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How to stay home in Boston

The region’s under de facto lockdown due to coronavirus. Organize, cull, and connect—and know how to order in. And relax.

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Officials in the Boston area—of the public health variety and otherwise—are asking people to stay home if they can in order to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. It’s a request (or, in the case of the San Francisco Bay Area, a command) that’s easier said than done, particularly if there are other people in your household doing the same.

The relative suddenness doesn’t help matters. How do you hole up in a space that you’ve designed for more limited use—mornings, nights, weekends when not traveling—and for fewer people at once? Try these tips to stay at home.


Organize.

This is probably the biggest thing—and the most difficult. Organization includes not only sorting things by usage and necessity, but tossing what you don’t really need. The point behind organizing—which can include repurposing spaces such as cabinets and openings under beds, cribs, and couches—is to free up space and to create some seamlessness in your home. Clutter doesn’t help anyone. (But don’t go overboard—more on that later.)

A smartly organized closet with shelves and a portion for hanging clothes. Shutterstock

Cull. Repeat.

This is an addendum to organize. And culling doesn’t just mean trashing or recycling what you’re no longer going to use (for both collections are still ongoing region-wide despite the virus)—it also means storing it.

Why are the winter accoutrement still out? It’s not going to get cold again for a long while. There’s so much on display on your shelves, and yet you’re not going to have any guests for a while. Why not repurpose that space for storing stuff just floating about?

Connect.

Have you checked your Comcast bill lately? Or your smartphone plan? Find out what you’re paying and what upgrades (or downgrades) would cost in terms of internet speed, entertainment streaming, and general usage.

Video-chats, too, are becoming more of the norm as people distance themselves from personal and professional relationships. Don’t wait to make sure you’re familiar with—and capable of using—the likes of Zoom, FaceTime, and Skype (never mind Netflix, Amazon Prime, and MHz).

A run of bookshelves with a cutout of a cowboy above it and a sign reading, “In retirement, John Wayne continued to serve the community by keeping watch over frequently stolen books.” Boston Globe via Getty Images

Order in. Take out. Pick up.

You’re supposed to stay in—that means no ducking out unnecessarily, not even for a slice. Probably for the best as bars and restaurants in Massachusetts are closed anyway until at least April 6. But they’re still allowed to do take-outs and deliveries. Here is a handy running list of eateries doing delivery and takeout during the shutdown, including their hours and how to order online if available.

What’s more, any number of local merchants is readjusting their services to include deliveries and pickups outside of stores (so as to prevent that crowding). For instance, customers in Cambridge and Somerville can get free delivery from Cambridge’s Porter Square Books on certain days and the indy bookstore will meet customers outside who order a title online for pickup. And the original Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont is delivering beer (really) under certain circumstances. (Know of more? Let us know: tom@curbed.com.)

Give yourself time.

So you’re organized. You have space—or at least more space than you had before. And you’re all set for internet and entertainment. Plus you know your options for a nosh, a good book, even a decent beer. You are prepared to hunker down. Or are you? Routines are those for a reason: They’re developed over time. It could be weeks before the coronavirus case count flattens (follow the latest stats here). Sit tight.

It’s also a good time to reflect on your relationship with your home, and to not beat yourself up for a little bit of disorganization or messiness, especially if you’re bunkered down with family. As Curbed advice columnist Briallen Hopper wrote in January re: the anxiety some feel about tidiness: “It’s also worth remembering that a certain level of mess can mean different things to different people, and houses don’t have to exist in a constant state of company-readiness in order to be comfortable for their inhabitants.”