It was December 16th, 2015, only 2 days after I had published the first article on my new website, and I had slept in. Not good, as I had planned to get up early that morning to work on a few projects that badly needed attention.
So, I decided to make up the lost time by going straight to work instead of showering. "Ha. I'll get an extra hour back in my day", I thought. Brilliant. Besides, why shower if I have no office to go to? I thought I had stumbled upon some kind of "life hack" that would give me back an extra hour of my day, making me more productive.
I got to work. During a quick break to check email and social media, I came across an article on LinkedIn by social media consultant Jula Pereira called "The #1 Secret to Working from Home: Take a Shower". I read the article. Although I wasn't officially working from home, the tips applied to me and my job search.
"I have to always take a shower in the morning and then 'commute to work' in my home office. That way I have made a separation and a determination to start my day right."
- Jula Pereira
I took stock of how I was feeling at the moment...bed head, hoodie, in my room with no light but the screen of my laptop. Had the extra hour I thought I saved been worth it? What time was it? Surely it wasn't too late to get in a quick shower and salvage my day, right? I looked at the clock. It was 8pm.
It was clear I needed to manage my daily routine better, get organized, get productive, get to sleep at a reasonable hour and get up earlier in the morning. Consistently, not just once in a while. Whether I have an office to go to or not, I still have a job to do.
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
- Stephen King
2016 has arrived and there's a lot of talk of new year resolutions and fresh starts. I believe a great way for us to achieve our goals is to find and follow a daily schedule that builds in the time to accomplish them. Following a schedule that doesn't build in time for achieving your goals will result in failed goals.
As a new job seeker, I've found that sticking to a consistent schedule each day can be challenging, especially when I have the freedom to make my own. I'm still practicing. Life is a journey though, and it's important to build momentum by optimizing our daily routines focusing on our goals every day. My motto lately is "find your direction, keep moving forward". Challenge yourself to submit your own mottos and advice in only six words at Six Word Memoirs.
A study by Josh Katz for the New York Times broke down how the average non-employed American spends their day. Click on the image above for an interactive graphic. Notice how much time is spent on 'job search'. I started wondering how I could be more productive with my own job search and with my time in general.
To support my goal to be more productive and organized in 2016 I put together a list of 5 tips specifically for job seekers like me.
1. GRAB COFFEE
You've heard about the article in the Wall Street Journal from 2013 that says 80% of jobs are never advertised. How does a job seeker learn about an unadvertised job opportunity, let alone apply for one?
- Groups on Meetup.com offer some of the best opportunities for networking. Job fairs and networking events are often recommended and can be productive
- Reach out to friends and colleagues from past jobs to schedule a time to catch up over coffee, tea or brunch. Let others know what you're looking for and how you might help them in return. For example, I ran into a friend at a birthday party and offered to intern for him while I'm not fully employed. He agreed to meet up within the week. Who doesn't want free help? And I'll get experience I can add to my resume. Boom
- Birthday parties, housewarming parties, weddings, barbecues...you never know what kind of opportunities you might stumble upon by getting out and being social
2. GET THE APP
If you're late to events more often than you'd like to be, check out Interruptive. It requires very little maintenance and helps you to be more punctual by calling you to remind you that it's time to head to your next appointment. It's neat and definitely motivates me to get moving and not be late.
3. LEARN SOMETHING
Learn to code, take a public speaking course, take an internship, learn a language or other skill. Sites like Lynda.com and Udacity.com offer courses on a variety of topics. Take advantage of your morning routine and time spent driving to catch up on educational podcasts like the ones mentioned in INC magazine's article "100 Podcasts That Will Make You Smarter, Better, and Wiser".
I recently attended a Toastmasters meeting to network and practice my public speaking and it was great. I recommend checking one out in your area if you can.
Staying focused on your growth and development while you're in between jobs shows that you take your job search, and yourself, seriously.
4. BUILD YOUR BRAND ONLINE
When I listen to podcasts geared towards job seekers, so often I hear the same advice; start a personal website, start a blog, create social media accounts like LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+. And I'm totally bought in. Use these social media channels to stay engaged with your friends and colleagues online and offer something they find valuable.
5. GET (AND STAY) ORGANIZED
Staying organized can help you feel more in control of your life and your job search. I suggest using Google Calendar or iCal. It's also helpful to make lists. I use Wunderlist quite often and I also keep a white board and dry erase markers in my home office.
"Hard work is often the easy work you did not do at the proper time."
- Bernard Meltzer
I once took a class called Managing Your Priorities where I learned about Pareto's Principle and the "Hot 3". Pareto's Principle states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes, or in the case of productivity, 80% of the things we have to do are trivial and 20% are vital. The Hot 3 are your most important goals for that day.
- Identify 3 things you have to do today that are the most vital
- Focus on the 3 most vital things first
- Remind yourself to complete them even if your day is interrupted and it would be easier to work on other things
The Hot 3 lets you identify the most vital things each day. Write them out each morning and assign a time to complete them. Writing out my Hot 3 lately has been helpful as I've been balancing job search, home improvement and creative projects.
While researching productivity for job seekers I came across a ton of good tips. Here are a few resources I found interesting:
- 8 Things That Are More Productive Than Staring At A Job Board
- Boost Your Productivity: 3 Steps to Organize Your Workspace
- 4 Parts of a Productive Job Search
MAKE WORK VISIBLE
Speakers at TED always have something valuable to teach us. I ran across Jeff Sutherland's TED Talk on how work teams can be twice as productive in half the time. Check it out.
Thank you for reading! What is your best tip for being productive? Please let me know by writing it in the comments below. You can also follow me on Twitter @mymymiles.