Three weeks can seem like an awfully long time.
And if you’re stuck at home in self-isolation or lockdown, then three weeks is definitely a long time. It will also seem like time wasted if you come out the other side with no discernible life lesson or skill to show for the time you spent doing “stuff”. So, why not break up the movie and TV series marathons by acquiring a new skill?
1. Learn how to Google
You think you know how to search for things on the internet but let me tell you the truth: you don’t. At least, that’s the truth if you haven’t taken Google’s Power Searching Course or something similar elsewhere.
Learn how to make site-specific searches, search for pictures or photos with specific content, find literal phrases, and use clever keywords to amplify or condense your results. Not only is all of this valuable for when you’re trying to find that cat gif you saw months ago, or that recipe posted on that website that time, but it could even make you more valuable to have around the workplace.
If you’re done with googling, then take a look at Google’s Digital Garage; a series of online courses on Data and Technology, Digital Marketing, and Career Development, ranging in difficulty and length from one hour to 20+ hours.
2. Master the art of keepy ups
Since you’ve stocked up on toilet paper, you may as well put the excess rolls to good use while they wait to be flushed. And the added bonus of taking up Indi Cowie’s #StayAtHomeChallenge is that you’re unlikely to break a window when you inevitably mess up.
If football isn’t quite your thing, well, toilet paper also makes for good juggling balls… apparently. (Or at least this guy makes it look easy.) For a tutorial on how to juggle three balls at once, click here.
3. Learn how to do CPR and general first aid
Everybody should know CPR. Statistically speaking, you’re more likely to perform CPR or some kind of first aid on someone you love than on a stranger. And though two weeks practicing CPR or First Aid training at home will by no means certify you, it will stand you in good stead if the moment arises. See this video for first aid tips, or click here for CPR 101.
At the very least, check out this video of 10 First Aid Mistakes people typically make, so you don’t do the same.
4. Learn how to shuffle cards
Everyone likes a good game of cards but nobody likes to shuffle. That is until they know how to shuffle, and then they forget about the game altogether and just keep on shuffling…
Improve your shuffling chops and you could move into the world of cardistry, a burgeoning field that, thanks to Youtube, is growing rapidly. Some beginner videos have ticked over one million views and they just keep going. And now there is also an annual Cardistry-Con where card artists gather to show off and teach others.
The best part about this skill is that you can practice from the comfort of your own sofa. If nothing else, you can learn how to throw cards like Gambit, but then you’ll have to pick them up.
5. Learn how to pick a lock
This might not be the end of the world scenario you had playing out in your head, but it has made some people think of skills necessary during an apocalypse. One of these is obviously how to pick a lock, because we all know that things of necessity are always stored behind locked doors.
For some inspiration, check out the Lock Picking Lawyer. Otherwise, start with the basics here. All you need is a lock and a paperclip.
6. Learn how to tie basic knots
When I was a kid, my dad used to ask me to help out with things around the house. He would also ask me to help tie things down on the trailer before heading off to the local tip. However, trust him to tell me to do something without teaching me first. So, I had to learn on my own time and, surprisingly, it’s been quite handy later on in life; having done some rock climbing, a bit of boating, and summer camps hanging out with kids. For an animated step by step guide on a whole range of knots, from decorative to search and rescue, check website out this website.
If perhaps your idea of ropes and knots isn’t so much focused on the outdoors but more along the aesthetic front, try your hand at shibari, the first bondage tie anybody should learn.
7. How To Meditate
If you’re going to be stuck at home, you might as well learn how to meditate. Because if you can’t put up with yourself for two weeks straight, just imagine how friends and family are beginning to feel.
And no, meditation doesn’t have to be a spiritual thing with incantations and incense. For those of you not inclined to that path, jump over to Sam Harris’ blog for a quick rundown of his experiences and ways to meditate.
Otherwise, there are plenty of meditation apps out there to help you concentrate on something or nothing, and others that provide great guidance if you’re a beginner.
8. Learn how (not) to break up with someone
Breaking up with someone is a crucial life skill that nobody tells you about. And then when they do, their advice usually sucks.
My advice? Just like a band-aid — do it quick, get it over and done with, give no explanation, then run away and ghost the person for the rest of their lives*. But experts have had a say. So, depending on how you want the relationship to end, follow their advice. You’ve got this.
*I’m only kidding, please don’t listen to me.
9. Learn how to cook a signature dish
For a long time, I didn’t have a signature dish. I actually still don’t have a signature dish but, now that I’ve got two weeks rest at home, I’m thinking of kicking my favourite food up a notch or two and transforming it into a centre-of-the-table showstopper.
There are four simple steps to follow in order to take your favourite food or meal to the next level. The first is use ingredients you know. The second is to keep it simple. The third is to cook something you’ve already cooked before. And the fourth is to taste and take notes.
However, if your kitchen skills aren’t yet up to the necessary level for developing a signature dish, get down to the basics and learn how to cut vegetables like a chef.
10. Learn how to code
It’s like learning a language but with more problem solving and logic. And with so many free courses online, it’s a great way to pass the time while picking up a new skill and gaining insight into the processes that are behind pretty much everything in today’s technological world.
Don’t expect to come out on the other side as a programming genius, but you might just find a new hobby in developing games, making websites, and tinkering with the background of your old Myspace page.
11. Learn how to draw like a boss
Drawing is great, even if you truly suck. If you’re not trying to be an artist, then who cares how misshapen the nose is?! It’s abstract.
So yeah, like I said, drawing is great. Even a quick doodle can help to enhance your memory and your mindfulness. There are a tonne of online courses at Udemy to choose from if you actually want to get better while I, on the other hand, am happy with my misshapen, sometimes ugly, noses.
12. Become a master of calligraphy
Whatever happened to the time and effort you used to put into the headings in your school books? I remember kids ripping out pages because the heading wasn’t perfect.
Well, if you were one of those kids, just know that you can pick up the modern basics of calligraphy in just two hours. And from there, the limits are your own.
Like drawing, you don’t really need any special tools to begin. But depending on how immersed you get in the world of hand-lettering, there’s a range of tools and papers available to keep you exploring new styles and techniques. You might even come up with your own.
13. Learn how to make kick-ass paper aeroplanes
Because if your paper plane can’t make it this far, then you need to up your game. See also: origami.
14. Learn how to knit
As if knitting pouches for baby joeys and other marsupials isn’t a good enough reason to begin learning how to knit?! But seriously, this is an absolute classic, and it’s therapeutic AF.
15. Learn how to edit photos like the experts
Whether you’re a professional or a novice photographer, there are always ways to upskill your craft, even if you’re stuck inside. And one of those ways is understanding the editing process and also getting much much better at it. So, open up your laptop, whip out your old photos to practice with, and start honing your editing skills.
Alternatively, if you just want to have a play around before committing to Adobe Photoshop, there are many online photo editors that do the trick. Many of these, such as GIMP, will give you plenty to play and practice with.
16. Learn how to whistle properly
You don’t ever really think Oh gosh, gee whizz, I really wish I could whistle until you see someone do it so seamlessly; so perfect in its tone and pitch that it sounds like birdsong. And if nothing else, a good strong whistle will get the attention of whoever you need. (Just no wolf whistles please, we’ve had enough of them.)
17. Learn how to declutter your home
You would think that throwing things out would be easy. But then judging by the success Mari Kondo has had, you’d think not. But decluttering is more than just throwing out things you don’t need or want, it’s a lifestyle change that only succeeds if you put in the time and effort to make it succeed. And what better time is there than now?
18. Now here’s an important one: learn how to remove red wine stains
Okay, this skill shouldn’t take you two weeks to learn, but it’s definitely one you can perfect over two weeks being stuck at home. It is also guaranteed to win you the heart of whoever it is that you have saved from a disastrous red-wine incident. (Or save you from making the stain ten times worse like my old housemate, when he thought Himalayan black salt would soak up the wine.)
Quick rundown of what to do for red wine stains: Don’t scrub, don’t wait too long, don’t apply heat, and use a dry material to lift the stain. Whatever you do, don’t apply white wine as a cleaning agent. But just to make sure, here’s a video to walk you through the process.
For other types of stains, like lipstick on a collar or maple syrup on your pyjamas, this link should help you out.
19. Learn how to do basic self-defence
Once, I was at my sister’s football game when one of the fathers of a player struck up a conversation with me. He asked if I noticed anything about his nose. I didn’t. It looked perfectly fine. And that’s when he laid it on me. Do you know why my nose isn’t all mashed up and out of shape? Because I always hit the other guy first.
That was the first self-defence lesson I ever got, and it’s definitely not the best. And since you never know when you might just need to protect yourself, you should pick up some basic moves. If you want to get serious from home, check out the Global Martial Arts University.
20. And finally, improve your memory
If you’re the type of person who keeps forgetting important information, then maybe these two weeks could be used wisely by investing in yourself and your memory. It’s one of those things, like time, that you don’t miss until it’s gone.