Saturday, 18 April 2020

Things I've Learnt/Gained during MCO

As you all know, we're now entering the third stage of Movement Control Order (MCO), with the announcement of the extension of MCO to 28 April 2020 (& possibly even longer, who knows?). Time and again we've been told to adapt and accept this "new normal",  as things might not return back to "normal" after this - however you define "normal". Even with the MCO lifted, there might be some restrictions in place as preventive measures to curb the virus. Who knows.

Like most people out there, I've had my fair share of cabin fever, of feeling down. Feeling out of control of my own life.

There are many days that I yearn to get out. Yearn to be with my friends. Yearn to do things outside. Yearn to go for a hike.

But of course, those have to wait. And it is not up to me when these can be fulfilled. This left me feeling suffocated. Helpless. *insert negative adjectives*.

I guess rather than feeling suffocated over things I can't control, I want to try to control what I can. Change what I can to make myself feel at ease, to do things that make me feel...fulfilled.

Hence, this post. To remind me to savage the time and opportunity I have now. Because on a normal day I'd be too busy going out doing god knows what. To remind myself that there are so many things I could do and gain, even when I'm stuck at home. And to remind myself to continuously enrich (I don't really like this word, sounds kinda cliche) myself and not let time slip and pass.

Things I Learnt/Gained during MCO:

1. How to do my taxes
I now know what to do to file my tax...eventhough I should've done this TWO YEARS AGO when I started working. I knew that I didn't have to pay tax in my first two years of career (because I was earning below the tax bracket) and I sort of heard from someone that I was supposed to file my taxes anyway. Bottom line is, I employed the "ignorance is bliss" mindset and did not make time to understandit properly.

Thanks to MCO, I now know the differences between tax relief and tax exemptions :p and I know which tax relief and tax exemptions I am eligible for.
Source: iMoney
I'm too lazy to explain the process here, since there are many articles out there that explains the process really well (plus, they contain colourful infographics too!). iMoney and Ringgitplus's articles about filing taxes for the first time are comprehensive and easy to understand - highly recommend you give them a read if you haven't done so. Plus, they've been publishing practical & useful articles about things an adult, you should've known, but yet, brushed it aside (Like taxes).

Also, you can now obtain your LHDN pin online too!

My first attempt failed as I've forgotten to attach the one of the file & a copy of my IC so I had to redo the whole take note people (who haven't obtained their LHDN me)

2. How to shop on Taobao
I don't think this is something I should be proud of, because this translates into more money being spent on stuff! But hey, I've made my first purchase from Taobao :p And maybe one day, when I start my own business I could potentially source for products from Taobao :p

I'm pretty impressed with Taobao though, you can search for a product you want by uploading a photo of it and their search engine will scout for products that are similar! There's also real-time tracking for your parcel on the map. I'm absolutely impressed!
Look at this! Impressive, right!

I now know how to make my Taobao shipment worth it too, as I understand how their shipping mechanism works :p

And again, here's an article by iMoney that was extremely helpful in helping me navigate through the uncharted ground of Taobao. Happy shopping :p

3. How to make my own terrarium
Again, many tutorials available with just a simple Google search :p But here's the article I referred to for my terrarium project.
Tip: Using a chopstick was really helpful! IF you don't have a pair of tweezers

4. Time saved =/= Productive time
Because we are forced to stay home, we spend less time commuting, being stuck in jam, finding parking...and so on.

But was the time saved spent elsewhere productively? Or wasted in some other ways?

It's like the smoking/drinking example people always bring up - If I were to stop drinking I might say that I will save RM200 per months on drink. But was the money really saved, or spent elsewhere to compensate you not drinking?

Which is one of the reasons why I started tracking every hour and minutes of my day. To identify

5. How to take better photograph
Disclaimer: not a good photographer. Just that I now am more conscious on taking photos :p

This is for my own self-satisfaction la. Don't think I'll ever get too serious in this hobby :p The furthest I've ever gotten was back in the "golden days" of my blogging era where I used a DSLR - my knowledge of photography is pretty limited though - use natural lighting, rule of third, how to use artificial light for food :p
Cheese cake by my brother and his gf
Been trying to play around with lighting by taking photos of...anything around me
Not really sure what I'm trying to achieve here, but I really like the soft morning light :)

No, I did not learn how to cook/bake anything. Mainly because...everyone's cooking/crowding the grocery shop and I'm too lazy to crowd with everyone...

6. Redecorated my room
Been wanting to do this forever but I gave myself 1000 excuses not to do it. And I finally did :)
My favourite corner of my room - plants and books corner :)

7. Formed new habit & routines
Thanks to MCO and in conjunction with adapting to the the "new normal", I've managed to form a few new habits and routines which I am happy of, as listed below:

#1 Tracking my time 
As explained above.

#2 Using the Pomodoro Technique to focus at work..or to do anything at all

I was motivated and productive at the start of the MCO because it was a fresh change of environment - working at home worked really well for me but...After two weeks the novelty of working from home was gone.

This prompted me to Google for different productivity techniques, I've tried a few and I find that the Pomodoro technique works best for me :)

You basically focus for 25 minutes and take a break for five minutes after each focus session. At the end of four cycles, you've done 2 hours of productive work and you can take a longer break (sat 10-20 minutes :))

Found this Youtube channel for study music by this person named Dennis Kuo. He coupled the Pomodoro timer with his music playlist which is really helpful! Been listening to his playlist while I work :)

Also, what really helped me is to start my workday at 6pm, just to finish my work earlier before my "lethargic hour" hits (typically feel it around 3/4pm, where my producitiy hit rock bottom!)
Tend to do work in the morning -  tire out in the evening
Watching the morning skies & sunrise is my reward after working for at least a full hour in the morning :)

#3 Practising power hour and time blocking on weekends
Power hour is basically time you block out at a certain period of the week/month to complete whatever you've been procrastinating.

I now block out at least 30 minutes on weekend mornings to do some basic cleaning of my room, which includes wiping down the shelf, changing my bedsheets & curtain (once a month), dusting some soft toy etc.

Because of the consistent cleaning I've been doing, I'm also more conscious now with whatever I am buying to reduce the clutter and dust accumulated!

I am adamant that these will continue even after MCO - have already blocked out time for these tasks on my Google Calendar.

#4 Changing out of my pyjamas and washing up straight after I wake up
I never change out of my pyjamas during the weekend before this...until I have to go out, that is :p Glad to say this is now an automated process :p

#5 Working out
If you know me well, you'd know that I hate working out. Working out is boring :p I can't stand working out, or exercising in the gym because it feels repetitive.

But thanks to the daily exercise challenge initiated by my boss at work...I've..picked up working up. Just a bit though :p But a bit is better than nothing!


8. Started to plan for my future dream
You need to start somewhere. So...I'm starting to properly backward plan my future plan. I'm admittedly just at the brainstorm and collecting inspiration phrase :) But it's a start to slowly start working towards my dream of owning a B&B :)

But what I've been doing has been really basic - looking at prices of land and property, gaining inspiration for deco, trying to understand how to start a business and to find out what people want etc. etc.

Ah well you've got to start somewhere!

9. DIY plant projects - my own coconut planter & a macrame planter!
Making a macrame planter is actually really easy! Don't need to spend so much buying one :p Here's the Youtube video I referred to :)

This...on the other actually much harder than I thought hahah. But nevertheless fun :p And I save RM10 lol!

10. Propagating plants like crazy

I call them my MCO baby :p

11. Checking the expiry date for my licenses/passport...and coming out with a list of things I need to prepare to renew it
This includes my driving license which will be expiring next week D:

Once MCO ends, there might be a mad rush to renew I just want to get myself prepared so that I will not be caught off guard after this!

12. Reading ferociously 

That being said, there are days where I struggle to do anything at all. Sometimes, all I want to do is just binge watch videos on Youtube, or waste my time away scrolling Pinterest - I've been making list of things I could do to try my best to stay productive. Or to try to get something out of this situation. Because that's what we can control.

Here is a list of things that I want to do, but have not started doing/halfway through:

1. Thorough research on listed companies in the stock market
I think I am just too lazy and tired, after most of my five workdays researching about companies too...but I really want to get started on this.

2. Comparing motor insurance 
Since my road tax and motor insurance is due in June...good to start now because things will get busy in the future and I will not have time for this.

3. Upcycling water bottle for a pothos stand
Check this out!

4. Learn more new skills, take an online class and actually complete it
I'm the type of person..who start online class that looks interesting but rarely complete them.

I'm taking an online course on Power Searching on Google. Now self-discipline, please ensure you finish this course! Anyway, I actually picked up a thing or two from there :) Who knew there are better ways to Google search things? :p

5. Write a business plan
This is tad ambitious...but I really want to try :)

6. Make a succulent garden

7. Write more blog posts
Especially about places I've been that has been sitting in my draft folder since forever

Two more weeks before. MCO ends (if it doesn't extend further). Let's try to make the most out of it. But if you feel that you need a break, please do not beat yourself up. We all have our days and times where we need a break to recover from the stress we're going through.

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