Have you ever set out to do something on your to-do list while job searching and realize that the day has slipped by and nothing on that list got completed? If yes, then you’ll definitely benefit from these 3 time management hacks to use while job searching. These are tips I personally utilize to make sure that whenever I have a busy day or a ton of distractions, I can stay committed and focused on the task at hand. Although today we’ll be focusing on job search specifics, you can really extrapolate all of this and apply it to your entire life and career. You can continue reading along or watch the video below!
Tip #1: Prioritization
I know it sounds simple on the surface, however, when we actually implement prioritization it can be quite difficult. So I’m going to give you a little trick here. Any time I have things that I need to do, I brain dump a huge laundry list of tasks. However, I always go back and assign numbers in circles next to each task so I know what order I need to complete tasks in. And I know that I won’t do step number three until I have completed steps one and two. This gives some structure and some order to my day. Structure is something I find to be very important when job searching because I know a lot of us get that shiny object syndrome, wanting to do a million things and never focusing on any of them.
You might know you need to write you resume, but also complete your online portfolio, update your LinkedIn profile and maybe even update your personal brand. It’s easy to get pulled into all of these different directions… but what happens in that instance is that we make very small progress in various directions, but no major momentum picks up. If you can instead make a concerted effort to complete projects one by one and cross larger accomplishments off your to-do list, you boost your confidence as well as gain more headspace to focus on the next project at hand.
Having these steps in place is so critical in your job search because job searching really is like building a house. If you don’t have a strong foundation, nothing is going to like really solidify. So I highly recommend not skipping steps and really taking the time to understand your priorities and delineate what needs to get done when.
Tip #2: Time Blocking
Perhaps you’ve heard this phrase thrown around before, but it’s essentially where you block off certain days and times to focus on specific tasks. We’re all used to refreshing our inboxes or continuously opening up Instagram and just looking at updates throughout the day. But every time we interrupt a task with a distraction, it eats up a lot of our energy and a lot of our mental capacity to focus. Every time we switch gears or switch our focus, it takes time for our brains to catch up and re-focus. Generally speaking, they say no human is really that great at multitasking because we only have so much mental capacity to give our full undivided attention to certain activities. So when it comes to time blocking, I highly recommend for your job search that you schedule things just like you do in meetings in the corporate workplace.
When at work, you might have a marketing meeting from 10-12, where you discuss a specific topic and know exactly what you’re accomplishing during those two hours. During that meeting, you’re not necessarily answering the phone, checking your email, or hopping to different unrelated tasks. Hopefully, you’re just staying focused on that one topic of the meeting. This concept should be replicated as closely as possible to your day at home when it comes to job searching. For instance, if you know you want to finish your resume within the week, you can break it down even further and schedule time slots to work on specific sections of your resume. For instance, you might schedule 7-8 AM on Tuesday morning to complete your profile summary, 5-6 PM on Wednesday to complete your skills section, and so forth.
When you can do that, you can make sure that you’re focused in and you know exactly what’s going to be on your calendar throughout the day. You can also time block your lunches, your breaks, and when you are checking emails. Personally, I check my emails three times a day, at 10:00 AM, 3:00 PM, and 6:00 PM. So outside of that, I’m not refreshing my inbox or constantly responding to random emails. Everything gets done in those specific allocated time blocks where I’m just dedicating to that one task. So the same concept applies to you and your job search.
You can also start to map out your day based around when you’re at your personal best. I know that I’m most creative at night and thrive in a nocturnal setting. So whenever in creating new content for instance, it’s not something that I’m going to be doing early in the morning just because I don’t operate that way. But you might! So think about when you’re at your best for specific activities and build your schedule around that. Even if you don’t have the full day to work with, think about the options you do have and get strategic about what gets done when. If you can treat your schedule like it’s mandatory, like you’re in a meeting at work and you can’t just cancel, do that for yourself because you’re going to be the only one accountable to your job search. Nobody cares more than you (other than me!) about your success and landing your dream job, right?. So I highly recommend just making sure you know what you’re committed to and what your goals are.
Tip #3: Finding Your Focus
With this final tip of finding your focus, you should know exactly what your non-negotiable is of the day. I know a lot of us can get distracted, but no matter what, every single morning you should know what you want to accomplish most that day. After setting this non-negotiable, no matter what happens, how busy you get, how tired you get, or anything else, you’re not going to bed until you complete this one task. Some people like to complete their biggest, most challenging tasks at the beginning of the day and just get it done with, so then everything else seems manageable. I personally don’t thrive that way because I like having small successes and wins before tackling a big task. For me, that means I actually handle smaller, more admin-focused tasks earlier in the day and leave my big creative projects for later at night. Similarly, I encourage you to find what works best for you! Take some time to try out different routines and experiment with what feels best. Again, this goes back to your own style and what environment you thrive in. I personally experimented with trial and error for over a year before I got my system down.
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If you can master this concept and apply it to your job search, there’s no reason why a week would go by that you still haven’t touched your resume or you still haven’t reached out to the contacts that you have or the hiring managers that you want to connect with, right? Because you’re setting these very intentional goals and you know when you’re doing them. Nothing is more liberating than checking something off the list that you’ve completed! Just remember as well that your job search really is a marathon rather than a sprint, so when you can put in this structure in place, you’re more likely to keep the momentum up and continue progressing forward. Again, I want to emphasize that what works for me may not necessarily work for you, and if you don’t know what works for you, just have fun with experimenting! I can’t wait to see where you land.