For being unemployed, I stay pretty busy.   Sometimes being busy gets me out of the house.  Wherever I am, all of my activities help, believe it or not, as I search for work.  Being busy is healthy.  It gives my mind a break and reminds me that, while having a job would be great, I can still do things that are interesting to me.  I’m still doing useful things for me, my wife, and other people—I’m just not doing useful work in a company cubicle.  Doing useful things helps keep me optimistic, giving me something to look forward to each day.  It helps to combat the other feelings one gets while unemployed.

It’s easy to get mixed up feelings when unemployed.  Sometimes I get up just wondering if it’s even worth looking for work.  Other times I get up hoping that “Today’s going to be the day,”—that someone will hire me for interesting work.  But I get up—and I suppose that’s a key to looking for work.  Not only do I get up, but I maintain a fairly rigorous schedule. I try to help myself, just as you might help yourself, given the opportunity.

Keep Your Usual Routine

Sure, I could let it slide and climb out of bed at 10 AM, but why? After getting up, my routine varies.  Typically, once I’ve scarfed down breakfast, I’ll write my website posts.  I’ll conduct searches on different employment sites looking for work.  Sometimes I’ll tweak my online profiles.  If it’s nice outside, I’ll spend an hour or two working in the yard.  There’s always yard work to do (it’s a big yard).  If it’s raining or cold, there are always chores in the house.  Once done with those basic chores, I’ll run for a little over a half hour (can’t enjoy time off if I’m unhealthy).  Then it’s shaving and showering and I’m ready for the day.  There are plenty of options for how I can spend the rest of the day.

Get Out of the House

Getting out of the house is important to me.  First, it helps put things into perspective.  Life is still going on in spite of me not having a job.  Some people are worse off.  Some are doing much better.  Second, I think it’s healthier than sitting in front of the computer, looking for work.  It gives my mind time to think, consider options, or even just relax.  Some days I’ll ride the bicycle, or if I have more time, I’ll take the motorcycle on the road.  Living in the mountain foothills in Colorado has its perks, and squiggly but beautiful mountain roads are one of them.  I do volunteer at the local space museum nearly every Friday.  They taught me to use their Science on a Sphere presentation technology, and I guide and present what’s shown on the sphere to interested children and adults.  It’s fun.  During these times, I don’t miss work.  When I arrive home again, though, it’s back to searching for work a little bit more.

Volunteering – A Critical Job Search Strategy for the Unemployed

There’s the other aspect to volunteering:  opportunities might open up, if I keep an eye out.  I initially volunteered as a docent at the Discovery Center because they focus on space and education.  But I discovered I enjoy volunteering because of the subject matter AND the Space Foundation’s employees.  Networking, then, also starts happening—not because I’m a networker, but because I enjoy working with them, and believe they appreciate my efforts.  If anything, they might know of someone who can use me.

Keep your mind nimble and focus on problem-solving

Occasionally something will happen that might cost a lot of money to fix—but since I have the time, I save money by fixing things myself, learning along the way.  Our treadmill started jerking and slipping.  After a little research showed a new motor drive belt might work, I bought and installed one, and, voila, it worked, with an outlay of only $30 for the belt, plus my time.  Same for our battery-powered mower.  I took apart the battery pack, and $70 later had a running mower with new batteries (if I’d bought the company battery pack online, it would’ve cost nearly twice as much).  The internet is my friend in my money-saving endeavors.

I work on other projects about subjects I’m curious about.  I try out different computer configurations for a Raspberry Pi mini-computer.  Right now, the R Pi is a fantastic media player.  I found that not only do I like soapmaking, I have a knack for it.  Then there’s the great offerings of the library system in Colorado Springs.  They opened a brand new library that contains a “Makerspace” with 3-D printers, 3-D scanners, a CNC machine, a laser engraver, and more.  The best thing about it?  It’s all free, or very close to free, for library patrons.  And they offer classes about some of these fantastic tools.  I can’t wait to laser engrave a picture of my favorite scene on my laptop back!  The upside to all of this?  I’m learning new skills and showing I’m not afraid to take on new technologies.  Best of all for me, is that it’s also very interesting.

Does my busy-ness impact my search for work negatively?  I don’t think so.  I’ve had about 1-2 interviews a month, with about 12 signed contingent offers so far (most fell through due to government deciding on a different contractor).  I don’t have a really good comparison to make since I don’t know how other job-seekers are getting on.  But I get the impression that even though I don’t have that steady paycheck yet, I’m still doing pretty well.

Applying for work, writing posts, volunteering, cycling, motorcycling, networking, and more–this is just the stuff I do on my own, not including the time with my wife and friends.  My routine keeps me busy, and more importantly, helps me feel useful and allows me learn new things, meet new people, and stay happy while I’m still looking for work.  If this sort of thing paid well, I’d be a rich, happy man (instead of just a happy man).

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John Holst’s career path is as nonsensical and mad as the March Hare. In a series of what John thought were very trusting decisions, the United States Air Force let him babysit nuclear weapons, develop future officers, and then operate multi-billion dollar space systems. Then John re-enacted scenes from “Brazil” by joining the Missile Defense Agency, working as minutes-taker, configuration, project, mission, and test manager. When he’s not writing for, he is putting his journalism degree skills to use as The Mad Spaceball.