We all dream of taking some time off work, but none of us want to suddenly be in between jobs without a plan. We don’t want that unemployed time to unexpectedly come at us when we didn’t see it coming. Plus, when time off work is unpaid or there’s no end to you unemployment in sight, that break can definitely be stressful. Whether you’re a recent grad who finished an internship and is now looking for work, you’ve been unexpectedly let go from a job, you’ve decided to take time off to pursue new ideas, or you’ve quit your job in search of greener pastures, one thing is for sure: unemployment can be funemployment with the right attitude, and staying busy in between jobs is important as well as having some fun. The following 8 tips can help you stay optimistic and productive during your period of unemployment:

1. Perfect Your Craft

No matter what you specialize in, brush up on your industry and upgrade your skills. If you’re a writer, work on your writing skills by writing a book. Or, are there are any relevant certifications that you could get? Is there a new technology or platform that you could master? Take this time to invest in your education as you never could before, because self-education is a great way to perfect your craft and open more doors for yourself.

2. Stay Positive

It’s easy to get down on yourself if you’ve lost your job, or if finding another job is taking longer than you anticipated. Instead of falling into negative thinking, establish a positive mantra to tell yourself every day. According to Forbes, a positive attitude is a common denominator of happy people, so keep your chin up, and tell yourself that the best work opportunity of your life is ahead of you.

3. Get in a Routine

Some of the most successful and productive people have been sticklers for regimented schedules. During time off, it’s too easy to slip into a pattern of sleeping until noon, showering at 5 p.m., and staying up too late, all of which can have affect your mental health and productivity.

It doesn’t hurt to enjoy yourself and let loose for a week or two while you’re unemployed, but then it’s time to stick to a routine. Set an alarm and get up at a certain time each day, even though you don’t have to. Eat three regular meals, fit in time to exercise, do household chores, and continue your job hunt. That way, you won’t fall into a Netflix-binging habit that wastes time and money and throws you into a negative, unproductive spiral.

4. Set Application Quotas

On average, it takes people about three months to find new work when unemployed. Conditions will change depending on where you live and your line of work, but setting goals will help regardless of other circumstances.

Set a goal to send out a certain amount of job applications per day or per week. The more you send, the more likely you are to land interviews and return to the workforce. For example, try sticking to a goad of applying for one job per day. This takes time, because you need to re-write your cover letter and tailor it for every job you apply for, but one per day is a reasonable goal to stick to.

5. Improve Your Résumé

Whether on paper, in a digital portfolio, or on social networking sites such as LinkedIn, use your unemployment time to polish your résumés across the board. Elaborate on your previous job responsibilities and ask for recommendations. Make sure you look professional and show off all your skills, experience, and talents. It’ll make your job hunt much easier.

6. Go to Networking Events

Knowing someone can make a big difference in getting a job. In fact, if a company employee refers you for a position, your chances of getting the job go up by 2.6% to 6.6%. Take time to attend conferences in the middle of the day, or the midmorning meet-ups you could never get to, or the evening networking groups you were always too tired to attend.

7. Make Use of “Me Time”

When you’re working forty hours per week, it’s hard to get everything done. Hobbies and interest are often shoved to the side to make room for the bare necessities. Make a list of chores, errands, trips, and hobbies you never get to do, and enjoy having some time for yourself while you look for new work. This could be as small as spending some more time with your dog at the park, getting a manicure, or trying a new restaurant you’ve been meaning to check out.

Spend part of your unemployed time on self-care. Before you get back into the workforce, enjoy some downtime to catch up on reading, sleeping in, taking trips, visiting friends and family, and whatever else you love to do most. When you start your new job, you’ll feel grateful for the chance to focus on yourself.

8. Set a Review Period

After thirty, sixty, or ninety days of unemployment, schedule a review with yourself. See if you’ve met your goals, been productive, and made progress. If you’re not accomplishing what you set out to do, this is a great time to pivot and approach your goals from a different angle. See what’s working, what you need to improve upon, and how you can change pace to accomplish your goals.

No matter how you found yourself without work, being productive in between jobs is essential. Follow these tips to stay on track and avoid the common pitfalls of unemployment.

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