Time management…it seems like it should be simple, but for so many it is one of the greatest challenges.
It’s every job hunter’s hidden secret. While you might claim you’re spending every minute reading job postings and tweaking your resume, it’s not actually true. Don’t worry — even the most hard-pressed job seekers can’t physically handle the stress of dedicating EVERY free minute to the hunt.
It’s smarter to tailor your approach by making the most of your time instead, to focus on the most urgent and important tasks. This leads to measurable results, giving you a free pass to relax a little without feeling guilty about not giving it 100%. Learn how to improve time management strategies as a job seeker with these 5 tips.
#1 Stick to a Schedule
All the reading about how to improve time management can’t help you get a new job if you keep sleeping in until 1 pm just because there’s nowhere to be at 8 am. Get up at the same time every day regardless of whether you absolutely have to or not.
Devote the same number of hours and period of time each day to the job search, then give yourself permission to spend the rest of your time on your personal needs or leisure to avoid feeling burned out by the job search.
#2 Focus on Valuable Activities
Don’t just throw hours away at trawling online job sites or putting endless touches on an already well-written resume. Compare the value and likelihood of landing a job from each technique before deciding how to improve time management by making the most of each minute. Research has proven time and time again that networking is the most effective technique for job hunters.
While it’s still good to practice cold calling and filling out applications, don’t let these activities take precedent over networking opportunities. Even helping a neighbor move out could lead to the job offer you’re working so hard towards. In other words, to use your time effectively, spend your time focusing on the specific activities and important tasks that are likely to have the greatest impact.
#3 Set Sectional Time Management Goals
Most job seekers set having a new or better job as their goal and simply consider each day a failure if it doesn’t end with employment. This makes time management difficult because it convinces you psychologically that you’re failing over and over again.
Instead, divide your period of unemployment or underemployment into days, weeks, and months and set different goals for each of them. Daily goals should remain small and always possible, such as sending out a certain number of queries or finding at least five new contacts to network with. Weekly goals become a little bigger, like securing a number of interviews or responses.
Finally, long-term, monthly goals are where you track big successes like initial offers, confirmations, and snagging your dream job. This keeps you from feeling worn down after just a few days of intensive searching that yielded little or nothing.
Here’s a question you may want to ask yourself regularly:
What am I doing with my 24 hours?
In other words, every day, what do you have to show for your time?
If the answer is ‘not nearly as much as I would like’, then I’m happy to tell you that you can change that right now, and in a moment, in this post, I’m going to give you a simple system for doing it.
If you’re ready to put more life and more action into your day, then get a pen and paper and write down this simple system.
It consists of 3 basic steps. Here they are:
1. Write down all the tasks you want to get done today
2. Assign a specific block of time for completing each task (like 30 minutes)
3. Select a task, start a timer, and focus on nothing else until that task is complete!
That’s all there is to it.
Simple, yes! Incredibly effective, YES!
By itself, this system can put your productivity into high-gear – IF you use it.
#4 Get Outside Help
Are you struggling with distractions, either in the form of social media or constant requests from friends and family members? If your self-discipline is lacking, look outside your own mind. Support groups for job seekers can be immensely helpful in keeping members on track towards their goals.
If you are distracted by all the various specific time management systems available on the market, try joining a group and following whatever system they use. Most time management techniques and programs work well as long as you’re dedicated to the methods, and getting real-life feedback and support makes it much more likely you’ll open up that specialty planner and write in your job search to-do list.
The 3-step system I outline above can also be remarkably helpful. The challenge for most of us is that in a day and age of technology and automation, writing things down on paper and using something like an egg-timer feels a bit clunky and inefficient.
But there are apps designed to help you with this. One of my favorites, which I personally use all the time, is Be Focused.
#5 Track Your Results
Finally, don’t forget about the power of time tracking what you do. Reminding yourself that you spent 6 hours today in phone interviews is much easier when you keep clear notes. It’s hard to tell if you’re making progress without proper task tracking.
Have a great, productive day and a super productive and successful job search!