100 Inspiring Productivity Ideas for the Unemployed

Posted August 1, 2010

Staff Writer: Aniya Wells

If you’re unemployed, regardless of what you earned – a criminal justice degree, engineering degree, business degree, education degree, design degree, or a math degree, you may feel like you don’t have much to do, but you can turn your unemployment into a learning and personal development experience. Here’s a collection of things that you can do to transform unemployment from boredom to productivity.

General

These are just a few of the things you can do to get started on a productive unemployment.

  1. Make goals: Avoid procrastinating or letting responsibilities go-stick to your goals instead.
  2. Keep a blog: Gain visibility with the help of a blog while you’re unemployed.
  3. Reassess your career: Your unemployment might be a blessing in disguise-think about whether you were really doing what you want to do.
  4. Focus on what you can control: Don’t obsess over things you have no control over, like whether you’re going to get called back about that job, and work on what you can.
  5. Make a schedule: Make time for certain tasks throughout the day and stick to it.
  6. Set your alarm early: Get out of bed as if you have a job to do.
  7. Stick to a normal routine: Keep a regular routine every day so that your days don’t feel sporadic.
  8. Get dressed: You don’t have to get dressed like you’re going in to work, but get cleaned up and decent every day.
  9. Leave your TV off: Don’t turn your television on until the evening.
  10. Start or finish a novel: Working on a novel is a project that will help you stay productive and develop yourself.
  11. Learn something new: Even if there’s no monetary payoff, take the time to learn something new that will bring purpose and happiness.

Education

Make your unemployment a learning experience with these ideas.

  1. Take courses: Improve your portfolio with courses-you may even be able to take free classes if you’re collecting unemployment.
  2. Read everything: Read books, industry magazines, business blogs, and more to build your brain trust.
  3. Learn a new job related skill: Pick up a new skills, whether it’s from a class, volunteering, or apprenticeship.
  4. Sharpen your skills: Be sure that your current skills are sharp and up to date.
  5. Teach a course: Deepen your knowledge and share what you know by teaching a course. It looks great on a resume and you might even earn some money.
  6. Go back to college: Find grants, loans, and more to go back to school.
  7. Learn a new language: A second (or third, or fourth) language looks great on a resume.

Job Search

Use these ideas to supercharge your job search.

  1. Identify your best job resources: Find online sources, contacts, and more to identify the best job resources for you.
  2. Don’t be fussy: Apply for anything and everything, even if the positions aren’t ideal.
  3. Create a plan: Lay out an employment plan with small, manageable steps.
  4. Double check your references: Talk to your references and make sure that they are up to date on your current situation, skills, and accomplishments.
  5. Contact a staffing firm: Staffing companies can help find you a job, or at least find temporary work to hold you over.
  6. Act like a job search is your job: Get up early and spend most of your day looking for jobs.
  7. Keep your cool: Don’t let panic and stress take over your job search.
  8. Ask for opinions on your resume: Share your resume with other professionals and ask for their opinion.
  9. Work on your resume and cover letters: While you have time, make sure that you’ve got an updated resume and cover letter.

Networking

Put these ideas to work for a great networking experience.

  1. Offer a reward: Let your contacts know that you’ll offer a reward like a steak dinner to whoever can land you a job.
  2. Update your contacts: Make sure that your contacts aren’t planning on contacting you at your old work email and phone number-be sure to give them a better way to get you.
  3. Tell everyone you’re unemployed: Don’t be ashamed-unemployment happens to the best of us. Tell everyone you’re looking for a new job.
  4. Practice your speech: Be ready with a quick speech to go over what you’re doing now and what you’re looking for.
  5. Embrace your contacts: Brush off your list of contacts and find out if they have know about any opportunities that might work for you.
  6. Use social networking: Find contacts that can help you get a job through social media.
  7. Pay attention to your network: Take the time to invest in your network when you have the time to do it.
  8. Review your online presence: Be sure to check out what you look like on the Internet.
  9. Join or start a club: Become a part of a job club to find encouragement, support, and resources.
  10. Don’t forget to share: Share with your constantly expanding network while you have the time to do it.

Health

Here’s how you can maintain your health while you’re unemployed.

  1. Eat well: Eat right to cut down on your health costs while also keeping your food bills down.
  2. Get some exercise: You don’t have the excuse of being too busy anymore-get at least 30 minutes of brisk exercise every day.
  3. Cut out prepared foods: Learn to cook from scratch and you’ll save money.
  4. Lose weight or get fit: Present a better image for yourself by working on getting fitter.
  5. Buy seasonal: Follow seasonal trends and look for treats.
  6. Extend your insurance: Keep your health care coverage by extending it through programs like COBRA.
  7. Take advantage of sales: Stock up on food that’s on sale.

Life at Home

When you’re unemployed, you’re going to spend a lot more time at home than you used to. Here’s how to make the most of it.

  1. Clean your house: Embrace a sense of accomplishment and feel great at home with a clean house.
  2. Plant a garden: Make a small investment in seeds and supplies to get satisfaction and super fresh, cheap food from your garden.
  3. Fix it: Take the time to fix what you have around the house, saving money instead of buying something new.
  4. Clean out your clutter: Check out your closets, garage, and attic to get rid of junk, and even sell off stuff you don’t need.
  5. Do some green updates: Check for air leaks, cut out electrical leeches, and more around the house to save some cash and improve your home.
  6. Learn to cook: Embrace your need to eat at home more often and brush up on your cooking skills.
  7. Hang your clothes outside: Save on drying costs by drying outside while you’re at home instead.
  8. Tackle your honey-do list: Get to work on the home projects you’ve been saving for when you have more time.

Finance

Here are a few tips for staying on top of your finances when unemployed.

  1. Don’t hesitate to get unemployment benefits: Your first and most important task when you’re unemployed is signing up to get unemployment benefits. They may take weeks to come in and can even offer help finding new employment.
  2. Just buy less: The less you buy, the less you’ll have to manage, replace, and store.
  3. Track your spending: Keep track of every cent coming in and going out.
  4. Haggle: Brush up on your bargaining skills and learn to haggle like a pro.
  5. Put together a doomsday plan: It may be dreadful, but think about what you can do to raise money and decrease spending if you really end up in financial trouble.
  6. Buy used: Many second hand items are still in great quality at a fraction of the cost.
  7. Prioritize: If you can’t pay every bill, make sure you keep the essentials like your mortgage, utilities, and transportation.
  8. Talk about payment options: Explain your situation to your mechanic, plumber, and other people who may be willing to stretch your bill out into installments.
  9. Brush up on budgeting: Create or reassess your budget to deal with your new situation.
  10. Cut your costs: Learn how to clip coupons, stop buying takeout, and find other ways to cut down on your expenses in the short and long term.
  11. Reassess your bills: Find out if bundling or changing providers can help you cut down your bills.
  12. Be careful about home equity: Stay disciplined and hold off on tapping into equity until you’ve back on your feet.
  13. Rent out a room: If you’ve got an extra room, rent out your space to someone.
  14. Deal with debt: Pick up the phone and call your lenders to discuss your situation instead of just letting bills pile up.
  15. Pay attention to job search and moving expenses: Track your job search or moving expenses to see if you qualify for a deduction.
  16. Put off expensive purchases: Now is not the time to get a great new TV or laptop.
  17. Learn frugal habits: Pick up good frugal habits to save money while you’re unemployed.
  18. Use cash: It’s more emotionally difficult to spend cash than credit, so stick to bills.
  19. Keep your retirement sacred: Unless you’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel, don’t even think about touching your retirement fund.
  20. Keep your checkbook balanced: Watch your bank account carefully-you can’t afford mistakes or overdraft fees.
  21. Ask for level billing: Get a more stable look at your monthly bills with the help of a level bill payment structure.
  22. Look into helpful programs: In addition to unemployment, you may quality for programs like food stamps and Medicaid.
  23. Trade your housing down: If it makes financial sense, you can move, take on a roommate, or even move back home with your family.
  24. Scrutinize your bills: Examine every bill you get for mistakes and get credits.

Money Makers

If you’d like to make some quick cash, use these ideas.

  1. Start a business: While you’re waiting to get hired, consider starting your own business. You just might decide you never want to go back.
  2. Take odd jobs: Odd jobs will provide you with some cash and help you feel productive.
  3. Freelance: Take on small assignments for a little cash, and you can even put freelancing on your resume.
  4. Take on a part time job: Work is work-don’t shy away from part time work that can help bridge the gap.

Relationships & Interaction

With these ideas, you can maintain great relationships and interaction.

  1. Keep socializing with people: Talk to your former work colleagues, friends, and family to stay social.
  2. Practice public speaking: Speak at associations, classes or Toastmasters to get out there and improve your interview skills at the same time.
  3. Practice talking about yourself: Practice for interviews with friends, at parties, and with family.
  4. Keep your family in the loop: Talk to your family about what’s going on and how they can help you.
  5. Pick up your phone: Whether you’re calling personal or professional contacts, call at least a few people every day.
  6. Spend time with your family: With your extra time, take the opportunity to focus on your family.

Happiness

Follow these ideas to stay happy while you’re unemployed.

  1. Practice relaxation: Try out deep breathing, yoga, and meditation to wipe out stress.
  2. Stick with happy people: Socialize with people who believe in you and can boost your self confidence.
  3. Focus on the positive: Don’t forget to look on the bright side when you’re unemployed.
  4. Take a day off: If you’re unemployed, one little day isn’t going to make or break your life.
  5. Be thankful: While unemployed, you may find yourself focusing on what’s wrong-but you should take time to focus on what’s good in your life.
  6. Maintain balance: Make time for fun and relaxation instead of letting your job search completely take over.
  7. Reward yourself: When you’ve made an effort or had something good happen, indulge in a little reward.

Fun

Have a little fun while you don’t have to worry about work.

  1. Visit the library: Take advantage of free resources and entertainment at your local library.
  2. Travel: While you have time and fewer responsibilities, explore a new part of the world.
  3. Embrace your hobbies: Enjoy your hobbies while you have time to really enjoy them-you might even find they can become a great job.
  4. Explore your city: Visit museums, parks, and more to enjoy your city when you would normally be working.
  5. Volunteer: Whether you’re at an animal shelter or soup kitchen, spend some of your extra time giving back to your community.
  6. Create a job for yourself: Take on a project like volunteering for a loved one’s company.
  7. Get out of the house: Do something, anything, that gets you out of the house every single day.

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