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Choose education over entertainment

What’s possible for you if you do?
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We’re hearing lately that many people feel like they’re being pulled in all directions; that they just don’t have the time (or energy) to take on anything new. We get it. People are working longer hours. Parents are juggling remote learning on top of their regular commitments. And let’s face it: lockdown fatigue could push even the toughest character towards the sanctuary of Netflix. (Does anyone else shudder at the thought of a pandemic without streaming? How would we have coped?!)

It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that global content consumption doubled in 2020. The ‘old normal’ was just over three hours a day, but a study from September last year found that we’re now spending, on average, six hours and 59 minutes ingesting content – browsing social media, playing games, reading online news articles, watching TV and streaming services, or listening to music and podcasts.

Now, we’re not the device police here. No doubt a hefty chunk of the hours is spent partaking in interesting, engaging and productive activities. That said, we’re also realists, who estimate that a lot of time is spent mindlessly scrolling/watching/playing. Which is a scary thought, when you think about all the other things we could be doing. Part of great success lies in consciously choosing what to do with the precious minutes we’re given each day. We often tell ourselves ‘I don’t have time to do x, y and z’, but is that really an accurate depiction of events? In many cases, it’s not that we’re time poor – it’s just that we need to stop doing certain activities to create space for something else – ideally something better that will make us feel great, make us more effective at our jobs, or provide us with a purpose outside work and family responsibilities.

One silver lining of COVID restrictions is the creation of space in our schedules. (Bear with us here …) We’re not out socialising with friends. We’re not travelling for (or even commuting to) work. Dinners out? Forget it. Trips to the art gallery and theatre? Not a chance. This thing is stretching on and on, so we might as well turn it into a positive experience by learning something new.

Many of us are already stepping up to the challenge. Massive open online classes (MOOCs), for example, have surged in popularity over the past 18 months. Enrolments at one learning platform, Coursera, were 644 per cent higher from mid-March to mid-April last year than at the same time in 2019, growing from 1.6 million to 10.3 million. Other online education providers are seeing similar uptake as people look for something productive to do; particularly during lockdowns.

Given that so many of us are stuck at home, there has never been a better time to ask yourself:

  • What’s the study you’ve always wanted to do?
  • What’s the skill you’ve always wanted to learn?
  • What's the hobby you’ve dreamed of taking up?
  • What could you achieve if you found a few hours each week to invest in your own growth?

There are so many educational resources out there to help you expand your professional skillset. Platforms like Coursera, FutureLearn and Open Universities are a good place to start; LinkedIn Learning also has some fantastic course options.

But not everything has to be career focused. You could release your inner ballerina with classes led by The Australian Ballet. You could take a virtual tour of Ancient Rome. Instead of watching Netflix, you could listen to some of the world’s most inspiring and forward-thinking minds share their ideas on TED Talks. Or you could learn a new language; hone your drawing or painting skills; take up the ukulele; connect with new people through a virtual book club, entrepreneur hub or networking group; research mindfulness techniques; unlock strategies for happiness with Yale’s ‘The science of well-being’. The opportunities are endless.

– The Coach Place Global

Image by @cristina_gottardi

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