Starting up in a lockdown

By Kat Hounsell

I am currently unemployed. It's still hard to say out loud.

This was my situation before the virus struck, but as you can image, it's not become any easier.

But, I am one of the lucky ones. My partner is working full-time so we are ok financially, for the time being. This is a massive relief, but I still feel a sense of urgency around launching my own business. It would be too easy to use the current situation as an excuse to not get going.

I'm striking out on my own in digital marketing. I crave the freedom & flexibility of working for myself. I'm anticipating some long hours and hard-work, but I'm hopeful it will enable the lifestyle I’m after.

Not the best timing, I know.

Obviously some of the plans I had are on hold now, but it's an ideal time to get everything I can set up, so I'm ready to launch with a bang when we're all let out to play again!

I'm a glass half full type. I try to look for the positives and take deliberate actions every day towards my goal. I'm also used to working from home, which I've done for the past 2 years so here are some of my top tips for remaining productive, especially if you're unemployed or starting your own business.

First up….

Tactics to avoid the dreaded scrolling temptation

Social media can have some real benefits, but can also be a time vampire, easily sucking hours from your day without you noticing. I've been there.

Here are a few things that have helped me to keep that scrolling under control.

● Get an alert when you've spent a certain amount of time on a platform using the app settings. It makes you realise the amount of time passing and it feels good when you don't hit that limit!

● Unfollow or mute accounts that don't make you feel good (see find your tribe below). This makes the time you do spend on social media a more enjoyable and productive experience.

● Make it harder to keep reaching for your phone, especially first thing and just before bed. You can turn off notifications, move it to another room or just flipping it over works for me.

● One for you hard core addicts to try is scheduling time for social media, with an aim to reduce it over time.

Find your tribe(s)

Did you know that apparently you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with?

Which kinda makes sense.

We can't always choose who we're surrounded by, but this little fact has made me reassess not only who I spend time with, but what I consume.

I've used some isolation time to actively reach out and connect to people and groups that either help me learn, expand my horizons, provide valuable support or entertain me.

These include Facebook groups, LinkedIn connections and former colleagues. I've also tried to give back where I can, sharing knowledge and ideas and generally trying to be helpful. Just one connection can open all kinds of opportunities.

I was hoping to get in some face to face networking to help kick start my business, as that's out, I've found some great online groups instead. Hopefully one day soon we'll get to shake hands.

I'm also immersing myself with content which is relevant to where I want to get to. I like to think of some people and blogs as virtual mentors. They're steps (sometimes leaps) ahead of where I want to get to, so provide inspiration, motivation and that all important kick up the arse we usually need somewhere along the way!

Don't get stuck on the hamster wheel

When you're out of work it can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling that you need to constantly be searching.

I've found it beneficial to keep some structure to the day, but make sure what I'm doing moves me forward. Scouring job boards all day could be described as job searching, but let's be honest, how many new opportunities are going to magically appear each hour? By all means check, but don't spend the day staring at a screen hitting the refresh button.

Don't fall into the trap I have in the past, by fooling yourself you're being productive by endlessly filling your days. Create an action plan, (personally I love a list!) that's achievable. Manageable mini goals feel way less daunting than huge projects.

It’s satisfying to look back at the day and identify what you've done to progress. And, empowering to set actions for the next day. Focus on the actions that serve you the best (hint: these usually aren't the things that you find the easiest!)

So, whether you have 8 hours a day or just 1 hour a week to work, focus on your goal and make it count.

Be a normal human

This might sound a bit strange, but have you noticed that some people and businesses have lost their way at the moment?

It’s a really tough time, however I can’t help thinking that if everyone remembered the mantra ‘be kind’, we’ll all be ok.

I’m trying to set up a business, which is massively important to me, but extremely far down the list of just about everyone else. So, I’ve tried to be thoughtful about who I reach out to, how and when. This is good practice at any time, but feels even more vital now.

As a digital marketer, I’ve been interested in the LinkedIn debates circulating about whether we should be ‘marketing’ or 'selling' to people in the current climate. My two pennies' worth are:

- Don’t try and pretend that everything is normal, it’s not. People may still want your products and services so find the right message and tone for the situation.

- Think about how you will be perceived when we get back to ‘normal’. No-one wants to be lumped into the same box as 'Mike Ashley' at the moment! Instead consider, how can you support others?

On the flip-side, there have been some amazing initiatives that warm the soul. It’s awesome what can be achieved when people pull together. I hope the collaborative spirit continues.

And, for anyone else starting up on their own or looking for the next role, we’re in it together. Good luck!

Kat Travel Blog