Making the Most of Quarantine by Learning New Skills

Learn new skills

Use your time wisely and turn lockdown into learning

By April Blake

There are plenty of reasons to be anxious in the year 2020 (and into 2021 as well) during this pandemic-lockdown-quarantine-social distancing phase of our collective lives. Many people are freaking out, and some are turning to self-care and comfort activities, while others are learning new skills and expanding their brains.

I’m engaging in a range of all three, depending on the week — or day or minute. But the one truth I know is that I have a little more free time on my hands, thanks to working from home. Removing commutes, lunch breaks, coworker chitchat, and even just getting dressed up for work offers me more time on my hands and greater mental capacity. Home is not a bad place to be, so instead of scrolling through Pinterest looking for directions on how to make macarons, I’ve decided to expand my work skills.

In a world where nothing is certain, your own knowledge is something you can count on.

This decision to improve myself came about when I was indulging in a little anxiety about having to ever go back to an office and wear hard pants. Many places are making remote the new norm, but many traditional, non-tech companies are saying “when,” not if, about returning to the office. Even if your goal isn’t to be able to stay in a work-from-home position, you probably want to earn more next year, right? Move into a more challenging role when it comes along, be promoted, or even start your own company? All of these scenarios involve learning things you didn’t know before. You know when the best time to learn new things is? When you’ve got a clearer mental outlook because you aren’t stuck in traffic for 1/12th of your day.

What should you learn?

Deciding what to learn is going to depend on what you want to do and what you need to learn to get there. Be honest with yourself and be ready to do some free thinking with no inhibitions. Do you desire a certain lifestyle? A new salary level, or simply an air of influence, perhaps? Do you need to learn accounting to keep proper books for your future company because you definitely lack that skill? Thinking critically about yourself isn’t criticizing yourself, so take some time to think creatively about yourself, your lifestyle, and how you want it to evolve. Maybe cracking open a beer at your desk at 3 p.m. is part of that lifestyle. Dream however you want about how you want to live. For most of us, living includes working.

The internet is chock full of ways to learn once you’ve narrowed down your needs. Richland Library offers access to classes to its cardholders, or you can purchase a subscription directly. Google has and is creating tons of programs, including project management and digital marketing certifications you can add to your resume. Do 15-minute increments each day on Duolingo to brush up on your elementary school Spanish language skills. You can learn other non-desk related skills too—my friend, who lives alone, taught herself to recreate her entire kitchen from plumbing to tiling and cabinet-making from resources on YouTube. Look at the plethora of ways that the world is at your fingertips. If you sometimes point your mouse to educational resources instead of Netflix, you might find yourself emerging from a strange year into a new version of yourself.