It’s been 2 months since the beginning of this unique period: a gift not only for learners, and motivated individuals who wish to make the best use of their time but also a boon for binge-watchers. Then there are people(I’m sure there are) who are striking a balance: a balance so perfect that they are enjoying this lockdown more than the rest. Even more than the binge-watchers. It requires no demystifying that you tend to enjoy (TV shows and movies) more if you have worked hard and pulled off something productive before that.

Through this article, I plan to bring about and highlight that balance, hence avoiding both: burnout and sheer wastage of time. Of course, you don’t have to burn midnight oil and be a workaholic, especially during these difficult times. By properly dividing our time(make a timetable, maybe?), we can really utilize this period. Here are 12 practical tips that might prove to be really helpful.

1. Cracking productivity

Employ the Pomodoro technique: basically working in bite-sized chunks of 25–30 minutes followed by standing up and walking around for 5 minutes, preferably in sunlight and fresh air, to recharge. Use a music list or a background sound on your speaker if it helps you focus.

Also, it is important to track time(keeping a time log can help). At the end of the day, we must analyze where we spent our time and how much of it was spent on doing something productive.

2. Learn something you love

Not everything that we learn needs to be for financial/career gain. Interests need to be BUILT: they quite often don’t come very naturally. You need to know the topic first(at least a basic understanding) to know whether you have an interest in that.

3. Network and Build your Presence

This crisis has shown us how important it is to network, now more than ever, because we will be dealing with people at the end of the day, and it will always be people who help us, in times as difficult as these. On the other hand, people might be requiring our help too, and what’s better than helping a friend in need. So networking is very important. Building your presence on LinkedIn is definitely a wonderful way of doing this.

4. Present yourself in a better way!

  • Update your CV.
  • Make a personal website. Not only will this be a beautiful way to describe yourself, but it will also help you gain attention, in the eyes of recruiters because sometimes, a resume is just not sufficient enough to describe you!
  • Update your social media and professional accounts. Make it easy for people to reach you. Also, make sure your professional accounts are up-to-date.

You may later not get time to do all this!

5. Communicate: Don’t let loneliness/boredom creep in

Overcommunicate with tutors, fellow learners, and friends! Though the emergence of tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams has made remote learning possible like never before, it’s important you put them to full use in lieu of in-person interaction. Switching ON the video while doing a Google Meet is also recommended, to increase this interaction.

Also, communicate with family members as much as possible(play games with them, maybe?), because you might not get as much time with them later on! (on the contrary, you’ll get a lot of time with your mobile and laptop later on)

6. Read books- (1)3 Reasons Why:

Warren Buffett, one of the world’s leading value investor is known for reading a minimum of five to six hours a day.

  • Do not leave your reading habit. Later on, you’ll have a problem concentrating when you’ll have to read (during exams for example!)
  • If there’s one thing that improves English communication the maximum-it’s reading books!
  • Reading is the best way of learning!

7. Online Courses? Too mainstream. Projects? Maybe not that mainstream.

Everyone’s doing online courses, but not everyone is doing projects. Doing projects helps you apply the skills you’ve developed through courses. Live projects are like internships and provide you with even better opportunities to apply your skills while learning. Moreover, taking part in competitions and hackathons is another awesome way of learning!

8. Tips for Online Courses

The best way of learning still remains by doing online courses. I myself have been binge-watching interesting courses lately. I’ve touched upon 4 fields here: Finance, Consulting, Data Science, and Machine Learning.

Finance: Yale Financial Markets(Coursera) MOOC

This course is delivered by Nobel Laureate and famous American Economist, Robert Schiller. Through this course, you will learn about using risk management and behavioral finance principles, and these help you to understand the real-world functioning of securities, insurance, and banking industries. This course provides in-depth knowledge and covers many important areas of finance and is hence unmatched.

Consulting—

These virtual experience programs are trending throughout the globe. I’ve done a couple of them myself, and believe me, it is the closest to a real internship than anything else I’ve found so far, maybe even more than live projects. Top companies like BCG, JP Morgan, and Deloitte are offering virtual experience programs through this wonderful platform.

This short video series (12 videos) is recommended if you want to delve deep into consulting and to understand what exactly consultants do. Victor Cheng is a famous personality in this field: a former McKinsey & Company management consultant, strategic planning consultant, public speaker, and author of several business books.

Data Science, Machine Learning and Deep Learning —

I may not have the best suggestions here, but the following courses are the ones that I found really comprehensive, insightful, and delivered in a near-perfect manner.

General Free Courses from Universities (some of these will give you a certificate upon completion):

9. Do something different!

When this gets over: ask yourself what is the DIFFERENT thing you’ve done in this period? Start a blog, a podcast, or something different! (write a journal maybe?) Think out of the box!

10. Read a Blog/Newsletter

11. Excel, Powerpoint skills

These are skills that will help you throughout, regardless of the field you work in, and prove to be quite useful. Youtube videos(short and simple ones) usually suffice. For instance, I found this Edureka video to be quite useful for Advanced Excel.

12. Exercise and Enjoy!

Striking a balance is more important than all the above points. Physical exercise is very important for maintaining this balance, as proven by numerous research works and studies. Given all this, it’s no brainer that binge-watching will also help relax. So, Netflix and chill will help 😀

No wonder I had other things in mind to write here: like learning another language or brush up on your skills with Duolingo, volunteering activities to help the society (UN List of Online Volunteering Opportunities), etc. but the above points, I feel, are the most significant ones that can really improve how we spend our time locked-down at our houses.

That’s all from my side.

Stay home. Stay safe. Until next time.

Feedback/suggestions welcome at ashwingoyal154@gmail.com

Connect with me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashwin-goyal1/

Links to related, wonderful articles:

  1. Forbes: 15 Ways to fight boredom and anxiety amidst Coronavirus
  2. Forbes: Make the most of quarantine
  3. HBR Ascend: How to be productive when working from home
  4. HBR Ascend: How to enjoy work
  5. Business Insider: 10 tips to learn new skills during the lockdown

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