UPDATE, 13 May: As the UK government has now extended its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until the end of October, it’s more advisable than ever for furloughed workers to consider the tips in this article. Please don’t hesitate to contact me for further help.
How to use your time more productively
Almost overnight the world has changed beyond recognition, including the world of work. Fear and uncertainty have kicked in as we’ve watched whole sectors collapse within days.
Suddenly you find yourself having to get used to working from home, projects being put on hold, client work suddenly dropping a cliff. Add to that having to deal with the constraints of lockdown.
Then bam – you’ve been furloughed! Work has come to an abrupt end and with it a whole load of uncertainty.
A few weeks ago, most of us hadn’t heard of the term furlough, now it’s on most people’s lips. At the moment you probably don’t know how long it’s for, it’s impossible for employers to gauge when you can return to work and even if you’re going to have a job at the end of it.
So, what can you do to make being furloughed a positive or negative experience?
You could treat it like a holiday and a great time to have a well-earned rest. If you’ve got kids and they’re off school for the Easter holidays, then it’s a perfect time to spend some quality time with them and your partner if you have one.
Do you want to look back on this time as completely wasted where you watched back to back box sets on Netflix, drank yourself to oblivion and didn’t socially distance yourself enough from the fridge?
Or do you want to look back on the whole experience of when life or the world was put on hold, you were able to pause, reflect and rethink your life. Have the chance to do things differently so that when things go back to the ‘new normal’ you can hit the ground running both personally and professionally?
One of the first things to do is to look after YOU!
This is a great time to get to improve your mental and physical health and boost your immune system. Follow what we at Wake Up With Zest call the four pillars of vitality; sleep better, eat healthier, get fitter and be resilient:
- Sleep better – keep your bedtimes and wake up times to a regular time, allowing an 8 hour window for sleep. If you’re finding it difficult to sleep, try relaxation techniques.
- Eat healthier – while we feel life is out of control and we want to comfort eat to feel better and numb the pain of what is happening. However, this is in fact a great time to eat a healthier diet. Now the panic buyers have no more room in their homes to bulk buy food, there is now plenty of fresh and long life produce around to eat healthily on a budget. Also, if you’re not a competent cook or didn’t have time to cook, now is the time to hone those skills. Treats are allowed!
- Get fitter – whether you were already exercising or were thinking about it, now is a brilliant time to improve your fitness. There are loads of fitness videos for all abilities on YouTube. Maybe the time you spent commuting could be spent working out.
- Be resilient – it is very easy to let the pandemic consume your life.
- Limit your exposure to news and social media as it is quite depressing at the moment.
- Keep in touch with family and friends, ideally via video call. Make sure you include people you’ve not seen for ages, wherever they are in the world.
- Meditation or mindfulness are great for calming the mind and body and helping you to think more positively.
Replace what was the working day with a new regime
Now is not the time to give up completely on your normal routine and potentially waste the day. So, get up at the same time as you would when going to work, maybe do some exercise, get showered and dressed, have a healthy breakfast and be at your desk (or kitchen table) at your normal start time. You never know when you could be called back to work with just a day’s notice, and you’ll want to be able to hit the ground running rather than having to readjust again.
- Have a structure to your day and think about what you want to achieve that’s going to keep you mentally alive.
- Learning – there is so much content out there it’s unbelievable, much of it free or discounted at present. Now is a great time to do it, think about where your work skills need improving and find the programmes that will help.
- Keep mentally alive – watch inspirational TED talks or check out free lectures from universities that would never have dreamed of watching.
Be an A-lister, so your boss can’t wait to get you back to work
Instead of wasting time watching Z-list celebs on TV, work on becoming an A-list employee. Okay, this isn’t a dead cert, however, you can still attempt to knock your boss’s socks off.
During your furlough period, you’re not allowed to work for your employer, but you can do training.
- Ask your boss if there is any training you could do during this time.
- Alternatively, take the initiative and do something off your own bat. A good boss will be checking in with you to see how you’re doing, so let them know what you’re up – be a shining star!
- Grab the opportunity to devour anything online that can help you in your current job (or stand you in good stead for a new one if the worst happens).
So, what are you going to do?
My challenge to anyone furloughed is to think about all the positive things that you could be doing right now.
I’m sure there are many of you who have lots of good ideas, so please email them to me so I can share and we can all help others.
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