How Did I Not Go Insane When Being Unemployed? - A Series Pt2.
Boredom can be an incredibly destructive state to be in for long periods of time. In the short term boredom can help spark new ideas if you are motivated to find those. When being unemployed and having far too much free time on your hands it can be very difficult to find focus, and negative habits and feelings can easily pop up and stay if you aren't careful.
I decided very early on in my unemployment that it was critical for me to keep the same basic routine that I had had during my previous work life. From getting up early in the morning to going to sleep at a reasonable time and a strict no drinking policy during weekdays created the core of my daily routine but I was still faced with "how to fill that time".
I set about making my unemployment my full time job. This is not meaning that I spent all day, every day job hunting. I next made my job hunting routine. I utilised available services from the unemployment office which was superb. Having set meeting times and advice on my resume, cover letter writing, insight into different recruitment events and online job postings. This gave me a good focus and a clear opportunity to get all of my content up to date. After a short while I got into the routine of job searching and applying for positions first thing every morning rather like I would have handled all my email had I been at work. Having this part done every day gave me a clear sense of achievement that I had done what I needed to do. In addition I had regular meetings at the unemployment office where I spoke with a valuable contact who gave me lots of different ideas and started to shape my mind in such a way that I knew I could use my skills in many other industry sectors other than technology.
So, this ended up being 1 hour or so in the morning and another hour in the evening. What to do still with those hours in between?
Next I focussed on ME. Having so much time on your hands can leave you wondering a bit who you are and what do you like, at least this was the case for me. Pretty much I had a blank slate. So here are the things I focussed on:
Learning: There is a lot of amazing places you can find on the web these days with either free of cheap courses - you don't really always have to take those expensive professional courses! I used both Hubspot and Udemy a lot to look at enhancing my own skills in marketing, social media and design which were at least 3 areas that during my work life I had perhaps got the most out of. Doing these also shaped how my job hunting was focussed.
Wellbeing: I had always enjoyed going to the gym and now was my opportunity to make the most of having no excuses but to just do it. At least 3 times a week pushing myself in the gym left me feeling happy, confident and seeing positive change.
Being a parent: Albeit, a divorced parent, but, having the time to be able to focus on my daughter has been invaluable. Being able to be there 100% in mind without distractions of the next project deadline or company politics has brought me a higher quality relationship that I truly cherish.
Hobbies: Photography, music, nature, leather work and more. Having the time to develop skills and immersing yourself in your passions pays off hugely. The leather work as a hobby left me feeling so fulfilled and has been one of the few things that I have done where the clock has been unimportant - and this also lead me to where I am now with The Bearded Underdog.
I had always loved to play guitar, write songs and record them but over the last 15 years had had very little time to put any effort in. I suddenly went to composing a song a week, learning to use professional recording SW, and creating those songs for myself to listen to whenever I wanted. My guitar playing skills improved and I was making songs that also made me feel a great sense of achievement.
The nature in my garden also tied my own photography into an extremely fulfilling activity that has seen me make friends with the local red squirrels who visit me every day and I regularly post on my personal instagram page about this.
Social: It is important to not become a prisoner or hermit when being unemployed. From going out for coffee, to attending job fairs, to going out ocassionally to the bars it was vital for me to also be around people and have positive interactions. Because of all the things I was doing it often happened that a complete stranger would approach me just to say that I looked so happy, and I was. I am.
What do you want to be in 5 years? is a common question and during the last few years I have always answered the same thing; Happy.
So, yeah, a daily routine gave me a great sense of purpose and direction and one friend in particular asked me "how are you going to manage to have time to actually having a job when the time comes?". It's all in the self discipline.