With many of us now spending more and more time at home, there are lots of ways in which we can be productive. To-do lists, workout videos, cleaning and cooking are all practical, necessary tasks we complete at home, but also a way of making us feel more accomplished and productive. Well, they do say tidy desk, tidy mind!
With the inordinate amount of time ahead of us (and the uncertainty of when we will come out of lockdown) a very welcome distraction and exciting project for a P.A. can be to learn a language. This may sound terrifying, but it has never been easier to sign up for monthly courses, watch online lessons, learn new vocabulary and test yourself. There are endless videos, websites and teaching material now only a few clicks away from google.
I myself have been learning Portuguese online, thanks to a spontaneous New Year’s resolution and mapping out a plan to do so. It has been SO much fun! The lessons (all of mine are easily accessible on YouTube), the grammar and the sense of accomplishment have made me feel a million times more productive (and therefore more happy) than a few months ago. I feel like I’m back at school again and have that exciting buzz you feel when you slowly start to understand a complex topic.
P.As have many valuable transferrable skills. Now we are no longer in the office, it can be hard to stimulate our minds to the extent we once did in the office, surrounded by colleagues. But learning a language can fill that stimulation outlet as well as improve all parts of brain health. In fact, learning a language can improve your thinking skills and strengthen your brain’s natural ability to focus because of the parts of brain required to work as you learn. In using both the left and right side of the brain (a necessary phenomenon enabling the transfer of information) you are increasing brain co-ordination and simultaneously decreasing the risk of early cognitive decline. The process of language learning has an effect on the brain similar to the effect exercising has on the muscles. In making them move or stretch, you are making them stronger and improving their functions. Our brains are like plastic, and learning a second language molds it into different shapes. This neuroplasticity decreases as we get older (which is why it is easier for children to learn a language as their brain is more plastic). Having said that, it is never too late for anyone to start exercising their brain.
Multilingual individuals are also likely to be better at problem-solving and multi-tasking, two vital skills for being a great P.A. In learning another language, you are harnessing these skills as well as learning new ones. Speaking activities develop networking and social skills (important when meeting colleagues and external clients) and grammar can improve your knowledge of the nuts and bolts of your mother tongue (important for proof reading documents and sending articulate emails).
Ultimately, there is no better time to learn a language than now, both for professional and personal reasons. How impressed will your team be when you are able to come back to the office with another language under your belt? You never know, the next client you meet might speak the language you start to learn – your ability to speak their language will definitely be something they remember!