If you find yourself on a work hiatus or with extra time on your hands while sheltering in place, remember The Tale of Two Woodcutters. In a competition to see who could chop more wood in one day, Lumberjack John chopped wood steadily throughout the day. Meanwhile, Lumberjack Pete stopped chopping for 15 minutes each hour. When the tally was taken at the end of the day, much to John’s surprise, Lumberjack Pete’s stack towered above his. “How can this be,” John cried, “I hear you stop working every hour!” Lumberjack Pete replied, “Every time I stopped work, while you were still chopping, I was sharpening my axe.”
The window that you see opening on your calendar is that opportunity to sharpen your blade. Dr. Stephen R. Covey suggests a strategy around self-renewal that encompasses four aspects of life: physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual. What ways are you recharging yourself?
Regain your Physical Prowess
Are you counting steps and challenging your family to exceed their fitness goals? Are you sharing your hiking, biking, or running routes with apps like MapMyRun and MapMyRide? Connecting others with a competitive challenge can be motivating and make your solo workout more fun.
There are more classes available online now than ever. Maybe you’re tuning into streaming workouts on Daily Burn, catching a yoga class from your favorite YouTuber, or doing stretch and strength training on the fitness app and website Obe. Additionally, some local fitness studios and gyms have moved to live workouts using apps like ClassPass. The ClassPass website includes a library of over 2,000 pre-recorded workouts that you can access for free.
Remember that your physical well-being also includes dimensions other than exercise. Getting enough sleep, managing nutrition, and keeping stress at bay are key components to your health and vitality. Practicing mindfulness and other relaxation techniques through meditation apps such as Insight Timer and Calm can be a great option for achieving mental clarity and reducing stress.
Hone your Mind
Maybe this is the time to learn something new to increase your opportunities once the world finds its way back to a “new normal.” There are plenty of online learning platforms to accommodate novices and those who wish to dive deep into almost any topic.
For the career-minded, LinkedIn Learning offers a personalized learning experience taught by real-world professionals. Brush up on PowerPoint, polish your leadership skills, or learn Selenium in just 18 days.
Robert Harrington, a senior technical recruiter for Signature, believes that you can cherry-pick your own skill upgrades to get an edge when competing in the IT job market. “One thing that’s changing is that you don’t need the extensive body of knowledge to advance or gain specific IT skills. You can use tech boot camps or self-training to gain in-demand expertise and get a foot in the door.”
For those who wish to stay plugged in without necessarily tackling a dedicated course, podcasts are a great option. Podcasts offer stories, interviews by experts, and reflections from fresh voices who report on what’s happening in your industry.
“It is amazing how much we learn by osmosis,” Harrington says, “and there are so many podcasts out there, you can build a very customized library of content.”
Here’s a peek at Harrington’s podcast playlist:
TED Talks Daily
TED Talks (Technology)
HIRE Power Radio
Screaming in the Cloud
Artificial Intelligence with Lex Fridman
Learn a New (Programming) Language
You have a huge range of options when it comes to gaining technology skills. If you’re at the beginning of your career, or don’t know where to start, stick with some of the most-loved programs.
Python: Programming language ranking site PYPL has ranked Python number one, with a share of 30.61% in popularity worldwide as of April 2020. Python developers work on enterprise applications, data science, and artificial intelligence, and it’s touted as an opportunity-winner for those interested in working for startups.
Other top mainstream contenders high in popularity include PHP, Swift, Go, and Ruby.
Support Your Social and Emotional Needs
A great way to determine what might suit your goals is to plug into communities around your interests and chat with other professionals. Communities provide the bonus of helping to fill the emotional and social support components of your “sharpen the saw“ strategy.
MeetUp has even gone virtual, with everything from book clubs to networking groups, spiritual clubs, hobbyists, and adventurers turning to online video conferencing as their primary events during the COVID-19 advisory period.
Circling back to Steven Covey, a great place to begin your plan is with the end in mind. Assess all areas and decide what goal is most important to you now. Use the resources available so that you’ll look back on this time and appreciate how it strengthened you.
We believe the future belongs to innovators and problem-solvers. It’s our job to create connections that inspire success. That’s why we’ve spent 20+ years building strong relationships and bringing together top tech talent and forward-thinking companies. Signature Consultants joined forces with DISYS to offer a more diversified portfolio of services. Through our company's IT staffing, consulting, managed solutions and direct placement services, we deploy thousands of consultants each year to support client’s tech needs across the U.S. Signature Consultants is also parent company to Hunter Hollis. Learn more at sigconsult.com.