Bored at home? Here are Hive Life’s list of top 10 skills to learn while social distancing – and all without spending a single penny.

As COVID-19 sweeps the globe, it’s imperative that we do our part in reducing the spread of the virus by safely practising social distancing. But, what to do with all that free time spent at home? While some have turned to at-home workouts and baking, others to reading and well-overdue spring cleaning, millions have chosen to spend their newly-found alone time by wisely learning new skills – an endeavour that’s never been easier thanks to the wealth of online courses, webinars, video tutorials and guides that are now readily available on the Internet. 

This ability to diversify our skillsets is especially pertinent in today’s increasingly skills-based economy. According to the Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum, over one-third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations by 2020 will comprise of skills that are not yet considered crucial to jobs today. Employers are increasingly assessing potential hires based not on a person’s last job or title, but on whether that person has the ability to adapt and apply learned skills. For those who can accumulate the right skills, the world is their oyster. And so, with that in mind, we’ve compiled 10 invaluable skills to learn – free of charge – to truly make the most of this uncertain time. 

Professional Skills

#1 Pick Up A New Language

The ability to communicate in multiple languages is one of the most sought-after skills to learn in a globalised business environment. Not only does learning a new language open doors for working abroad, but it also enhances perspective, improves listening and memory skills, and sharpens the mind. Duolingo is a favourite among aspiring polyglots, offering thousands of audio-guided lessons and forums. The free app incorporates points, levels and leaderboards to keep you on your toes – if only for 15 minutes a day.

Insider’s Tip: Watching foreign films with subtitles (or alternatively, rewatching your favourite films dubbed) on Netflix is a great way to familiarise yourself with native speech patterns and put newly-learned vocabulary into context. 

#2 Learn to Code

Let us not forget about the languages powering our digital world: HTML, CSS, Python, JavaScript, Ruby and jQuery – to name a few. Even if you’re not looking to become a full-time web developer, having basic ‘code literacy’ goes a long way. In fact, it might be the one determining factor in whether your startup launches successfully or not.

Insider’s Tip: Get started with Codecademy, an unrivalled resource for beginners and professionals alike, with step-by-step bootcamps and an interactive user space that lets you see the output of your code in real-time. If you’re looking for something certified, we also did an exclusive interview with the founder of Le Wagon, a 9-week global coding bootcamp that’s been ranked #1 for three consecutive years. 

Skills to Learn Coding

#3 Master Adobe Photoshop

From Hollywood blockbusters to infographics, Internet memes to business cards, Adobe Photoshop is one of the most widely used software packages in the world – and one of the most versatile skills to learn. Its capacity to turn humdrum stock photos into mind-blowing masterpieces makes it an asset to any creative in any industry.

Insider’s Tip: Nobody knows Photoshop better than Adobe, so your first port of call for learning the ins-and-outs of photo manipulation should be Adobe’s tutorials. TUTS+ also provides a variety of courses (both free and paid) on typography, double exposure and more.

#4 Boost Your Photography Skills

Good-quality photos can make or break a brand. Whether you’re a food blogger or marketing executive, learning about exposure, colour theory, subject matter and composition can be the key to executing a visual strategy that boosts traffic and increases sales. On top of that, the practice of noticing beauty in the mundane can also make for a wonderfully therapeutic pastime. The best part is that you don’t even need a fancy camera – just your iPhone will suffice!

Insider’s Tip: Check out this free guide by LifeHacker for a truly comprehensive introduction to all things photography.

Photography Skills to Learn

#5 Brush Up On Microsoft Excel 

These days, you’ll be hard-pressed to find job requirements that don’t include the words, “proficient in Excel.” Spreadsheets are a staple of any business process, and learning how to harness its powerful functionalities to sift through vast swathes of data at the press of a button could make your life much easier.

Insider’s Tip: Kickstart your journey to Excel mastery with, Lynda or Excel Exposure.

Life Skills

#6 Hone Your Meditation Skills

Meditation is a broad practice that generally entails retraining one’s attention by focusing on moment-by-moment experiences. Meditation is to the mind what exercise is to the body and, as such, even a few minutes per day is scientifically proven to enhance every aspect of your life, whether that’s your emotional health and self-esteem, your productivity, your discipline, your relationships, your overall happiness and stress levels, or your physical wellbeing. Apps like Headspace, Calm and Insight Timer offer free trial periods and are filled with ‘guided meditation’ sessions to help get you started.

Insider’s Tip: If meditation apps aren’t quite for you, try integrating four cycles of the 4-7-8 breathing technique into your daily routine. This portable stress antidote involves inhaling quietly for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 7 seconds and exhaling forcefully for 8 seconds.

#7 Become A Speed Reader

If one of your resolutions this year was to read more books, then learning how to eliminate inefficiencies in your reading and control fine motor movements, while also enhancing retention, is the skill for you. Many of us still read in precisely the same way we were taught in primary school (i.e. by ‘sub-vocalising’ and fixating on line after line) and this wastes thousands of hours of your life – hardly helpful in today’s information-saturated world.

Insider’s Tip: Spreeder is a free online programme that trains you to read faster and comprehend more by harnessing the techniques of the world’s leading speed reading experts and record-holders.

Skills to Learn Speed reading

#8 Mend Your Own Clothes

The US alone sends about 21 billion pounds of textile waste to landfills every year, many of which have only been worn once. This onslaught of cheap, disposable ‘fast fashion’ garments has altered our relationship with clothing, with dire consequences for both the planet and our wallets. Learning how to repair a busted zipper or fallen hem – and subsequently extend the life of your clothes by one to two years – decreases their carbon footprint by around 24%.

Insider’s Tip: With over 170 uploads from beginner’s sewing to dressmaking tutorials, Aneka Truman’s Made to Sew YouTube channel has got you covered. Alternatively, follow this Instagram page to learn more about Sashiko, the fascinating Japanese art of visible mending.

#9 Improve Your Posture

Between Netflix marathons and hunching over laptops, we are quickly becoming a legion of Quasimodos. Lower back pain affects over 540 million people globally at any one time and is the prevailing cause of disability worldwide. Observing daily spinal exercises can bring improved balance, muscle strength and flexibility, as well as reduce fatigue.

Insider’s Tip: This guide by Healthline provides 12 exercises you can do before bed for immediate back pain relief. 

Skill to Learn Self Defence

#10 Learn Basic Self-Defense

Nothing feels more reassuring than the confidence that you are equipped to physically protect yourself at all times. While many would automatically associate the need for self-defence with women or children, this is undoubtedly one of the skills to learn if you have the time, helping to build self-discipline, dexterity and street awareness.

Insider’s Tip: Fortunately, it’s not necessary to undergo years of martial arts training to learn self-defence. The SEPS (Situation Effective Protection System) online course covers a breadth of scenarios, including sexual assault, robbery and how to use pepper spray effectively. There are also countless YouTube videos dedicated to this topic.


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