How to Not Be a Lazy Bum While Unemployed

Office Space Peter Sleeps InWouldn’t it be great if every day were a Saturday?

That may sound great to time-crunched working folk like you. I get it. I was in your ranks until recently. At that time, I daydreamed about having more time for my three R’s: Running, Reading, and wRiting.

Now I’m drowning in free time. My three favorite activities cannot fill my entire day for very long. Even if they could, none of those will pay the bills. (Unless you can think of some paying writing gigs for me. [hint, hint])

Prior to now things were hectic for me. I had to move back home, which took up most of my time and energy. Some of the major things I did were:

  1. unemployment waitingBreak the lease on my apartment (thank God I didn’t buy a place in PDX)
  2. File for unemployment benefits
  3. Decide what possessions to keep and what to sell
  4. Pack and ship the ‘keep’ possessions to my parents
  5. Sell the rest online or through an auctioneer
  6. Buy a one-way plane ticket home
  7. Unpack
  8. Get health insurance (who knew that Obamacare would offer plans with premiums $90 cheaper a month than COBRA through my former employer?!)
  9. Prepare my taxes

I think you get the point. I was pretty busy.

Now, I’m not so busy. It’s like every day is Saturday. There’s nothing stopping me from binge watching Making a Murderer in my pajamas and not showering until 3:00 pm (if at all). I mean who cares? What’s the difference, right?

HEY!! You GUYS!!!!!
HEY!! You GUYS!!!!!

My dilemma is how to avoid sliding into a sloth-like routine where every day truly is the weekend. There will always be the next Netflix du jour series available to binge watch. The list never ends!

To manage that I’m consciously maintaining a similar routine to what I did while I was gainfully employed. I won’t let myself stay up late mindlessly playing on Facebook and I set my alarm clock to wake up early. I still make my bed, meditate, and work on my blog all before I get to my desk by 8:00 am at the very latest. (And I never turn on the TV in the morning.)

Even though I don’t leave home I make a special point to both shower and dress like I would if I had a job. I think this primes me to treat my career search as if it is a full time job, which of course it is.

Ferris Bueller MeansBeyond my morning routine I make sure to get some form of exercise in. This is typically running before I eat lunch. For me, pre-lunch exercise is near bliss. If you have a schedule that allows I highly recommend it. (If not, get your exercise in before your workday begins. It’s a lot to fit exercise into your unpredictable work schedule. Plus your motivation is probably lowest when you’re leaving work.)

I make a special point of getting out of the house at least once. If I’m lucky I have an in person networking meeting scheduled, but if not I at least go to a coffee shop and work or read. Even if I don’t interact with anyone besides the cashier I still need to be with other people. (Phone calls and my parents are inadequate substitutes. Sorry mom and dad!)

That’s my typical day (so far). Beyond that I also volunteer at a local soup kitchen, the daily bread, once a week. This will sound cliché, but it’s true what people say about volunteering putting things into perspective. It’s impossible for me to wallow in self-pity after seeing someone that doesn’t know where his next meal will come from. It makes worrying about my next paycheck seem downright trivial.

daily bread

Getting back to my original concern: becoming a sloth. I conclude that you can avoid lazy habits by consciously using good habits, which takes self-discipline.

This becomes a positive reinforcing cycle because those good habits require less discipline once they become routine. That frees you up to apply the discipline and motivation to more difficult tasks, like grinding out a job search.

Thanks for reading.

Don

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4 thoughts on “How to Not Be a Lazy Bum While Unemployed

  1. Don, I enjoyed reading your blog and am delighted to read that your goal-setting has suffered no setbacks even in unemployment. Writing is an exercise that allows you to understand a great deal about yourself. Keep writing; keep thinking; keep realizing. Keep up with your routine and good luck.

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