• Girls Who Fight

6 Personal Project Ideas to do at Home

For a lot of people, staying at home and being in lockdown has brought us a lot more time into our lives. While I do believe that this is a great time to take a needed rest from our busy lives, this is also a great opportunity to devout time to some goals we might have burning in the back of our mind for the past while. It's also a great time to learn new skills or become further experts in some you already practice. In this blog I will be giving a list of suggestions of how you can use your time during self-isolation to better yourself and come out again into the world better prepared for the next stage in your life, and hopefully with some new skills that you can be proud of!

1. Interests Mind Map and Career Research

This is a great project especially over the summer months while school is out. Deciding what direction to take in life is probably one of the most daunting decisions out there. But lucky for us right now we have time on our side! It's also never too early to start thinking about career options, especially since there are some that might require specific education and experience. But before thinking about a career, the best place to start is to lay down what you know about yourself.

Step 1: familiarize yourself with your strengths and weaknesses

What do you know you are good at? What do you most often get praised for? They don't have to be the obvious and specific skills like "painting" or "math", they can even be character attributes about yourself like "patient" or "disciplined". Think of as many as you can making a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Keep this handy for later!

Step 2: list your passions

What are your interests, and what do you love to do? If you don't have anything that comes to your head right away, try and think of it a little more simply. When was the last time you felt truly alive, joyful, or excited - what were you doing when you felt this way? Usually when we have these feelings they are little hints to what our true passion is.

Step 3: create your interest mind map

The interest/passion you come up with will be the centre of your map (you can make more than one map if you have multiple passions). From this centre let your imagination run, and branching off from it with other words, activities and skills that come off from it. Don't think too hard about this, just see what ideas your mind brings you to while thinking about your interests.

Step 4: research careers that match your mind map and strength/weakness list

Some careers/jobs might have already sprung into your mind as you made your mind map or as you looked over it after you finished. List out jobs that already come to mind, and research some of the ideas from your mind map to discover other careers you might not even have thought of yet. I did one of these for myself about a year ago and realized there was such thing as a dance therapist! Once you have your potential careers listed out, now is the time to dig deeper. How well does the job align with your strengths? Will you need to overcome some of your weaknesses to be successful? You can ask parents, or do research online to learn more about each job. Gemma has created an awesome Career Chart activity for this step in one of our last blogs which you can read about here. Hopefully in doing this exercise you will feel more clarity with the direction you want to take in your life.

2. Learn a New Language

If you're born and raised in Toronto, English might likely be your first language, and we are lucky that English is the second spoken language in many countries around the globe. However, I find this makes us a little lazy and less motivated to learn a new language. But there are so many benefits to speaking multiple languages. Being bilingual drastically increases your competitiveness in the job market, and might help you land your interview into your dream career! Learning a new language also helps in keeping your brain sharp and is obviously a huge benefit when traveling to other countries. Here are a few ways you can get started after you pick a language you want to learn.

- Download Duolingo on your phone, and go on it when you feel like scrolling through Instagram! The app is free and fun to use. It teaches you basic phrases, words and sentence structure in engaging short lessons. It provides practice for speaking, listening and writing all in one!

- Watch YouTube videos, listen to podcasts, or use websites. One I've used recently is Portuguese Lab, as I've been trying to get started on European Portguese. Most of the resources on this site are also free and another great place to start. Again the internet is full of resources for learning anything - and that doesn't exclude languages.

- Listen to music, or find a book in the language you are trying to learn. This is important to help immerse you in the language, and help you get more familiar how the language is spoken by native speakers. Another fun activity related to this would be to translate a song form the language you are learning into English.

- Find a friend that either speaks the language you are learning, or is learning like you are schedule phone calls where you can practice together! Try and do this as often as possible, as this will help keep your brain rolling, as well as keeping you more immersed as possible while being at home.

- Affordable online courses. If you're looking for more structure, and might need an extra push to keep you disciplined, doing an online course is a great option. There are some courses available on sites like Groupon, which have great discounts too! This is another great way to get going on learning the language if you can afford to.

3. Conquer Your Weaknesses

We will never be perfect, and there will always be somethings that are more of a struggle for us to succeed at. In school there are a lot of subjects we need to study, and we won't be great at all of them. But when we put in a little more effort and hard work, we can better prepare ourselves to ace those tests and get the grade we are striving for!

I'll share a personal story here for this one. When I was in my first year university, I had to take physics for the first time in my life, and although I was a math nerd and killed it in my calculus class, I struggled A LOT with physics. I just barely passed my first exam in the course, and knew I had a lot of catching up to do if I wanted to pass the course in the end, let alone get a grade I would be satisfied with. This is where my extra online learning kicked in! Every concept and formula which I didn't understand I watched countless videos on YouTube from Khan Academy and did as much extra practice on my own as I could. By the end of the semester, I moved my grade up over 20% from where I was at midterms where I was wavering at a fail.

Although there are lots of other resources available online, Khan Academy is a great place to look first and big bonus - it's free! Khan Academy provides lessons, practice and instructional videos on so many subjects from Kindergarten up to University levels, as well as test prep help for things like the MCAT and SAT. If there is a subject you know you could use some extra practice and help with before the start of the next school year or semester I would highly suggest using Khan Academy or any other online resource available.

Once you determine the area in which you need some extra practice, schedule in a specific amount of studying/practice time each day (add to your daily list mentioned in our last blog). This way you will stay disciplined and on track towards your learning goal!

4. Brush off the Dust on an Old Hobby

What has been hanging out in your closet, collecting dust for the last few years? A guitar? Paint brushes? Yarn? A camera? Whether it's a craft, a musical instrument, or in my case a pair of tap shoes, there is no better time than now to rekindle the flame of an old hobby!

A lot of the time our creative and fun activities become forgotten about when our lives get busy. Now that we have some time to spare, you can set some time aside in your day to doing something you love, which got left out of your regular routine.

Engaging in a creative activity helps keep our minds sharp, engaged and helps us focus on being productive when we need to. If you need some help in mastering the old skill or hobby again, there are plenty resources online. Youtube is a good place to look for tutorials if you need a refresher. Everything from baking, playing musical instruments, to knitting, you can learn how to do so many things for free from home!

5. Learn How to Cook your Favourite Foods

I don't think I need to provide any reason as to why we might want to do this :P If you already know how to make some of your favourite foods, try making something new you might not have tried yet. There are literally billions of recipes available online, I'm sure there is something out there you will come across that you would like to try! Or you could try making one of your family members favourite foods and surprise them :D My favourite thing to make when I have extra time is fresh homemade bread. In my opinion there is no smell more comforting than that of a loaf of bread baking in the oven. Take this a step further, and make yourself responsible for cooking for the whole family once a week, planning a new recipe each time!

6. Grow a Vegetable Garden

If you have a yard with some space to spare I think this is a great project to take on which benefits the whole family! Other than obviously providing you with delicious fresh produce to bring into the kitchen, growing your own food has awesome benefits like reducing your carbon footprint, and gives you a great excuse to get some fresh air and a bit of exercise. If you don't have a yard, there are also some herbs and other plants you can grow inside too.

This article from the Globe and Mail gives some basic advice on what would be easy to grow here in Toronto!

7. Lend your Parents a Hand

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” - Charles Dickens

If you are feeling super stumped on what project to take on next, or you're already fluent in 6 languages, one of the best things you can do is lend a hand to your family. They'll be super thankful for your help, and you'll feel happy making them happy! Whether your parents are working throughout this pandemic or not, chances are there are lots of tasks that can be done around the home which you can help out with. Maybe there is some spring cleaning that needs to be done? Maybe there is some clutter in the basement or garage that needs to be reorganized? Maybe along with starting a garden you can pull out all the scraggly weeds in the backyard?

Cleaning and tidying up around the house will not only make your parents happy, being in a clean and organized environment helps us feel happier and more focused. And who knows, maybe in the clutter you might come across objects that give you some inspiration for another personal project to take on.

Hopefully this list has inspired you to start a project of your own! If you have any other cool project ideas to do from home, share it in the comments :)

To read about some ways we can stay focused and productive on your projects during the day read some tips here.

Author: Danika Smith

Director of Operations,

Girls Who Fight Inc.

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