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How to Upskill in Your Downtime

29 November 2022

Most people have more free time than they think. Sure, work can be exhausting and all you want to do at the end of a long day is crash out on the sofa - don't worry this time-strategy guide will ensure you get plenty of rest and relaxation so you are recharged and ready to take on those extra challenges.

Assess Your Situation

If you want to take on something new, either to better your career prospects, change your career entirely or take on a new hobby then the best place to start is by looking at your current routine to establish whether or not you have room to realistically take on new challenges.

Most people do have more downtime than they think. That extra 30 minutes lie in in the morning, the morning commute, lunch breaks, and even time spent cleaning could be put towards learning a new skill.

Of course, there are always the evenings, which are hard for many people to give up. To prevent burnout, try not to sacrifice more than 1 hour of your evening time to study, especially if you are working full time with kids. Rest is important too!

Make Weekends Work

It is easy to lean too heavily on the weekend to get all your extracurricular stuff done. The only problem with that is, that you never get a day off and burnout quickly follows!

Try to get as much of your stuff done during the week, so you can put your feet up and enjoy yourself a little at the weekend. It is important to try and maintain as much social life as possible when you decide to work and study.

Of course, there will be times when the odd weekend may have to be sacrificed - ahead of a big exam or deadline for a large assignment - but try to make this the exception rather than the rule.

Use Audiobooks

Audiobooks are an excellent way to learn on the go. There are myriad audio options for learners, across a vast array of subjects so hands-free learning is only an App away.

With audiobooks, you can use your morning commute to get a lot of your essential ‘reading’ done. Most audiobooks have bookmarking options so you can mark chapters to revisit later or highlight part of the book for later notetaking.

Listen to audiobooks on your subject during your morning commute, or better yet while you are doing mindless chores!

Depending on how far you have to go, or how much cleaning you have to do, that could be up to 1 hour or more a day of learning your new subject.  When it comes to application and demonstration of your new knowledge you will be quicker and more confident in your work, plus your home will be sparking clean with no extra time spent!

Learning on Your Lunchbreak

A popular and effective strategy is to use your lunch breaks for study. However, most do not use this time to its maximum effect.

Before you start your lunchtime study session. Spend 10 minutes in the morning before you start work planning out exactly what you want to learn during that hour and what needs to be achieved.

A lot of people waste time ‘learning in the wrong direction’. Thanks, to the internet, learning resources are vast and it is easy to be led down a Rabbit hole only to realise your lunchtime has passed and nothing has been achieved at all.

Eat while you work to maximise time spent during your lunch break, and try to reserve 10 or 15 minutes to give your mind a rest. Quiet meditation or even 10 minutes of scrolling through social media will give your brain a break.

Sign Up for Online Courses

If your job won't allow you the flexibility to attend any in-person classes, or your personal life needs a lot of flexibility, then online courses are a fantastic option.

Online courses are student-led, so a lot of self-discipline is required. However, instead of learning 100% by yourself for your own satisfaction, online courses offer the best of both worlds. You are free to learn as and when you want, but there is a human assessor at the end of each module who is expecting a deadline to be met and for the quality of work to be high.

If you work best under a little pressure, a formal online course is a great option that gives you an accredited qualification at the end of it.

Make TV your Teacher

We have endless options when it comes to television, and nothing is more tempting than to crash out on the sofa after a long day at work.

Don't feel like sitting up and reading all evening? Go ahead, take to the sofa, but put on a documentary about your subject, or a lecture series on Youtube. That way you can learn while you relax, and the subject is presented in a more entertaining and interesting way than traditional methods.

Be sure to only watch and consume content from people who are respected in your chosen field. There is a lot of fake news and fake facts out there, but the good news is that there are plenty of lectures, podcasts and documentaries that are endorsed by leading universities and colleges.

Just because you work full-time does not mean that you need to stop learning new things and advancing. The trick is to have a good time management strategy and find ways throughout your workday to sneak in a little learning.

The occasional weekend may have to be sacrificed for especially busy periods, but you must not forget to prioritise rest. Burnout is good for no one, and the quality of your work will suffer for it.

Instead, find ways to use your free time or leisure time to keep learning toward your goals.