How to maintain a structured life while you’re unemployed

* This is a guest post by Bill at

Every day I get a few email questions from readers of my blog, asking for advice on getting a job in the current environment. One thing I always tell people is that you need to maintain a structured life while you’re unemployed. Otherwise, you might be at risk of getting yourself into a vicious cycle.

I was laid off in 2001 at the bottom of last recession. I was a young professional then. I also had many friends who got laid off. I was able to get a job in 4 weeks, while many of my friends were out of job for one year, two  years, or even longer.

I have seen too many people who got themselves into a vicious cycle: sleep in, wake up at 10AM, work on a few resumes and send them out, surf the net, go out for a lunch, more net surfing, feel depressed, get some dinner, watch TV, more net surfing or video games, get really tired, go to bed. The next day, feel more depressed, and more hopeless since there is no job lead.

Repeat the same routine. Feel worse and worse.

If you’re unemployed, you need to create a structured life for yourself:

  1. Clearly define your daily routine (when you’ll get up, when you’ll have lunch and dinner, when you’ll be taking a break, etc.)
  2. Give your daily routine to your friends or family members — ask them to keep you accountable. Ideally, you should be disciplined enough to follow your own schedule. But, it always helps if someone checks on you.
  3. When you get up in the morning, put on work clothes. Don’t try to work on your resume, or have phone interviews while you’re on your pajama. Treat everyday as a working day. When I was laid off, I always wore my business casual clothes when I got up in the morning. It really helped.
  4. Schedule lunch appointments with your professional contacts. Having lunch appointments will force you to get out of your house, and network with people who might have job leads.
  5. Schedule half an hour for exercise or some physical activities every day. Or, take a class at your local gym. Gym membership is one thing that I would not cancel if you want to cut your expenses. Exercise will reduce stress, and give you a well-needed break.
  6. Define specific goals for each day. For example, you’ll customize 5 resumes & cover letters each day. You’ll initiate contacts with 10 companies. Try to hit your goals every single day.
  7. Bring your laptop to Kinko’s. Work on your resume & cover letters there. This will help you avoid the distractions at home.

When you’re looking for a job, the job search itself is your job. Treat it seriously. Pursue it aggressively. Creative a structure for yourself so that you can be laser-focused and execute.

Happy job search.

If you like this article, please also check out my Great Depression 2.0 Survival Guide , which offers strategies, analysis, and tips on how to survive layoff, grow career, and build wealth.

GeekMBA360 writes about career development and personal finance @ Beat Recession. Grow Career. Build Wealth. Check out his website and subscribe to his RSS feed . You won’t be disappointed!

6 thoughts on “How to maintain a structured life while you’re unemployed”

  1. Great post — fighting that vicious cycle is key, and getting out and going to the gym is definitely one of the best ways. I made getting to the gym at 9:30am the official start to each day, and its certainly helped.

    A good place online that I’ve found for other tips and insight into unemployment is The Free Agents, which is a social network for unemployed people. It’s designed to be a casual place to meet others that are between jobs, and its a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of jobs in your specific field. From talking to people on the site, I’ve been able to better figure out where people are getting interviews and what’s working, which, although hasn’t gotten me a job yet, has made my search a lot more productive. I definitely encourage people that have been laid off to check it out and build up their network.

    Best of luck to everyone — tough times, but we’ll get through


    Andrew’s last blog post..The Power of Ignorance, or, What an 8 Year Old Can Teach You About Risk

  2. That’s a great post. I’ve been there man. It’s not nice. I don’t have a full time job but I make sure my days are productive. When your depressed anything and everything fills your mind. When your active and productive, you feel blessed and have tons of energy. It’s rewarding and doors will begin to open.

    Omar’s last blog post..Scared Of Success

  3. Pingback: Can You Become Richer In A Recession? | Joyful Days

  4. You’re absolutely right about the downward spiral of depression and unemployment. It’s really hard to make a positive impression on prospective employers if you’ve been living in your pjs for weeks and feeling bummed out. Great advice to get up, get dressed and stay motivated even when you’re between jobs.

    vapor cigarette’s last blog post..Vapor Cigarettes

  5. Wonderful advice – could not agree more about the need for a structured lifestyle. I would also suggest setting some extracurricular goals – sign up for a half-marathon or a race. Something to work towards

Comments are closed.