Job-hunting: 7 tips to beat procrastination

Updated: Mar 7, 2021

It's daunting being out of work and having to look for a new job. I’ve been in this position myself a few times in the past.

It's not too long before you start feeling that no one is interested in your skills and experience - you’re too old, too young, too much experience, too inexperienced, over-qualified, underqualified (you know where I’m going here!)

And sitting at your laptop for days on end … kidding yourself that you’re job hunting, when actually you’re procrastinating - frittering away time - at the end of the day no further forward than when you started.

The good news is that you can’t be - and shouldn't be - sitting in front of your screen, job hunting, 8 hours a day.

When you’re out of work, your job is “Finding a new job”. It’s about working on “Plan B”. Being productive requires energy and focus.

There are four key parts to traditional job hunting:

  • Creating your CV

  • Getting it out there

  • Applying for jobs

  • Attending interviews

Whichever stage you’re at, I suggest spending no more than 2, or a maximum of 3 hours productive working time each day on your job search.

It doesn’t matter what time of the day (or night) you do it - as long as it works for you. Do it at the time of day when you feel most energised. The key is that it’s productive, focused time.

And when you’ve done it, you can relax and do something you enjoy as a reward.

7 tips to avoid procrastination, and see real results

1. Use your calendar

Book your job search slots in your weekly calendar as if they are work meetings.

This creates a structured and disciplined time window - and don’t let yourself off the hook!

2. Know exactly what you will be working on in this session

Have a list of tasks to focus on in this session - and do nothing else.

3. Switch off the TV and disable email and social media notifications

This is one of the most common reasons for procrastination - distraction. Believe me, the chances of you missing something urgent happening while you’re working are slim, so unless it’s an emergency, stick to your task!

4. Make sure you have everything you need before starting

Be ready and prepared with a drink, pens, paper - whatever you need, so you don’t have to get up. Keep a pad handy to make note of anything that pops into your head that you don’t want to forget, without getting distracted. You can deal with it afterwards!

5. Work in 30 minute blocks with a few minutes in between to stretch

Stand up, stretch, shake your arms and your hands, get the blood circulating and then get to work again quickly!

6. Set your phone alarm for 5 minutes before your work session ends

Knowing that you have a fixed end time for your session helps keep you focused. When the 5 minute alarm goes off you can start wrapping up until next time, or extend for a further 30-60 mins if you’re in the flow and don't want to stop.

7. Keep track of your activity and progress

This is really important, especially if you struggle with feelings of low self esteem. Days can roll into weeks, but writing down what you've accomplished each day provides a record you can look back on, showing your focus, diligence and hard work. And you’ll find it really pays off!

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