If you're one of the many self-isolating at home without children, chances are you are ripping through your Netflix queue and your snack cupboard. And while you shouldn't feel any pressure to overachieve during this stressful time, some distractions, by way of online courses for self-improvement, might be welcome.
For many of us, the barrier to entry when it comes to pursuing self-improvement is a lack of time or energy. After a long week at work, who has the discipline to sit back down at the computer when friends suggest getting together at a park/beach/local restaurant? With those options off the table, it becomes a lot easier to channel your attention into more solitary pursuits.
Celeste Hughey, an LA-based TV Writer who has a lot of experience being creative in a vacuum, is quick to point out that "creativity is a practice — if you want to be productive, be gentle with yourself and set small, achievable goals." Keeping this sage advice in mind, peruse these online courses you can take on your own terms and at your own pace, so you can scale up or down depending on your mental state.
Personal Development Course Idea: Learn (Or Re-Learn) A Language
If travel is high on your list of priorities as soon as it becomes safe again to do so, it's a great idea to brush up on a language. Language-learning app Babbel offers a range of language courses, from between $7 to $13 a month with a time requirement of as little as 5 minutes a day. You can even specify why you're learning the language (work or travel?), for a course tailored to your goals. Coursera, a massive database of online courses sourced from international academic institutions, offers a variety of more in-depth language classes at a range of prices and experience levels. You can apply for financial aid and set a flexible schedule, but you'll need to be willing to make a larger time commitment overall, with the perk of a concrete certificate or resume-worthy listing upon completion.
Personal Development Course Idea: Build A Website
When better to pursue your website or side hustle, than when you're trapped at home? While tackling an entire business model may seem daunting right now, learning the necessary skills to build a basic-but-beautiful website is more manageable. Sites like WebsitebyTonight offers hand-held tutorials for novices looking to not only produce a great site, but also gain the skills necessary for critically thinking through site design. For anyone who will be looking for employment after the pandemic, this is a particularly valuable pursuit. "The skill of being able to spin up a simple yet professional website at any time will absolutely set you apart from other candidates," explains Jared Gold of WebsiteByTonight, who also offers a Squarespace online tutorial course for free on Youtube.
For coding courses, you can get your feet wet with Girls Who Code's weekly coding activity offered for free on their site, or take a more involved course through sites like Team Treehouse (who offer a free trial) or Code Academy, where you can learn anything from HTML & CSS to Python, Ruby and C++.
Personal Development Course Idea: Become A Chef
While pursuing Julie & Julia levels of culinary prowess may not be possible, what with access to groceries being limited, mastering a few recipes is doable. (Plus, you'll be able to share them with friends when hosting is allowed again.) The New York Times' Cooking Site is positively overflowing with inspiring recipes, ranging from basic to advanced, and even caters to those of us working with very restricted pantries.
For a more interactive experience, Italian restauranteur Massimo Bottura hosts a delightful series called Kitchen Quarantine on IGTV. He also has an episode of Masterclass, the gold standard of recreational online courses, which will set you back $180 for a two-class membership. You can also find courses hosted by the likes of interior designer Kelly Wearstler and actor Helen Mirren should you want to broaden your horizons even further.
Personal Development Course Idea: Hone Your Inner Artist
Creative outlets, like drawing or playing an instrument, can be incredibly soothing at times of heightened anxiety because they require us to be completely present. "Too many people believe you have to have talent in order to be an artist," explains Matt Fussell, artist and founder of Virtual Instructor. "Talent helps, but it is more about knowledge and practice." As such, his art courses, which span mixed media to acrylics and beyond, come in a variety of structures from digital critiques to video classes, to best support whatever process works best for you.
Udemy, a exhaustive online database of courses spanning everything from graphic design to finance, also offers music classes. Of course, you'll need access to an instrument — or a desire to really crush at karaoke — but if you do, it's a great time to learn that piece you've always wanted to play.
Whether you're up for a high-octane challenge or just want something to entertain yourself for 15 minutes, there's an entire world of tutorials out there. Even if you just browse YouTube in between trips to the snack cupboard, you'll come out of quarantine with a new skill.