On the ISS, astronauts’ days are scheduled down to five-minute increments with time for experiments, maintenance, conference calls, meals, working out and more. But even at home, Lindgren says it’s helpful to stay busy with meaningful work, even if it’s not your usual gig. “If you’re able to work from home it’s a gift,” he says. “Many people don’t have that opportunity. But finding some other meaningful work will help the time go fast. It is one of the blessings of being in the space station. The work can make six or nine months go very quickly.”
Lindgren, who is currently socially distancing at home with his wife and three children, says he talks to his kids weekly about what they want to accomplish and make sure to carve time out for it in addition to their regular schoolwork.
Dunn suggests breaking the day into parts with transitions like working out or going for a walk. At Hi-Seas, the crew would end the workday and transition into leisure time via a group work out. “When you work from home it’s easy to end up constantly working and never breaking,” she says.
In her forthcoming research Dunn and her colleagues also looked at how different crews on four, eight and 12-month missions spent their time and self-organised in the habitat, which included less than 1,500 sq ft (139 sq m) of living space. The results suggest that given autonomy, most people spent about the same amount of time on different activities.