In the first few days of unemployment, your mind may swirl in a haze of mixed emotions.
Feelings of freedom and endless opportunities can be swiftly replaced with dread, hopelessness, and self-doubt.
Thankfully, keeping a schedule can help you find a job, a renewed purpose, and help alleviate the guilt of enjoying your free time.
This schedule may not be right for everyone, but here’s a good jumping off point for making the most out of unemployment and treating it like a job, not a vacation:
7:30 a.m.: Wake up, throw on your gym shorts, and dust off your yoga mat
Recent research out of Belgium suggests that working out early in the morning -- before you've eaten breakfast -- doesn't just help you meet your fitness goals but could even give you more energy than those few extra minutes of shut-eye.
Since you're probably trying to be careful with money while you're unemployed, you might want to put your gym membership on hold and check out a free YouTube workout routine instead.
8:15 a.m.: Hit the showers
Use this cool-off time to ponder the meaning of life and what you truly want to get out of it.
8:30 a.m.: Eat a healthy breakfast and sip your coffee outside
Various research suggests eating within an hour of waking boosts your mood and mind, and exposure to natural light in the morning tells your body to stop producing melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy. Light is also a natural antidepressant.
9:00 a.m. -- 12 p.m.: Search for and apply to long-term jobs
It's always best to tackle the hardest task -- in this case, applying to jobs -- first thing each day.
Write a cover letter individualized for each job, being sure to include the job details, show your value, infuse some of your personality, use specific words and phrases from the job description, and only include relevant information.
12 p.m. -- 1 p.m.: Eat lunch
Take an hour-long lunch break -- you've earned it. If you want to watch a little TV while you break, go for it, though a walk in the park might be nicer. Keep your food light to maintain your energy levels.
1 p.m. -- 2 p.m.: Search for and apply to short-term jobs
If you're not earning an income and don't have rainy-day funds to fall back on, things can get tight very quickly. Spend an hour each day applying for jobs that can hold you over while you look for something more sustainable.
2 p.m. -- 3 p.m.: Learn a new skill
There are plenty of online resources for learning new or brushing up on old skills that could help set you apart from the competition.
Scour platforms like Coursera for free online courses in fields that interest you or that could potentially help you in your career and spend around an hour each day on lessons and coursework, depending on the course load.
3 p.m. -- 4 p.m.: Network
Networking is an important step in finding a job. Use this time to email contacts you might have in the industry, set up and attend coffee meetings, and follow up with contacts.
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