Since the pandemic started, jobs have become scarce and across the world, almost everything has simply come to a complete standstill.
At the start of the COVID outbreak, no one could have predicted how much of an impact it would still be having on our lives nearly a year on. We all simply assumed that the world would close down and then everything would return to normal within a couple of months, and yet here we still are.
At the time of writing this, we are in a complete lockdown once again in the UK after a new strain of the virus has started to sweep across our nation. Borders have once again been closed and the freedoms we once took for granted are now just distant memories.
We spend our days waiting for news that things are getting better, hoping that there will be an announcement that things are coming to an end and we will soon be able to mix with friends and family once again, go out for a meal or head off on holiday.
In the meantime, however, we have all taken to this lockdown differently. Some have hit a wall so thick they can’t seem to break through it where they spend their days watching mindless TV in their pyjamas, closing themselves off from the world and are really struggling with their mental wellbeing.
Firstly, for those people, I want to highlight that you are not alone. We are all having days where we feel completely despondent and fed up. The overwhelming feeling that there is no light at the end of the tunnel has been experienced by everyone, and you are not a failure for feeling this way. We wouldn’t be human if we all woke up each day feeling chirpy and positive, regardless of what some out there preach.
Others however are taking this time to up their productivity. People are doing extraordinary things with the time that they have now been gifted – writing books, taking up new hobbies, learning a new language or improving their employable skills. For those that are choosing to embrace this downtime, they are taking advantage of the opportunities available out there to achieve things that perhaps they have only ever dreamt of before.
Imagine coming out of this pandemic with new capabilities because you have used your time wisely to develop your expertise and mastered new skills.
Perhaps there is a job you really want but have, up until now, always thought it was out of your reach. Surely now is the time to develop yourself so that when businesses start to employ people once again you have the competency for the role.
I am a procrastinator. I spent the first pandemic lockdown in 2020 in Italy waiting for the tourism industry to reopen. My days were consumed with activities but nothing that enhanced my skill-set or brought me closer to my ideal of working for myself. Looking back, I am frustrated with myself for being so blasé with my time. I am so quick to complain that I do not have enough time to learn new things, but I am living proof that actually it is not time I am short of but motivation.
This time around, however, I have taken control of my productivity. I am of course still reading, but now I am mixing up my usual reading preferences with non-fictional books that will propel me forward in some way. I am planning my days and I am choosing to learn something new in the hope that by the end of 2021 I can turn around and say that this was the year where I advanced my own career rather than that of others.
Will you be saying the same?
What is it you want to achieve during this pandemic? Will you be able to look back at the end of the year and be happy with what you achieved during this period of uncertainty?
How to gain new skills and knowledge during this Pandemic
Knowing where to start is something the biggest hurdle. We may know what we want to achieve but have no idea how to go about it. This is often the reason we give up; the reason we say we will get around to it one day.
The internet isn’t simply a tool we can use for social media however, it is also home to a wealth of information just waiting to be tapped into, but if you are unsure where to begin, I have a few suggestions for you that may help.
#1 Complete a course online
This is a learning platform that hosts thousands of different courses through the power of video. Not everyone can learn by reading alone and so the benefit of this platform is that you can watch from any device you wish.
What I personally love about Skillshare is that not only do they enlist the help of well-known experts to deliver the training material they also offer printable handouts, just like you would have should you add a college lecture. It means that you can concentrate on what is being said knowing that the main points have already been noted down for you.
Skillshare offers creative courses in animation, writing, film and video, fine arts, graphic design, illustration, music and photography. It offers business courses, courses for freelancers and entrepreneurs, and courses on leadership and management.
Each course is recorded in bite-sized chunks so that you can reflect on each new piece of information before moving on.
To learn more sign up for your free trial of Skillshare.
Future Learn is an online platform that partners with many different universities from around the world to create a wealth of different courses in all manner of different subjects. The website boasts that you can learn wherever and whenever, by leading academics and renowned educators. Whether you are looking to do a course for pleasure or to improve your employability, the courses are designed as standalone modules so that you can delve in and out as you wish.
Topics covered include – Business and Management, Creative Arts, Healthcare and Medicine, History, Computer Sciences, Languages, Law, Literature, The Environment, Politics, Science and Maths.
The Open University, established in 1969, is perhaps the oldest and most prestigious distance learning institution. Through them, you can study for full degrees including masters, diplomas, certifications in higher education and short courses.
They have also started to offer a selection of free courses through their Open Learn programme where you can choose to register for business classes, language lessons, health and wellness sessions, or humanities courses. Personally, I have my eyes on the creative writing course where the course materials can be sent to me on my Kindle device.
Have you ever thought about a career as an English Language Tutor?
As someone that has previous taught and loves the idea of living a flexible way of life, I have often considered this opportunity. Of course, you don’t necessarily need to be a free-spirit, travelling the world; it could be the perfect career for anyone passionate about imparting knowledge who want to help others to develop their language skills.
Knowing what qualifications needed for specific roles can be confusing so I recommend looking at The TEFL Academy website as they can provide all the information you need, suggests courses to you and even help to find you the perfect job once you have qualified.
#2 TED Talks
I remember the first time I discovered TED Talks. I spent nearly all day searching for different speakers, listening to their thoughts on completely random topics. At the time, I didn’t see it as an opportunity to learn, but more as an excuse for not being as productive as I should have been. I simply argued that I was a training consultant looking for new material to use with my delegates. What I soon discovered was how enriching they are.
The topics are diverse, with the videos varying in both length and language, to appeal to everyone. There is no limit to what you will be able to find on this channel.
If you don’t know where to begin though, don’t panic. Simply go to TED Talks and choose your interests, you will then receive a list of recommendations. It really is that easy.
Podcasts are a great alternative to radio listening or TV watching. While at one time people would laugh at anyone listening to things like The Archers, a soap opera playing out over the radio waves, it is now commonplace for people.
The benefit of podcasts is that you can subscribe to the whole series and they are automatically downloaded and sent to you via email should you wish. You can listen to them at any time whether relaxing or when on the go. I personally find some podcasts quite motivating, so are great to listen to when I go out for a run, while others are great for long car journeys.
If you are not sure where to start with podcasts, try typing into the internet a podcast topic you might fancy listening to and see what comes up.
On my phone, I use Castbox, an app that stores all of my preferences and will notify me of a new podcast as it lands.
#4 Youtube Tutorials
Someone once told me you can learn to do anything by watching Youtube. It was a statement I found hard to believe until I had to turn to it as a last resort for help.
I remember the day vividly. We were working for a company in France and our most obnoxious customer ever had an issue. I was told in no uncertain terms that if we could not get his dishwasher working, I was to wash his dishes for him. I remained professional but deep down there was no chance I was going to be washing up for this guy, so in a last ditched attempt we turned to Youtube. We are not plumbers but thanks to Youtube we were able to repair a dishwasher, which is something I will always be thankful for.
Since then, whenever I am unsure of something, or what to know something new, Youtube has become my go-to place for knowledge.
Whatever way you choose to learn, choose to start today!
We all learn in different ways, but the learning does not always have to lead to a new job or better pay. Sometimes the art of learning can simply be an enjoyable pastime. We are constantly evolving and the world around us is in a permanent, perpetual state of change which means that in order to remain up-to-date there is an endless amount of information we need to absorb.
As a person who always had their head stuck in a book, I am always looking for new ways to develop my knowledge but I also find that learning is easier when I want to do it, and it is for something enjoyable.
What if we were to change the way we think? Rather than seeing it as a chore, let’s look at it as an enjoyable way to do something different, something you have always wanted to try but until now have been afraid to do so. I guarantee you will find it rewarding.
Have you decided to learn something new during this pandemic?
For those looking to learn online, I do just want to stress the importance of protecting yourself. I am sure we have all tried to log onto a WIFI connection in the local cafe only to receive a red warning telling us our connection is not secure. Do not become a victim of those praying on the unprotected. Using a programme like NORD VPN provides you with secure and private access to the internet meaning that your online identity remains hiding from any prying eyes.
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