3 Ways to Survive Unemployment

My last date of actual employment was May 10, 2017. This was the date my contract with the Walt Disney Company officially ended and the date I moved back home. I’ve worked very, very part time at two odd jobs, which I don’t even really count, before traveling to India. September would put me at three months of what I like to call “underemployment,” and I’m kind of freaking out.

In an effort to not totally lose my mind and dive into an underemployment-driven depression, here are my proven three ways to survive unemployment.

Find the Balance of Finding a Job and Doing Things that Make You Happy

When I say the word balance, the first thing that probably comes to mind for a young professional is finding a work-life balance. With an active career and personal life, you absolutely have to work hard to disengage from work once you leave the office so you can refuel with your personal life. What happens though when you’re “underemployed?”

I have still found myself needing to find a balance, despite not having a full time job. Searching for jobs is difficult. It’s a lot of reading, writing cover letters, and searching until you’ve covered every job board and possible opening. The most exhausting part of the job search are the rejections.

While I was actively searching for jobs and submitting applications, I was and still am getting a lot more rejections than I am offers for even an interview. There’s nothing worse than feeling like a shoe-in for a position and not even getting extended an interview.

Woman writing in spiral notebook
How do you manage applying for jobs and still keep your sanity?

What I did

To avoid the burn out and emotional distress of focusing solely on the job search, I tried to find a balance of also engaging in activity that brought me happiness. For me, that turned out to be blogging.

I’ve always wanted to start a blog, and I’ve tried many times. But with spare time to commit to the creation of the blog, I found an outlet for my energy that actually brought me happiness despite my lack of career.

I love writing content, creating images, and working on my marketing skills to make my blog successful. I’m still actively looking for career opportunities and am excited to hopefully get a job soon, but I’ve also been able to create something out of this time (and it wasn’t an incredibly long “watched” list on Netflix either).

Blog writing might not be for you. But I bet you can find something productive that will make you happy. Maybe it’s volunteering at a local school, working on that novel you’ve always wanted to, or learning a new hobby. Your mental health will thank you so much if you find a positive outlet to put some of your time and energy into during your time of “underemployment.”

Create a Schedule and Routine

I love the schedule and routine that comes with having a job. Leaving the house by a certain hour, staff meeting on Wednesdays, lunch at 1:00 pm—I live for that routine. For me, one of the hardest parts about being “underemployed” was not having that routine. Theoretically, I could wake up whenever I wanted to, never leave my pajamas, and be totally okay with that. I even did that for a few days, but I felt so bad about myself. I was sinking into a depression and had to figure out how to harness the purpose a job gave me, even without a job.

Planner open on table with pink flowers.
Using a planner & making “to accomplish” lists helps me to feel successful.

What I do

I wake up every day, right now at 7:00 am, but anywhere between 7:00 and 9:00 am. I go downstairs, eat my breakfast and do my sudoku puzzle, and then come upstairs to get dressed. Whether I’m leaving the house that day or not, every morning I put on clothes that aren’t my pajamas so that I can be productive and accomplish the goals I have for the day. My “to-do” list is stocked with goals pertaining to my career, my blog, and things I need to do around the house.

Creating this routine for myself has kept me feeling motivated during my “underemployment.” Every day I’ve been able to feel like I was working, despite not being in an office. This feeling, however arbitrary you may think it is, has helped me to stay in the career mindset that will be necessary once I do get a job.

My tips for you

Figure out what routine works best for you! Most likely it will be determined by whatever activity you engage yourself in besides the job search.

Even if you don’t feel like you need one, write down a to-do list of things you want to accomplish. An example of mine looks like this:

7 Days a Week to-do list filled in
Just an example of my weekly to-do list, despite my unemployment

Use this Time to Grow

You might not be bringing in any money during your time of “underemployment,” but that doesn’t mean that you can’t use this time to better yourself.

Reading a new book or two, checking out some great TED Talks (here’s one of my favorites), taking an e-course: these are just a few options of constructive ways to use your newfound free time instead of watching Netflix. I honestly think that you can use this time of unemployment and make something positive of it, or it can be extremely debilitating.

I’ve been working hard to make sure that my time has been productive. Starting this blog has been extremely positive that has come from my underemployment. The creative outlet, with potential to create an income, has given me somewhere to put my energy. My “to read” pile has grown so much with great books I’ve read and have to read still. Some novels, some self-help, but all stretching my mind and continuing to grow me even though I don’t have a job.

All in All…

All in all I don’t really recommend being unemployed. It definitely sucks not having an income to do simple things that you want to with your friends. But there are positive ways to use the situation to make yourself better in the long run.

3 Ways to Survive Unemployment
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If I hadn’t had followed the three tips above, I’d bet that I would be a mess of unhappiness, stuck in my bed with Netflix on repeat, and day old pizza floating around somewhere. Instead, I’m up and dressed and making the best of this season of unemployment.

In my own world,

5 Comments

  1. Patty

    September 6, 2017 at 8:03 am

    Routine is essential and so is being productive. While I’m not unemployed, I am currently on maternity leave and cut my hours down to part time. I’ve already started planning my off days…and making sure to include self care!

    1. racheldyke

      September 6, 2017 at 8:37 am

      Yes, yes, yes to self-care! Such an important part of a successful, healthy routine!

  2. Victoria

    September 6, 2017 at 9:39 am

    I have been unemployed for about 5years now. Relocated cos of a relationship which didn’t pan through. Couldn’t face up to the challenge of applications, interviews and rejection so started a small business, then like you I turned to blogging as a hobby. Not earning 💰 yet but working towards it. Keep at it, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

  3. Claire

    September 17, 2017 at 9:58 am

    I had been planning for things which I would like to do when I will be employed. But it make sense to have a to do list even during the unemployment period.

    1. racheldyke

      September 18, 2017 at 9:38 am

      I agree! It has definitely made productive use of my time and also helped me feel fulfilled

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