With lockdown and schools shut for the foreseeable future, along with several jobs and businesses, myself, other students and various workers/business owners find ourselves with a lot of free time. So much free time that I’d say we have no idea what to do with it. So, before we all get bored and begin to go crazy, here are a few things we could do to try and mitigate the boredom and still manage to learn a new skill.
Learn an Instrument
This might sound a little cliche, but hear me out. Learning an instrument can have a positive effect on both development, and also help us learn something new. It relieves stress and improves your creativity. As a musician myself, I find playing instruments calming, and despite being introverted by nature, I find myself enjoying being able to show what I have learned over the day.
Teaching yourself an instrument is no easy task, and it certainly won’t be as easy as it sounds on paper. You won’t exactly be able to play Mozart on your first day playing, but it will help pass the time. There are plenty of sources available online- even YouTube can have some helpful tutorials- which can help you get started.
That’s what I did when I began to teach myself guitar and ukulele- having not touched the instrument since my first year of secondary school- which was four-ish years ago now- I can play a couple of tunes, which is a helpful party trick that I can pull out.
Don’t let not having an instrument stop you- there are plenty of online apps which can give you that opportunity- Garage Band for iOS devices, n-Track Studio for Android devices, or Magix Music Maker Jam for Windows. If you’d like to focus on a specific instrument, searching for that instrument on the app store should give you some good options as well.
A good way to start would be searching up the notes for whatever instrument. Chord progressions for any stringed instrument, scales/arpeggios for piano or drumming rhythms if you want to learn percussion. Even simple songs, like twinkle twinkle, might help. These might sound complicated to those who have never touched an instrument in their lives, but it is simpler than it sounds.
Learn a new skill
So you aren’t a musician. Or you don’t have an instrument. Following along the same lines, learning a new skill can be beneficial. What have you always wanted to do, but never had the time to? An example of this for me would be learning a new language. Like music, I’m not going to become fluent in Italian straight away, but this gap gives me some time to work on it.
And as per the internet, there are plenty of websites to do this with. Websites like Duolingo will teach the key aspects of languages through their app and website, and some of you who are younger might recognise the app from secondary school French. Now, it might have been a dull experience then, but there is no denying that it is a useful tool.
There is almost a website for anything you want to learn. CodeAcademy, for example, is a good website for learning how to code, something that I happen to have an interest in. And with the advancement of technology in the past decade, these kinds of skills are becoming more sought after. If your child has an interest in learning to code then take a look at Udemy’s Coding for Kids Courses.
Future Learn is a website where you can complete courses for any subject, ranging from long to short term. So here is a wide range of options for all interests. If you wanted to do a course in Scottish History, there is likely to be one there, or if you want to do one in Screenwriting, then there is one on there for that.
At the very least, it’ll look good on a CV, if you are looking for more things to fill it out with.
Improve existing skills
I guess this entry on the list is a little cheaty, but it is a thing you could do. If you are a musician, why not practise your instrument more? If you like to cook, why not push the boat out with your cookery? If you like to code, why not try implementing a new technique into your project? These are all things that are so simple but can provide us with enjoyment.
While I’m out of school, for example, I’m going to practise my ukulele more, because I pushed that to the back burner whilst I had exams to prepare for. While I would much rather sit my exams than practice my ukulele, one of the few positives of this whole situation is that I now have time to practice things I previously couldn’t.
And these small improvements can have a benefit in our jobs. Improving existing skills allows you to work more efficiently, provided that the skill in question is directly connected to your job. Programming for a programmer, for example. It might be a good time to mention that I took Higher Business this year, which might be why I’m a little knowledgeable on this.
If we stray away from my personal life, and back to relating it to all of you, it might prove useful in other ways outside of work. If I dare to take the example of mathematics – or maths, to be less formal- this could be used to assist any children you have. Crazy Games have fun maths games for all ages. If you like card games check out Solitaire Paradise.
Things to do during the impromptu holidays: relax. A bit paradoxical, but it is important. It is a general rule of life where if we get too stressed, we are likely to decrease our actual efficiency. Working all day to a high standard, or having a lot of things to do is stressful. Don’t get me wrong, stress can be beneficial, but only in small doses.
Now, I’m not saying ‘laze about on your arse all day to quote my mum directly. But, if you have been under a lot of stress lately, then take this time to relax. Do things you like, don’t stress yourself out. If you aren’t feeling up to doing something straight away, take a break. Your mental health and stress levels are more important than anything, a fact that I think we need to remember, especially during this day and age.
There are other things I could include in this. Try and spend time with family, use programs and apps like Microsoft teams, zoom, discord or skype to keep in contact. Play board games instead of watching tv all day, all valid options that you could do. There are often more options than we think about, intending to stick to things that we have done before.
But sometimes, branching out and trying new things, like learning a language, can be beneficial. Even writing a blog post, which I haven’t done since I was twelve on a sims website. I hope I deleted it because my writing skills were not as good back then. It can be a welcome change of pace. Try and relax during this break, spend time with family- because that is what is important. Don’t get stuck in a cycle, because there is always something else you can do. It’s a matter of perspective.
Caitlin is a student currently studying for a computer science degree at Dundee University, Scotland. In her spare time, she likes reading, writing, gaming, crafts and socialising.