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How to structure your time effectively

Allen Associates, News & Blog

Over the last few months, the impact of Covid-19 has had an enormous effect on working practices – and that includes workloads. Some people may have had significantly more work to do while others may have lost large chunks of their work due to the changing nature of their role or their employer’s business. Those that have been furloughed or made redundant will have even more time on their hands.

In our recent report to better understand the impact of Covid-19, more than one in five (22%) employees, furloughed staff and unemployed people that we surveyed said that coping with a decreasing workload was their biggest challenge.

Knowing how to deal with spare time at work – or during the working day – is not always easy, particularly if your confidence has been knocked and your morale is low. We hope that the following pointers will help you make good use of any spare time you may have and better equip you for the road ahead.

How to make the most of your time at work

You may have experienced a sharp decline in the volume of work you are being asked to do. Many marketing professionals, for example, have seen campaigns cancelled or postponed due to budget constraints. And administrative staff may have fewer tasks to do as their managers’ priorities have shifted and their energies have been diverted elsewhere.

If you’re used to working at a fast pace, then suddenly having much less work to do can feel hugely disconcerting. But there are ways in which you can not only keep yourself busy, but you can upskill yourself and impress your boss.

If you are struggling to find work to do, the first thing that you should do is speak to your line manager directly. Ask your line manager if there are any other tasks that you can undertake. You may find that they have work that they can allocate to you. Or you may have your own ideas of work that you would like to get involved in. You could even suggest that you use any spare time to act as a mentor to upskill junior colleagues and assist in their professional development. If you have any clear ambitions to progress your career, then now may be the time to communicate this with your line manager.

Secondly, why not start to implement more personal development activities into your daily routine? If you are a member of a professional organisation then you’ll be well aware of the importance of continual professional development (CPD). It’s the way that you can continue to learn new skills and update your knowledge. For many of us, incorporating CPD into our daily routines can be difficult. We often don’t have time to facilitate learning because we are too busy getting on with the work. CPD doesn’t have to be intensive. Simply taking the time to read professional trade publications (such as Marketing Week or HR Director) can be enough to update your knowledge and understanding of issues relating to your profession. You may even wish to look at what online training could be available to upskill yourself. Once you’ve started incorporating regular CPD activities into your daily routine, you can share your newfound knowledge and expertise with other colleagues. Not only will this showcase what you know, but your line manager will think favourably on you for taking the initiative to boost your skills.

Using your furlough productively

If you’ve been furloughed, then you will not be able to undertake any tasks relating to your paid employment. But this doesn’t mean that you should spend your days ploughing through the latest boxsets on Netflix!

Furloughed employees may find that after the novelty of a few weeks’ paid leave wears off, they need something to do. This is where we advise thinking about what you want to achieve in your career. You may have ambitions to move into a senior management role, or you may be looking to adapt your skills to work in a new area. Once you’re clear on what you want to achieve, you can start to build a plan of action. This may be as simple as talking to your line manager about how they see your role progressing on your return to work, or it could be about understanding how you can upskill yourself.

If you know that you are going to be furloughed for many more weeks, then why not keep your skills fresh through volunteer work for a local charity or community group? Not only could volunteering help you to build new skills outside of the workplace, but you could develop a wider network of contacts who may help you with your professional development. It also looks good on your CV!

Using your redundancy to upskill yourself

When it comes to redundancy, you may go through a myriad of emotions. We previously wrote about the emotional fall out as well as ways to regain your confidence as you return to the job hunt.

Those who have been made redundant often tell us that they struggle to adjust to the ‘new normal’ of their daily lives. Without a job to go to, their day may lack structure. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and despondency. This is why it’s important to take a strategic approach to your job hunt. By making a list of achievable tasks, you will feel like you are making progress – even if they are just small milestones each week. Tasks might include writing or updating your CV, drafting a cover letter, getting your portfolio together or approaching past employers to ask for testimonials. Set yourself manageable targets which will allow you to see how you are moving along in the job hunt. Not only will this boost your productivity, but it will help you to feel like you are in control.

As with colleagues who may be furloughed, you may wish to use your time to consider what you want to achieve in your career. Many people will be using Covid-19 as an opportunity to retrain in new sectors. The Telegraph recently reported that the government will shortly be unveiling a new funding scheme designed to support people as they retrain into new areas. You may also like to take a look at the National Retraining Scheme.

To find out how we may be able to help you, please get in touch. We’ve worked with candidates at all levels across Oxfordshire and in London, helping them to find new permanent and temporary positions in HR, Marketing, Finance, PA and Administration.