9 Ways To Make The Downtime Pay

9 Ways To Make The Downtime Pay


Lockdown might be lifting slightly, but most of us are going to be spending more time at home for a while longer. Because there’s only so much daytime television one man can take, we’ve pulled together our pick of the best online courses. This isn’t about enhancing your CV – these are classes that can add some structure to your week and give you a pick-me-up project to stave off any cabin fever. From cracking cryptic crosswords to mastering wine, here are nine ways to use your spare time wisely…

GO DEEP HERE: How To Academy

The How To Academy usually provides an impressive public programme of live events and courses in London, headed up by leading scientists, business theorists, Nobel Prize laureates, philosophers and authors. Right now, instead of these IRL events, the academy has gone online. You can sign on to pick up a useful skill, nurture a satisfying hobby or learn how to make broader positive changes to your life – we like the sound of ‘How To Solve A Cryptic Crossword’ with Times crossword-setter Tim Moorey, and Richard Dawkins on ‘The Meaning of Life’. Alternatively, ‘How To: One on One’ bookings can be made for individuals or groups of friends who want coaching in personal development and business skills, as well as hobbies.
Visit HowToAcademy.com


Building on its popular daily live baking tutorials on Instagram, Bread Ahead has launched full baking courses online. Designed for all skill levels, the comprehensive live sessions guide you through the step-by-step processes required to make the perfect bake. Individual workshops focus on doughnuts, sourdough and Italian baking – in which you learn to make ciabatta and focaccia. Participants bake alongside and can interact with Bread Ahead’s experts during the £25 class. Bakers are sent a list of ingredients one week before, so there’s plenty of time to get your hands on everything you need.
Visit BreadAhead.com

SEEK FULFILMENT HERE: The Idler Academy of Philosophy, Husbandry and Merriment

Since it was founded in the 90s, the Idler has been devoted to helping people lead more fulfilled lives. It does this by publishing a bi-monthly magazine, producing online courses and running live events. The Idler Academy, which began at a festival in 2010, is its educational offshoot, a school that offers myriad online courses in the classical liberal arts and practical skills. Philosophy, astronomy, calligraphy, music, English grammar, ukulele playing, public speaking, singing, drawing and self-defence are all covered. Upcoming classes we like the sound of include ‘Harmonica for Beginners’; ‘How To Cook Ghanaian Food’ with Zoe Adjonyoh of Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen; and ‘A History of London’, which will see historian and broadcaster Dr Matthew Green take his class on an historical joyride through 800 years of the capital, from the Middle Ages to the Blitz.
Visit Idler.co.uk

IMPROVE YOUR LOOK HERE: Central Saint Martins

The capital’s most famous art school offers more than 1,500 short courses to 20,000 students each year. Later this month, it’s hosting ‘Men’s Personal Styling’, a four-week online course looking at how personal image is an important way for men to market themselves in both business and leisure, improve their confidence and express their personality. Accessible to all levels, it is aimed at both pro stylists who want to focus on men’s styling and men looking to develop their own style. The course is run by Leanne Cloudsdale, a fashion industry professional with 15 years’ experience, who has worked for luxury brands including Margaret Howell, Folk and Orlebar Brown.
Visit Arts.ac.uk


Rated ‘outstanding’ in its last government inspection, City Lit offers 5,000 classes including photography, fashion and textiles, drawing and painting, print, graphic design, interior design and garden design. For now, all courses are being held online via Google Classroom. Whether you want to try something new, revisit a past passion or take your skills to the next level, you’ll find something in its vast range, which spans ‘Yoga for Beginners’ and ‘Ways into Creative Writing’ to ‘How to Build a Website in a Day’. For a limited time, new students can get 20% off their first online course using the code ‘CITYLIT20’.
Visit CityLit.ac.uk

MASTER A LANGUAGE HERE: King’s College Modern Language Centre

Online language courses on offer at King’s College run from those you half remember from school (German, French, Spanish) to those you might never even have heard spoken live before (Gujurati, Korean). Most are offered at every level from beginner to near native speaker, with each level taught in three parts and completed in five or ten-week blocks. If you’re not a complete beginner, you can take a test to work out which class level you should be in.
Visit KCL.ac.uk


When it comes to online classes, it doesn’t get much sleeker than the much-hyped Masterclass. Right now, if you’ve just finished The Last Dance, check out Steph Curry’s guide to shooting and scoring. One of the heirs to Michael Jordan’s crown, the Golden State Warrior has redefined 21st-century basketball with his supernatural ability to land three-pointers wherever, whenever. You only need a little bit of the magic to rub off in his 12-part guide. Looking for something a little different? Check out SLMan’s full Masterclass guide here.

Visit Masterclass.com


Seven years and 45m users later, there are few better places to learn to code online than Code Academy. The basic package is free of charge and includes plenty of interactive lessons and practice exercises (180 hours of content, to be precise). During the coronavirus pandemic, you can also try the ‘pro’ premium level free (normally £15.99 a month) which gets you access to 1,800 hours of content, peer support and step-by-step guidance. At either level, you can choose what you want to learn, whether that’s creating a website or analysing data. You’ll also get instant feedback on any code you submit, the chance to apply your learning with real-world projects, and tailor-made quizzes.
Visit CodeAcademy.com


If you’ve tried to learn guitar but lost patience with endless YouTube tutorials, this is the online course for you. Designed to cut down the chat and focus on the playing, it still covers all the basics – from how to hold the pick to different chord shortcuts. Beginners are welcome and there’s more than two-and-a-half hours of on-demand video content to work through. Bonus lessons allow students to play along with backing tracks and learn some advanced strumming patterns. Elsewhere on Udemy, look out for classes on iPhone photography, Photoshop training, mastering wine and baking bagels.
Visit Udemy.com


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