Skip to main content
Tech + Life

Using data to count the days: the surprising ways we’re quantifying quarantine

Stickers, bread, cats, and other data visualization tools

By Schuyler Velasco

One of the many things COVID-19 has upended is our sense of time. The extended stay at home in social isolation has stripped the days, weeks, and possibly months of their usual rhythms. Is it Friday yet? Saturday? July? If you feel like it’s all blending together, you’re not alone.

That’s why many of us have come up with creative ways to mark the time marooned in our houses — themed Instagram posts; daily exercise goals; rows on a knitting project. Like notches on a prison wall, they’re a fundamental reminder that the world is still spinning, and a future, tangible souvenir of our collective lockdown. They’re also a showcase of the myriad ways to visualize a data set — in this case, the time elapsed in society’s near-total pause. The Experience team reached out on social media channels and compiled eight of our favorite quarantine time-markers. What are you doing to keep track? Send us an email at contact@expmag.com to let us know.

Apple stickers

“We’ve been saving the little label stickers attached to apples, to keep track of how many apples our apple-obsessed toddler eats in quarantine.”

Insta-cats

“My daughter is posting a pic on Instagram of her girlfriend’s cat every day.”

A 2K a day

One respondent is running 2 kilometers every day. The goal? To see how many marathons she’ll run before this is over.

Ticket stub collection

One Facebook user is posting a daily photo from his two-decade-old concert ticket stub collection — a trip down memory lane, and a hopeful reminder of the events we can all look forward to post-coronavirus.

Wine bottles

It doesn’t have to be complicated — the wine bottles in your recycling bin are an easy way to mark the days.  

Advent calendar

One Facebook user is filling her holiday advent calendar with activities and treats for her kids — a way to differentiate the days from one another and give them small things to celebrate.

A daily loaf

Baking has become so popular during social distancing that grocery stores are running out of flour and sugar. A few Facebook friends are making a daily loaf of bread — or two.

“Groundhog Day” — again

Finally, one Facebook user is going fully the other way and leaning into the monotony — by recreating the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day,” in which Bill Murray gets stuck living the same day over and over again. “Now every morning at 6 a.m. my alarm wakes me up with ‘I’ve Got You Babe,’” he says. “My goal is to make each day a little bit better than the last, until one day I wake up and discover it is February 3rd.” It’s an unorthodox approach, but hopeful in its own way.

Published on

Schuyler Velasco is Experience's Senior Editor. 

Illustrations by Emma Roulette

Tech + Life

Pandemic dating is making us more honest

As first dates move online, the rules of engagement are changing — maybe permanently

By Jenni Gritters