How to Fill the Hours After a Layoff – Constructively

April 28, 2014

Layoff AgendaAfter the shock of a job loss wears off, you must put your free time to effective use. Just as every dollar of assets is precious, so is every hour of your free time. Using each wisely is a key to your future survival. To stay in control of your situation – to the degree that is possible after a layoff – you have to set up and maintain a regular and productive lifestyle.

Create a Daily and Weekly Agenda

Each night before you go to sleep, write down your plans for the coming day. Keeping your mind active means not treating your layoff as an extended vacation.

Look at your tasks and prioritize them. Make the goals realistic. Put the more difficult ones first; getting them out of the way will give you incentive to move down the list. It will also insure that you get the most important tasks done, even if you don’t have time to do the rest.

To-do lists are no good if they just keep getting longer. There may be too many chores to complete in one day. Review the list to see if you are being realistic. Plan on developing a weekly agenda of repetitive duties. You want to make sure you have something going on all the time. As the saying goes, nothing gets going until you do. Make that your mantra.

Set deadlines – and keep them! You don’t have time for procrastination. Face the challenge of the chore and resolve to see it through to the end. This discipline not only will bring results, but it keeps your mind in training for the day when you will return to work.

As items drop off the list, replace them with new ideas or a re-visit accomplished tasks. Don’t throw away the agenda; go back and review it for new approaches and ideas.

Your New Job: Finding Another Job

Being unemployed doesn’t mean you don’t have a job. You actually do – and it’s finding another job. If fact, it may do you well to get a job while you’re looking for a job.

Even if a job is part-time or temporary, you’ll still be doing something productive, earning some money and making contacts. That’s better than sitting in front of a computer all day applying for jobs. You need to do that of course, but working part-time could put you face-to-face with some people who might hire you full-time.

Make sure your day is conducted just as it would if you were in a job. Don’t sleep late. Get up at the same time you did when you were working. Shave, bathe, and dress. Keep regular business hours – be at your computer working no later than 9 a.m. Plan to apply for at least two or three jobs by lunch time. Have a quick lunch, then get back to work.

If you have a job interview, get back in front of your computer as soon as you get home and start looking for more leads. Never assume the interview will lead to an employment offer. Part of your “job” now is to continually build a stream of job leads that will create more interviews. You’re in sales now, and your product is you!

Constructive Distractions

With no restraints, find ways to positively use your time. Keeping physically fit is essential. You must devote a portion of your day to exercise. Now is the chance to get serious about jogging or putting in time on that treadmill in the basement. It has been proven that physical stimulation correlates to mental agility. It keeps the mind sharp and the spirits high.

Seek out motivational activities. Go to the library and read magazine articles on how to job hunt. Explore the networks nearby and attend their meetings. Leads are often shared and you can learn valuable tips from other job seekers and speakers.

Be careful about the groups you visit; make certain their purpose is positive and not strictly social. Local libraries often have “lunch and learn” events for a modest charge. Think of yourself as a sponge, ready to soak up information and opportunity wherever it may be.

Network with Positive People

Keeping your self “up” emotionally isn’t easy when you’re out of work. You’ll need a steady diet of motivation. You can do this by reading motivational books – I personally recommend anything by Anthony Robbins. You can also get some motivational tapes or CD’s to listen to. The idea is to keep your mind focused on the positive so that you won’t drift in the other disastrous direction.

Get close with any friends or contacts you have who are positive people. It’s often said that you are the average of your five closest friends; make sure those friends are positive ones, and you won’t be able to keep from adopting their enthusiasm.

Acquire New Skills on the Cheap

Seek ways to learn new skills . . . inexpensively. You may have many marketable talents, but adding some can be beneficial. As part of your recreational browsing, look for free online classes. and sites like have dozens of instructional videos. State labor departments offer training for unemployed people who want to re-enter the workforce.

Many community colleges offer evening adult education courses on emerging job opportunities. Often there are training classes on basic software to hone your computer skills. Additionally, these classes can develop into informal networking. Sometimes all you need to land that next job is an extra skill or two. Now that you’re unemployed you have the time to learn them.

How you fill your hours after a layoff will have a direct impact on how quickly you get your next job, and even on the compensation you’ll get when you do. Make sure you’re using it constructively.

Editor’s Note: If you’re unemployed, try out some free resume tools to get you going in the right direction!

How do you fill your free time? Do you tend to view free time as an opportunity to find a job, or as an opportunity for play? Leave a comment!


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Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids and can be followed on Twitter at @OutOfYourRut.

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