7 Ways to Develop Your Career in Your Free Time
Free time can be much more productive and meaningful than a day spent curled up in bed. While you may want to use this time to hit the reset button, this is the perfect opportunity to do a few small tasks that can make a huge (and lasting) difference to your career. Just consider it as an investment into your future.
Of course, we know how tempting it can be to simply veg on the couch catching up on your latest Netflix fixation. But once you get stuck into a really good project, it will energise and motivate you to keep going.
Still think you need a bit of guidance? Here are some ways that you can use your free time to take your career to the next level…
1. Gain an insight into your industry
If you want to make a difference and contribute to the progression of your industry, then make time to understand the latest trends and happenings. Instead of struggling to keep up with the changes, you want to be one step ahead of the game.
Who’s trending on Twitter? And which organisations are shaping the direction of your industry for the future? Spending a bit of time reading up about the latest industry news not only can help generate ideas for your own projects, but it shows deep investment.
Look up the latest conferences, subscribe to a great blog or sign up for a webinar that is discussing the latest ‘thing’ to burst onto the scene so that you’re fully prepared for any changes.
2. Do some virtual networking
We have a tendency to associate networking with a dull dreary room full of people that we don’t know and, before you know it, we avoid it all together. Networking really doesn’t have to be like this (and in reality, it rarely is). It can take place in a number of shapes and forms, one of the most common being virtual.
Why not have a 20-minute Skype call? It’s easy to reach out to colleagues on sites like LinkedIn. Some industries even have specialised online communities, like CharityConnect or Tableau’s community forums. Make an effort to sustain any good business relationships that you have as you never know what opportunities this could lead to in the future.
3. Refresh your CV
If you want to boost your career or transition into another sector, you’ll need to make sure that your CV is in top shape. Most people are guilty of not touching their CV from the moment that they land a role. Get into the habit of updating yours regularly to save the headache of a mass redesign.
Spend an hour or so checking your grammar, adding any major achievements or projects and making sure that it can grab a recruiter’s attention for all of the right reasons. If you need a nudge in the right direction, here are some tips on creating a stand-out CV.
Not sure where to start? Download one of our free CV and cover letter templates.
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4. Get inspired by TedTalks
One of the most uplifting things that you can do on a day off is fuel your motivation. There are plenty of TedTalks on a number of issues from the environment to women’s rights and the not-for-profit sector, so make the most of them. It will help improve your attitude before heading back to work so that you make an even better contribution to your team.
5. Reconnect with your purpose
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of allowing work to simply become, well work. The routine, commute and familiarity often makes us complacent and lose touch with our ‘why’. Ask yourself whether your current role makes you feel fulfilled and, if not, what can be done to change that.
Maybe there’s a cause that really means something to you? If so, find out if you can volunteer to help make a difference. This could mean offering up specialised skills (marketing, accounting, research), running a virtual fundraiser or contacting organisations such as the NHS or community-based charities to see if they need a helping hand. Not only is volunteer experience good for your CV, but it helps build a network and fuels that reward pathway in our brains that makes you truly happy.
6. Recover from burnout
Often, when we get caught up in a project that we love and work becomes a bit hectic, it can be difficult to completely separate the office from home.
Feeling exhausted? Maybe it’s time to sit back, relax and regain some energy so that you can go back to work as the best version of yourself. Burning the candle at both ends won’t make you more productive. Know when it’s time to switch off and focus on you.
7. Reflect on any challenges you’ve faced
All careers are challenging. You may have faced difficulties that were entirely unexpected and out of your control. Take a moment to address your strengths and weaknesses, see if there’s potential for the situation to arise in the future and try to prepare yourself mentally to work through any struggles that you might encounter.
And don’t forget to acknowledge how much you’ve achieved so far. Perseverance is a characteristic that pays off.
Think your ready to advance to that next stage in your career? Explore all the amazing charities posting jobs today and find the opportunity that you’ve been waiting for.
And if you feel you need to brush up on your skills, find out what courses might help drive you in the right direction.
This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated to ensure relevance and to reflect the current job seeker experience and recent developments with COVID-19.