Optimizing Resources in the Pandemic

It is no secret that we are living under many constraints these days and there seems to be a crunch in our resources, which we took for granted earlier. Yes, there is some ‘inversing’ taking place here, for example, the long hours of commute have reduced. But the pros and cons are in a tight balance.

However, this has also led us to sort of develop a third eye of sorts: we are now seeing everything with a different perspective. We are finding ideas and opportunities at the most unlikely of places. In other words, we have learned a remarkable thing: we have understood the value of our resources and we are using them optimally, to their maximum potential. This is something which might not have been achieved in a situation of abundance.

With this in mind, let us jump into the lessons we have learnt about making the best possible use of our resources!

Overturning the Lack of Abundance:

When we have limited resources, our attitude changes from what it is when we are working in abundance. We cease to take things for granted, and we strive to make the best use of what is available.

Take for example how all those people who don’t have a study or a proper work area in their homes have come up with ideas to create a makeshift workspace, making the best possible use of resources they have at hand.  People have been converting their dining tables into office desks, or making use of old unused spaces in their homes in innovative ways.

Or take for example the use of internet. Instead of procrastinating and endless scrolling, people are making sure they use their home internets at the best of times when the speed is optimal.

In an abundant situation, there was a high possibility that we often wasted resources, and took them for granted, resulting in reduced efficiency. This newfound attitude of making the best use of the available resources remains beneficial, whether someone is working from home or has returned to the office.

No Decision Fatigue:

‘Decision fatigue’, a term used in psychology, is when the quality of decisions is deteriorated because of spending too much time to reach a decision. Contrary to expectations, a long session spent on pondering over each and every minute detail can actually result in poor decision making.

Because of limited choices and options, whether of time or resources, we now have a limited number of strategies to choose from, leading to a relatively quick process of decision making. In other words, we aren’t spoilt by choices, leading to less over-thinking over the minutiae and more action-taking keeping the big picture in mind.

Expectations and Creativity:

In an abundant situation, our expectations would skyrocket; we wanted a project to only be a certain way- nothing less; we wanted to reach that target no matter what. Such an attitude often led to high levels of mental and physical stress.

Now that we have limited resources, we keep our expectations realistic. We work keeping the limitations in mind. There is a huge shift in our attitude, leading to lower levels of stress, and a much calmer strategizing: instead of focusing on being the best ever, we focus on making use of the best possibilities. Lack of resources has forced us to be creative.

And now that we know where to limit our expectations, our minds are suddenly free from the drive for perfectionism, and we are being able to harmonise work life and home life, something we didn’t think was possible!

As we can see, we have learned to value our resources, and we have started to work productively even with the various types of constraints, be it those of time, resources, and options. We are steering clear of sluggishness and getting a push. We are keeping our expectations realistic and not falling into harmful competitiveness. We are now seeing possibilities.

Thinking Ahead At Present: Life After COVID-19

Everyone has talked a great deal about how to go about with present situation, which has forced us to change our lifestyles. But how about we try to think a little ahead, and try to see how to go about after it’s all over? How do we go about creating, or re-creating our life after COVID-19?

No one really knows when things will entirely “unlock”. Perhaps a wise thing to do right now thus is to utilise this new pace of living and think about some important things about our life and career. Instead of thinking about it when things do get back to normal and ending up getting overwhelmed, it might not be a bad idea to start on a path right now, so we might reach to an answer sooner or later.

A little mental health warning first, before we embark: we are not advocating over-thinking and driving oneself into a panic mode. It is ideal to take one day at a time in the present situation. What we are saying is this: now is a good time to think about all the things we have been sweeping under the carpet since ages, and sort one’s priorities.

The Museum Analogy:

In an article by FastCompany, author of the book “Curating Your Life: Ending The Struggle For a Work-Life Balance”  Gail Golden gives us a wonderful analogy to think in terms of when we are on our path to setting our priorities.

The expression “work-life” balance implies as if we are on a tight-rope, balancing things like an acrobat. Instead of that shaky and stressful analogy, Gail Golden suggests we look at our life the way a curator of a museum does. We think of three or more important “artworks” of our lives, which need care, attention, in other words, the main focus of our museum. The others, the side exhibits, and then those which can be put aside for now.

This a novel way to direct one’s time and energy in the right direction.

But it might get a little tricky…

Gail Golden talks of the difficulties of this approach,

“There are things that you may do because they’re meaningful and enriching for you, and things you do that you don’t like very much but your boss or your family needs you to do them. You cannot ignore the priorities of the people around you. The danger is we make everybody else’s priorities more important than your own all of the time. That’s part of work-life balance that doesn’t work.”

When such a situation arises, mixing approaches can help here. One can resort to making lists of things which go along the lines of being important and urgent, important but not so urgent. One needs to be open to the idea that the necessity and urgency of needs is going to change, and that one does not discard certain “exhibits” out of impulse or unnecessary panic.

When it comes to museums, the past plays an important role.

Think about your own past decisions and why you chose something in the first place to steer clear of impulsive “de-prioritising” of things.

These are the thoughts one now has the time to consider.

A final note: although thinking like a curator of a museum is a good strategy, we cannot stress enough on being flexible and open to new ideas during and after this time. No one knows how the world is going to cope with the normal or even the “new” normal. Having a plan is good, but it is also important that we keep ourselves open to the idea of that plan getting changed.

Looking For A Job in Times Of Lockdown

 

job hunting in times of lockdown image

While some of us have been trying to balance WFH and the chores of our homes, there are some of us who were job hunting when the lockdown was announced. How does one go about looking for a job in these times of lockdown and social distancing? How does one approach companies when the staff is working from home? Whether you are a fresher who was looking for a launch-pad, or someone who was looking for a new opportunity, this is an uncertain situation to be in.

We bring some tips on how to go about searching for a job in times of the pandemic.

 

Online Is The Way:

It is important to remember most companies are working, just not in their offices.

We must keep our search and research on. As we have discussed in our articles about researching about companies, we have a lot of resources available online.

List down the companies you are interested to work at, and start checking their websites and social media one by one.

Checking the websites and social media now is a great time, because not only would they give you an idea about their mission statements, their work culture, but would also give you glimpses about how they are handling the entire WFH situation.

A lot of companies would now be more active on their Facebook, LinkedIn pages as a way to engage with customers and clients as much as possible. It is also likely that the companies would be more quick in responding to emails and messages.

What’s more, some companies which earlier were not too responsive on virtual platforms  may now have realised the value of prompt online communication, leading to faster, and more elaborate and specific responses to queries.

Do not be hesitant in sending out emails and queries, provided you are prepared to begin working in unconventional ways, which brings us to the next point.

 

Be Prepared:

Send out emails to the companies you are interested in working at, but make sure you let them know that you understand that times are uncertain.

Be prepared in case the companies give out vague or ambivalent or diplomatic responses. Some companies might tell they would let you know once things get “normal”, and you might have to wait out the lockdown.

Some might offer a role which can be done through minimal online training or no training and is more suitable for a WFH setup, but this role might be different than what you were originally looking for.

Some might offer a more short-term role, which might be important as long as long you are working remotely, and that which might undergo a change once the situation gets back to normal.

Here, you need to consider the urgency. How urgently do you need a job right now? Considering factors such as past savings, family responsibilities, work experience, internet resources, etc., coupled with the online research you undertook about the company should give you a fair idea about a) which companies to send out emails to, and b) what to expect from each company c) and which offers to consider.

 

Be Visible and Don’t Stop Networking:

Based on the urgency of your job search, keep networking. As mentioned, now is the time most companies would be quite active on LinkedIn and other online social networking platforms.

Find what online connections you have with the particular companies you are interested in working at; see if you can find a mutual connection and get in touch with them (virtually) if necessary to inquire more about the company and how the company is going about hiring processes.

Cash on in the increased amount of time companies would be spending online. Make your presence visible by posting regularly, engaging in discussions and commenting on posts which you find interesting and useful.

 

Take Your Time:

In the current situation, it is best not to think too long term. Consider how urgent is landing a job right now. Consider if this is a good time to learn a new skill or get enrolled in a distance learning program? Is this a good time to start a personal project you were thinking about? Is this a good time to take a break?

Be it in times of lockdown or normalcy, looking for a job gives us a certain down time to think things over. And there will be times when you might not have much to do except wait.

Additionally, in conclusion here are some quick pointers you can keep in mind:

  • Be prepared to appear for virtual interviews and calls. Make sure your internet connection and equipment are working well, with a tidy background. Try the lighting, sound and visibility with a friend or a family before you appear for any professional call.
  • Have a plan B. In other words, be prepared in case things don’t work out the way you wanted them to. Plan B could be anything from “settling” for a role which you didn’t particularly like, to “taking a break” from working, to keep looking.
  • Have a fixed routine. Chart up a time table. Fix the timings when you would research and network, and when you would engage in spending time in hobbies, recreation and chores. Do not forget to spend time with friends and family (through phone and video calls if you are living alone, or regularly if you are living under the same roof).
  • Do not be afraid of the gap in your resume. This is an unprecedented situation, and companies in the future would understand the reasons.

 

Learning and Development: Being Always Prepared

Learning & development image

 

 

Learning and development are basic things we do as children, sometimes on day to day basis. We learn how to sit upright, and develop as we learn to crawl, walk, run. We learn how to babble, then eventually develop our skill to pick on words and talk, and finally we learn and develop the skill to write. We learn a new skill, language, sport, musical instrument, concept, idea. We develop all that as we progress through levels and grades.

We grow up, and sometimes, we forget about the importance of learning and development, or L&D, as it is known in the professional jargon.

Focusing on L&D is important even when we enter the world of work (obviously in a different way than we did as children). And now, in the present context of WFH, it is an even more important thing to do. Learning has become almost mandatory now.

 

What are some things you can do by yourself?

Getting a better understanding of technology:  Learning and development as adults with jobs could include things like learning to use a new technology, getting an understanding of how an app runs, and how it could be applied to your professional growth.  Zoom meetings come to mind, don’t they?

Certificate courses: This could include taking up an online course for a programme relevant to your field, where you need to devote a couple of hours every week to get the certificate. It could also include a non-virtual, offline workshop/conference which can give you insight about a specific domain. (Safety warning: in the present context, stick to online ones.)

Sometimes, companies themselves might conduct workshops/conferences/talks, as we did with our team; online English classes are being given to our team as a way to help them grow continuously even in this context of restricted outdoor movement.

Full-fledged degree: With the emergence of the internet, getting a proper degree is possible via distance learning programmes, available on national as well as international online learning platforms.

Social Interaction: Learning and development can take place through social interaction as well: it could be by learning on the job from other co-workers, or it could be actually getting a mentor and learning the tropes from them. The scope of what could be considered a social interaction has increased. So, even in these times of social distancing, and real- time online communication, it is possible to learn from our fellow colleagues, seniors and juniors.

 

Why is learning and development important? What are some benefits of continuous learning?

Adding to your profile: This is the obvious answer. With anything new you learn, you get to add it on your resume. Sometimes, it takes just one little skill which can make you stand out and give you an edge.

Preparing for the unexpected: The present situation of lockdown and WFH is an example of how unpredictable even our professional lives are. You don’t always get time to prepare; rather, one has to be prepared and keep preparing when one has the time, energy and resources.

Learning new skills, new tools, new strategies thus, is a necessity.

Chain Reaction: Continuous learning not only means that you will develop new skills and insights, but that you will have an edge over people. This means that it will open up avenues for you to lead, to manage, to mentor, to coach, to train others.

 

Learning and development should be continuous, whether formal or informal. And the present scenario is one example of how helpful it is to be prepared, and how continuous learning is a secret to success.

Regardless of the global situation, the next time you feel your brain is beginning to feel sluggish and tired, take up something to learn!