother, more streamlined brush.

Makeup Brush Cleaner, £17.99, Amazon

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29. Buy a loved one a gift

gifts-isolation

Staying connected with the ones you love during this tough time doesn't have to involve social media. Make someone's day by sending them a heartfelt gift through the post. In need of ideas? Check out our roundup of the best gifts to shop during isolation.

30. Paint a picture

paint-by-numbers

Channel your inner Bob Ross and try your hand at painting a picture. A great way to keep busy, develop your artistic skills and create something that you can be proud of. New to painting? Amazon has plenty of paint by numbers kits to kickstart your progress. 

WATAKA DIY Painting by Numbers, £12.88, Amazon

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31. Organise your desk

trays

Struggling to concentrate with all that clutter on your desk? Get your workspace back in order and comb through all of that loose paperwork and scattered stationary. Not only will it look more inviting on all of those Zoom meetings but it will help you to feel more motivated and inspired. 

Desk Organiser, £19.99, Amazon

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LiLan Desk Tidy Organiser, £8.58, Amazon

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MORE: The best ladies bikes to buy for lockdown: Get inspired by the cycle-loving stars

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