I came across this quote this morning as I was Google’ing “things to do while unemployed in Chicago.” While it’s only Day 3 of my unemployment stint, I don’t think I’ve ever been more bored in my life. I know I’d been saying to myself a few weeks ago that I’d kill for another vacation (even though I’d just gotten back from Mexico), but being unemployed was not how I envisioned facilitating a few days off from the office.
While on my Google searching binge, I came across a great article on Forbes that was published about a year ago titled 10 Things to do While You’re Unemployed. While everything it suggests is great (and probably beneficial), I feel like I’ve already ticked off a good chunk of the list. For instance…
- Take a temporary or contract assignment. Since that’s what got me into the unemployed state, I’d rather not…however, I’m definitely open to it and have already met with a recruiter. She has since told me that my experience makes me overqualified for most of the positions she’s trying to fill and underqualified for the rest. Apparently 5 years is not the magic number.
- Take a class. How about I work on paying off my student loans that I already have? A painting and wine-drinking class though? I’d be open to it. Maybe there’s a Groupon for that…
- Volunteer. Can I serve myself at the soup kitchen? I like soup.
- Start your own business. Doesn’t this require financial capital? Dear Forbes…you’ve clearly forgotten I don’t have a job. Am I game for freelancing my design services? Absolutely. The trick, however, is getting people who have an expendable income to fork over their cash in exchange for you telling them why their house looks like a hot mess and why you’re qualified to make it into the masterpiece it has the potential to become. If you’re interested in keeping me afloat, send me a message. I’d love to hear from you.
- Start a professional blog. Let’s pretend that this one counts.
- Follow stories on hot industries and job functions. Since I check out my newsfeed on LinkedIn daily, consider it done.
- Use the time to come up with ideas. The first thing on my to-do list is “Plot my world domination.” I’m still coming up with ideas of how to make this happen.
- Make connections. I’m all about networking. In the past three days, I’ve hit up a design networking event, open interviews for two bartending positions (with two more today and one more tomorrow), and will be going to a free scotch tasting this Friday. I consider these all to be valuable ways of making connections.
- Use key words. It’s like search engine optimization. It’s all about how you word stuff, people. Done.
- Follow up. I’m the king of thank you cards, follow-up emails, and calls. Done.
So since I’ve basically knocked out the Forbes list of 10 things to do during my unemployment, I’ve come up with a new list. If you find yourself unemployed, you can thank me for giving you a list of things to do to keep you from losing your mind.
10 Things to Do While Unemployed According to the Often Annoyed Designer
- Explore the city you live in. Since I’ve lived in Chicago for almost a year (and had been visiting regularly for 4-5 years prior to making the move) and still haven’t explored a lot of places in the city, this is a must. I have an unlimited CTA pass, so bring on the jaunts to random neighborhoods to just get out and see what’s around. It’s spring and Chiberia is (hopefully) over. There’s no better time than now to get out and explore.
- Catch up on laundry. Seriously. I have a pile of laundry the size of Mount Everest staring at me begging to be washed. That’s on the agenda for this evening (but then again it’s currently Wednesday and I’ve been saying that since Saturday). Since I’m down to one or two pairs of cute underwear (other than jockstraps) left in my drawer, tonight’s the night that my underwear drawer will be getting some action and getting stuffed again.
- Go to the gym religiously. I asked a friend who’d recently been unemployed what got him through it without making him go crazy. The first two suggestions out of his mouth: Lots of alcohol, and work out a lot if you have a gym membership. Since alcohol requires spending cash that I don’t currently have, and since my gym membership is automatically charged to my Chase card (and is closer than the closest liquor store), I’ll be going with Option B….especially since beach season is right around the corner.
- Get a part-time job. The same friend also worked for Williams-Sonoma while he found another job in his field. Since I have years and years of retail/hospitality experience, I’m looking at going back to that. Who knows how long it will last. Maybe I’ll fall back in love with it and just do design on the side. We’ll see. I’m open to the possibilities…
- Catch up on sleep. For the past three years, I’ve worked myself to the bone and gotten off of a regular sleep cycle. Nothing feels better than waking up at 10am to a nice breeze off the lake. I could get used to this, although I’d be bored out of my mind and wouldn’t be able to pay the rent on my condo. At least there’s weekends, right?
- Catch up with friends and family you haven’t seen or talked to in a while. After working 60-70 hours a week for the past year, I feel like I’ve lost touch with some of my close friends. I also don’t call my grandparents as much as I should. A simple movie night or phone call can remedy this, and since I currently have all the time in the world….consider it added to my to-do list.
- Meet up with a random person for coffee. The worst that can happen? An awkward date that leads to another great blog post.
- Spend an afternoon people-watching. This can be done on the CTA, at the beach, at a park…pretty much anywhere really. To make it even better, take Not-So-Carrie with you.
- Purge. No, not the throwing-up kind. I’m talking spring-cleaning-throw-that-shit-away purging. April is the best time of year to go through your closet/dresser/cupboards/storage unit and get rid of everything that you don’t need. Donate it to charity, take it to a consignment shop, or just throw it away. I’ll be doing all three.
- Focus on yourself. For once, I have all the time in the world to focus on myself. There’s currently no clients waiting on me, micromanagers trying to throw you under the bus for their mistakes, or crazy coworker drama to deal with. It’s all about me. But then again…isn’t it always?
So there you have it. My list of ten things to do while you’re unemployed. Will they necessarily help you land a new job? Maybe. Like I said before…everything happens for a reason. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time.
So on that note, I’m going to get myself gussied up and head downtown and see what these open call interviews for bartenders have in store. Maybe one will pan out, and I’ll find myself back on the other side of the bar. Perhaps I’ll get a phone call while I’m downtown asking me to interview for a different position. Maybe they’ll all tank. Who knows. What I do know, however, is that it’s time to focus on me. It’s all about bettering myself and being happy with what I’m doing….because really, one can accomplish great things when unemployed. It all comes down to taking that first step towards greatness.