WFH & Maintaining Balance: Part 5 – exploration, learning, education
This is the fifth post in a five-part series providing tips and recommendations to adjust to our ‘new normal’ of embracing the home office and keeping COVID-19 at bay. The stress and anxiety the circumstances of self-isolation, social-distancing, and lack of physical contact has caused need to be managed and easily undertaken for them to stick with each persons’ unique self/ daily routine.
I’m a firm believer in continuous learning, no matter what that is; unfortunately, life tends to get in the way of carving out time for things that don’t seem immediately useful or productive. When the pandemic hit and we started going into lockdown the first thing I prioritized (outside of exercise & food) was learning and exploring new things. As the anxiety of the pandemic, working from home, uncertainty, and monotony of 2020 continues apace until we’re all vaccinated, mixing things up inside your head can be truly useful. Although they are all related, I’ve made distinctions between the three areas of expanding your knowledge and tapping into your curiosity/ passions/ interests.
Tapping into your curiosity is exceedingly fun – looking at learning new things, finding out about things you weren’t aware of, and in general trying to fully appreciate your own natural tendency to explore (think children). As adults we tend to focus on things that are immediately useful or applicable, and rightfully so, but the complete absence of a worldwide normal routine can provide an opportunity to branch out and find out something or try something you can’t immediately use in the ‘real world’.
For the past 2 years I’ve been working on a book concept and conducting research far outside my field of marketing/advertising containing multiple areas which require detailed, reality-based information. As such I’ve been branching out into learning about The Celtic World, have signed up for a Master Herbalist Course, am learning Welsh, and have immersed myself in historical farming and crafts.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to start or have fun with that your lack of commute and socializing options could help replace? This winter is a great time to try it out or learn something new.
Of course, as part of your exploration, a journey may present itself you want to dig deeper on, informally, which is where this pandemic and the stage of our Internet path intersect pretty well -there are an abundance of resources available, both free and paid, which you access from the comfort of your home office or living room.
If you’d like to learn a language, there’s an app for that. Find out about ancient philosopher’s? A Great Course. Explore Earth? The Canadian Space Agency has a map of the planet. WWII buff? EIRE signs of WWII has you covered. Learn about musical theatre? Broadway is calling.
There is something for everyone online these days and perhaps you have a talent or skill that is career or hobby related you can share too. The beauty is that learning is life-long and the only timetable is your own.
As a professional who’s industry has been hit hard by COVID, I have also been taking this time to upskill and pursue certifications that compliment and can build on my current business, hopefully long-term. I’ve become certified in a majority of Google ad suite products and plan on achieving the full Google Ad Suite certification by year end. I’ve also become Amazon advertising & advertising for retailers certified.
I’ve also invested in Microsoft Excel certification training and a foundational cybersecurity certificate I’ll be working towards in 2021 among others. The pandemic has thrown everything for a loop and as much as I’m all for taking ‘me time’ there should be a balance where you’re investing in your career goals, whatever they may be. Take what time you can, ask your employer, research course or educational options and keep yourself ahead of the curve (no pun intended).
If you’re Canadian and not fully bilingual (myself included), now would be a great time to learn French. Interested in expanding your business analysis skills? Take a course on Intro to Economics. In a role where you deal with customers? Could learning ASL help enhance your understanding? Feel like expanding your writing tool kit? Master Classes may be a good choice. The options are out there and don’t have to be completely linear to a formal education plan to work for you and what you are trying to achieve.
The best part of all the above is that it will provide you with things to talk about on Zoom happy hours, social media and group chats while keeping your mind (and depending on what, your body) occupied and fresh, which is essential to keep from falling into a malaise.
Some inspiration to explore:
Exploration & Learning –
BeatbyBeat Teaching Drama Online (tons of free resources)
BTG Lesson Plans & Theatre Games (free pdfs)
Overheard at National Geographic (podcast series)
Exploring Earth: map of our planet (Canadian Space Agency)
Tales from the Green Valley (historic farming)
Car Maintenance (International Open Academy)
Masters of Greek Thought: Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle (Great Courses)
Knife Skills 101 by chrissy teigen
Margaret Atwood on creative writing (MasterClass)
Intro to Economics (Khan Academy)
Learn French (Duolingo)
Beginner ASL course (free)
Microsoft Excel Certification Bundle (StackSkills)
[as always, none of the links in the post are sponsored or affiliated]
I hope this short series provided some inspiration and/or food for thought to help maintain balance in this unprecedented time in our collective history. Wishing you and yours all the best for 2021 and good riddance to 2020!
Yours from home in lockdown Toronto, Ontario,