Seven Steps to transform your career during the COVID-19 Lockdown

As we were about to enter the second week of lockdown, unsurprisingly IMF came with bad news, “It is now clear that we have entered a recession as bad or worse than in 2009.” With most executives enjoying Netflix and slowed down lifestyle, a more troubling trend is on the anvil. Leaders are getting lazy and shirking responsibilities. The workflow is slowing down and important decisions are delayed due to lack of a schedule. Nobody anticipated the world will come to standstill just within a couple of days, so nobody was prepared. The lack of preparedness has led to the overdose of shallow activities like news hunting, social media browsing and binge-watching of web series and playing frivolous games. A senior MNC executive told me yesterday, “First time, I have got an opportunity to breathe in my life. Let me enjoy it for some time.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the idea of relaxing, spending quality time with family and investing into self-development, what worries me is the setting in of complacency and missing the sense of accountability. While I have also known leaders who are working over-time to support their business in the time of remote working and lower productivity, those are few and far between. So what to do?

First, you need to get serious about it before another week is lost browsing Times of India or watching Amazon Prime. Then,

1. Make a Plan

Create a plan to utilize this period productively. Spend some time in isolation and have clarity about your career and life goals. Ask these questions while planning:

1. What skills are going to be critical in my area of work? How can I acquire those skills?

2. What new technologies will dominate my industry? How can I learn these remotely?

3. How the dynamics of the workplace will shift after lockdown and what can I do to get ready for the future?

4. Why should I be retained in the company?

5. What choices do I have in case of a layoff?

2. Create a Schedule and Be Ruthless About It

As soon as you have a plan, create a schedule with time clearly allocated to your family and self-development. Have every hour of your day clearly mentioned:

A. What, where and how long you will work [e.g. I will read ‘Blink’ at 08:30 am daily for 2 hours in my study]

B. How will you stay an optimal performance state while working [ e.g. I will turn off my phone, and will not access the internet or email in that period. I will also be inaccessible for phone calls. I will read on the study table instead of lying on the couch. The room will be closed.]

3. Enroll Your Family

Your spouse may seek your support in daily housework and your child would insist to play with you the whole day. They are reasonable to expect that, as lockdown is like a weekend for them. Have a candid conversation and let them know the impact of this crisis on your career and life. Let them know your plan and seek their support. Also, allocate time for your family and religiously stick to it.

4. Have Measurable Daily Goals

Assign yourself a measurable target every day and ruthlessly hold yourself to account. If you fail to achieve the goal, penalize yourself by doing something that you hate e.g. cleaning the wardrobe, washing clothes, etc.

5. Create Accountability Partner

It’s difficult to stick to your schedule on a daily basis, so make an accountability partner. It could your spouse or child who will hold you to account by the end of the day. You may also choose a colleague or friend on a similar journey and decide to update about each others’ progress at a specific time daily.

6. Maintain a Rhythm Calculator

After you achieve your goal every day, mark it on a printed calendar or handwritten rhythm calculator. As you progress and you have more and more tick marks, it will get addictive and you will get extra motivation to continue with your act. Keep it in physical form and visible to your eyes.

7. Celebrate

Keep a weekly milestone of tangible results. If you are able to achieve it, handwrite a thank you note to yourself or reward yourself with something that you desire.

In my experience, executives start the project with high motivation, after a few days it loses steam and they quit. If that happens, you may seek the professional support of an executive coach to arm you with the skills and tools for success in uncertain times ahead.

This article was originally published on Linkedin by the author (connect on Linkedin here) as “How will Covid-19 lockdown wreck your career before you wake up?”

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