With many of us working from home right now, being away from the office has left workers with more time on their hands than they may be used to. With no commute to contend with, the comparative freedom in our schedules has allowed us to focus on sharpening up our skills while we’re at home.
That said, if you’ve had to juggle remote working with childcare and other responsibilities, then you may have found it more difficult to find time for self-improvement. Perhaps you’ve been putting it off for another time, or you’ve given it a try but have struggled in your efforts.
While we’re not saying you need to use what’s been a difficult time to improve yourself, if you feel like it’s something you’d like to do, then we’ve come up with a collection of tips to help upskilling a little easier while working from home.
Set goals and objectives
Think about what it is you want to learn and achieve during this period of working from home. Many people may feel pressure to learn something new while the pandemic and lockdown continues, rushing into their learning without a second thought, only for their half-baked plans to fall by the wayside.
It’s important to weigh up what it is you want before starting, whether it’s a daily goal or something more long term. Objectives and milestones allow you to stay motivated and give you something to drive towards in your quest to upskill.
Make a routine of it
Routine may be something you’ve struggled with during lockdown. Without the usual commute, 9 to 5, and other things that provided your day with structure, you may have gotten used to rolling out of bed ten minutes before work starts and staying in your pyjamas.
It’s important to build your day around a routine; go to bed and get up at the same time, take care of yourself, and dress appropriately for your day of remote working. The same applies to your at-home learning too. If you’ve found your attempts to upskill have faltered, then try incorporating this learning and development into your routine. Whatever form your upskilling takes, even setting aside 30 minutes a day can help you stay focused and committed as you progress.
Try brain-training apps
If you’re short on time and don’t have enough space in your schedule to commit to a long-term project or goal, then don’t fret. There are still plenty of things you can do to keep the mind sharp and focused during this time.
Brain-training apps can come in handy for controlling emotions and improving cognitive function. Apps such as Happify and Lumosity are specifically-designed to boost mindfulness, memory, attention, and problem-solving, using science-based tasks and methods.
Listen to podcasts
Getting your head into a book or jumping back on the computer for an online course after a long day at work might not sound so appealing. Turn to a podcast instead if you’re looking for something less hands-on but no less enriching. Not only are there podcasts on just about every topic nowadays, they’re nearly always free and are great for putting on in the background when you’re cooking, cleaning or while you’re going for a walk.
PlayerFM and Feedspot are great resources if you don’t know where to start; both have a list of subjects you can pick from, with many shows dealing with topics relating to IT, software engineering, and similar fields.
Ask for further opportunities at work
If you’re struggling to find the time to develop skills outside of work, then there’s nothing stopping you from asking to get involved with tasks or a project outside of your usual remit. It’s a great way to learn new competencies, improve your problem-solving, and hone your collaborative abilities.
Try starting a conversation with your manager or identify an area where you feel your company could benefit and what you could do to contribute. Just be sure you can take on what is essentially extra work before you approach your boss.
Take an online course in a relevant topic
There are a dizzying number of online courses to take in your free time. Udemy has over 100,000 to choose from, many of which are hosted by top instructors from around the world, while LinkedIn Learning offers a similar high-quality service, with a one-month free trial too.
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to get started with coding? In which case, Codeacademy is a great place to begin your journey. Catering to all skill levels, and with a wide range of things to learn about, from building websites to analysing data, it’s a great way for the tech-minded to add another string to their bow. Alternatively, why not use your time in lockdown to learn a new language? Duolingo offers a bevy of different languages to get to grips with, at little to no expense.
Create an environment suitable for learning in
Lastly, it’s important to create a calm, inspiring atmosphere for you to get the most out of your learning. Create a designated study area, whether it’s in your home office, at your kitchen table or the desk in your bedroom.
Make sure it’s organised and free from clutter; a messy study area is going to end up distracting you. And try to pick a time that’s as quiet as possible; living with family or flatmates, there’s bound to be times where everyone’s busy. Aim for when you’re less likely to be disturbed. Also, we’d recommend avoiding late-night study sessions in front of the screen – the glare from the computer monitors is only going to keep you awake at night.
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