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How to Stay Productive While Quarantining from School

Student Life

Many school districts now have a policy stating that any student who tests positive for COVID-19 or has close contact with someone who tests positive must quarantine at home for a certain number of days (depending on the school district). In fact, many of the students currently staying home at my school are not sick at all: they have simply been within 6 feet of someone who tested positive for 15 minutes or more. Though you might not be able to do much schoolwork during the quarantine for close contact, here are 9 ways you can still be very productive with your time and feel accomplished:

1. Have fun exercising

While school is in session, it can be difficult to find time for exercising between all the studying and clubs. However, while you're staying at home for close contact, there are many easy workouts and exercises you can do at home or safely in your neighborhood! You can find a workout video on YouTube that you really like, walk the dog around the neighborhood, jump rope at home, or create your own yoga/conditioning routine using what you have available. You'll see that there are many exercises you can do at home that do not require any equipment at all. Exercising at home can be as simple as picking a few exercises and repeating the circuit 3-4 times! According to "US News Health," doing just 20-30 minutes of strength-related exercise twice a week is very healthy. You can also do lighter exercise, such as yoga or aerobics. As you can see, many exercises you can easily do at home without workout equipment, and you'll see that this not only makes you more energetic overall, it will also improve your mentality and help you relax.

2. Study for SAT/ACT

You can be very productive with your time if you study for those all-important SATs and ACTs. Though the University of California system is no longer considering such exams, it is still good to take them and receive a score if you are planning to apply to any university outside of the UC system. There are many great SAT/ACT study programs you can choose from online, such as the free Khan Academy course, PrepScholar, and the Princeton Review. However, a great approach I have heard of is practicing each of the different SAT/ACT sections individually without a timer. The SAT is composed of a Reading, Writing, Math With Calculator, and Math No-Calculator section, while the ACT is composed of English, Math, Reading, and Science sections. They all have different time limits within which you must complete them, though timing yourself when you are studying might not be the most beneficial approach. Instead, try finding a free online practice test (College Board has various versions of SAT and PSAT practice tests available for free) and doing one section at a time without timing yourself. This will allow you time to truly comprehend the question and understand your mistakes when you go back and check your answers so that when it's time to take the test with the timer, you know exactly what to do and how to avoid the mistakes you made during practice. Though this method is highly recommended, any method you decide to use to study for the SAT/ACT will likely help you get the best score possible: good luck!

3. Start a fun Blog

Are you really passionate about something, but haven't found a way to express it? Starting a blog is a great example of something you can do to enjoy yourself and be productive at home! There are many wonderful website creators that you can use for free to start your blog, such as Weebly/Square, WordPress, Wix, Square, or even Quora. Your blog can focus on just about anything, from good movies to advocating for climate change awareness. If you blog about something you are truly passionate about, you will find the experience extremely enjoyable and rewarding! You can also make it private to just you and a few friends using either Weebly or Squarespace: both allow you to make your website password-protected so it's not open to the entire public if you have some things you just want to easily share with your friends and family. Overall, starting a blog is a great way to express your creativity and the ideas you're passionate about while having a lot of control over how you're doing it.

4. Apply for Internships or volunteer opportunities

Many high school and college students are familiar with internships and are curious about how to get one. However, you might be more interested in volunteering toward a cause you are passionate about. Some great resources for finding both internships and volunteer opportunities (many of which can be done virtually) are LinkedIn, Volunteer Match, and Chegg Internships. However, make sure you are searching for ones open to your age group: this might require checking the qualifications recommended for the internship. For volunteer opportunities, most of these will be open to students over 16, but it's important to do some research on the organization you would like to volunteer with. Usually, the best organizations for volunteering will be nonprofit organizations. Some great examples of trustworthy organizations currently virtual volunteer opportunities are: Reading Partners, Step Up Tutoring, the United Nations, and the American Red Cross. Volunteering is a great way to make an impact and contribute to causes you care about!

5. Remodel your Workspace in your style

If applying for internships or starting a blog is not your vibe currently, remodeling your home workspace is a great activity you can do when you are in close contact quarantine at home. Though your bedroom likely does not need remodeling, making sure your work environment is right for you definitely has its benefits. "Linda Evans' Design Group" reminds readers that a clean work environment designed for its user can promote productivity, overall health, and the all-important balance between work and life. Though it might not be easy at first to know what work environment is right for you, you should feel great if you remember your current needs and your personality. Also keep in mind functionality, available space, and your personal preferences. Making your workspace just right for you can be as simple as rearranging the things you already have on your desk! Remodeling your area is a great way to reward yourself: because you are always worth it.

6. Finish a Booklist

Do you have that booklist that keeps growing and hasn't shrunk since the first day of school? Staying home due to close contact quarantine is a great time to finish that book list! If you don't already have a booklist, you could start one and make a goal to finish it before you return to school. Though it might not sound like the most productive thing, doing the activities you enjoy is a very important part of being productive for yourself! You will probably feel very accomplished and happy after you finish each book because you'll be reading the books you chose and ticking them off a list one by one. Some great ways to start your booklist are to get recommendations from friends and family, visit your local library or bookstore and see what sparks interest, and think of movies you like that are based on books. Happy reading!

7. Pick up a new skill or hobby

Is there something you've always wanted to try, but haven't really gotten the chance to? There's no reason not to try it while you are at home for close contact quarantine! Picking up a new hobby or skill is an amazing way to discover your interests and make connections with others who share your passions while relieving stress and finding happiness. Some things you might try include sewing, calligraphy, photography, creative writing, video streaming, writing songs, learning a new language, or baking. This is very productive and healthy because it will allow you to discover your passions and what you truly enjoy. You will hopefully find a new activity that you have a lot of fun doing and that you can do with your loved ones!

8. Start a Nonprofit Organization

Another great way to be productive during your at-home quarantine is to start a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Before we go any further, the term 501(c)(3) simply means nonprofit: it is the official legal term used to describe a nonprofit organization. Now, the process of starting a nonprofit might sound intimidating, as it does require filling out a few forms and opening a corporate bank account, but you will see that there are ways you can make it easier on yourself if you want to start a nonprofit. You don't have to start it alone! You can get a group of friends or family members to help you start and operate the organization, or you can make the impact you want to make without officially becoming a 501(c)(3) organization.

You definitely don't have to start an official nonprofit to make a difference: you could start an online community on Instagram, Facebook, or using one of the website builders we mentioned earlier. It is also possible to do very grassroots organizing and make a difference that way: you and a group of friends might clean up the neighborhood, start a petition, or start a club at school. Volunteering with nonprofits also has a great impact toward the causes you care about! As you can see, there are many ways you can make a positive impact in your community without having official nonprofit status, but starting a nonprofit is definitely a very productive and direct way to do so.

9. College/Career Research

One thing you may have noticed about suggestions 3-8 for what to do during close contact quarantine is that they will cause you to think about what you care about and what you like to do. You might try an internship and find that the type of work you were doing there is not really what you enjoy. On the contrary, you might realize that you love to read about climate change and want to raise awareness. You could find that you love writing or that you really need a work environment that makes you feel nice and cozy! All of these things will help guide your college and career research. There are two ways you can go about this.

One method is that you can narrow down what you would love to study in college and pick a major from there. After you pick the major and find which universities have the best program for what you want to study, you could research different careers that graduates in those majors succeed in and decide on a path you would like to take.

Another way to conduct this type of research is that you could narrow down what type of work you would like to do (for example, you might decide you really love writing for your school newspaper) and pick a potential career. After this, you could research what people in that career usually major in and find which universities have the program you want. If you're already in college, you would, of course, simply research the careers available to graduates in your major. This process is going to feel very intimidating, but the sooner you start researching for colleges and careers the less overwhelming it will be. You will also feel very accomplished and prepared by the time college applications or college graduation comes around!

Hopefully this article has helped you find some ways to still be productive while you can't do much schoolwork during close contact quarantine! Completing at least one of the things on the list will help you feel really accomplished and efficient with your time. Some of them could also improve your overall productivity, such as remodeling your workspace. However, it is also important to remember that the most productive thing you can do is remember to take care of yourself and those you care about. Have fun discovering yourself and achieving your goals outside of school, and we at The Teen Magazine wish you a safe return to school after your close contact quarantine.

Canon Pham
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Canon Pham is an IB Diploma Candidate and high school Junior from California who is passionate about using her voice to raise awareness of important issues and build community among like-minded people. After her first semester of Junior year, she started an online publication called the IB Student Chronicle to help provide more information about the IB experience for prospective and first-year IB Diploma Candidates. Canon enjoys spending time with her two younger siblings, her adorable puppy dog, and her incredible group of friends.