Since the lockdown, most companies had no option but to have their employees work from home. This not only has helped control the pandemic but has also made the companies realize that working from has not only made most of their employees more productive and flexible but has also greatly reduced their operational cost. Here is how to make the best of the lockdown?
Post pandemic, many organizations are planning to offer their employees the option to work primarily from home. Where this is beneficial for the employers, working from home also has a lot of benefits for the employees as well. The cost of commute has almost been eliminated and so is the time is taken in travelling to and from work.
If your employer has given you the option to work from home, it is worth considering even for the long term. However, the main objective behind working from home should not be to spend those extra hours lying in bed or that saving to buy expensive stuff that you don’t really need. There is a rare opportunity here that needs to be appreciated which smarter people are already making use of.
First of all, you should go about your daily routine as you were working from the office. You should wake up at the same time as you used to and the money you save from travelling and buying precooked lunch should be set aside. Only then you can truly benefit from the current situation.
The second thing to do is find ways you can put those extra savings to good use. If you already have a financial planner, it is good. If not, consult one. The stock market is very volatile nowadays and if you find the right stocks that are undervalued at present, you can make a small fortune within a year. You can also find other avenues to invest that better suit your personal circumstances.
The third thing to do is to find ways to utilize the extra time you have at hand to make best of the lockdwon. There can be three basic areas that you can focus: tasks that save you money, tasks that help you earn more and things you can do for personal development. None of these areas should be ignored. Below I am going to discuss some of the ideas that can help you emerge stronger from the lockdown and improve your life as a whole from this immense opportunity.
Exercise or some form of physical activity is essential to a healthy body and mind. Incorporating regular exercise in your routine is something we all have thought about and to some extent tried unsuccessfully at some point in our lives. If you already have incorporated exercise and healthy physical activities into your routine, you can skip to the next section. For the rest of you, please continue reading.
If you are struggling to include daily workout in your life, the best way to start is slowly. In my experience, it is not important how much weight you can lift and how many miles you can run. The most important thing about exercise is discipline. If you feel like you need to get the external motivation to go to the gym, change your approach.
When I was struggling to adapt to a healthier lifestyle and to make best of the lockdown, I used one simple trick that helped me a lot. When I woke up in the morning, I did some crunches before getting out of bed. That’s it! Every day, before getting up from bed, I did my crunches. A few days later I added push-ups and planks to my morning routine. All it took was a few minutes, but I got into the routine of exercising.
An added benefit of this trick that I later realized was that few minutes of exercise got my heart pumping blood at a faster rate which eliminated that morning laziness I always had. My mind and body were more awake and alert, without the need for my morning coffee.
During the lockdown, you will not be travelling to work. If you wake up at the same time as before, you should have plenty of spare time in the morning. This is the best time to exercise. The key is to focus on how regularly you are exercising, and not on how much. Once you develop a habit of working out daily, you can add a morning run and even more to your morning routine. This will not only help you start a healthier lifestyle, but will also keep you more active and productive throughout the day helping you achieve more.
Start cooking at home
This lockdown has got us all spending more time in the kitchen, bringing us closer to our inner chefs. Despite many restaurants now being open, people are still not eating out much. This may seem like a temporary phenomenon; however, the experts predict that the restaurant business may never recover to its original glory. Once people got into the habit of cooking, many have decided to stick with it.
Many restaurants are also planning to incorporate classes for home chefs in order to supplement the lower expected earnings. This is a great opportunity for people who always wanted to be more active in the kitchen but lack the skills. You can also use this opportunity to incorporate more homecooked meals in your daily routine as a long-term option, and avoid eating out or ordering food delivery and int this way you can make best of the lockdwon.
According to most financial advisors, eating out is the first thing you need to cut down on when doing a financial audit of your expenses. With an average American either eating out or ordering take-away about 5 times a week, it is the single most certain way of saving money. If you save only $3 per meal on those 5 meals a week, and add an additional $2 daily for brewing coffee at home instead of buying at Starbucks, these savings alone add up to $1500 a year. That may not be a life-changing amount but it surely is $1500 more than nothing.
The estimate above is a very conservative estimate and for those people who buy precooked meals for lunch during the work week, the amount can sum up to thousands of dollars each year. Combine this with the health costs if you are a fan of junk food like most people, the benefits of relying more on home cooked food are enormous.
The savings that you will get from this initiative can be put to better use. You can invest it into a growing asset such as mutual funds, or pay off that payday loan that has multiplied over the years, or even spend it on learning the skills that have been holding you back from that promotion at work.
Start applying for jobs
This may seem counterintuitive with all the layoffs and redundancies, but now is the right time to update that CV and start applying for jobs. There are multiple reasons for why I am saying this and once you hear me out, you will agree with me.
The first reason is time. You will have plenty of spare time on your hands with no getting ready in the morning and commuting to work so we can manage time easily to make best of the lockdwon. For an average person, that is an extra 2 hours daily. Why not utilize this time to find better opportunities for yourself?
The second reason is security. We all know that jobs by nature are not as secure as owning a business. Even under normal circumstances, if something happens at the workplace, you can lose your job in a minute. However, in these tough times when the employers already have a valid reason for layoffs, the risk is much greater. However, by starting your search early, you will have already done half the work needed for getting a new job in case something happens.
The third and the most important reason for my suggestion is the huge opportunity that many of us will miss out on simply by not seeing it. Many businesses have recently laid off employees due to lack of work. On the other hand, the situation related to lockdown is relaxing and businesses are coming back to normal which will leave the businesses understaffed. Now, the laid-off workforce cannot afford to wait for the things to get back to normal and has found new jobs, hence the opportunity for you to replace them in the positions that will soon reopen. Instead of waiting for vacancies to be advertised and other people start applying for the same positions, why not cut the competition and get ahead of everyone else by applying now.
Start a side hustle
In this day and age, having a side hustle is a must. During this pandemic, when you have spare time on your hand and are getting used to working from home, this is definitely something worth considering. It is the best benefit you can gain out of the lockdown and there is no logical reason for not doing it.
Having an extra source of income on the side not only helps you improve your financial position, but also serves as an insurance policy against redundancies and layoffs. As I discussed above, jobs security is a luxury that a lot of people don’t have. Even if you have a secure job, a lot of companies are having to choose between shutting down the business and laying off employees because of the greatly reduced revenues during the lockdown, rendering even the most secure jobs at risk. Therefore, having a secondary source of income on the side is now more important than ever.
Using your spare energy for best of the lockdown, you can start developing a side hustle. However, there are a number of factors that you need to consider when choosing the best option for yourself. The first thing to consider is that if you have a 9 to 5 job, especially one you do not like, you will need to work extra on your side hustle. Therefore, it is very important that you choose something you want to do rather than something that you have to. In other words, choose something that you have interest in. This way it would be more of a relaxation than chore when you finish work and start working on your second income.
The second factor to consider in choosing your side hustle is the skills required for that work. It would be easier to start something that you already have the skills for, but it may be more rewarding to start something else that requires you to learn a specific set of skills first. There should be careful consideration into what is the required level of skills, where you currently stand and how much energy you can put in to learn before you start to earn.
The third and equally important factor to consider is the time and effort required to start and maintain that source of income. This will vary from person to person as well, depending on your individual circumstances. You will have to judge how much time and energy you will have after your day job to put into your second source of income without disturbing your personal life too much.
It is also worth considering that some side hustles will pay you more while other will pay you quickly. Although it is always better to focus on the longer-term prospects, your personal circumstances may require you to start something that pays off quicker. For example, if you are interested in a writing career but need to pay off a high-interest loan, it may be better to start with proofreading instead of starting a blog. Proofreading is something that starts paying quickly as compared to a blog (that takes at least a year to provide you something substantial to look forward to) all while being very relevant to your writing aspirations.
Organize your life
One way to get the most out of your time is to organize your life. This way you can minimize the time wasted every day and get more done. Having a more organized life is one of the traits most common among the more successful people. If you have a little extra time on your hand, it is worth considering spending it on evaluating your routine and reorganizing your daily activities so that you can also be more productive.
A good place to start this is your room. The state of your mind is reflected in the state of your room and vice versa. You should take your time in reorganizing your room. Everything should have a place of its own and you should make a habit of putting everything in its place. You should also get rid of all the clutter you have lying around and the things that you no longer have a use for just to make best of the lockdwon. Selling off the extra stuff will provide you with some extra cash and the organization part will save you the frustration of not finding things when you need them, giving you more mental space to focus on the important things.
Another thing to do is to schedule your day minute-by-minute every day before you go to sleep. This will help you eliminate the wasted time every day. You will be surprised at how much time we waste every day simply sitting and doing nothing. You can put this extra time to better use, like doing something more productive, learning something that you always wanted to learn or something that you truly enjoy. You can even start a course to develop that skill you need to get that promotion at work.
Start a productive hobby
Having a hobby is very important when it comes to a balanced life and especially when you want to make best of the lockdown. Some like to play games, others love reading books, playing an instrument, crafting, painting and what not. It is important to have that ‘my time’ in your life where you do something just for the fun of it, do something only for the sake of doing it. This helps you relax and is important for mental development as well as mental stability. When life gets challenging, it can also be a sanctuary from everything bad, that lets you escape from reality for a short period of time and regain your mental strength before getting right back on track.
All that is good, but this is a blog about money. So, let’s talk about money! While the primary objective of a hobby is finding something that you love and doing it simply out of your love for it, it never hurts to make a little money while doing it. While some may say it defeats the purpose of a hobby, I say that as long as you think of money as a byproduct or at least a secondary objective, it does not matter.
Let’s start with the most obvious one: gardening. If you love gardening or at least are interested in it, you can start a vegetable garden in your backyard. This will not make you a millionaire, but will surely provide you at least some financial benefit in the form of savings in groceries. Moreover, the best thing about gardening is that you get fresh vegetables direct from your backyard that you know are clean and organic, and free from any harmful chemicals.
Another hobby that can make you some money is music. If you play an instrument, why not learn how to record, mix and master? While learning how to play with sound can be quite fun, this can also start you another source of income while staying in the music field. Most youtubers, podcasters and musicians do not know how to master sound. They usually hire music producers and sound directors to mix and master their tracks. If you have a keen interest in sound and music, by learning how to do this you can start offering your services online through the freelancing platforms. This service is expensive and can provide you with significant revenue, with the potential even to replace your full-time job should you choose to pursue it beyond hobbyist level.
Do one thing at a time
The last thing I would like to say here is not something that you should, but something that you should not do. I have discussed quite a few things in this article that you can do to benefit from the opportunity, or rather opportunities, that the lockdown has provided. Although all of them can be beneficial, please do not go all out and start everything at once. Take it one thing at a time.
Ok, maybe you can combine some of the activities to start simultaneously, but starting all those things at once can be overwhelming. Maybe start with the exercise and the organization. Once you daily routine starts getting more organized, you will have more time at your hands and you can add more activities to it. Do not push yourself beyond your limits. This way, unable to cope with them, you will quickly quit. It is not a question about how many ticks you have on this list, only to give up later. It is more important that you develop good habits and keep them incorporated in your life.
This approach should be applied to all aspects of your life. When trying to do something good for yourself or for others, or bringing a change in your life, you should always know your limits. It is one thing to push yourself to the limits, and a completely different thing to overwhelm yourself and give up on things that you could otherwise achieve easily. Perseverance is the key to success, but it can only come by knowing your limits and acting accordingly. In this way you can make best of the lockdown