Not that I blame you. Never since Richard and Judy has there been a pair which go so exquisitely badly together as ‘job searching’ and ‘procrastination’. Speaking from personal experience of course, I recall long and hopeful mornings spent ‘prepping’ my work station in eager anticipation of the epic battle of employment seeking that was about to take place that day.
Like a soldier readying himself for war, I made it my duty to ensure that every corner of my trench was immaculate, that nothing was out of place and that my every requirement throughout the day was easily within my grasp.
Armed with crisp white paper, tea for hydration, coffee for alertness, desk fan for temperature control, swivel chair optimized for effective posture, dog by my side as lucky mascot, glasses sparkling, inspirational music playing, ambience created by Glade plug in… you should have seen me, never was a soldier more prepared for a day of job hunting than me.
‘First things first’ I thought ‘Time to check Facebook’ and I spent the rest of the day caught in an inescapable YouTube cycle of cute baby animals, people falling down, epic fails, ‘the best’ of this and ‘the worst’ of that.
Procrastination is a terrible thing. It’s like a fog that slowly falls around you, destroying concepts of time, tricking us into believing that an hour will last a day and that our need for formal employment is not as great as our need to see ‘the worlds drunkest man…ever!’
Dont get me wrong, a little procrastination is good for the soul and is one of the only positive aspects of being unemployed, but beware, given half the chance and procrastination will murder your job search…
Give yourself a procrastination quota – I think it’s fair to say that for anyone with even a smattering of normal human curiosity, the suggestion of giving up procrastination completely is a ludicrous one. I reckon that a little procrastination – delivered in a controlled and well structured way – could well be the means to stop it running amok with your job search.
Let’s say, for example, that you plan to work on your job search from 10am until 4 pm with a break of 30 minutes for lunch at 12:30pm. For those of you with unflinching dedication, using each and every second of this time to progress your employment expectations won’t be a problem. For myself and other members of the human race, such a stint stretches out in front of us like some highway to frustration and insanity. I need a little time to ‘unwind’ and I find that giving myself permission to stray from the task at hand for a set period of time increases my concentration and vastly decreases the temptation to procrastination when it isn’t ‘Procrastination Time’.
Break it down – One of the main contributors to procrastination is letting yourself become overwhelmed by the work that you have to do. Lacking in a clear plan of action means that surfing around on the web for a while or playing with the dog becomes a far more attractive option than knuckling down and getting to work. One of the ways that you can help remove the allure of perpetual procrastination is by creating a timetable in wish you break down the tasks that you need to complete into small manageable chunks and allot yourself a time in which to complete them. By giving yourself the opportunity to visualize the workload that you need to complete in this way you will remove some of the doubt and frustration which can so often lead to procrastination.
Change your work environment – There is of course no such thing as the perfect working environment, and this is especially the case when you are working from home but there is such a thing as a bad one. Herein lies much of the procrastination problem; when working from home it can be really difficult to create a workstation that is free of distractions. If you find your attention being lured away by the familiarity of your surroundings then it’s time to find some different surroundings.
You need to create an environment that inspires and encourages you to work and does not jeopardise your concentration or dedication to the task in hand. In most cases it will be possible for you to create this environment within your home, but if you find that distraction follows wherever you go, you should think about finding somewhere to work outside of your home.
Identify your procrastination triggers – Examine your procrastination pattern and try to identify what takes up most of your time when procrastinating. You might find that much of your time is spent replying to emails, making cups of tea, checking social media accounts or simply catching up on the day’s current events. Whatever it is that is holding you back, do as much as you can to remove this temptation from your path. It could be something as simple as deactivating the notification centre on your phone, disconnecting your devices or limiting yourself to one cup of tea per hour.
Stop making excuses – If there is a particularly unpleasant task that you are dreading completing, there is a temptation to continually delay it, under the excuse of ‘It’s not the right time’ or ‘I might feel better about doing it tomorrow’. We hate to break it to you, there is never going to be the perfect time for a task that you are dreading. The problem with this situation is that it becomes something of a vicious circle – the more you delay, the greater the dread becomes and you risk not completing the task at all. This kind of scenario causes you a lot of unnecessary stress and strain, and far and away the easiest solution is to simply bite the bullet, stop procrastinating and get on with it.
Eyes on the prize – Keep the end product in your sights at all times. This can be especially important during a job search as you won’t usually receive much encouragement / evidence that your efforts are making any kind of immediate impact. You should try to stop yourself getting overwhelmed by the process of job searching (which is almost certain to be long and tedious) and instead focus upon the reward which will come at the end- the job that you want.
If you have made it to the bottom of this post without being distracted by something shiny then give yourself a pat on the back and if you found these tips useful then you might like to check out some of this other job search related stuff.