Bored in Quarantine? Here’s a look at what everyone is doing

Written by Maria Rincon and edited by Rick Dunham

Enjoying a daily dose of caffeine at the local coffee shop. Going to the gym. Meeting friends for dinner or drinks. Just a few things that seemed ordinary weeks ago now seem like distant memories.

Staying home is the new norm as people are doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19 around the world. While self-isolation restrictions differ from country to country, people are now spending most of their time indoors.

According to the World Economic Forum, more than one-third of the world’s population is currently in lockdown during the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The terms “self-isolation” and “quarantine” are used interchangeably by many people, but they actually mean different things. Self-isolation means you are staying indoors and avoiding other people because you have symptoms. Quarantine is a formal restriction of movement for people who may have contracted an illness or have returned from a dangerous place.

What both terms have in common is that they lower the chance of spreading illness to other people. We’re saving lives by staying home and practicing social-distancing. But what are we doing at home?

University students and young professionals were asked this question and we came up with a list of the most common activities people are pursuing during this time of isolation. Participants included 90 university students and young professionals in cities such as Vancouver, Paris, Perth and Osaka.

The favorite activity of these young adults is watching television series and movies: 54% of respondents said that this is one of the top things they are doing in quarantine. These results reflect trends reported by the Nielsen survey research company, which found that Americans streamed 85% minutes more video in March 2020 than in the previous March.

Binge watching is also becoming the norm. According to online streaming service Hulu, binge watching (defined as watching three or more episodes in one sitting) grew more than 25% in mid-March versus mid-February 2020.

Currently trending on Netflix is Tiger King, a bizarre “docu-series” about American exotic big cat breeder Joe Exotic. The show, which attracted 34.3 million viewers in the first ten days of its release, has attracted a large following. The Netflix original series has become atrending topic on Twitter and plenty of online memes have been created about Tiger King personalities Joe Exotic and Carol Baskins.

“I actually haven’t watched Tiger King yet — I’m currently binge watching Money Heist on Netflix and I’ll probably check it out after,” says 27 year-old Eileen Wong, who works in project administration in Vancouver, Canada.

Just behind the top quarantine activity of watching Netflix and movies, 38% of respondents said they spend their time scrolling through social media.

Whether you’re turning to social media to receive the latest news on COVID-19, watching TikTok videos, or swiping right on Tinder to your next potential Zoom video date, we can all agree that social media usage is going up. According to Facebook’s analytics department, in Italy and other countries hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak, Instagram and Facebook Live views doubled in a week from March 17 to March 24.

With user engagement increasing we took the opportunity to ask people on Instagram what they missed most about pre-quarantine life.


“I honestly just miss being around people, especially because what I do for a living revolves around events and public relations,” says Michelle Moon, an entertainment blogger in Toronto, Canada.

Looks like for now, social activities will just have to wait. Taking online classes (36%), exercising (34%), sleeping (32%), working from home (29%), and cooking/baking (25%) followed as the top quarantine activities, according to time spent on each activity.

With gyms refunding memberships, cancelled sport practices, and public parks being closed, people at home are turning to virtual fitness classes to get their sweat on.

Public basketball court in Richmond, Canada is “closed until further notice.”

Having more time to try out their culinary skills, people are spending more time in the kitchen. Making bread from scratch has become something everyone is trying. According to Google search trends, “bread recipe” spiked significantly as a trending search term in February and March 2020.

Supermarkets and grocery stores in cities such as Vancouver have suffered a shortage of baking supplies on items such as yeast, all purpose flour, vanilla extract, and cinnamon.

It seems like everyone is jumping on the baking craze.

Sign in Vancouver grocery store limits amount of yeast purchased by customers.

“I made the choice to allocate this spare time for cooking and try new recipes. Every meal is an occasion to try something new and let your creativity run free. If you fail it’s not a big deal because you have many opportunities to catch up and try again,” says Pierre-Antoine Nougué, a Tsinghua University Master’s student majoring in Environmental Engineering in Paris, France.

Bulgur and semolina salad with salmon and fresh vegetables by Tsinghua student Pierre-Antoine Nougué.

More time in the kitchen means more delicious food to devour. Eating (25%) was ranked as the eighth most popular quarantine activity, followed by gaming (21%), cleaning (18%), listening to music (18%), reading (16%), video calling (15%), and reading the latest updates on COVID-19 (13%).

Below is the full data on what people spend their time doing during quarantine:

Top Quarantine Activities According to Most Time Spent on Each Activity

Sample size: 90
Data collected between April 2 -8, 2020

The current “staycation,” with no end date in sight, may begin to feel monotonous for some people, but practicing social distancing and quarantine can ensure that the health care system doesn’t become overwhelmed.

Continuing with your favorite at-home activities will benefit the community as a whole.

So while we may be houses, cities, or countries apart, remember that we’re in this together.

Image: @josie.doodles

Featured Image courtesy of Pikisuperstar