How To Cultivate Productivity Habits When You’re In-Between Jobs
Dramatic workplace changes are currently underway. Office jobs quickly transformed into remote jobs. Public-facing employees rapidly became “essential workers” serving the community during the dangerous COVID-19 pandemic. Certain industries faced mass layoffs due to COVID-19, while other industries grew rapidly, and new government programs established better economic safety nets for the unemployed.
You may be one of the millions of workers who are currently redefining their careers. Being “in-between jobs” can be a powerful season to reassess your personal goals and values. Here are some things to consider when you’re in this season.
Approach this season with intentionality
Consider what you’d hope to invest your time into while you’re not employed. Want to exercise more? Planning to travel? Aiming to do specific house projects? Hoping to invest in a creative endeavor?
Be intentional to map out your desires. It’s easy to let time get away from you when you lack the structure of being employed.
Now might be an ideal time to make a list of goals to accomplish that you’ve been unable to achieve while you were working. However, if you’re already extremely goal-oriented, you may not want to pursue goals right now. You’re likely going to spend most of your life working to accomplish workplace goals, so choosing to rest right now may help you overcome burnout and find the reprieve you need before you start your next job.
Let the world know what you have to offer
Letting people know that you’re looking for a specific type of job is probably the most important thing you can do while you’re in between jobs.
Meeting for coffee with a well-connected friend who isn’t hiring is likely a better use of your time than applying for a job where you don’t know anyone. The best job leads often haven’t been posted publicly yet. They could also be jobs that are custom-created for your unique skills. Personal referrals are 4x more likely to get the job.
However, if no one knows you’re looking, they can’t pass exceptional opportunities to you. Publicize that you’re looking on LinkedIn and social media. Bring it up in conversations with your loved ones. Email trusted people your resume. Boldness during this season may set you up with a job that becomes a source of great joy for years to come.
Time off from work isn’t the same as a vacation
When you embark on a vacation, it has a specific end date, and you know how you’re funding the trip. When you’re off from work, you’re facing financial insecurity and time may feel ambiguous, which can dampen the feelings of ease you’d normally feel during a vacation.
Additionally, you need to exert energy while in-between jobs to figure out what your next job will be. Hunting for your next job may be more exhausting than you initially expect. This is normal.
Maintain a schedule
Oh, joy! While you’re in between jobs you don’t have to wake up to report to a boss. You can enjoy sleeping, eating, exercising, and doing chores on whatever timetable you desire! However, while there’s great freedom in redefining your schedule, it’s important to at least create a schedule. Without some structure, you may feel rudderless.
Explore a temporary “fun” job
Consider the ways that your career path has drained you. Do you regularly have to make complex decisions? Are you constantly surrounded by people? Is your job physically taxing? Does it require constant creativity?
You may find emotional refreshment in trying a job that requires completely different skills. If you’re tired of sitting at a desk all day, try waiting tables. If you’re sick of dealing with people, consider walking dogs. If your body needs to recover from a grueling physical job, consider working at a desk as a virtual administrator. If you want to get out of town, explore teaching English abroad.
Trying a new job doesn’t mean making a permanent life change. It’s just a way to supplement your income and explore what makes you happiest in the workplace.
Watch your finances carefully
It goes without saying that when you’ve lost your main income source, you need to budget carefully. Being unemployed can be very emotionally taxing and you may be tempted to self-soothe your big emotions with retail therapy. Also, some people really underestimate how long they’ll be in-between jobs, making budgeting hard.
This is a critical time to carefully manage your money. Know exactly how much your life costs you and figure out exactly how long you have until you’re going to run out of funds. Consider temporarily cutting unnecessary expenses.
Get creative to consider where you can find supplementary income during this time. You’re in a vulnerable spot when you’re unemployed, so make sure you protect yourself from financial insecurity as much as you can.
Maximize your benefits
Right now, government assistance to support people is unprecedented because of COVID-19. If you were laid off, seek out every dollar the government’s willing to give you.
Additionally, maximize any severance benefits you may have. Feel empowered to reach out to your former employer’s HR team to get clarity on anything that you’re unclear on. For example, they may be offering free career coaching to former employees. This resource could prove to be incredibly helpful as you navigate the job hunt.
Figure out a way to maintain health care coverage. This is so important. Even the healthiest person is just one bad day away from incurring crippling medical debt. You may choose health insurance during this season that’s lower quality than your employer offered, but please make sure you establish some sort of medical safety net during this time.
This is a challenging season, but also a very special one!
There will likely be a day when you’re exhausted in a future job and you look back on this time with rose-colored glasses. While feelings of anxiety and dread are natural when you’re in between jobs, try to also find feelings of rest, hopefulness, and optimism. This too shall pass, and then one day you may actually miss it.