Stop Drowning In Work – Improve Your Skills For Free
> Free online courses can make work easier for you
OK, so it’s been a really, really long day. And you’re only just barely getting through the grueling week.
You’re feeling exasperated with yourself.
At one point you were organized, but lately, everything had become a mess.
There feels like there is no longer order in the office.
For some reason, there doesn’t seem to be enough time, with this massive backlog of projects, including filing, emails, meetings, etc.
Now you are finding that you still have the same tasks on your list as you did at the beginning of the day.
So you end up working extra hours, spending all your energy on trying to solve the most complex problems with the highest competing priorities.
However, there seem to be too many people pulling you in too many directions.
Do you start on your emails in the morning, in hopes you can get them done before more start coming in?
Or do you focus on that project you need to get done by Friday?
You’ve already looked at that stupid project 3 times today and managed to get 3 different answers.
But when you looked at your inbox this morning, you ended up in an email storm that you didn’t come out of until nearly lunch.
Luckily, there is something you can do to help you with these feelings of overwhelm.
It’s all about getting back to basics and re-mastering the core skills of time management, project management and communication.
Get these skills back on track and you go from barely keeping your head above water to swimming like an Olympic athlete.
Benefits Of Improving Fundamental Work Skills
No matter what area or skill that you feel you may be lacking, there is a free course online to help you get up to speed.
And even ahead of the game.
Since we are all working in a fast paced environment, you’re going to need something that will help you stand out.
Just think, with some extra time spent on yourself you can improve:
- Attention to details
- Interpersonal skills
- Leadership skills
- Flexibility and adaptability
- Research and analytical skills
Think of it this way - improving and strengthening your business skills, particularly ones that are directly related to your job roles and responsibilities, will ultimately...
- Make harder tasks much easier
- Improve your chances for promotion
- Increase your marketability internally and externally
Sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t it?
Well, let's take a look at some of the courses out there. We’ll be focusing on three main core skills sets that all desk jockeys need to master:
1) Time management
2) Project management
3) Business communication
And unlike traditional courses or classes that may take an entire semester, these online courses can be completed in as short as a couple of hours or over several days or weeks. You set the pace.
Free Online Courses To Best Help You Succeed
It can be a little overwhelming when you first look online for free courses.
How do you know if they’re worth your time? Can it truly improve your skills?
And most importantly, are they legit?
Whether you are looking to up your production time, improve your projects skills, or excel at communication, we’ve got you covered - don’t sweat it.
Here are some of the tops sites for online courses:
Coursera: an online learning platform founded by two Stanford professors that offers courses, specializations, and degrees across a wide variety of subjects.
Kahn Academy: a non-profit educational organization with the goal of creating a set of online tools that help educate students. Using YouTube videos, supplementary practice exercises, and materials for educators.
edX: established by Harvard and MIT to offer online university-level courses in a wide range of disciplines, including both free and paid for classes. It was the pioneer of “Massive Open Online Course” (MOOC).
LinkedIn Learning: a business networking site that offers courses from beginner basics to advanced techniques, with online video tutorials taught by industry experts.
Canvas: offers online courses taught by educators, institutions, and technologists to build open educational resources and break down barriers to learning.
Udemy: an online learning platform that is aimed at professional adults. Unlike academic massive open online course programs which are driven by traditional collegiate coursework, Udemy uses content from online content creators and ordinary people that have expertise that they’d like to share.
Skillshare: an another online learning community for people who want to learn from educational videos which focus on interaction rather than lecturing, with the primary goal of learning by completing a project.
Alison: an e-learning provider which currently has over 11 million registered learners, 1.5 million graduates, and 1,000 courses available for free access.
And don’t forget YouTube - there’s a whole treasure trove of free learning goodness there.
We do realize that you may not have the free time to look through all of these and find the courses to best suit your needs.
So below are our 6 favorite free courses available to you.
They are all free and won’t cost you a dime. All of them will require you to register with your email and some may require a credit card as part of a free trial period.
If there’s a credit card required, just be sure to set a reminder for yourself to cancel the subscription/purchase before the free trial ends.
But, who knows, if the course is helpful and the other courses available on that site are really attractive, hit up your boss and/or HR and ask if they’d be willing to front the cheap cost of the online training. You could then get reimbursed for the purchase/subscription.
Free Online Courses For Time Management
“No man goes before his time - unless the boss leaves early.” - Groucho Marx
Isn’t it always the same? Just one more thing to finish. One more item to tick off the list.
How is one person supposed to get so much work done?
Especially since there are so many distractions around.
This is why time management is so important.
When you nail this process of planning and exercising control of time, you end up working smarter, not harder.
1) A Mini-Course On Time Management
Course Provider: Udemy
Length: 37 minutes
Rating: 4+ stars out of 5
This quick little diddy of a course will take you less than an hour.
That means even if you only have 10 minutes a day, you can still finish it during your work week.
This 11 lecture course, goes over 7 specific and easy to use steps that will not only increase your productivity but also help you find a few minutes for yourself.
2) Introduction To Time Management
Course Provider: Alison
Format: Interactive Slideshow
Length: 1-2 Hours
Rating: 3.7 stars out of 5
This is another one of those amazing shorter courses you can take.
This course is guaranteed boost your time management skills.
Within the 2 modules it offers, you will cover a variety of 12 topics including how to deal with procrastination and getting it done right away.
Upon completion of this course, you will feel comfortable with organization, prioritizing, and finishing in style.
Including a sweet certificate of completion - put that on your cubicle ego wall.
3) Time Management Fundamentals
Course Provider: LinkedIn
Format: Video and practice files
Length: 2h 53m + work time
Rating: #2 on LinkedIn website
This course is slightly longer, however it is definitely worth the time.
The instructor, Dave Crenshaw, is an author and keynote speaker and is a master of building productive leaders.
During this course, you will learn the theories behind managing your time and learn to put those theories to use.
This course is broken down into 10 models ensuring you’ve got everything covered from your homelife down to email time efficiency.
Quick side note, LinkedIn only has a free month trial, however, this course is definitely worth the trial!
Free Online Courses For Project Management
“Any project can be estimated accurately (once it's completed).” - Unknown
Project management is that thankless task that makes everyone hide under their desks. Tons of work and not much reward.
No one wants to be in charge of projects. But, we all end up having to manage projects whether we want to or not. It’s unavoidable.
The frustration is that there are way too many variables to manage - multiple stakeholders, several decision makers, numerous sub-tasks, overlapping milestones, cross-functional conflicts, etc.
It’s hard enough these days to get an email reply from one person, how in the world could you be expected to get a whole group moving in the same direction?
It’s like trying to herd cats.
VIDEO: EDS, an HP Company 'Cat Herders'
Okay, okay. So maybe it’s not as bad as herding cats.
As pawsitively clawsome as they are, they are definitely dangerous creatures to herd. Meow that fur sure (okay, we’re done with the cat puns now).
At least you and your co-workers have the ability to learn things, unlike our furry feline friends.
And with a few courses from one of the amazing websites we’ve got outlined below for you, you’ll be a master project managing people herder in no time.
1) Diploma In Project Management
Course Provider: Alison
Format: Interactive Slideshow & Video
Length: 10-15 Hours
Rating: 4.3 stars out of 5
This is THE course for project management.
No matter where you Google, this course comes up as #1.
It’s got everything you could want and more.
With extensive overviews into the methodology behind the project lifestyle, you will dive deep into the analysis, planning, design, and evaluations.
But don’t let all those words scare you, because Alison has created this course as a foundation for beginners.
It's broken into 2 major modules and a 3rd for assessment.
Each of the first two modules has 1 topic which teaches and informs, and each of those is followed by a case study.
This ensures that you can fully understand it in a real-life event.
This course includes topics in the tools, methods, and life cycle section like self-development, planning, analysis, design, and implementation.
And then goes more in-depth in module 2 by breaking down project life cycles into the same sections.
This diploma will take you about 10-15 hours to complete, but don’t fret.
We’ve outlined below how to fit these courses into your busy schedule just below.
2) Introduction To Project Management Principles and Practices Specialization
Course Provider: Coursera
Length: Approx. 2 Months at 5 hours a week
Rating: 4.7 stars out of 5
A close second in project management is this amazing course. It’s more in-depth and will take longer than the other courses, but the payback is immense.
The team at Coursera has partnered with Margaret Meloni, MBA, to get all your management ducks in a row.
By being broken into 4 small courses, you will not feel overwhelmed, and are guaranteed to retain what you are learning.
You’ll learn how to allocate project resources, build a work breakdown schedule, create a project budget, define a project’s scope, identify manage risks, and write a project plan.
The best part of this program is, it actually leads directly into the Applied Project Management Certification course, which is a highly sought after certification in the employment industry.
3) Introduction To Project Management
Course Provider: edX
Length: 6 weeks
Rating: #1 in project management for edX
This is a great fast and sweet course if you don’t have too much time.
Only being 6 weeks long, you only need about 30-minutes a day.
This course will set you on the right path for not only work but also home project management.
It is laid out in clear, step-by-step directions that are foolproof and easy to follow.
This course includes in-depth knowledge provided on the core concepts of management, communication, and understanding of why today’s projects are more complex.
You’ll be able to not only apply the core skills you learn but also teach them to your co-workers with confidence.
Free Online Courses For Business Communication
“Don't knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while.” - Kin Hubbard
Communication, communication, communication.
There is nothing more important than communication.
It is important for you to communicate clearly to the people you work for and work with.
As they say, do not assume you know what someone wants you to do, as all you are doing is making an ASS-of-U-and-ME.
Not only can you foster good working relationships with communication, but you can also excel in your work environment.
1) Diploma in Business Communication Skills
Course Provider: Alison
Length: 10-15 hours
Rating: 3.8 stars out of 5
As we mentioned above, the core tool for career development is communication.
With good communication, you can rule the world.
Or at least the office.
This course is a 10-15 hour power certificate in all the tools you need to master the English business language.
By being broken down into 4 major sections, it allows you to set easier schedules to work out a time to get your modules done.
You will cover the fundamentals of business writing, managing successful team meetings, developing effective business presentations, and cross-culture business communication.
2) Business Communications
Course Provider: edX
Length: 6-7 Weeks
Rating: #2 in project management for edX
This is another one of those beautiful short courses that you can get through in just under 2 months, by only doing about 30-minutes a day!
You can give an edge to all your business communication skills with this program.
Including writing, presenting, and interpersonal communication.
Each of these sections are broken down, even more, to show you how to build sound and logical information for anything that may be thrown at you.
A cool thing about this course is, if you end up really liking it, it actually counts towards your Business Fundamentals MicroMasters program as well.
3) Communication in the 21st Century Workplace
Course Provider: Coursera
Length: 6 hours
Rating: 4.1 stars out of 5
Woo-hoo good thing we have another 82 years left in this century to apply this too!
Well, it may change quicker than we think, however, for now, this is a great course.
And it only takes about 6 hours to complete.
In no time you’ll be the master of emails, conference calls, and one on one conversations.
With your understanding of the benefits of effective communication, you may even be able to teach the managers a thing or two.
The nice thing about this course is it breaks it down into weeks for you. So you don’t have to fret too much about figuring out the whole course.
Week 1 only takes 2 hours, and the next 3 weeks only take an hour each.
Each week going further up the corporate ladder, and how to properly communicate with each.
Tips And Ideas For Scheduling Study Time
Once you’ve chosen a course, the next step is to figure out when you can carve out some time during the day to get schooled.
Now you may be asking yourself, when and how do I fit this in?
When is it a good time to study?
What is the best study method?
Don’t you worry your pretty little face, we have you covered there too.
Believe it or not, many people work and study at the same time.
Especially with rising student loans and rental prices.
These people are what we like to call magicians.
Well, not actually. But it may seem like it at first.
Luckily the group over at asapScience has laid out a short video giving you all the best tips.
VIDEO: The 9 BEST Scientific Study Tips
> 30-minute study sessions are key
> Use cue cards whenever you can
> Learn as if you have to teach this to someone else
Scheduled Short Study Sessions
You’ve heard the old saying about having the memory of a goldfish?
Well, that’s not too far off for all of us.
This is why scheduling short study sessions in the best thing you could do for yourself.
And luckily, the courses are all broken into smaller sections because the educators already know this.
Try by following a few of these steps:
- Find a quiet room.
- Shut off or silence your phone
- Do not listen to music
- Study for 25 minutes, then get up and walk around for 5 minutes.
- Get fresh air if you can
- Keep notes on cue cards
- Make sure you can explain what you are learning to someone
Stay Focused On The Prize
Keep your end goal in mind.
It may seem overwhelming at first but concentrate on that certificate.
You know this will make your life easier in the end, and therefore a little bit of struggle is worth it.
Every time you find yourself losing hope, write down in 1 or 2 simple sentences why you are doing this.
Paste that on your cubicle cabinet so you see it every day.
Maximize Every Minute
We understand there is nothing better than lounging and vegging.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are constantly calling our names to scroll aimlessly at nothing.
However, if you take the next couple of months and use that time to study, you’ll be finished in no time at all.
Use Your Smartphone For Studying
Okay, we said to turn off or put your smartphone on silent earlier, but in this case, it can be a useful tool for taking coursework.
Most schools now have apps, which means you can quite literally take your course anywhere.
Whether you commute, go for runs, or like listening to something during lunch, you can pre-download your lessons and listen to them while doing something else.
Chose 1 Study Day For Your Exam
If you have a test, take one day, or even half a day, dedicated to just studying. It will be worth it in the end.
This may mean that your significant other or your parents may need to help with the kids.
Or you may need to sacrifice some other activities to make room for this.
It is worth it in the end!
Learn On Company Time
Most businesses will be impressed that you are taking the initiative to go ahead and further your education.
In some cases, certain jobs will even work with your schedule to help you plan some extra study time.
If the course directly benefits their company, there are more apt to allow you to do it during official business hours.
Check in with your boss and/or HR beforehand.
Do It During Breaks At Work
If you’re not able to learn on company time, don’t fret because you can still sneak school in at the office.
That’s right, it’s a double whammy.
A lot of the courses we went through above actually only require around 3 hours a week.
Broken down into a 5 day work week, that’s only 20 minutes a day.
Social media definitely gets more attention than that in an average day.
So why not lock yourself out of Facebook on your breaks and lunchtime, and get a little schooling done.
The best part about this is, you can apply something you’ve learned right away.
In all three categories actually.
- You’re making time for your schooling.
- You’re managing your “school” project.
- And you can communicate this to your co-workers so they know not to bug you.
It will be challenging to work and study.
It’s Time To Get Ahead
Hey, we know what you’re going through and what you’re thinking.
It’s hard enough just trying to keep up with what’s on your plate now. And, asking you to do more work and take courses during your work day seems utterly ridiculous and impossible.
You barely have any free time and what little you do have, you’d rather spend decompressing from the stresses of work.
We get it.
But, you’ve gotta get outta the vicious cycle of not being able to keep up with your workload.
Don’t think of taking online classes as more work. Reframe it as strength training for your business mind.
In fact, you’re training your mind you to give you more free time.
With a bit of commitment and focus, you can hone the the core fundamental skills of time management, project management and business communications.
And in doing so, you can go from barely keeping your head above water to swimming laps like Michael Phelps.
But, it all starts with the first step of taking just one course and building up from there.
So, sign up for one course, put on your arm floaties, let your worries drift away and have a splashtastic time learning with these courses.