Illustration by Aamnah Arshad
Illustration by Aamnah Arshad

After a hectic school year, there’s nothing wrong with sleeping late and spending the day watching TV or playing video games. While taking a well-deserved break from studying is crucial, spending all the time doing nothing could later leave you wishing you had accomplished more during your vacation.

Summer vacation is the perfect time to have fun and prepare for the next academic year or the world outside the classroom, whether it’s about developing new skills or discovering something new in the town. Below, I have listed some of the important skills and ways to develop them.

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”

— Barack Obama

What is a skill?

According to Merriam-Webster, ‘skill is the capability to effectively use one’s knowledge and perform well, a learned power to do something competently, a developed aptitude or ability.’ In other words, skill is the ability or a talent to do a task within a specified time limit by utilising one’s time and energy.

Planning skill

As it is rightly said by Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Plans are nothing, planning is everything.”

You may have never thought planning as a skill but kids, planning is an ability that enables you to develop strategies and prioritise your time and tasks to achieve goals. Having or developing planning skill helps you create a roadmap to complete a task before attempting to begin it. The best way to incorporate this talent in your life is to keep a planner or journal with you. Write down your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly tasks and goals in it and prioritise them according to their deadlines and importance, and then accomplish them one by one. It helps you to stay focused and motivated towards your goals.

Although, summer vacation is about to end, yet there are a few weeks left for which you can still plan. For instance, plan something which you haven’t done yet; analyse the time left and the time needed for the activity you still want to do.

Organisational skill

How many times have you told yourself, ‘I need to be organised’ before failing to do so? It’s a common problem that we all face in life; poor organisation typically results in lower productivity and missed opportunities and can raise stress and procrastination levels.

Planning and organisation goes side by side. So after planning for something, you need to focus and organise yourself. Being organised involves keeping your workspace organised, meeting deadlines and working effectively. For instance, start by making your bed, which is the first step in organising your personal space — your room. Organise your clothing, shelves, and study table. Declutter and donate your old books, clothes and other stuff that isn’t used often, so that others can benefit.

Time management

Time management is defined as ‘utilising your time productively and efficiently putting all distractions aside’. But what about when you are working as productively as possible, and you still can’t get everything done? It is because time management is a combination of working productively and prioritising your time.

The secret to mastering time management skills is to prioritise and rank your everyday activities from urgent to important. Set priorities, determining what needs to be done before anything else. So for that, you need to characterise your daily routine tasks and duties into four categories: most important, least important, urgent, and less urgent.

Urgent tasks require your immediate attention and action while important tasks need more attention and you need to give them more time because failing to focus the importance could result in bad outcome.

In my opinion, scheduling timetable every night can make your day more productive and organised then not scheduling.

Communication

Communication is the information flow from one place to another. It is an integral part of everyday life. Communication can be done orally, through writing using written or digital materials, like books, magazines, websites or emails, through graphics by using logos, aps, charts, or graphs, or non-verbally using body language, gestures and the tone and pitch of voice.

The ability to utilise verbal and nonverbal communication effectively such as voice, tone, words, and body language on basis of situation, audience and time is called communication skills and those who know how effectively they can use this talent, literally conquer the world. You can enrol in online or summer crash courses by various language institutes or you can improve it yourself by listening to various motivational speakers and orators online, taking help from YouTube videos and educational sites such as the British Council, etc.

Communication abilities are the most wanted soft skill among employers, according to a study by LinkedIn.

Academic skills

Illustration by Sumbul
Illustration by Sumbul

The traits and learning techniques that improve your academic performance are called academic skills. After you graduate from school, they will be crucial to your long-term success. Top students have excellent academic and study skills, which helps them stand out from the crowd.

Enhance your knowledge with plenty of educational websites that serve as great teaching resources. Thousands of lectures are available online for free. Learn new courses and skills to improve your weak areas.

Digital skills

In this digital age, computers have become a need for everyone, from school-age children to university graduates and employees. Computer skills are classified into two categories: hardware skills and software skills. Hardware skills are the fundamental knowledge required to run a computer and connect various devices to it. Software skills involve fundamental or advanced knowledge of software and programmes (such as Microsoft Office software), to access the internet, manage social media or create presentations.

To learn the basics, watch tutorials or buy books. You can also enrol in computer education institutes that offer multiple courses, and select your desired courses according to your age and interest.

Writing

Writing skill involves the ability to express your ideas, knowledge and information through the written word. It is an important part of communication and possessing the ability to communicate ideas through writing is in high demand.

Well-written documents, emails and posts can persuade and impress the readers. Poor writing skills make poor first impressions and many readers will respond negatively if they spot a spelling or grammatical mistake. Work on your weak areas and write at least one page everyday on anything that interests you, which can be a story, poem, essay, or personal diary.

If you want to build a website and learn to use HTML. Alternatively, you can use a publishing platform like WordPress to learn how to design a blogging website without knowing any programming language. Basic website designing courses are also available on education websites such as Udemy and Coursera. To share your writings, photographs and videos (not personal ones), you can start a personal blog on a free blogging platform like WordPress, Tumblr or Blogger. Consider publishing your stories, poems, and original writings after your website is up and running.

Reading

Reading is fundamental to communicate and collaborate with others. It is essential for understanding all subjects in each course of study at each phase of our education. Improve your reading abilities by either reading e-books or by grabbing a hard copy of any genre you like, but kids, do read!

Creativity

According to the World Economic Forum, the top five skills that employers will be seeking by 2025 are innovation, complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity and uniqueness. Creativity is the ability to use one’s imagination to come up with new ideas and to think about a task or an issue in a unique way.

To improve your creativity, try to keep a plain journal or sketchbook with you to draw images, graphics, maps or write down ideas and the information you gain from any source. When reading a book or listening to a lecture, you can make a sketch of something relevant to what you are hearing or looking at. It will help you remember things more efficiently and enhance your visual learning.

Graphic designing and photography are the most paid jobs these days and they are linked with one’s creative skills. There are many institutes as well as online platforms that offer courses in this domain. Also, there are thousands of crafts and DIY projects available online which can easily be done with everyday items that you can find around your house. Indulge in different crafting and designing activities to increase your fine motor skills/dexterity and creativity.

Personal grooming

Personal grooming and personality development are very crucial from a very early age because your personality is your first introduction and it lasts a longing impression on others.

The basics for a groomed personality are that you must take a shower daily, wash your hands and sanitise them frequently. Learn basic manners, ethics and etiquette to reflect a polished personality. The way you talk, your values, conduct and dressing sense speak a lot about you. Therefore, it is important to have a well-groomed personality.

Many of us are squandering this time as a get-away, but we should regard it as an opportunity to remain sorted and gainful. Time is precious don’t waste it by getting up late, watching TV and using social media all day long. Invest in yourself to be positive and productive. Indulge in those activities which will help you improve yourself and which will be beneficial for you later on.

Stay safe and aspire to be a better version of yourself.

Published in Dawn, Young World, July 16th, 2022

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