7 Life Hacks for Coronavirus Times

Most of these are just a matter of common courtesy

If you’re in a city like New York, you’ll notice how we are all on edge these days. Our travel plans have run askew and we have to rethink most of our 2020 vacations or weekend trip ideas. Even stepping outside for a walk around the block or to briefly bring out the garbage has become uncomfortable.

As the weather is warming up more people will want to be outside, and let’s face it, there’s always a handful of people who will behave seemingly oblivious to what’s going on in the world around them. We can’t control other people, but we can have some control over our own actions.

So here are seven life hacks for dealing with a variety of problems you might face during these coronavirus times:

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A solitary runner on an early morning run in Prospect Park.

GO RUNNING BEFORE 8 AM or when it’s raining. Be a contrarian and go when there are bound to be less people to worry about. Avoiding crowded parks will allow you peace of mind when you want to be social distancing. You might have to find a route or timeframe that works best to avoid when most dog walkers are out as well, since dogs and their owners tend to take more width of sidewalks or paths. This might mean getting up even earlier to go out there to run.

RUN AND BIKE WITH A HANDKERCHIEF around your neck. When you enter an area where you can no longer socially distance, pull it up over your face. It’s harder to breathe when exercising with a mask or face covering, and it is even more difficult for those with asthma or sensitive skin conditions to wear one too tightly. But you can lower a handkerchief that is tied behind your neck when alone in the woods or on a pathway.

GO GROCERY SHOPPING LATE AT NIGHT if you have a store nearby that is open late or 24/7. Going shopping after 7 pm targets a time frame when most folks are at home having dinner or relaxing for the rest of the night. If you’re a younger person, going late at night rather than early in the morning also avoids “seniors only” hours. Giving older folks their space to shop— assuming we all could be a carrier of COVID-19 — helps protect them from the disease. Finding the time when the store is practically empty can be especially great if the grocery is very cramped for space, as many in the city are. Unsure when that might be? Swing by during one of the many walks you’re probably taking, and check out whether it’s crowded or not.

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A couple spending time on the beach with a circle drawn in the sand around them for social distancing.

DRAW A CIRCLE IN THE SAND AROUND YOUR SPOT at the beach this summer. It works best where the sand is at least somewhat packed and the circumference is very visible. You can use your feet, shuffling around your blanketed area to gain at least six feet away from it in all directions. You’d be amazed at how intuitive this is to passersby— people will not want to step across this visible boundary!

MESSAGE YOUR TRAVEL COMPANY ON TWITTER if you have a non-urgent need to reschedule or cancel plans (further than a week away) rather than wait on the phone for a live person. Most commercial companies allow you to private message them via Twitter. Go to the company account, click on the envelope icon. In the chat box type out details you’d normally give someone over the phone: a member number, travel confirmation number, the legal name you used to book, etc. Careful not to send any sensitive data like credit card, social security numbers or passwords. You can close your window after sending the message, because Twitter emails you once you get a reply. I’ve received replies within 45 minutes from associates at Jetblue and Hertz car rental, even with internet service companies. This saves you the risk of losing a phone connection and starting all over again and the best part is you have everything in writing to refer back to on your Twitter account.

JOIN A BUILDING OR NEIGHBORHOOD FACEBOOK GROUP to help keep an eye on vulnerable neighbors, find opportunities to volunteer aid or ask for help if you need it yourself. If there isn’t one, start one! Mutual aid groups and restaurants are regularly organizing volunteers to help with food delivery to communities of need. Neighbors in a building group can lend each other tools or let each other know of any safety issues easily. This is the time for all of us to embrace supporting one another as a community, so a Facebook group can be a great way to achieve this. Be wary of groups that have members spreading misinformation. Facebook now has a feature that helps group admins direct people to the most accurate COVID-19 information. You should feel supported and helpful in these groups, not have to deal with toxic negativity when things are already stressful.

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A screenshot showing how much a local restaurant loses in commissions to third party apps like GrubHub.

ORDER DIRECTLY FROM YOUR FAVORITE LOCAL RESTAURANT rather than using an online delivery service. This helps your local small business restauranteur to keep more of the money they earn and avoid losing a big cut to the third party apps. Small restaurants in particular work within low profit margins and have to make enough to cover paying their employees, rent utilities and sales tax on each order, so it’s a big deal to take on third party commissions. If you can, go pick up the order yourself. Not only does it save your delivery tip, but it frees up already short-staffed restaurant delivery personnel to service those who really cannot leave their place (the elderly, disabled, vulnerable populations).

P.S. from the author: I take misinformation seriously. So if you spot any information or links to outside articles you think is inaccurate, please let me know in the comment section.

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