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I Asked 100 People What They Learned From Lockdown

Guy Torbet
I'm a 17 year old Software Developer and Student from Scotland.
・9 min read

I like hearing about people's life lessons - the more of them you learn, the more traps and pitfalls you can avoid as you live your life. Covid-19 and subsequently lockdown has been a journey for everyone to say the least, it started off feeling like a holiday, but now, more than a year in, its initial charm has definitely worn off. So, I asked people the most valuable lessons that they have learned from being locked away in their homes, so hopefully you can pick out some juicy nuggets to help you along the way!

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If you like this post, feel free to subscribe or check out my other posts here

I've taken the liberty to organise the best responses into sections, for easy reading; feel free to reach out to me if you have learned something that you want featured on the list!

Habits

Consistency is better than anything when it comes to making positive changes. No matter what it is, if done consistently, you can improve.

Having a routine is severely underrated. I never realised just how much I needed one until my overall physical and mental health took a complete nosedive.

The power and importance of habits is heavily emphasised in "Atomic Habits" by James Clear, the ability to make an action 'second nature' and be able to do it subconsciously is something that I have found incredibly useful! (Good book too 😉 )

Overcoming Boredom

That hobbies are key to keeping your sanity, but then again, I never went into lockdown, I worked through it all.

spend time on your hobbies because they will make you happy

Sometimes, being able entertain oneself is far more valuable than that of entertainment provided by others.

I have to say that I was never really "bored" during lockdown, like many others, I took it as an opportunity to get more work done and learn new skills to improve myself. Have a look at the motivation section if you want to kickstart your journey during lockdown.

Productivity

I don’t have enough time is no longer a valid excuse. I had a crazy amount of free time during peak COVID and didn’t utilise it how I should have. Taught me that you can be as productive as you want to be, after all everyone has 24 hours in a day.

Adaptability. Being able to change course more easily and feel less stress about changes to plans. I used to worry a lot more about the unknowns in my tightly controlled life, but having everything flip do quickly and being able to adapt and the world not ending. It definitely has helped me worry less about things outside my control.

Write. Things. Down. It helps keep yourself accountable.

Lockdown has really tested to work ethic and discipline of us all. While some may have crumbled under the vast amounts of 'free time', others made use of the extra hours and put them towards something meaningful. For me, lockdown has been a great test of my willpower when it comes to getting work done, and it's taught me that I can manage myself effectively, even without the structure that school and university provides.

Motivation

Yep, I learned that. And as an extension of that thought - the days where you aren’t motivated and don’t feel like getting to it are the days that really count. Anyone can do something sporadically when they are motivated.

That just because I have more "free time" doesn't mean that I'm going to magically have the motivation to do all the things I've been procrastinating to do beforehand. I gotta be proactive and develop the self discipline to do so every day.

To just do it! I put so many things off because I thought I had time or couldn’t make a decision. What was I waiting for? No need to analyze everything to death. Just do it and figure it out. The other thing I started to practice was talking to strangers more. If someone initiated a conversation I would slow down and have it instead of rushing it. I realized that for some that in person conversation might be the only one they have had in a while. I especially do this at the grocery store. I am also more adaptable than I thought.

To stop procrastinating. I have a really big problem with overthinking and analysis paralysis. I realised this is really affecting me in a negative way.

In order to be happy, you need to sort things out for yourself.

A lot of people seemed to have issues in this department - overthinking, planning paralysis, procrastination, sound familiar? I faced the exact same issues at the beginning, until I realised that the only thing you can do to overcome it is to Just Start.

Work

That working from home is not necessarily a good thing (and is possibly more bad than good).
I was always skeptical about the concept because my main concern was that it would be a breeding ground for fraud. This turned out to be true, but that's another story.
It also happens to be massively detrimental to your productivity. As it turns out, being at home in a place with a lot of distracting things you would rather do instead of work while struggling with procrastination isn't really a recipe for success (I learned this the hard way). That's doubly true when you add screaming children into the mix that constantly want your attention while you are trying to work.
And the cherry on top is now, as far as your employers are concerned, you are NEVER not in your office. If you thought your company calling you late at night because something went wrong at the office was invasive and disrespectful of your time, then wait until you literally can't leave the office. Now they will pull all sorts of shit that they previously weren't able to do.
Of course, you could tell them that it isn't your problem and you could try to set your boundaries, but they will make it your problem and they will push those boundaries every chance they get. Why? because to them, your bedroom belongs to them now.

You can do 90% of the work without going to office if you're working on computers.

All of the work I've ever done has been remote, and while I enjoy it for the most part, I long to experience working side by side with colleagues in an office and learning from each-other. Hopefully, after I finish my degree, I can experience that, without a mask in between us.

Exercise

Stay active even though there was barely a reason to get out. I’m now in serious pain (neck/back) and I’m trying to undo what I’ve done to myself.

there can be no mental health without physical health. It took 2 months of not getting out for my body to start getting random aches and pains and pinched nerves which I absolutely did not expect at my age. And all of that decreased my quality of life tremendously. Now that the weather is nice again, I'm not missing any chances to go outside and be active.

I won't lie, I'm not the most active person. Don't get me wrong, the dog has been VERY well walked for the past year, but asking about peoples relationships with health and exercise has made me realise that i need to place more of an emphasis on this, and my later-self will thank me.

Social

Your support network isn't what you think it is. Cowards will out, and your true people will step in to help in whatever way works for them. Sometimes thats just ordering you food bc you haven't had a full meal in 3days, sometimes its hooking you up with a job referral,
Real family (chosen or otherwise) does what they can for each other, even if it seems small, bc anything is better than nothing.

Don't waste time and energy on people who don't bring anything productive or positive to your life.

I learned just how much surrounding myself with my peers can really boost my mood. It’s important to surround yourself with people just as much as it is to have alone time. I miss seeing people everyday. My friendly exchange in conversation with the 7/11 cashier is the highlight of my day sometimes

That I need social stress to be productive

Noticing how much better I felt not being obligated to see anyone made me really reevaluate my relationships and notice my patterns of choosing toxic people, which I'm now working on in therapy.

Your relationships are what you make of them and can change for the better with lover and persistence

I don't have as many friends as I thought I did.

Sometimes, being able entertain oneself is far more valuable than that of entertainment provided by others. (x2)

All those years of being antisocial and a homebody were just training.

I've been quite content with being by myself, which has played into my hands nicely during quarantine. I've always valued having a small, but stable group of friends to surround myself with, which has been an absolute god-send during the past year.

Self

Be kind to myself. As soon as lockdown started, I fell into the boat that if I don’t come out of lockdown with a new skill or business that I’ve failed. So I learned to love myself more, which in turn has given me a great balance of being productive and just enjoying each day.

Life is hard. No need to make it harder by constantly judging myself. Especially for things that don't hurt anyone and won't matter in the long run.

I have a tendency to be too tough on myself, but it goes further than 'being my own worst critic'. I get genuinely annoyed at myself if I don't get enough work done or put things off until the last minute. Even although that is my fault, I've learned that my standards were simply too high to be maintained consistently, and every now and then I should cut myself some slack.

Gratitude

Not taking anything for granted. We generally tend to realise the true value of simple things once we lose them.

To be grateful for everything I have in life. Simple as that.

Slowing down and enjoying your severance pay is good but having goals for each day makes your rest feel earned.
Be a good neighbor because talking between porches and running into familiar people every day makes the pandemic feel less awful.

Appreciate that you’re able to wake up the next day and be given the chance to breathe in fresh air and have the sun kiss our skin.
Thousands of lives who are no longer with us won’t ever get to wake up again.

Fundamental gratitude is something that I'm actively developing in myself. In the grand scheme of things, we get it easy, and looking at the positives as blessings and realising that the negatives aren't THAT bad, could improve your happiness dramatically

Miscellaneous

Nihilism (in a good way). Society is just a bunch of social constructs stacked on top of each-other, and we're fully capable of changing those constructs at any time. All we have have to do is decide to do it, and it's done. The only barrier is getting people to agree to do it, and they will fight you at all costs, for basically no reason. People couldn't even agree to wear masks during a deadly, highly contagious viral outbreak because it's not what they're used to doing, so imagine the uphill battle were in for when tackling the 40 hour work week.
My mindset has shifted from "how do I prove XYZ is true?" to "how do I convince people to treat XYZ as true?". Because all.the proof in the world doesn't necessarily change behaviour, and what people belief doesn't matter nearly as much as how they behave because holy shit there is no end to the cognitive dissonance that human beings are capable of. The realisation that narcissism can be so severe that it's essentially become its own variation of psychosis is astounding, but helpful for realising where to stop wasting my time and where we need to actually focus our efforts.

I've learned emacs.

Red wine can replace orange juice with breakfast and it has a longer shelf life.....okay I learned this 20 years ago but it's still true today.

toilet paper is not scarce


So, What have I learned? First lesson: Never attempt to eat a bat, secondly - the power of acceptance, don't stress about what's out of your control, sometimes it just "is what it is".

I used to fixate over little things that now seem so pointless and small when you consider the bigger picture. I re-read 'The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck" by Mark Manson, and second time around, the key ideas really stuck. So now, every time I encounter a problem, I will always try to ask myself now: Is this worth the stress? Will this even matter 1, 5, 10 years from now? I'm 17, still young, the chances that something I do now have any meaningful impact on my future or career are slim to none, so I've started to accept that (sometimes) I fuck up, and just move on.

Discussion (6)

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loouislow profile image
Loouis Low • Edited

Lockdown in my living country has almost one year. I learnt to develop myself a full-fledge low-level CSS framework with a complete set of documentation website, playground tool and CLI. Behold~ Yogurt CSS.

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torbet profile image
Guy Torbet Author

Had a look at it and it's honestly really cool! Love how you made a custom element instead of a div, good job man!

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loouislow profile image
Loouis Low • Edited

Thanks, the custom tag is good for non-SEO projects such as IoT user interface. This could type less and less noise when reading it. Instead of floating with the <div>. Yogurt CSS has 4k and 8k enabled by default for building UI on a TouchPanel screen. And the CLI has a built-in postprocessor to remove unused CSS in the framework.

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eugenegohh profile image
Eugene Goh

To be honest, due to lockdown I am able to gain much more knowledge compared to school. I started coding during the lockdown learned a lot I knew how to make a website which my school doesn't teach, started investing in courses on Udemy & Codecademy. I'm 17 years old too! Cheers!

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jones268 profile image
jones268

I second Atomic Habits, it's a good book. Will power is overrated

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sigute profile image
Sigute

As a parent of a small child: what is this "free time"? (:

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