Finding your Mona Lisa during downtime

I'm sure some of you have downtime with everything going on. Is this an opportunity in disguise?

Written by Jonathan "JD" Danylko • Last Updated: • Opinion •

Construction worker using a grinder

Over the past week, the COVID-19 virus has pressed the pause button on businesses and most of our lives for the next two weeks (pressumably). For the latest up-to-date information, I even created a Collection post for the Coronavirus.

Luckily, grocery stores are open for a limited time instead of open 24 hours a day while restaurants and banks continue to close.

With businesses closing for the next two weeks, it makes life a little more...strenuous. People are sent home to wait until otherwise notified when their workplace opens again.

My wife and son are such individuals. They work with the public on a daily basis which scares the crap out of me. Over the past week, they come home and everybody does their "wash-your-hands-before-you-touch-anything-else" ritual.

In the last two days, their local businesses where they work sent everyone home to join in the quarantine.

Oh, and let's not forget the children and young adults who attend school. That's another matter altogether. Schools are also closed for the next two weeks making it harder for working parents to watch small children since they'll be home.

If you are in the computer field, you may have the opportunity of working remotely. For those who can work remotely, it will still be business as usual (like me).

What to do, what to do?

If you've watched the movie Evan Almighty, this quote seemed to stick with me and somehow applies to this situation (Besides, who doesn't like listening to Morgan Freeman?):

"Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?"

While the premise of the quote is to bring families closer together (which I'm all for), there's an additional perspective to examine here.

I had a certain family member come into my office and say they are bored. I was a little stunned to say the least.

You are quarantined to your home.

Businesses are (essentially) closed.

You don't have to go to work.

Or/And you don't have to attend school or do homework.

For two weeks.

If this doesn't scream opportunity, I don't know what does.

What do you mean?

We all know the painter Leonardo da Vinci with his famous painting called the Mona Lisa. It is said he started painting it in 1513 and never got around to finishing it. Even when he took some time from painting and moved to France in 1517, he still didn't finish it.

However, it's still considered one of his masterpieces.

When I say this is an opportunity for some, I'm saying:

  • Write a book
    Think you have a book in you? Write an outline and start segmenting the chapters and start writing! You never know what you may create.

    Have a half-done book already? You have two weeks to finish it! GO!

  • Start your online business
    You've always wanted to experiment with a new business, right? Feeling a bit crafty? Try selling on or microsell your services on (affiliate link). You'd be surprised what little efforts can make the biggest impact.

    Heck, you may not even need to go back to work after two weeks if things take off. It's a great time slice to test your idea and see if it takes off.

  • Learn a new skill
    Pick up a new skill or language using Pluralsight (affiliate link) or (affiliate link) and make yourself more marketable when you head back to work. You may even get a raise if you show you're a self-motivated individual by learning new skills.

  • Learn how to write code
    In a past post (and when I was growing up), I made the comment "I don't care if you're a ballerina, you need to know how to use a computer." I made that comment back in 1984 and guess what? Surprise! Now, everyone has a computer in their pocket.

    Since then, I've changed my tune as well. Now I say, "I don't care if you're a ballerina, you need to know how to code" even if it's simply learning HTML.

    What better time to learn it than now?

  • Try a new hobby
    Someone said to me they were going to try and learn skateboarding over the two weeks. A little dangerous for my tastes, but 'A' for effort.

    Personally, I may try my hand at cooking for the next two weeks and see where it gets me.

These are just the tip of the iceberg.

Got a bucket list? This may be the time to start checking items off that list.


For some, the pause button on the remote control of life has been pressed. You've been given a free pass to experiment with anything you choose.

The downside is you can't do it socially with other people. Please...stay home.

Think of this as an opportunity to create your own personal "Mona Lisa." Whether it's a book, painting, cooking, or even a business, build something while you have the time. Put the two weeks to good use, give yourself a personal upgrade, and you'll see the dividends in the end.

As I said above, whatever new skill you acquire, you might just be creating your own personal "Mona Lisa" for everyone to treasure and admire.

For the rest of us (like me), we need to find the time to achieve such activities after work. ;-)

What are your plans for the next two weeks? Build a business? Write a book? Play Games? Sleep? Post your comments below and let's discuss.

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Picture of Jonathan "JD" Danylko

Jonathan Danylko is a web architect and entrepreneur who's been programming for over 25 years. He's developed websites for small, medium, and Fortune 500 companies since 1996.

He currently works at Insight Enterprises as an Principal Software Engineer Architect.

When asked what he likes to do in his spare time, he replies, "I like to write and I like to code. I also like to write about code."

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