Like the vast majority of the rest of the world, you’ve suddenly found yourself stuck at home.
You aren’t minding the extra time in your favorite sweatpants or the fact that you get to work with your dog laying at your feet. But, let’s face it: this sudden shift in your working life introduces some anxieties too.
Rest assured, that’s normal. Even in typical times, a reported 48 percent of workers have concerns that they’ll be laid off, and that number is probably only skyrocketing given the state of economic uncertainty we’re all living in right now.
If you’re one of the lucky ones who aren’t concerned about your job security, you’re bound to still be dealing with some other career-related stressors. You’re no longer working side-by-side with your team and your boss, you aren’t out at happy hours shaking hands and making connections, and that conference you’ve been looking forward to for ages has been postponed indefinitely.
I feel you. It’s a frustrating and disheartening time for nearly everybody. But, I’m here to encourage you with the fact that there’s still plenty you can do to boost your career—yep, all from the comfort of your couch.
Ready to take back some power and control and continue fueling your professional fire? Here are a few ideas.
1. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile
Add your most recent positions to your resume and remove any old or outdated ones. Include links and attachments to some of your recent work on your LinkedIn profile, update your summary, or endorse the skills of some of your contacts (so they can return the favor).
Even if you don’t end up needing these resources anytime soon, it’s still a good idea to have them updated and mostly ready to go. If and when you do need to use them, freshening them up will be way less daunting.
2. Expand your knowledge with online resources
Are you feeling like the days are running together and you’re just barely making it through your daily responsibilities? When you’re making such major adjustments to your normal working life, things like learning and development can easily slip to the back burner—or off the stove entirely.
Challenge yourself to hone new skills or expand your knowledge by taking an online course. Whether you want to become a Photoshop whiz or understand the fundamentals of email marketing, there are plenty of courses out there to help you push yourself and beef up your credentials from home.
While you’re at it, now’s also a good time to stay updated on what’s happening in your industry. Follow some relevant organizations and publications on social media to receive their updates, and start a Pocket account so you can save all sorts of interesting reading materials to return to later.
3. Touch base with your networking contacts
Maybe you aren’t heading out to after-work networking events or attending industry conferences and events, but that doesn’t mean you should let your professional relationships stagnate. Hey, we could all use a greater sense of connection right now anyway.
Reach out to some of your contacts (particularly ones you haven’t chatted with in a while) to check in. Send them an interesting article you read or just a friendly, encouraging note. Or, ask them to schedule a virtual coffee chat when you can both catch up on what you’ve been up to.
In addition to combatting the loneliness that comes along with being stuck in your house, you’ll also solidify the bonds that can pay dividends down the line. Remember, the old cliché often holds true: it’s not always what you know, but who you know.
4. Start a personal website or blog
You’ve heard all of the advice about fostering your “personal brand.” And, while that phrase alone can inspire some eyerolls, it’s a concept that really holds some weight—particularly if you’re looking to establish more credibility in your industry or think you might be tackling a job search sometime soon.
One great way to build up your own brand is by starting a personal website or a blog. This will give you an outlet where you can showcase some of your greatest work (it’ll serve as a portfolio of sorts) or write advice about topics that you’re passionate about.
Make sure that you also share your website and blog with your network, especially if you’re creating resources or writing about subjects that are related to your career and industry. You’ll build your authority and also show that you’re invested in your work—beyond just what’s required for your paycheck.
5. Create some templates and cheat sheets
While the specific numbers vary, it’s estimated that the average knowledge worker spends the equivalent of one working day per week just searching for the information they need to do their jobs effectively.
Sound like a familiar trap? You can save yourself a lot of time and frustration by making some handy templates and cheat sheets that you can easily reference.
Do you find yourself sending a similar email again and again? Create a canned response for that message so you only need to swap out the necessary details.
Are you always starting blog posts, reports, or proposals from scratch? Set up a template document so you at least have the barebones in place.
Are you constantly scrambling to find the directions for uploading photos? Create a reference document that you keep bookmarked or saved on your desktop so you can easily find those instructions without digging through emails and old files.
Trust me, even though it’ll require a little bit of work upfront, the next time you need to start that project or draft that email, you’ll be glad that you created those resources for yourself.
6. Raise your hand for a project outside of your comfort zone
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut in your current position, and that certainly starts to feel even more true when you’re suddenly working from home and just trying to make it through the day-to-day.
Push yourself out of your comfort zone by volunteering for a project that you normally wouldn’t take on. Whether it’s a more straightforward data entry task to help your team to transition to working from home or it’s a daunting assignment that you previously would’ve done your best to avoid, go ahead and challenge yourself.
Not only will you lend your team a much-needed helping hand (and, you know, impress your boss in the process), but it’ll also hopefully reignite a sense of enthusiasm about your work—especially when your daily responsibilities are starting to feel mundane.
7. Read a business book
Yes, curling up with a good book totally counts as a career-boosting activity—especially if you pick up a business book that’s on your reading list.
There are tons of books out there (authored by leading experts) that offer deep dives on a variety of topics, whether you want to learn about starting a business, gather some strategies for leading a team, or master some tactics for negotiating.
Want to make this activity even more fun? Ask some of your colleagues or close friends to read one of those books at the same time as you (think of it as your own makeshift book club). You’ll feel a little more connected, while also engaging in some thought-provoking and beneficial conversations.
It’s tempting to think that you need to be out and about in order to contribute to your career growth. You think you should be shaking hands at industry networking events, having face-to-face conversations with your supervisor, and maybe even participating in some speaking engagements.
However, rest assured that there are plenty of things you can do to benefit your career success—without leaving your house.
Put these on your list, and you can feel confident that you’re doing everything you can to pursue your work-related goals, regardless of what else is happening in the world.