9 Productive Things You Can Actually Accomplish This February, Otherwise Known As The Worst Month Ever
January may contain the most depressing day of the year, but for my money, there is no month more across-the-board depressing than February. The final hurdle standing between you and the possibly-spring-like conditions of March, February is filled with freezing cold temperatures; snow that long ago turned from cute, fluffy white stuff into filthy, life-threatening ice chunks; and totally weak holidays that, despite their supposed meanings, are actually about either spending money to prove how in love you are, or comparison shopping for throw pillows. We're still over a month away from springing forward for Daylight Savings Time, which means that most 9-to-5 workers barely see ten minutes of sunlight on any given workday. The glow from your December break has definitely worn off. You're being bossed around by a rodent. There's almost nothing new on TV except the Westminster Dog Show and the series finale of The Mentalist .
For the shortest month of the year, February somehow manages to feel like it goes on forever.
This year, fight back against February and its sinister agenda of getting you so depressed that you try to wear a Snuggie to work. Instead, use the remaining days of February as a time to take on a simple new project or hobby that will improve you life, or, at the very least, won't make it any worse. If you succeed in your new hobby: awesome! You now have a skill or experience that will stick with you long after the last disgusting ice chunk has melted. And if you fail: who cares?! It's February!
Everyone you know is just going to spend this month building a tiny fort out of the containers from their Seamless orders. You're way ahead of the game. So give one of the nine February projects below a shot. Even if you fail, you win just for trying!
Read Infinite Jest By David Foster Wallace
If you've been meaning to read this monster of post-modern lit for years, but could never quite find the time, well, the time is now: at 1,104 pages, you could blow through this puppy by reading 42 pages a day for the rest of February. Okay, that's kind of a lot of pages per day, but what the hell else do you have going on? You already burned through all those episodes of Friends on Netflix in, like, three days. Give it a shot, and then feel smugly satisfied with yourself when Jason Segal's movie about Wallace, The End of the Tour , comes out next year, and you see everyone rushing around trying to finish this book and skimming the last 500 pages.
Teach Yourself How To Code
Try To Drop Your Life-Ruiningest Habit
Are you still smoking? Do you hate the taste of water so much, you'd rather walk around all day with scary, unhealthily gold-colored pee than stay properly hydrated? Do you ever get a bill for your credit card or student loan and stick it in a drawer/throw it under your bed/burn it in a cleansing bonfire, instead of reading it?
Hey, we all have a handful of bad habits, and tackling even one of them can feel overwhelming. But you can make this month a time to focus on taking baby steps to make headway on your worst bad habit. Find some ways to make water taste better. See if your state is one that offers free nicotine patches or lozenges to smokers trying to quit. Get a trusted friend to come over, and start opening those bills. I know, it sucks. But at least you're taking on this sucky project on during the suckiest month of the year — how much worse would it be to try to quit smoking or get your financial life in order in, say, June?
Learn to Play The Ukulele
Okay, according to this video, you only need five minutes to learn to play the ukulele, not 28 days (I think the real answer probably lies somewhere between those two amounts of time). But if you've never played a musical instrument before, you could do a lot worse than the ukulele, especially if you've had disheartening encounters with the guitar or other more complex instruments in the past — the ukulele is not very complicated to play, it's a great introduction to the basics of songwriting and how music works, and even when you screw up, it still sounds kind of nice.
Plus, pretty much every song on earth has been translated into ukulele tabs, allowing you to post fun covers videos to YouTube or up the adorkability factor of your next party by playing some rock favorites on the uke, if you so choose.
Figure Out How To Do Your Own Bike Repairs
Is your beloved bike sitting in your basement right now, awaiting the return of the sunshine, so that you can ride it all through your town, Muppets-style? Well, if you've been depending on bike mechanics every time you need to replace a tire, now is a great time to learn basic bike repair and upkeep. That puppy ain't going anywhere for a while, so take a few days to study an online tutorial and learn how to take it apart and put it back together again (of course, if you're riding your bike through February weather, you are probably super hardcore and already know all of this stuff).
Write A Novel
Did you skip out on National Novel Writing Month because it fell in November, a month that for many of us requires travel and time with family members who say stuff like, "What do you mean, 'I can't watch TV because I have to go work on my novel?'" Well, you don't have those problems now, seeing as it is February, and your family members are all hiding silently under a pile of blankets, like all reasonable people. So while everyone you know does their best impression of a pile of laundry, make your own NaNoWriMo.
There may not be the same community present that there is during the competition month, but there are still tons of word count tracking programs and apps out there that you can use to monitor your day-to-day progress and stay focused. If you're trying to hit NaNoWriMo's 50,000 word count by March 1, you can make it by writing roughly 2,000 words a day for the rest of the month. Which sounds hard, but then again, this is February: everything is hard. Going outside in the northern parts of the country without breaking down into sobs is hard. So why not put your February social isolation to work for you, and get a rough draft that you can spend the whole spring tinkering with?
Listen To The Complete Works Of A Musical Artist With An Overwhelmingly Large Discography
Have you ever wanted to develop a really solid opinion on, say, Bob Dylan's deep cuts, but felt like you didn't have the time to wade through his 36 studio albums to pick out the real gems? Well, now you have all the time in the world — okay, fine, you only have 624 hours or so left in February, but that is still more than enough time to listen to all of his albums, and really flesh out your opinion of Dylan's progression as an artiste.
Same goes for Patti Smith (11 studio albums), Bruce Springsteen (18 albums), Joni Mitchell (19 albums), Bjork (eight solo studio albums, plus three studio albums with the Sugarcubes), U2 (13 albums), Kate Bush (10 albums), Sleater-Kinney (eight albums), Prince (32 albums, but you don't really have to listen to anything past Sign O' The Times ... or do you??! Meet me back here in March and let's discuss).
Attempt To Fix Your Messed-Up Sleep Schedule
Many people can play it fast and loose with their sleep habits — staying up too late one night, falling asleep with your face literally on top of your glowing computer the next —and have everything turn out just fine. But for some us, all that sloppy sleep hygiene eventually catches up, turning us into deranged insomniac zombies so slowly that we don't even realize what's happening until we see that we're on our ninth coffee of the day and also, somehow, we're so tired that our hair hurts.
February — a month that all the clever mammals sleep through — is the perfect month to dedicate to getting your sleep stuff straightened out, because there are barely any late-night temptations like parties. Honestly, there's almost nothing to do in February besides go to bed. So dedicate the next month to cleaning up your sleep habits. Turn off your computer a few hours before bed. Don't chug a Diet Coke at 9 p.m. Get a handle on your sleep issues now, and you'll be in a better place to enjoy your waking hours once life is livable again (aka late March).
Watch Every Episode of Mad Men
Have you spent the past seven years kind of vaguely intrigued by the idea of Mad Men, but not intrigued enough to actually get it together and watch it? Too busy binge-watching Ice Road Truckers, mayhaps? Well, Mad Men 's final season will premiere on April 5, and if you want to get in on the mass cultural mourning for the end of a beloved TV show — and who doesn't? — the time to start catching up is now.
If you watch three and a half episodes of the show a day for the rest of the month, you'll have seen all 85 episodes by March 1, and still have 35 days to develop fan theories and wild speculation about how the final season is going to play out. Fine, okay, you could watch a more reasonable 1.5 episodes a day to catch up in time for the season premiere, but be honest with me: are you not currently watching 3.5 episodes of something a day already, just to numb the pain of this endless winter wasteland? Yeah, I thought so.