Coronavirus Cheat Sheet

Coronavirus is global. It’s a pandemic, meaning it’ll affect every person in every country on the planet, be it directly via contracting the disease or indirectly through changes in work policy, travel restrictions, containment measures, or loved ones being affected.

You, however, are not global. You’re a single human being. Yet, the sum of how billions of individuals will act during this time is going to determine how fast, how well, and how strong we will emerge from this crisis as a species.

Therefore, this cheat sheet is about you. How you can stay healthy, how you can contribute, how you can survive this dilemma and help us all do the same.

Looking at you as an individual, here is what matters:

  • Getting a handle on your emotions and not panicking
  • Staying healthy or recovering quickly if you catch the disease
  • Not infecting others, especially those weaker and more fragile than you
  • Taking precautions for isolation without getting paranoid
  • Finding a new, comfortable, productive daily rhythm
  • Managing your mental health to stay happy and motivated
  • Relying on verified information from the right sources

Also looking at you as an individual, here is what matters not:

  • How many cases appear in which country from one day to the next
  • Measures taken in other cities that don’t affect you or those you know
  • Opinions of public figures that dramatize or downplay the situation
  • Which way the stock market went and what’ll happen to the economy
  • Conspiracy theories from less than trustworthy sources

Right now, it is your duty to separate the former from the latter and do your best to live up to the one without getting lost in the other.

This is a time to put aside pettiness. Stop looking left and right so you can clean your own doorstep. If we all do it, the streets will soon be clean.

I’m not a healthcare professional, nor do I have a Ph.D. I’ve been writing for five years, and I do my homework when it comes to research. This cheat sheet should give you the most important information, backed by credible sources.

1. How to stay calm
2. How to stay healthy
3. How to not infect others
4. How to recover quickly if you’re sick
5. How to prepare for staying at home a lot
6. How to be productive when working from home
7. How to stay sane, busy, happy, and entertained
8. Where to get the facts

Get yourself together, then tackle this uncomfortable situation. Here’s how.


Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal proposed an alternative in her book The Willpower Instinct, the pause-and-plan response:

Instead of speeding up, your heart slows down, and your blood pressure stays normal. Instead of hyperventilating like a madman, you take a deep breath. Instead of tensing muscles to prime them for action, your body relaxes a little.

A deep breath. That’s it. Whenever you see the latest virus update, take one. Never forget it. Then, you can reflect and decide what to do next.

Pause, then plan

To do so, first separate what you control from what you don’t in each instance. This is the main point of Stoicism, as Ryan Holiday reminds us, and it’s more important now than ever.

Once you know what you control, you can assemble your resources, craft a plan, and see it through. That’s how you successfully navigate a crisis.

Wash your hands

How? Wet, lather, scrub, rinse, dry. Use soap, spread it generously, and scrub for at least 20 seconds, whether it takes two rounds of “Happy Birthday” or your favorite pop song chorus. Reserve hand sanitizer for being on the go.

Wear a mask or make one yourself

Sadly, the ideal world in which we all wear masks doesn’t exist. We don’t even have enough masks for all our medical staff, which need them first and foremost because for each health worker we lose, we might lose dozens more in patients. So please, whether you buy a mask or make your own (Burch shares multiple suggestions), don’t hoard them.

When wearing a mask, make sure you clean your hands before, leave no gaps, and remove it from behind when you’re done using it. Make sure you don’t touch your face even more often to adjust the mask. This might actually increase your chances of getting sick. Your hands are still the biggest problem.

Disinfect exposed, commonly used items

Make an effort to touch your face less

Don’t leave your house if you don’t have to

When you’re outside, maintain a 3–6 foot distance

Don’t visit friends and family over 50

Let friends and family know you’re worried about them

When talking to older friends and family, express your concerns with kindness, use questions, and focus on your worry, not what they should do. If all else fails, hit them with the hard facts: It takes 11+ days to see symptoms while we’re already infectious, the virus can live up to 72 hours on surfaces, and cases are growing exponentially with not just the old falling gravely ill.

Be extra considerate in keeping your distance from the elderly

Know when you might be sick

Image via Elemental

If you develop a high fever or severe difficulties in breathing, get medical assistance immediately. Generally, if you’re over 50, err on the side of caution and call your doctor right away when you have symptoms.

Get tested if you can

Plus, even if it takes a while until you can get tested, you’ll provide valuable data for global crisis management. You may even be eligible for financial benefits depending on how your employer and country handle the situation after the fact. Avoid the ER if possible, but get tested if you can.

Get medical assistance

That’s three good arguments to consult your doctor or go to a hospital when you feel sick. They’ll adjust to your unique context and tweak treatment recommendations for maximum recovery speed. Don’t take this lightly.


Wait for three days without fever and seven without symptoms

Stock up on food for 2–4 weeks

What should you buy? Some staples, like rice, potatoes, and noodles, perishables, non-perishables, nuts, frozen goods, oils, and spices. Annie Siebert also suggests canned fish, alliums (onions/garlic), and citrus fruits.

If you usually shop weekly, buying twice the amount should be a good rule of thumb. Don’t clean out the canned goods aisle just yet.

Refill hygiene products and basic medication

With respect to hygiene products, grab some extra tissues, shampoo, hair wax, shaving cream, contraceptives, tampons, and whatever else won’t go out of stock but will save you a trip down the line. The omni-desired hand sanitizer isn’t as efficient as soap and water, and you probably can’t get any anyway. If you don’t travel, that shouldn’t be a problem. If you do, try ordering online.

Toilet paper you might have to grab 2–3 packs when you can, as the crazy run on it has created some necessity to stock up on it, even if there was never a supply problem to begin with. You can even calculate how long your inventory will last — you’ll see you don’t need to buy a whole pallet.

Don’t hoard

Decide on a routine

My friend Franz Sauerstein suggests pretending to go into work where possible. Get up, get dressed, make coffee, have breakfast, brush your teeth, etc. Use an alarm, start work around the same time, plan breaks, and try to commit to the end of your workday too. Franz schedules all his emails to go out at 5 PM, then he’s done. Whatever routine you pick, set a starting point!

Adapt your home to your routine

Continue to experiment and adjust

If you have kids, like Michael Thompson, you might want to set weekly goals instead of daily ones and shoot for a few focused blocks between the madness. If you don’t, you might finally get to indulge in the fact that you’re most productive at night. Your system might be detailed and complex, like Danny Forest’s time tracking with a spreadsheet or more relaxed and unstructured, like Darius’s “work first” mindset.

As long as it works for you, it doesn’t matter which system (or lack thereof) you use. Continue to experiment until you find that set of rules and habits.


Learn to enjoy solitude

Find new ways to have fun (and remember old ones)

With or without kids, you can virtually go to the zoo, a botanical garden, or even a glorious national park, Nicole Akers suggests. Jake Daghe shares a list of 12 art museums in which you can do the same. Terrie Schweitzer from Better Humans compiled a pandemic resource guide that covers both mentally calming and physically engaging pastime activities. Quarantine may feel like a punishment, but it’s really just a prompt to reinvent yourself.

Official sources — stick to these in “When in doubt” scenarios

Medium — the latest science, health advice, and personal accounts

Wikipedia — aggregated information and lists

Curated sources from trustworthy people

After surviving the holocaust, Viktor Frankl became a psychologist, promoting one message above all: Believe. Optimism is what drives humanity forward. Together, we can get through this. Do your part, have faith, and don’t give up.