Staying Sharp in Quarantine

by Zach

Staying focused and motivated can be a tricky endeavor even in the best of conditions, so it stands to reason that something as crippling and stressful as a global pandemic can easily grind our productivity to a halt.

But that doesn’t have to be the case.

This year I set a resolution on January 3rd  (my first resolution fell apart completely on day two) that would, in theory, push myself to learn something new every day. The criteria for my resolution was fairly loose, (I didn’t need to learn multivariate calculus one day, then memorize the Talmud the next) I just needed to learn something new. Anything. The rules have fluctuated some since then, but the essence of my resolution has stayed the same.

Reading a dense nonfiction tome about Lyndon Johnson is an easy way (for me, because I’m a history nerd) to hit my daily quota, but I didn’t feel like I was being challenged day to day, which missed the point of my resolution. Once I maintained some consistency, I decided that I needed to go outside of my comfort zone and set challenges for myself. I started getting into web development; I learned some math; I read a lengthy article about giant mouse lemurs for some reason.

Like with anything challenging, mildly or otherwise, my motivation and willpower has stalled occasionally and there have been days where I just wanted to sit on the sofa and binge-watch Parks and Recreation reruns, but now it’s time for a little more consistency, and what better time to work on self-improvement than the beginning of our second month of quarantine?

If you’re bored or stressed and feel like learning something new, the websites below are some of the best out there for people who want to learn just about anything. They’ve certainly helped me stay focused and motivated this year.

khanacademy.org  – Outstanding website that teaches every level of math (from counting all the way through calculus), computer science, history, and even teaches economics!

duolingo.com – Teach yourself a new language

ted.com  – Lectures by really, really smart people

codecademy.com  – Teach yourself coding through interactive lessons

cookingforengineers.com  – One of the best cooking blogs out there

edx.org  – Free university courses from Harvard, MIT, Berkeley and several more

mentalfloss.com – Articles meant to expose you to inspiring new information

investopedia.com – Learn all about the world of finance, from basic terminology to in depth analysis of various areas of investing.

careerbuilder.com – A job hunting site meant to help you find a career.

justinguitar.com – Hundreds of guitar tutorials from complete beginner to music theory

This list barely scratches the surface of what the internet has to offer because the internet is massive, intimidating, and occasionally terrifying, but it’s also one of the greatest resources for information we have available to us. The great thing about it is that if we’re wanting to learn something specific we can simply plug it into a search engine and see where that takes us, but if you’re like me and sometimes your desire to learn can be a little more abstract, this list is a good jumping off point.

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