The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent global shutdowns have drastically impacted the worlds of work and studies everywhere.
A huge number of industries and small businesses had to completely shut down for over a month, and thousands of workers had to learn (very quickly) how to manage the tricky beast that is remote work. Other industries have flourished. For those in marketing, design, brand management, social media management, copywriting, advertising and other content creation industries, jobs may have been flowing in as every business needed to get their message across to their customers. The video game and app industry has gone up as people have sought entertainment, the same goes for streaming sites, and Youtubers, bloggers, vloggers and any other online entertainment producers. Everyone has been eating up communication software and social media apps, especially video-call/conference apps like Zoom and Skype.
As for the world of scholarship, colleges, universities and schools had to shut down all on-campus activities, which means that the majority of learning ceased for at least a short while – many institutions made the move or are planning on moving over to online/correspondence learning. For those who have missed out on essential time, degrees may have to be extended and holidays might be shortened, especially in the case of qualifications that require a practical aspect such as students of medicine/health care, psychology, fine arts, drama, physio, sports science, and science degrees that require lab experiments.
We also have to face the possibility of future lockdowns, depending on how the COVID statistics are looking.
We have been through some difficult and scary times, and now we face the challenges of the post-COVID landscape. But don’t panic, we’ve put together some suggestions for how you can prepare for your journey and turn it into a success story.
1. Communicate and Connect
As with all things, the greatest weapon and shield you will ever have is a strong support structure. Surround yourself with peers, colleagues, friends, family and loved ones – Stacey Flowers gave a fantastic TED Talk on The Five People You Need to Be Happy. Make sure that the people close to you not only want the best for you but will help you get there. You need people who will support you and believe in you when you can’t believe in yourself; you need people who you can go to for guidance and advice; you need people who will push you to step outside of your comfort when it will be good for you, and you need people who will challenge you if your behaviour is destructive to your future and wellbeing.
Take a look at the people around you and evaluate whether or not they are a positive force in your life, and put effort into staying connected with the good and beautiful people who will play a role in your success and happiness.
2. Conduct a Self-Performance Review
Look back at the past month and think about how well you adapted to and managed the circumstances – better yet, write it down! If you had to work or study at home, look at whether or not you were able to be productive and, if not, evaluate why – was it because you couldn’t focus at home, were you feeling anxious about your work for some reason, were you staying up too late and missing out on sleep, are you afraid of failing, have you been depressed or apathetic? The key is honesty – you have to look back at your actions and behaviour with full clarity and without judgement – you did the best you could under the circumstances.
The goal is not to point out everything you did wrong, but rather to figure out why things happened the way they did and look for potential solutions such as therapy, meditation and mindfulness, breathing exercises, a strict sleep schedule, or a chat with your peers and/or superiors about how you can manage things better.
3. Evaluate How You Work Best
If you are someone who has had to do remote work or correspondence studying for the first time, look at whether you found it worse or better than your usual working arrangement. Many people and businesses have realised that remote work actually, well, works. If you have found yourself to be more productive and happy working from home, consider talking to your superiors and find out if you can continue to work remotely. But there is no need to feel bad about yourself if you have struggled to focus and stay motivated – we have been going through a global crisis, an incredibly challenging time in so many ways, and so many people may have found it near impossible to reach their maximum level of efficiency and productivity. If that’s you, try and take this as a reminder of how powerful your office/workspace really is in fuelling your productivity, and try to tap into that when you return to it.
4. Practise REAL Self-Care
Self-care should always be one of your top priorities, but it might not be what you think. When most of us hear self-care we usually think about taking a relaxing bubble bath, treating yourself to a slab of chocolate, or practising meditation every morning…but real self-care is a little more complicated. First of all, it has to be rooted in honesty – be honest with yourself about how you are feeling, and why you are feeling like that. It’s the only way that you will be able to find real solutions! Secondly, aim to manage your behaviour according to what’s best for your overall health and wellbeing, rather than according to how you are feeling. For example, you may be experiencing anxiety and depression and finding it difficult to work, so you decide to take the day off and watch Netflix. It’s totally fine to give yourself a break when you need it, but make sure to (honestly) evaluate why you made that choice. Maybe you had to get away from your work due to anxiety caused by being behind on your deadlines, in which case true self-care would be sitting down and trying as hard as you can to get through at least some of your work. Once you become aware of what your feelings are telling you, it will be far easier to figure out how to solve problems that you encounter and reach a place of contentment and happiness – the ultimate goal of self-care.
5. Expand Your Skill Set and Stay Informed
With so much changing from one day to the next, it’s essential to stay informed about what’s going on and make sure that you understand what it means for the economy, politics and the world of work. You could try installing a news app on your phone, or simply read it online, and dedicate some time each day to catching up on current events. (But please do monitor your own needs and mental health – if the news makes you feel anxious, stressed or depressed, take a break and give yourself some time.)
A great way to learn how to understand the implications of current events and prepare yourself for the future is to undertake some self-led learning. The best thing that you can do is arm yourself with as many tools and weapons as possible, such as new skills, knowledge and qualifications. You could do this yourself through internet research or, better yet, enrol in an online course! This way you can learn how to analyse markets and economies, make accurate predictions, and devise effective solutions for problems that you might encounter. PLUS, you will have a new qualification on your resume – always a good thing in uncertain times! (psst, MasterStart has online courses in business, management, finance, leadership and marketing to get you ready for the post-COVID world!)
It’s definitely a scary time and it’s going to be a difficult journey, but don’t lose hope. Now, more than ever, you need to have faith in yourself, invest in yourself and be kind to yourself. If you prepare properly, equip yourself with the right skills and knowledge, commit to your goals, and believe in your ability to be productive, focused, driven and victorious, you will find the success that you so deserve.