Allow your time to be an asset, not a burden – Mental Health At Work
27/04/2020

Allow your time to be an asset, not a burden

Ian Williams
Ian Williams

Board Member, Association for Project Management

Even though we’re having to use our time differently due to the coronavirus pandemic, we’re still in control of the time we do have at our disposal. Ian Williams, a Board Member of the Association for Project Management, shares his thoughts on how to stay positive and keep up with your personal development while in lockdown.

Some people say that control is an illusion and, right now, it feels hard to argue otherwise. We are witnessing extraordinary times, in which unexpected, radical changes seem to occur daily. But even in the most trying circumstances, there are things we can control. How we choose to use the time at our disposal is among them.

As a board member for Association for Project Management (APM), I know just how familiar project professionals are with the concept of ‘expecting the unexpected.’ That mantra works when it comes to managing timelines, resources, budget, risk and all the other elements that contribute to a plan, but this is an altogether different situation. It isn’t projects that are being disrupted now; it’s lives. Many project professionals are finding their careers derailed through no fault of their own and this is, understandably, very hard to deal with; not only from a financial point of view but an emotional one too.

Do not feel guilty about taking time to do things that you enjoy.

For those who feel a strain on their mental health, here are some ideas that may help:

  • Keep up professional development – even the most well qualified among us can benefit from refreshing our skills and boosting our knowledge. There is a wealth of online resource at your fingertips – often at no cost. APM is running free online webinars and has relaunched a massive open online course (MOOC) for project practitioners, delivered in partnership with the Open University. Other freely available resources such as TED Talks are a good way to improve soft skills such as communication and relationship management.
  • Be ready for new opportunities – Be sure to keep your LinkedIn profile and CV up to date, and to keeping touch with online contacts. You never know when a new opportunity might appear.
A woman works from home in her kitchen.
  • Help others – project managers from all walks of life have been sharing their stories with APM about how they’re helping others at this difficult time. These range from giving simple but helpful advice to local business owners on how to communicate with customers online, to project professionals who have been volunteering to help get the Nightingale Hospital in London up and running. A project professional who works at the University of London has been mentoring young professionals online. If you have knowledge and expertise to share, why not consider who could benefit from it?
  • Don’t neglect yourself – Those who face uncertainty at the current time will be all too aware of the effect this can have on your emotional wellbeing​Emotional energy PDF This PDF guide from Unilever explains what emotional energy is, and how it interacts with your wellbeing.Free By: Unilever View resource. It’s also possible to feel isolated as a result of the guidelines on social distancing. Spending time to make sure you feel positive, content and optimistic is essential, so do not feel guilty about taking time to do things that you enjoy and that make you feel happy and healthy.
Make this time work for you.

Having a structured plan for getting through the upcoming weeks and months – whether it’s dedicating time for learning, community involvement or your own wellbeing – is an important way of ensuring you maintain a sense of optimism, achievement and control at a time when such things may feel out of our hands.

Make this time work for you and it will feel more like an asset than a burden.