Spending Time During Circuit Breaker In Learning

Circuit breaker was over for Singapore on 1 June. Then Phase 1 completed on 18 June. Those who can work from home are encouraged to continue doing so.

I attended several webinars and courses during these few months. Not that my workload is less, but because there is so much more online offerings I am seeing during this period of time. Offers that may not be available if COVID is absent.

Plus, COVID made me reflect on my own personal and professional growth.

What have I learnt from these courses and webinars? I classify them into three areas.

1. Self Care. There are many online webinars on such topics during the past few months. I learnt about building a healthy immune system (supplements are not necessary, get Vitamin D from the natural source), how to lead your self and your team during times of crises (learn to be mindful, and practise empathy), and how to deal with uncertainty and stress (go through a daily routine even if you are job hunting, build up on your fitness and sleep well even if you are working from home).

It is no secret why self care webinars have mushroomed during this time. There is a need out there for people to sense-make. Speakers need to continue creating their value with an eye on the future. And it is far easier to attend webinars since what we can do is confined to the home.

Besides the actual content I picked up from the webinars, I learnt that speakers are always innovating and learning how to be at the forefront. Or even learning to work together. Some speakers band together to conduct webinars, to provide more value beyond what one person can do. That is the power of teamwork.

2. Self Development. Obviously a big topic related to COVID is the impact on economies and markets. Hence a number of webinars from financial institutions and traders on this topic. From topics like is it a good time to invest, to topics like learning about various investment strategies, there is a wide range of perspectives over where the markets and economies are heading.

Then there are webinars and courses that help the audience to position themselves for the future. I signed up for a course that showed the ropes on screening for stocks using predefined criteria and investment philosophy. I also attended one webinar where a professional recruiter was invited to share about positioning your LinkedIn profile to up the chance of job offers. Then there is this series of motivational talks by global speakers pieced together to help the audience identify personal attributes you need for success.

While these are free, some will offer you additional courses for a (small) fee. The content creators have to prove that they have added value to you via these free resources. Once they establish that, they have gained trust with you to propose other content or coaching to help advance your standing. This is a good strategy in selling. It’s not hard sell, but more of allowing you to feel the value.

3. Professional Development. The last category of courses I signed up for is tied to my work. Even though I have worked with students with autism before, it does not mean I have a good understanding of them. So I took up a free module offered by SUSS (Singapore University of Social Sciences) to learn more, as well as a series of webinars on autism issues.

I am also looking at honing my competencies. One area I have thought for a while is in communications. So I finally took the step to register for a graduate certificate in communication management with SMU (Singapore Management University). I took the plunge as I knew I can clear many of the modules during the circuit breaker period. With minimum commuting time (since lessons are online) I will have more energy to tackle this and my work at the same time.

Then there is this webinar I signed up where I get to learn engagement strategies for online sessions. Engaging audiences physically is very different from virtual sessions. I was intrigued by the profile of the audience for the session I was in – a mix of young and old, people who are very familiar with online tools and those who are new, but all united in a desire to learn and upkeep their abilities to connect and engage with people online.

I guess the point here is do not neglect developmental opportunities even when you have a job, or when things are looking okay for you. It is good to widen your perspective by attending webinars of your interest, since you may get to connect and network with like minded people as well. When we do our work, we get compensated for our effort. But when we show what we are more capable of, the chance for bigger responsibilities (and corresponding benefits) increases.

This is only one way of spending time. I know some who devote time to care for others, putting themselves in the frontline to help those in need. I also know that in low income countries signing up for developmental courses can be a luxurious use of time, when time could be put to use in meeting immediate needs. Time has different meanings and purposes for everyone.

We need to make good use of our time.

What will you do today to future proof yourself and be ready for possible disruptions? How do you spend your time during lockdown in your country such that you care for yourself, your family and still advance in your own growth?

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