Recently, I moved back to my parent's home and, after taking up a menial job for about a month, I decided to quit and reevaluate what I wanted to do with my life. As a result, I found myself doing a lot of reading and surfing the web and spent too much time on Netflix. While I enjoyed the down time, I can honestly say that not having a source of income and no action plan was the most stressful and anxious I have felt in a very long while. Instead of wallowing in indecision and complacency, like I had done for a month, make sure you keep busy with the following tips to ensure that your unemployment is as productive as possible.
The Obvious Rule #1
Find A Job
Assuming that you have enough money to take your time in finding another job, you needn't worry about securing employment ASAP. However, if you are in need of the income, your first priority should be to shape up your resume and start applying for jobs you find suitable. Personally, Craigslist has always been one of the first place I search for a job, but other job sites like Indeed, Monster or Snagajob should be checked daily. Browse the local government's job sections, civil service employment openings, and read local newspapers for the classified job ads. Find a job, it will not find you.
However, if your are not in dire straits, take your time in the job hunt. Think about where you want your career to take you, and go for jobs that you will be satisfied with. For me, stepping down from a respectable job to a menial dishwasher position grew old quickly.
Rule #2 is important and can not be overstated: exercise! This is the perfect time to get in better health. A daily dose of exercise not only gets you healthier and raises your self-confidence, it will also reduce your stress and result in a better mental state. Besides, in the event that you do spend most of the day watching old episodes of The Office, the day won't be a complete waste if you have gotten in a workout or two.
With so much down time, your professional and intellectual development can potentially become stagnant. Avoid this by using your brain in any way possible. Read, read some more, and if you are the creative type, try to write. Reading of any kind--fiction, history, news, the bible--serves to not only make you smarter but also a more interesting person. Recreational writing is an awesome way to spend time and hone a skill that is important in all kinds of professions.
In addition, this free time can be used to learn new skills. With the advances in technology and the use of computers, new skills are available to those with the time to learn them. Language-learning software, both free and paid, is an awesome way to keep busy and make that resume much more appealing (proven that you have control of the language). I suggest using Duolingo, a free language software that feels more like a game than an education. Besides learning a new language, however, there are countless skills to learn, such as graphic design or computer coding.
Now is the time to give back. Volunteering not only improves your happiness and self-worth, it also improves your community, improves your resume and gives you networking opportunities that you didn't get from Netflix or Hulu. When I became un(der)employed, I started to volunteer at a local historical site. Only once a week for three hours was a small commitment, but I met many interesting people and had a great time learning new skills and information. Try to find something that interests you, or find volunteer opportunities online.
Even if you don't take any of the aforementioned advice, the worst thing you can possibly do during periods of un- or under-employment is to sink into boredom. You need to stay busy in order to keep your mind and body healthy. If you don't already, find a hobby you enjoy and try to excel at it. Try to find activities that can be of use to yourself and others, such as carpentry.
If you are unsuccessful in finding a hobby or any of the previous suggestions, take a look around. What can be improved? Winterize your home in the fall to save on heating bills. Give your home or car a good, deep cleaning. Organize a shed or garage or an attic. Whatever is necessary to keep you moving and not dwelling on the uncertainty of the future, do it. Now is the time to work on things you want that will increase your happiness, so get busy.