by Elizabeth Borelli, PCC

It’s harder than ever to focus with everything happening right now. The feelings of uncertainty during this unprecedented time can and will distract you from your goals. Life in flux and crisis updates make it difficult to stay on task. And if you happen to have kids at home, make it a double.

Most of us haven’t lived through a time where restricted social contact is both advised and enforced. Schools are out, businesses are closed, travel IS banned. This forced shut-down creates an eerie feeling and unprecedented change for everyone. Work and business have been disrupted and our lives are overturned. But in the midst of all this chaos, people in career transition still need to find a job.

The good news is, aside from industries immediately impacted, businesses are moving fast to find ways to maintain operations and return to a new normal as quickly as possible. All of which means many organizations not immediately impacted are still hiring.

Most companies are quickly switching to a remote work environment. So if you’re building software, managing supply chains, designing new processes, marketing, project managing, selling, providing customer service, ordering, reviewing financial records, writing reports, creating trainings, presenting trainings, or any of the other jobs that can be done remotely, companies need you, maybe more than ever. Business is shifting, companies need help.

Yes, life now is stressful. But it’s also an opportune time to realign your actions with your priorities. You have time now to stop, take a step back to look at the where you can shift your outreach strategy to fit the new remote meeting paradigm.

Here are 5 strategies you can use to focus your remote job search and stay on track to finding your next role:

  1. Prioritize healthy sleep habits.

Too frequently, when we’re in a time of stress or uncertainty, healthy sleep habits are the first thing to go. Yet lack of sleep contributes to a rise in cortisol, the stress hormone best known for coloring your perception to a dull shade of gray. Picture rose-colored glasses, only opposite. Instead, make sleep a priority. Inch up your bedtime, power down an hour early and try a sleep app like Calm.

  1. Plan your day around goal setting best-practices.

For those of us used to going to an office, having a dedicated space, priorities and deadlines outlined for us, working at home under the best of circumstances is challenging.

This article outlines a helpful method for maximizing your productivity while working from home

However, for most of us, the big question is, how can you avoid distractions? There’s the laundry, the kids, the news and Facebook. With all this beckoning for your attention it’s hard to stay on track with job search tasks.

One helpful method for dealing with this common problem, is to take a good look at your go-to distractions.

For example: interrupting my work to check social media

Start by writing down your most common distractions. Then review the list and answer the following questions:

  • Is it a habit (something you regularly do, like checking your phone?)
  • Is it triggered by difficult tasks?
  • Is it stress-relieving?

Now that you’re paying attention to these behaviors, it’s easier to manage them. A great strategy is to use distractions as a reward when you accomplish a task or goal. This is called When/Then Planning. (note: yes, laundry can feel like a break when you’re working on your job search, chores count as distractions!

To try it, calendar time for your go-to distractions, sandwiched in between your scheduled tasks.:

When/then (for example, When I’m tempted to check Facebook after making one or two calls, then I’ll wait until I reach my goal of 10 before I give myself a (strictly) 5-minute break)

  1. Trade testimonials.

Most of us loathe the idea of asking someone to give us a good referral. It feels so tacky. But in the hiring world, an objective opinion is the difference between a positive customer review and a magazine ad. When you’re in a new city, looking for a restaurant, which source are you likely to believe? The 5-star review or the glossy, full-color promo?

So yes, try asking for referrals, but no to tacky asks. The good news is, shifting the focus from getting to giving is the fasting path to receiving a testimonial or referral.

Go deep on this one. Who can you give a testimonial to that would never expect it? Who can you do the honor of noticing? Think outside of the box – you don’t have to know someone well to appreciate them. A former colleague, a vendor, a customer service person. Leave a LinkedIn referral and watch them come back.

  1. Move your coffee get-togethers to video chats.

We’re all going through a challenging time right now. In addition to friends and family, it’s a good time to reconnect with former colleagues or other people in your network facing the same challenges. While in-person options are limited, how can you connect with your network using Zoom or another free and easy to use video chat option?

This is an opportunity to step into a leadership role and help others while connecting with and supporting your community. Inviting others to join a Zoom meeting around a topic associated with reaching career goals creates a win-win.

  1. Find grace in this moment.

I’ve been so impressed that, while we’re all experiencing various stages of apprehension, many people have self-selected social distance for the good of the whole. And from what I’ve seen we’ve done it gracefully, mostly free of judgement and competition. I feel proud to be a part of my community.

These are uncertain times, and much of life seems out of our control. Focusing on the impact you can make on the things that matter most is your best path forward. You’ll emerge from this transition, lessons learned, ready to make the best of whatever life brings.