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Are you looking to get a new job or increase your pay level at work? Learning new skills will help you to become more marketable and a smarter person overall. Read on for some tips to improve your skills in many different areas of your life.
Figure out how you’re going to make it work
If you’re not going back to college to get your education, there are a multitude of other ways to increase your skills and learn new things. Maybe you want to get a raise at work, or you want to move jobs. Perhaps you just want to become better at one of your hobbies. Whatever the reason, you want to work on becoming better and smarter. In order to achieve your goal, you’ll need two things: motivation and time.
As a parent, both of these items are often not easy to come by. Motivation, for me at least, is probably the easier item. Figuring out why I want to gain a new skill or become smarter is the first thing I’ll do. I then write that purpose down and keep it a note in case I lose sight of what I’m doing. I prefer to keep my notes digital (I use Google Keep), but having a notebook where you write this down works just as well. Make sure your motivation is strong because it’s going to help you figure out your time.
Time is not something you can easily generate. It’s going to force you to really get your priorities in order. Having a strong motivation for your goals will help, but you’ll still have to sacrifice somewhere. Where you’re really going to focus on finding time is what you’re doing with your free time while not parenting, and how you can work out with your spouse to perhaps get some extra free time.
How much time do you spend consuming any form of media - TV, social media, movies, computer games, etc.? You’re going to have to give up some of that time to spend on your learning endeavors. After a long day at work, or raising your kids, it’s so much easier to just sit and relax in the evenings. Forcing yourself to learn is often not easy to do. Remember what’s motivating you and stay disciplined.
Your spouse may be able to help you find a little extra time as well. There are a lot of different activities that they can do with the kids while you spend some time learning. Obviously, you’ll have to be on the same page as to how this will work for both of you, but it’s a great way to find some extra time.
Where to learn new skills
So you’ve figured out what you want to learn, and you’ve figured out when you’ll have time to do that learning. Where are you going to learn those new skills? There are so many options, and I’m only listing a few of them below. There are both paid and free options available, so depending on your needs, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth the price for you.
The amount of content available on YouTube is completely astounding. You can watch videos on just about anything you want here. You’ve probably spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours doing so yourself. I’ve learned to change my oil filter, how to repair appliances in the house, and even how to begin finishing a basement, all on YouTube. Technical skills, house skills, and so forth are all readily available.
Now, you’ve got to be careful when you turn YouTube on. It’s really easy to get into a video that doesn’t teach you any useful skills. It’s probably the number one reason that I don’t use YouTube for really learning new skills that I want to put to use in my career. It’s great for a video on how to complete a specific task, but using it for focused study is really hard.
The other big downside to YouTube is that video quality will vary greatly. There are a lot of professional videos on YouTube, but there are also a lot of shaky phone camera videos as well. YouTube videos on one topic you want to study may be very professionally done, but on another topic, really hard to follow. Since YouTube has no standards related to the video and content quality, you may not find a useful video.
Learning sites: Khan Academy, eDx, etc.
These sites fall into two categories: paid and unpaid. You can find all kinds of excellent free videos on these sites on specific subjects. IT, finance, math, science, languages, and so many other topics are covered in these courses. The courses will be focused, and generally of better quality than YouTube. These sites will have certain standards for what they expect in a video and it’s quality.
For the skill you’re learning, you may find that a paid course or website is better. I have a technical background, and I often find that if I want a really quality course or video on how to learn a new programming skill, I’ll have to go with a paid website, simply because the video content and quality is that much better.
Learning apps on your phone
Apps for your phone have come a long way. I’ve found that the best skills to learn with an app are ones that will involve some type of memorization. Languages are the primary skill I’ve used phone apps for, but there are a multitude of options - a lot of the learning sites have apps to watch the videos and consume the content on your phone as well.
Similar to YouTube, you’ve got to make sure you’re staying focused if you’re going down this path. It’s really easy to get distracted by an email or notification that will come in on your phone. Make sure to stay focused.
There are so many opportunities to improve your skills. While your kids need a lot of attention, there are many ways to both raise them, and improve yourself.