Covid-19: An opportunity to improve your work life and grow your career

May 25

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At the time of this article, we have been working from home for close to 1.5 months. For me, it's been close to 2 months of working from home as my employer started our work-from-home protocol weeks ahead of the government announcement.

How are you doing?

It can be very depressing being cooped up at home all day and only going out to purchase necessities, especially for outgoing and extrovert individuals.

But on the flip side, let's be happy that most of us still have a job, even if you may not be getting any increment or bonus today, or may even get a pay cut to remain employed.

As the Covid-19 situation progresses with no end in sight, employers are gradually changing their mindsets with the possibility of remote working being a permanent reality.

That's because even after the circuit breaker reaches the relevant phase where your employer is allowed to have you back in the office, social distancing will become a basic requirement for every workplace. For most businesses, that will mean that they may need to double their existing office space in order to return to the working arrangement of the past.

I highly doubt that businesses are willing to pay the rental costs for the additional office space. For some, they may not even be able to afford it.

In this article, I'm going to focus on why I think working from home is a great opportunity to improve my work life and boost my career. Personally, I hope everyone is able to embrace this new working arrangement if it's within their means.

Optimise your work routine for maximum efficiency

We all have our own set of routine job tasks that needs to be done. They are usually mundane tasks such as the extraction of a daily sales report for sales managers or approving expense claims from business teams. These tasks may not have to be done, but because they are business-as-usual (BAU) tasks, someone has to do them.

I block a 1-hour schedule every morning to work on all my routine job tasks to get them done while I'm having my morning coffee. As I'm like to start my morning slow, spending the first hour of my work day clearing away my routine job tasks help to warm up my engine for the rest of the day.

With a whiteboard mounted above my desk, I keep a to-do list right in front of me. I would put a start on the tasks I intend to complete for the day and each time I complete one, I'd cross it off. That helps me remain laser focused on getting things done. These days, I was able to complete everything I needed to do for the day without feeling drained. In many cases, I even have free time to take up new projects.

Develop small daily habits that makes you feel happier

One of the benefits of working from home is that I regained around 1-2 hours a day that were spent commuting back and forth my workplace.

Instead of making a quick instant coffee in the morning, I now take pleasure in grinding coffee beans and making a cup of drip coffee. The aroma from freshly grinded coffee beans brings a smile to my face each time. It's an amazing feeling and I'm glad to be able to do this every morning now.

Many of us are experiencing cabin fever, being cooped up in our homes every day with the circuit breaker. I make an effort to do a quick grocery shopping at the nearby wet market every morning, selecting the freshest produce for the day for lunch and dinner. It gives me the opportunity to get a quick breather outside and interact with the helpful stall owners to learn new tips about how to store produce correctly and new cooking methods.

I have found cooking to be very therapeutic. Taking some time out of my busy schedule to cook a delicious and health lunch is a great way to take a break from the accumulated work stress. Nothing beats cooking something from scratch, even if it's a simple plate of fried eggs with tomatoes.

Turn the job you have into the job you want through job crafting

I first came across the term, 'job crafting' on The Happiness Lab podcast. When done right, job crafting can be a powerful tool for re-energizing and reimagining your work life. The best thing about job crafting is that it’s driven by you, not your boss.

You start by redefining your job to incorporate your motives, strengths, and passions. The exercise allows you to visualize the job, mapping its elements, and reorganising them to better suit your core values, strengths and passions. This allows you to put personal touches on how you perceive and do your job, and you’ll gain a greater sense of control at work.

For jobs that can be more demanding and requires you to work longer and harder, the fact that your job is now aligned with your core values will derive meaning and purpose to keep going.

Click here to learn more about job crafting and how you create your own job crafting exercise.

Pick up a side hustle to grow an additional stream of income

After optimising my work around my day, I was able to cut down the number of hours spent on the tasks at work and to keep productivity levels similar to when I was working in the office. That gave me more time to work on building some side hustles.

In the current economic environment, the biggest worry is not you quitting your job. It's about the likelihood of your job quitting on you. The best way to mitigate this risk is to grow an additional stream of income.

While the reality is that you may not be able to start making money right away, it is the perfect opportunity to start laying a solid foundation to grow an additional stream of income in the near future.

Learn a new skill to build your talent stack and gain new experiences

We often lament that our current job scope is limiting and doesn't let us learn new things and gain new experiences. There are now tons of online courses that allows us to learn something new, anytime and anywhere. Best of all, many online course providers are now offering many of their courses for free out of goodwill due to the current Covid-19 situation.

Take advantage of the many free online courses available right now to learn a new skill. But before you make the decision to commit time and effort on taking a new course, set a goal to achieve after completing the course. That helps to reinforce the lessons that you have learnt.

For example, you could set a goal of creating a website and ranking #1 for X number of keywords after completing a digital marketing course. Or building a program that analyses and identifies the top 10 stocks based on certain variables and algorithms after completing a data analytics course.

The world is still adapting to this new normal

We are still seeing many new articles discussing about what they think will be the 'new normal' post Covid-19. Both businesses and employees are still struggling to make sense of how the future workplace would look like once the pandemic is over.

Seize the opportunity to adapt to this 'new normal' and turn it into your 'normal'.

Your future self will thank you for taking action today.

Photo by manny PANTOJA on Unsplash

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About the author 

Mickey J

Mickey is your typical white-collar Singaporean who works regular hours in a job with a strong passion on personal finance. He writes mostly about personal finance, investing, insurance and retirement planning. He also embraces the Financial Independence and Retire Early movement (FIRE), tweaking the FIRE concept to his lifestyle.

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