When you look down and find a giant to do list, you wonder how you will achieve any of it. But, when you break the tasks down one at a time, each item on the list is often manageable. There’s nothing you don’t know how to do.
During the pandemic, many people are finding themselves overwhelmed. They’re pushed to the edge with family responsibilities, health concerns, home schooling, and working from home. At times, there’s a good chance you are one of these people. I know I have been.
When you find yourself at this place, start by creating a list. Grab a piece of paper and a pen. Jot down all of the things you need to take care of. Then, write down the amount of time you think each task will take. From there, take a look at your schedule to see when you may be able to achieve these goals.
You’ve probably done this before. But, it’s a good concept to remember when you’re feeling under water. I often use this exercise to sort out my goals for a particular day, week, or month.
But, very often, when I reach the point of feeling overwhelmed, I will set a goal that is one or two steps below what I think I can actually achieve. It’s not in an effort to achieve less. Backing the goal down gives me the breathing room that I need to both achieve the other items and my list, and to do them well.
It’s a great idea to push yourself. But, sometimes if you push yourself too hard, you will fail to meet the goal. Normally, that can be a good thing as it can drive you forward. But, if you’ve reached the point of being overwhelmed, feeling like you’re failing will only make it worse.
Remember, this is a crazy year. Frankly, every day feels more unbelievable than the last. Your job during this time is to keep things calm and on track.
When it comes to career, if you can, try to keep moving on your normal goals. There are many things you can do that don’t take much time. If you have extra time, you might want to update your LinkedIn profile. Or, you may want to revamp your resume. Or, you might want to attend a seminar virtually. It’s really interesting to see just how many conferences have moved online this year!
But, whatever you do, don’t do everything at once. And, if someone asks you what new hobbies you’ve learned or what new goals you’ve set, remember that it’s not a competition. A pandemic is not an opportunity to prove anything to anyone. It’s a time to stay physically healthy and mentally stable.
If you’re like many people, you may be nervous about job searching right now. The market feels completely unstable. If you have a job, this doesn’t feel like the time to take a risk to switch. Although this is a very solid argument, I would encourage you to keep your eyes open. There are companies hiring and onboarding new employees during the pandemic.
Don’t get me wrong. Not all companies are actively hiring, and definitely not for every sort of job. But, many organizations have found that their workers can be productive from home. And, let’s face it. They need to keep running in order to stay afloat. The pandemic hasn’t completely stopped hiring.
If you search online, you’ll likely find less total jobs posted. But, it’s arguable that the jobs posted are more serious than those in the past. You’ve probably come across a job posting before for a company that isn’t completely sure they want to hire someone. But, they’re interviewing anyway – to see what’s out there. Companies are less likely to do that today. It’s too hard. Companies aren’t going to waste their time or yours unless they really are interested to find someone.
If you want to look for a job and you see something interesting, apply. With all the working from home you’re doing, interviewing will be less of a challenge. You’re not going to have to sneak out to take a phone call or to do a Zoom interview.
Companies are being more flexible right now about location too. They are more open to the idea of hiring out of town candidates. Some companies are now open to you working from home indefinitely.
In the event that you make it to the offer stage of a job interview, there’s one important thing to keep in mind. You need to research the company. You need to research them twice as much as you ever would have before. And, research the industry the company is in. Some industries have been hit harder than others.
When you research the company, you can learn how they are holding up in the face of the pandemic. Study their financials if you can find them online. Watch their stock price. Read about them in the news. This information will help you to make a decision.
Years ago, I interviewed at a very nice company that (once I did my homework) appeared to be financially unstable. This year, they closed their doors. If I had not researched them, I would not have known.
At the end of the day, if you’re interested to look, look. In a worst case scenario, you can turn down a job offer. But, if you have been thinking of looking, don’t assume companies aren’t hiring. Many are, despite everything going on. But, be sure to do your homework, so your decision will be a low risk one, based on solid research.
This time last year, I wrote a column about Labor Day. It started off this way. “Labor Day is a holiday that honors the American labor movement. It celebrates the development, productivity, and prosperity of the United States. And, it marks the unofficial end of summer. If you’re like most Americans, Labor Day is spent with loved ones and tasty food.”
When I wrote those words, we collectively could have never imagined what this Labor Day would be like. What seemed like such a productive economy has turned into something that feels a bit like it’s out of a horror movie. The end of summer is quite a concept. It feels like summer never really started. And, what we all wouldn’t give for a vacation and a party with loved ones.
Unfortunately, it is still unclear when the pandemic will end. And, the uncertainty of the future is causing major stress for many people. The good news is, this time next year, things should be back to normal. Or, they will have reached a new normal that is more tolerable.
In the meantime, begin to think about how you would like to celebrate this time next year. If you would like to celebrate with a new job, this is the time to start looking. If the pandemic has made you realize you wish you were closer to loved ones, this is the time to make a plan.
Setup job posting alerts on the major sites. Although it may feel like there are no jobs to be found, companies are still hiring. By setting up an alert, you will be notified when a new job is posted that meets your skillset. Although hiring has slowed significantly, many companies really are still hiring.
If you want to move, look for jobs in your future city. Or, begin to look for jobs that allow remote work. Working from home is giving employees the flexibility they need to choose the lifestyle that works the best for them. If you’ve ever hoped to move back home, this may be the time to research that idea.
If you find yourself with extra time, this is also a great time to network. Even when jobs aren’t posted, you can connect with those who might want to hire you (or to help you) in the future. Connect with old colleagues on LinkedIn. Then, send a note asking for a networking call – or a call to catch up. You can do this by phone or by video. Although it may seem awkward at first, you may be surprised at how many people will make time for you. They likely also have extra time.
This Labor Day was an unexpected one. It was tough. Many people are struggling with job loss and isolation due to the pandemic. Hang in there. Work on the things within your control. Put together your plan for a better 2021.
I hope we’re on the same page. This is a pandemic. It’s not a competition. I’m not sure how many times I’ve been asked lately, “What new hobbies have you picked up since March?” I haven’t. “How much are you working out?” Very little. “How are you spending all this free time?” Like many of you, I’ve been working, and managing through this unexpected and difficult experience. My skills are the same, except that I’m now an expert at ordering groceries using Instacart.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for career development. I’m for personal growth. I’m for striving to be better and for climbing the career ladder. But, for many people, this is not that time. 2020 is a time to duck and cover a little. It’s a time to take the best care of ourselves as we can.
A big part of that care comes from both empathy and the awareness that we are each in a different situation. And, it comes from the awareness that people need other people.
Some folks are fortunate enough to have a vacation home. They’re spending quality time with family. Other people are far away from loved ones, and isolated. They may even be struggling to make ends meet.
Because we’re all coping with this pandemic, the best way to stay in touch is virtually, often by phone. But, the phone doesn’t bridge the gap in experience. Some cities are opened while others remain very much locked down. It’s easy to overlook that we aren’t all in the same boat.
This is the time to support one another. It’s not the time to push self-help books, or to expect others to be learning a new skill. It’s the time to listen and to have empathy.
Don’t get me wrong. If you’re able to learn a new skill, then great! Go for it. Get in better shape. Learn to code. Cook something new and exciting.
But, realize that not everyone is there with you. And, just because they may be at another spot on the spectrum doesn’t mean they’re doing the pandemic wrong. They very likely are in a different life situation. It’s not because they’re not trying hard enough or that they don’t care. They may be trying to figure out how to pay their bills. They may feel afraid for their personal safety. Or, they may be trying to work and teach their kids at the same time.
In order to make it through a disaster, we have to do it together. We have to be aware that not every situation is the same. We have to be there for each other, even when it’s tough. This goes for coworkers, family members, and friends.
And, if things are going great for you, this is the time to be humble. Your struggling friends don’t need to see your fabulous photos online. They need to hear your kind voice.
There are many days when 2020 feels like the year that will never end. In 2019, if someone had been taking bets about how this year would play out, we all would have lost. One of the most challenging things about this year has been self-care. And, it’s that same self-care that allows our best selves to show up for friends, family — and in the workplace.
It is so easy to get caught up with work. We’re living with work right now. Working from home can intensify the day, and it can extend our hours. No longer are we taking the same coffee breaks to chat with colleagues about the weekend. And, we don’t have somewhere to be right after work.
The endless video calls can also be draining. Many people are sitting, staring into a tiny computer camera all day long.
In many places, gyms are closed. It has made falling off of our workout routines the new norm. Somehow, even though we’re eating at home more, it’s become harder to eat healthy. It’s easier to find yourself eating chips and pizza than ever before.
The problem is, all of this working, lack of exercise, and poor diet will eventually catch up to us. And, I’m not talking about in terms of our waistlines. I’m talking about how we feel day to day.
Working long hours is only helpful if you’re feeling like yourself. If you’re dragging through the day, it’s just one long, unproductive day bleeding into the next one. If you’re feeling bad, it’s time to pull yourself out of it, one bit at a time.
The first step is sleep. Getting good rest is so important. Then, it’s about trying to eat a little healthier each day. And, don’t forget about drinking enough water to stay hydrated.
It’s also important to keep up your social connections. This is harder to do right now in many ways. But, the good news is that more and more people are using the phone and video chats to stay in touch.
Last, work to create boundaries between work and home. Create a daily schedule and stick to it. When you’re working, focus on work. When work is over each day (at a predetermined time), stop working. Don’t go back to it unless there is a truly exceptional reason (such as an emergency).
All of these things seem basic on some level. That’s very true, until they aren’t. We are all struggling so hard to create a new normal that works for us. Some days will be better than others. Give yourself the space for bad days. Be kind to yourself even when you’re struggling. And work to improve your self-care routines, so that each day may be a little better than the one before.
Unfortunately, we may be in this challenging situation for a while. It’s important to take care of ourselves along the way.