There is no way around it: job searching takes up time, and sometimes lots of it. It takes time to network, time to research job openings, time to customize and send out resumes, time to follow up on applications, and time to prepare for and attend interviews.
To be productive you must find the time to focus on job searching activities. But most of us have many demands on our time besides just the demands of searching for a new job. Of course, there are the demands of everyday life, but beyond that many people are already employed when they decide it is time to look for a new job. If this is you, you know how challenging it can be to fit in the time demands of a job search when you are already working 40 or more hours per week.
Still, if you wish to find a new job, it is essential that you set aside time to focus on job searching. There is no way around it. That is the bad news. The good news is that there are small, easy-to-make changes you can start implementing today that will make significant difference to your productivity and focus when job searching.
1. Create a Plan & Use a Schedule
It will be much easier to focus on job searching if you know what it is you need to do to accomplish your goals. You will be most efficient if you try to plan about one week ahead. Brainstorm and write a list of all the tasks you will need to complete over the next seven days or so. Each day, review your list and choose your top three priority tasks for that day.
Now, in the time you have available for job searching, make it a priority to complete at least those three tasks and if you still have time left over, you can complete more. Planning in this way will give you a clear picture of your day and what must get done. This will allow you to move from one task to the next without having to stop and decide what to do next and without getting distracted by other things. But do stay flexible. Schedules are not the end-all-be-all. Sometimes things change and you need to adjust your schedule.
2. Organize Your Workspace
Whether you are working on your kitchen table, a corner of your bedroom, or a dedicated home office, you will find it easier to focus on job searching when you aren’t distracted by clutter around you. Keeping a clean and tidy workspace will help clear the mental clutter as well.
Clutter comes in many forms. Physical clutter on your desk, visual clutter (notes stuck to your monitors), or mental clutter. Get everything put up, cleaned up, and out of your head so you can focus on your job search task at hand and not worry about distractions.
3. Control What You Can
It isn’t possible to eliminate all distractions but to optimize your focus for job searching, do control for the distractions you can control. Turn your phone on silent, stop notifications, close social media, and keep unnecessary tabs closed on your browser. Technology is fantastic, but it can also serve as a major distraction that is best avoided when you want to maximize your productivity.
If you are working on your computer, be sure only to have open the programs that are necessary for your project. Are you working on a spreadsheet? Close your email and internet browser. Closing the unneeded programs will limit distractions and having the programs you need already opened will save you time and energy.
4. Establish Focus Hours
When it is time to focus and work on your job search, put a sign on your door, put on your headphones, or do whatever it is you need to do to minimize distractions from other human beings. Let your family and friends know that this is your dedicated job search time and that you prefer not to be disturbed while you are working. This will give you dedicated time to work and is a polite way of saying, “I’m happy to help when I’m done with my job search work for the day.”
Also, take the time to prepare for your focus time. Make sure your room is the right temperature and that you have a beverage, a snack, and any other tools or supplies you will need. Having everything ready means you will not be leaving your work area frequently where you can get distracted and wander off.
5. Know Yourself
We all have times of the day when we are most and least productive. Pay attention to your productive hours and use them to your advantage. If morning is your most productive time of the day, then that is the best time to shut your door and work on the big, hard job search tasks of the day. If you know that you always hit a wall right before lunch, use that time to pick up your desk and take a walk.
Finding your work groove so you can focus on job searching can be challenging; however, taking the time to make small steps in the right direction will allow you to create dedicated time for your job search that is productive and meaningful, leading to a new job faster.