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The career lessons 2020 has taught us

How do you navigate your career during a pandemic that has impacted and altered everything we knew about job hunting and work life? Learning how to adapt to new situations is necessary, but in most cases there’s more to it than that. After all, you’ve never had to go through anything like this before. 

We have joined forces with career coaches Katelijne van Tienhoven, Monte Königs and Willemijn Buijn to learn from the lessons 2020 has taught us. The coaches also teach you how to deal with changes in your daily life in a positive way.

Successfully work from home by creating structure

Once everyone started working remotely, most people experienced the same issue: how do you create structure when every single day you walk from your bedroom to the living room and at the end of the day back again. On repeat.

The usual daily morning and afternoon commute created a clear divide between private life and work life, and housemates and coworkers. Since the commute is gone people suddenly start missing the break rush hour and the bike rides in the rain provided. 

Career coach Monte: “Create some structure in your day by putting on work clothes instead of your old sweatpants and put away your work stuff at the end of the day. These simple things allow you to separate your private life from work.”

The people you live with can also be a distraction. Discussing what just happened in your meeting or deciding what’s for dinner is fun but not always the most efficient. 

Willemijn: “Set up clear guidelines with the people you live with to make sure everyone has their space. It might be an idea to schedule a daily walk together. This way everyone has something to look forward to and a set moment to catch up.”

Don’t aim for 8 productive hours a day

After months of working in the exact same space, it’s more than understandable that you lose productivity and creativity. Adding structure to your day can help, but it might not get you back to the productivity level you had when working in an office.

Remember that it’s okay to not be productive every single hour of your day ‘at work’. When you find yourself stuck in a rut it’s better to take your mind off the task in front of you and focus on something else. 

Katelijne: “Make sure you spend a part of your day doing something that doesn’t involve a screen. Go outside, make a painting or play music. The change of pace will recharge your creativity and your energy to then allow you to get back to work.”

When you think about it, not all office hours were spent productively at the office either. People would make the occasional trip to the coffee machine, catch up with coworkers or even blankly stare at their screen. Working remotely has simply made you more aware of this. In other words: don’t aim for 8 productive hours a day. Instead aim for a couple of very productive and creative hours a day with plenty of breaks in between. 

Work isn’t always the number one priority

For most people, work takes up a large portion of the day/week/month. However, it should never take priority over how you feel. The previously mentioned tips are ways to make your day more productive, not strict guidelines you are obligated to follow.

When work isn’t going the way you’d like and you don’t have your usual bar/sports/night with friends to be able to vent, life can become quite overwhelming. In moments like these, put yourself first and put your work second and aside.  

It can help to talk to someone who is going through a similar situation on a weekly or daily basis. Find a buddy who is also looking for a job to speak about your day, or find someone who experiences the same struggles while working from home and share your thoughts and the problems you are dealing with.

Katelijne: “If you live with others I recommend that you take a decent amount of time to be by yourself to do the things that make you happy. Do you live alone and feel lonely at times? Call a friend or family member and tell them how you’re feeling.”

You might appreciate working remotely because it gives you time to do things for yourself and the people closest to you. If so, enjoy it! If you are struggling to adapt to the situation, focus on structuring your day and remember: work doesn’t always have to be your number one priority.