I’m writing this blog not from the lively, colourful buzz of Piccadilly Circus but instead from my new office- my flat in a lesser-known corner of Zone 4. The sun is shining and people all around are heading out for their brief bit of daily exercise – there are people walking their dogs, walking around the block, or heading to the shops armed with their Bags for Life. In the windows across the road, other people are working, doing yoga or catching up with friends and family on video networking platforms. This is the new normality- albeit a temporary one.
For many of us, this time of uncertainty has brought with it something that we are potentially not used to – free time. With this comes frustration and a feeling of stagnation- but with free time comes opportunity for growth and development; not just personally, but also on a professional basis.
Here are some handy tips and ideas for how to maximise your productivity during your new free time.
LEARN SOMETHING NEW
Expanding your own horizons doesn’t need to be expensive or taxing- and there is a vast array of resources available for anyone who is looking to learn a new skill during this time of uncertainty. Why not try:
Booking yourself onto an online course via websites such as Alison, FutureLearn and The Open University. There is a huge range of courses available to take your skillset to the next level- from coding, Microsoft Office training to writing skills, there really is something for everyone. Many of these are totally free and open to all.
If you are looking for a change in career, this is a great opportunity to research areas of interest and really get to know the industry that you are looking to move into. This could include reading relevant news articles, following key leaders and businesses on sites such as LinkedIn and identifying key skills required for your chosen path.
Learn a new language. As globalisation gathers pace, additional spoken and written languages are becoming a huge asset and can really open up many more opportunities. Sites like DuoLingo are totally free to use and available in App form.
Take a look at the job boards for your current role or a role you're looking for. See if there are any skills that you need/wish you had in order to be successful in that role. Now is a perfect opportunity to up-skill and learn!
UPDATING YOUR CV
For many people, the time between deciding to leave their current role and finding their new role can be several months, or maybe even years- because it never quite feels like the right time. Once you do decide to leave, you then start looking online for roles but realise you can’t apply because your CV is 3 years out of date and is totally irrelevant to your current situation- particularly if you are at the beginning of your career. Therefore, this time is the perfect opportunity to update your CV so it is ready to go for when the time does feel right- even if that time is not right now.
LinkedIn is an indispensable tool and is much more than just a professional social media site. It is a chance to demonstrate your key skills, make yourself as marketable as possible and - most importantly - develop a fantastic network of professionals.
Whether you are actively looking for a new role or just looking to expand your professional horizons, a great way to use this free time is to ensure your profile is fully updated and start to build your professional network. Link in with old bosses, colleagues, friends from school – you never know where these connections may take you!
With free time often comes great uncertainty, low motivation and uneasy relaxation – like that time between Christmas and New Year when you’re lost in a haze of roast dinner leftovers and Baileys, and nobody really has any idea of what day it is.
Whether you’re struggling to find the motivation to work from home or are looking for ways to fill a full week with no option of leaving the house, it’s important to add structure and routine to your days to ease this sense of disarray. This could include:
Follow your regular routines as much as you can-set your alarm for a reasonable time, have your morning cup of tea and bowl of porridge, and get dressed to start your day. Many people who are now working from home for the first time find great solace in dressing for the day as they usually would, to keep them in the “work mindset” and distinguish from their post-work down time.
Separate work from relaxation- if you can, work at a desk or table and sit in a different location to where you would usually sit in your down time- keeping you in the mindset to work and also minimising the feeling of ‘cabin fever’ you may experience of being in the same room for weeks on end.
Don’t spend whole days doing one thing- separate your day into manageable and stimulating tasks. If you’re using this time as an opportunity for a Spring clean, try doing a little each day rather than trying to do the entire house in one day, allowing you to get on with other tasks or hobbies and spreading the task out over a longer period.
TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
More than ever, it’s crucial to ensure that you’re taking time for yourself during this uncertain and often disconcerting time. Take your lunch break- in full- and eat away from your work space. Make sure you go out once a day to exercise and get a breath of fresh air. If you can, finish work when you are supposed to – it’s easy to lose track of time when working from home – and pack your things away to ensure you make full use of your evening down time.
GET IN TOUCH
Finally, and to all our candidates and clients old, new and future- all of us at Victoria Wall Associates are by your side throughout this period. If we can help with any advice, guidance or support in your job search, recruitment or training, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us– we would love to hear from you and we are all in this together.