Leveraging Lockdown

Every crisis brings opportunity and for those of us who are in good health, we can choose how we respond to the extended shutdown that is envisaged.
If you find yourself with more time than usual, on your hands, you might ask: What are productive ways for me to leverage the time I’m on lockdown?
Having thought about it over the weekend, here are 6 ideas, all designed to help you maintain yourself in peak career condition!

1. Carry out a Personal Development Audit

If you are working from home, this might be a good time to pull out all the development materials you have stashed away in your inbox. I’m talking about the handouts from training courses that you filed away, intending to study more closely. When was your last 360 exercise? Now might be a good time to re-read the report. You might find some nuggets or a new insight that wasn’t there on first reading. You may also have feedback reports from psychometric inventories you have taken.
Psychometric data is generally regarded as valid for about 4 years. Why not get it all out on the kitchen table and do a personal development audit? Challenge yourself to come up with one to two new insights or development actions you could take.
When you have reviewed all your materials, go for a good long walk and forget about it. Then, when you are back at your desk, capture the thoughts and ideas that stand out, in a development plan template. When you return to normal work conditions, you’ll have new focus on your own personal development.

2. Conduct a Career Audit

Everybody should do a career audit at least every five years. This is an exercise that helps you check in with yourself to find out how well your career choices/ current role are suiting you. Things to reflect on include your internal experience and the external factors impacting on everyone in your field:

Some Internal Reflection Questions:
· Reasons why you took up your current role?
· Expectations versus reality?
· What have you learned/ mastered?
· What activities give you satisfaction?
· What activities are draining and why?
· What has changed for you personally in the last five years?
· What your priorities are likely to be for the next five years?

You could also reflect on the key external forces that are impacting on your career:

Some External Forces Questions:
· How are peers in other organisations evolving their roles?
· What external forces are changing the purpose of your role?
· How has technology, market forces, culture, globalism or other forces of change impacted your role?
· What is likely to happen over the next five years?
· What can I do to futureproof my career?
· Which of my core skills will be most relevant?
· What can I do to upgrade /develop in the most relevant areas?

3. Virtual Networking Exercise

As a coach who works a lot in the area of career development, I spend a lot of time encouraging my clients to network. For me, networking is about the mutual exchange of ideas and experiences. It’s a fantastic way to learn about your professional/ business environment. Now would be a great time to capture everyone in your network – including personal and professional contacts. Draw up a spreadsheet. Put everyone you know in it. Include former colleagues, classmates, friends, relations, suppliers, professional advisers and anyone else you can think of. For every day that you are working at home, pick 3 contacts to connect with. Send an email to say Hi. Pick a time to do a virtual coffee via Zoom or Skype call or lift the phone to chat.

4. Catch Up on Your Reading

Have you thought about all those interesting and highly relevant business books, you’ve bought but never read? How about setting yourself a literary challenge for lockdown? Read one business book followed by a novel. Pick something you wouldn’t normally read. Exercise your logic brain and your imagination in rotation. You might even set up a virtual book club with colleagues or friends who are also working from home. It’s a great antidote to all that extra TV you might watch!

5. Boost Your Creativity

Challenge yourself to do something creative every day. Although the public galleries are shut, there is artistry and inventiveness everywhere we look. Get in touch with nature. Start by weeding your garden. Consider photography. If the weather turns bad, how about taking out an old recipe book and cooking your favourite dishes from childhood? It could be a good way to reconnect with the natural creativity of childhood. Consider journaling your lockdown experience. If you haven’t read Julia Cameron’s The Artists’ Way, this might be a good time to dip into it. Her famous daily Morning Pages exercise is an easy and highly creative meditative exercise.

Book an Online Session with your Coach

When you’ve done all of the above work on yourself, share it with your coach. Use the online session to reflect on the key takeaways; to come up with your own personal development regime or to create a personal development plan that helps you recognise your skills and your success at leveraging lockdown!

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