How to Structure Your Time When You're Between Jobs
If you’ve just left a job or are considering the prospect of taking some time off, congratulations! It’s important to give yourself a break and take time to make sure your life stays in line with your core values. But whether or not you leave your position of your own volition, the transition time between office jobs is challenging. Inundated with a form of freedom you probably haven’t felt since your summers off from school, you will likely succumb to the paradox of choice: When the world is your oyster, it can be too overwhelming to decide what to do. That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate guide for how to structure your time in between jobs. Scroll through and make the most of your freedom.
Before you dive into another position, your to-do list, or general thinking about the future, take a moment to reflect. There are dozens of reasons you leave job. Perhaps you learn it wasn’t for you. Perhaps you have an even better opportunity waiting for you. Or perhaps you are burnt out and need to take a hiatus from the demands of your current workload. Regardless of the reason, your job teaches you a lot about yourself—how you work, what you value, what you enjoy, and what you don’t enjoy. Please take the time to understand the self-knowledge your previous job taught you (and to appreciate it).
This is the time to do something you’ve always wanted to do but have never had the time for. It could be taking a road trip, reading a long novel you’ve had on your bookshelf for ages, or learning to cook a complicated dish. Whatever it is, go for it. We highly recommend stepping outside of your comfort zone during this transition time. Maybe you’ve toyed with the idea of taking a solo trip or running a half-marathon. Now is the time to do it.
Even if you consider yourself a healthy person, it’s more likely than not that your work schedule prevented you from being as active as you would have liked. Take advantage of your flexible time and make health a priority. Go to a noon workout class, take a three-hour hike, or train for a race. When you’re between jobs, you can take advantage of the off-peak hours at the gym or at a class. You can plan your outdoor activities around missing rush-hour traffic.
Waking up without a plan on a Saturday when you’re working is a wonderful treat. The hours can trickle by; maybe you change out of your pajamas, maybe you don’t. But when you have a prolonged period of time without having to go to the office, it’s important to have routine; otherwise, time will pass you by and you won’t get to fully enjoy it. Set an alarm (but make sure to get enough sleep), get up and dressed every morning, make a to-do list (even if it’s full of fun things) and stick to it. You want to feel like even your jobless moments are productive and rewarding.
Having a successful career is incredibly rewarding. But when you don’t have time for date nights with a partner, brunch with your girlfriends, or quality time with your family, you’re missing out on some of the most rewarding moments of life—time with loved ones. When you’re between jobs, make the effort to talk to or visit the people you care about most but maybe haven’t had as much time for in the past because of your work schedule.
Even if you know what you’re doing after your brief jobless interlude, it’s a great time to meet new people. It can be refreshing to set friend dates and meetings with potential mentors or advisors. We always walk away with a renewed passion and work ethic when we meet people with a different perspective to our own. Who knows? You could meet a potential business partner, client, or new best friend. Being open to meeting new people is one of the best ways to restore your energy and expand your network.
It could be learning to poach an egg or refreshing your French language skills. Maybe it’s coding or digital marketing. Whatever you choose, make an effort to master one skill that you wish you had. Be realistic with your expectations. You should pick something that you can reasonably master in the amount of time that you have. But it will feel amazing to walk away from your free time with a new skill under your belt.
If you need some extra cash to keep your lifestyle going between jobs, consider freelancing or working on a contractor basis. There are so many opportunities for people with flexible schedules to make extra income on the side these days. Consider Uber driving, doing Task Rabbit, or making Postmates deliveries. Sign up for a freelance network if you want to write, code, or do creative projects on a case-by-case basis.
Journaling is one of the best ways to pause for self-reflection. Science proves journaling staves off sickness, helps rid you of anxiety, and helps you navigate your future. Set aside a little time each day to journal. It will balance your mind and help you define your goals for the future.
Netflix binging is always fun, but getting really absorbed by an incredible book is always superior, in our minds. If you’re like us, you keep a running note of New York Times bestsellers you want to read but never have the time to do so. Whether it’s on your Kindle or an actual paper book, cozy up with a mug of tea and enjoy a few good reading sessions while your schedule allows.
Before you start the next chapter of your life, declutter your space and set up systems to help streamline your life when you resume working. We recommend giving away clothing that you never wear, purging your pantry of expired food, and recycling any paper in your house (like old magazines, and junk mail) that take up space. You want to start the next chapter of life with a clean slate.
If you feel inclined, volunteer for a cause you believe in. Whether it’s tutoring, building homes, or cleaning a park, if you do something to give back to your community you will undoubtedly feel better and help someone in need.
Have you had transition times between jobs? Tell us how you spent your time in the comments.
Opening Photo: Gal Meets Glam