Bucket-list ideas suddenly seemed possible, like watching every “Star Wars” movie in chronological order, said Mr. Bozza, who shares a Williamsburg loft with a Pomeranian-Pit bull mixed-breed dog.
He also planned to finally plow through a stack of musical biographies sitting next to his bed. But as spring slogged on, Mr. Bozza, who could no longer rely on takeout, found himself cooking three meals a day, which sucked up huge chunks of time.
As a result, stories about the Smiths, Bauhaus and Jay-Z remain untouched. “After a while the things that you don’t do start mocking you,” he said, “so I put the books away.”
But those who quit their quarantine dreams should not succumb to regret, as even in normal times, to-do lists can be futile, according to Timothy Pychyl, a professor at Carleton University in Ottawa who has written books dealing with procrastination. “You can’t really motivate yourself that way,” he said.
“When we all of a sudden have more time, we sort of wrongly assume that it will solve the problem of fulfilling our desires. But it really isn’t an issue of time at all,” Mr. Pychyl said. “We never had firm intentions before. They are just desires, like to fix up the basement or lose some weight. Had they been intentions, we would have been doing them a long time ago.”
Of course, the pandemic, which as of late September had claimed 200,000 lives in the United States, nearly 24,000 of them in New York City, has hardly been an ordinary time to pursue a self-betterment agenda. The lack of a vaccine, steep job losses and major business closures have created a grim tableau against which to tackle any goals.
Indeed, the inability to follow through on plans, or even carve out time for them in the first place, stems in part from off-the-charts levels of anxiety, said Dr. Charles R. Marmar, the chair of psychiatry at N.Y.U. Langone Health.