You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.Maya Angelou
I hope that you are all well. Today’s blog will be very different to what I usually do. Since we are in lockdown, and not coming out anytime soon, I decided to do a blog on productivity (or motivation) at home. I will do this through discussing ways that you can be productive with your time at home.
Films and Documentaries:
Films and documentaries are a great way to fill your time. A lot of people find that with balancing work and a social life, it is hard to find time to watch new things. However, now is the perfect time to put your feet up and escape into another world, or just learn more about the world we live in.
Starting with Netflix, which I assume most people have access to. Since going into lockdown, people are unable to have movie nights with friends or family. However, Netflix has now started something called ‘Netflix Party’ where you can join up with your loved ones and watch something together. But, what are you going to watch? Below, I have given you some personal recommendations:
- Breaking Bad- A series about a Chemistry teacher who explores the world of methamphetamine in order to pay for his cancer treatment.
- The Stranger- A series about a woman who goes around town revealing the secrets of others.
- You- A series about a bookstore manager who soon becomes obsessed with a grad student.
- Friday Night Dinner- A lighthearted series based on a Jewish family who come together for dinner on a Friday night.
- Gossip Girl- I know this is a basic girl recommendation, but this series is about teen girls on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and is very lighthearted.
- 22 July- A film that follows the terror attacks in Norway.
- November 13: Attack on Paris- A very in-depth look at the Paris terror attacks from those who were affected.
- Trump: An American Dream- Looks at the emergence of Donald Trump from his father’s shadow to his transition into politics.
- Fahrenheit 11/9- A documentary that examines the impact of Donald Trump’s presidency.
- Get Me Roger Stone- A documentary that examines the rise, fall and rebirth of political operative Roger Stone, who’s been an influential member of Team Trump for decades.
- The Story of Diana- A two part documentary into the life of Diana.
- Surviving R. Kelly- A documentary that looks at the women abused by the musician.
- Dunkirk- A film based on the evacuation of the British army, and their allies, from Dunkirk.
- Reservoir Dogs- A film by Quentin Tarantino about a botched robbery which indicates a police informant, and pressure mounts in the aftermath at a warehouse.
- Shutter Island- A film about a US marshal who encounters troubling visions after looking into the disappearance of a patient from a mental hospital.
- Inglorious Basterds- A film about a Jewish cinema owner who is forced to hold a Nazi premiere. It looks into the Basterd Brigade and how they want to sabotage the night.
- The Impossible- A film that tracks a family who are involved in the massive 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia.
- 12 Years a Slave- A film about a black man who was abducted in New York and sold into slavery.
- Lion- A film about an Indian man who was separated from his mother at age 5 and adopted by an Australian couple.
- Fruitvale Station- A film that recounts the final hours of Oscar Grant who was shot by San Francisco transit police on New Year’s Day, 2009.
- The Silence of the Lambs- A film about a young FBI cadet who must receive help from a manipulative cannibal killer to help catch another serial killer.
- Ghost- A film where a man is killed but comes back as a ghost to help his girlfriend, who he fears is in danger.
Moving on to Amazon Prime. I have only recently started using Amazon after I found out that students get 6 months for free on Unidays. However, I am very impressed with the amount of documentary material they have. As a result of this, I have compiled a list of documentaries, some of which I haven’t watched yet, for you to have a look at:
- Evolution of Evil- A documentary that looks into leaders like Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Stalin, Mao and so on.
- Putin: The New Empire- This documentary looks into the logic and motivations of Putin’s regime and why he is so loved in his homeland.
- Trump and Russia- A documentary that looks into Trump’s ties with Russia.
- Trump: The Art of the Insult- A documentary that looks at Trump as a marketing genius and performance artist who captured the hearts of middle America.
- An Eye for an Eye- A film that looks into the life of Mark Stroman, a white supremacist who was put on death row.
- Margaret Thatcher: The Iron Lady- A documentary that looks at the life of Thatcher and her time in power.
- The Presidents: From Politics to Power- Looks at the lives of those from George Washington to Barack Obama, to discover their political and social legacies.
- Dark Legacy- Looks into the death of John Kennedy through another angle.
Finally, for those who are still in touch with their childhood, Disney+ is offering a 7 day free trial so that you can go back in time and watch films from when you were younger.
For those who love to read, I recently found a website called PostScript Books. It is very cheap in comparison to shops like Waterstones or even Amazon. Below, I have given a list of books that I currently have (but haven’t read) for those looking at buying some new political books:
- Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff- details the behaviour of Donald Trump, the staff of his campaign and the White House staff.
- Lies of the Land by Adam Macqueen- looks into the lies given by politicians in the past.
- All the Kremlin’s Men by Mikhail Zygar- a behind the scenes portrait of the court of Vladimir Putin since his ascent to the Russian presidency in 2000.
- How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt- looks at how elected leaders can gradually subvert the democratic process to increase their power.
- Culture of Terrorism by Noam Chomsky- explores the Reagan administration’s program of vicious atrocities in central America and the moral and intellectual culture condoning it.
- Haven’t You Heard? by Marie Le Conte- looks at the role gossip and whispers play in all areas of politics.
- The Future of Violence by Benjamin Wittes & Gabriella Blum- looks at the new threats from robots to drones.
- How the Hell Did This Happen by PJ O’Rourke- looks at the American electoral process.
- Heroic Failure by Fintan O’Toole- looks at Britain’s place in the world and its relationship with the EU.
- The Spy in Moscow Station by Eric Haseltine- looks at spies in Russia during the late seventies.
With the gyms being shut, it has become very hard for people to find the motivation to workout at home. Below, I have come up with some ideas that can help towards your fitness:
- If you are someone who likes yoga, or someone who is looking to become more flexible (AKA me), there is an app called ‘Down Dog’ that is free until the beginning of May. It allows you to select your ability, your focus and your time. Each routine is unique so you won’t be doing the same thing twice.
- If you are someone who enjoys a harder workout, there is another app called ‘HIIT’ (blue background with a dog), that works in a similar way to the yoga app. You pick what you want to improve and it provides you with a workout that is different every time. Alternatively, download a tabata app and make up your own workouts.
- Another way to keep fit is by doing sprints. On a day where you want to work harder, go to your local park or car park and set a distance that will work for you. Then, put on some music that will motivate you, or just listen to nature, and sprint. Then, do a slow jog or walk on the way back for recovery. Then, repeat. Alternatively, if you are more advanced, do this on a run. So, whilst you are running, alternate between paces to ensure that you are working hard. This is known as fartlek training and will make sure that you sweat.
- If none of these sound attractive to you, then simply go on a walk.
For those who are not interested in anything I have said above, how about try some of these activities below:
- Learn a new language. This can be easy nowadays with websites such as Memrise and Quizlet. There are so many different websites, app and videos that can help you along the way.
- Paint. I have seen on Instagram recently that many people are starting to paint in order to kill time. If you don’t think that you have the skill, then order a paint by numbers, these have become very popular and are very good for relaxation.
- Learn how to cook or bake. Whilst at home, you have time to make food that you used to think you have no time for. There are many recipes online nowadays that can help you along the way.
- Knitting. Many people may associate this with old women, but when my great aunt used to come round, I used to love knitting with her. It was so calming and you may find that you actually enjoy it.
Whilst all of these activities sound good, many people will find it hard to get motivated. My main advice for this is routine. Whilst we are at stuck at home, we have lost our routines- whether that is work or gym or university. However, I have found that waking up and going to sleep around the same time everyday has helped. Before, I felt like I couldn’t get out of bed because I was so tired. This then led to an unproductive day as I just lay on the couch. So, I decided to set myself tasks for the day so that I get a routine going. Now, I wake up at a similar time everyday, have breakfast and do my workout. Then, I start my university work or anything I need to get done. After this, I have lunch and usually go for a walk, before returning to do more work. Around 4 or 5, I usually decide to finish and then I have the rest of the day to do activities that I enjoy like reading, watching films or facetiming friends. By setting this routine for yourself, you will feel like you get a lot more done and actually make the most of your day, instead of lounging around doing nothing. Set yourself a goal and stick to it.
I hope this blog has been helpful for you. If you have any feedback or want to find out more then feel free to contact me. Remember: make the most of your time. Good luck!