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4 productive uses of your time while quarantined

tools to work from home

This is unlike any other time in our lives. Many of us are living under stay-at-home orders. Zoom is our new way of life. And we have even more time to scroll through social media and news sites to see what’s happening in the world and to search for some glimmers of hope.

Perhaps we’ll be back to normal in a few months. Maybe it’ll take a year for things to truly feel “normal” again. Whenever it is that “normal” returns, will you be prepared for it? Here are four ideas of actions you can be taking now to be sure you’re prepared when “normal” arrives.

Take some time to focus on your brand.

Perhaps you’ve been one of the thousands (millions?) of people who have suddenly found yourself furloughed or out of a job. Perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to continue working. Regardless of your situation right now, chances are good that at some point you’ll be on the hunt for your next challenge. Having an effective LinkedIn profile has continued to be a key element in polishing your professional brand.

Kristin Graham, who leads culture and communications for Amazon’s global leadership development team, recently published an article entitled Homeschool, Adult Edition: Polishing Brand You on LinkedIn. If you’ve had a LinkedIn profile for a while, this is the perfect time to take an hour or so and give it a face lift. Kristin’s article offers a series of clear, easy (and too-often ignored) steps to making sure your professional online presence represents the you that you want represented.

Sharpen your skills.

Have you ever wanted to sharpen your writing skills? Become better at communicating on social media? Do you think you have leadership abilities that are just itching to come out, but you haven’t quite landed that manager role yet?

Maybe it’s time to take on some new responsibilities in a volunteer role. As the president of our local Association for Talent Development (ATD) chapter, I know that my organization is constantly on the lookout for talented individuals who can bring their curiosity, energy and passion to a wide variety of roles. If you’re looking to enhance your skillset and you’re a member of a professional association – on the local or the national level – chances are good that there’s a role waiting for you. Not only will a volunteer role help build your skillset and expand what you can say about yourself on your resume, LinkedIn profile and job application… but it will also provide you with a whole new world of professional connections who can help if and when the day comes that you’re looking for a new gig.

Contribute to the field.

Several years ago while I was establishing ground rules for a training session with my participants, I was struck by a comment from one of my participants. He said one of our ground rules should be: “The only thing missing from this training session is what I don’t contribute.”

It was a profound statement. By not participating, we’re robbing everyone else of a learning experience. I think this is not only true in a training setting, but in the entire field of talent development.

Whether you’ve been in the field for a few months or many years, everyone has something to contribute.

One way to contribute is to simply share an article you’ve read on LinkedIn. Or comment on a blog post. Or submit a proposal to speak at a conference.

If you’re ready to take the next step, perhaps this is a good time to organize your thoughts and pitch an article to be published. Recently I had a chance to sit down with ATD’s Eliza Blanchard to talk about what it takes to get published in an industry magazine like TD. If you have 10 minutes, give it a listen… and then collect your thoughts and pitch that article you’ve been wanting to write!

Be present.

A wise friend of mine suggested that everyone should take a sabbatical at some point in their career. While this may not be the 3 month paid sabbatical that many folks dream about, this strange time in which we find ourselves is offering a sabbatical of sorts.

This is an opportunity to be truly present. Perhaps that means an opportunity to focus on a daily practice like meditation or journaling. Perhaps when everyone is working from home and there’s no school happening, it’s an opportunity to make sure there’s one meal during which everyone is together. Perhaps it’s an opportunity to take the dog for a nice long walk around the neighborhood. Perhaps it’s an opportunity to bring a daily siesta into your life (who doesn’t like a good mid-day, mid-week nap??).

Yes, there have been some big changes thrust upon us, but we’re still in control of some things. And the rock stars that emerge when “normal” returns are going to be the people that saw this time as an opportunity.

Out of Curiosity

With so many training programs needing to be converted to virtual delivery, I’m curious about a few things. Take a minute or two to share your answers and I’ll compile and discuss the results in an upcoming post.

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