Staying Busy and Balanced

September 1, 2011 § 6 Comments

Since we returned from our vacation, I have been living at home, preparing for our move to New York.  I’m also… not working. While it’s not the most convenient time to be working or searching for a new job since we’re so focused on finding a place to live (ps that IS a full time job), the break is intentional.  I’m taking my job search very slowly and actively taking some time off. I could find a new job just for the sake of having an income and routine, which are both good reasons, and believe me, very tempting!  But I’m doing my best to slow down, be patient, and figure out what it is I really want. That, for me, is a lot harder than it sounds.  When it comes down to it I’m a pretty impatient person.  I want the solution now, and if I don’t have the answer,  I’d like someone else to give it to me. But figuring out the next step in my career? I think I have to do that on my own.

To help cope with my impatience during this period, I’ve come up with a list of rules that I’ve been following to keep myself sane and on schedule. Whether you’re working or not, I hope these are of some help to you too in getting more out of each day, and leading a structured yet fulfilling life!

1. Get Up Yes, quite literally, get yourself out of bed in a timely manner each day. While I haven’t been setting an alarm, I force myself out of bed no later than 7:45/8 am most days.  It’s extremely temping to sip coffee in my pajamas all morning, but I make sure I’m showered and ready to go no later than 9:30 am (even if I’m not actually going anywhere). I even make my bed.  It sounds silly, but I find if I laze around all morning I’m much less productive for the remainder of the day.

2. Make a List Each morning I make a list of things I want to accomplish that day.  I find making a daily list, rather than a weekly list, allows me to focus on what I really need to get done that day.  It’s much more likely I’ll complete the task if I know it needs to get done today. I’m also very specific in my to-dos. Instead of writing “Search for Apartments ” I’ll write, “Apartments: 1) Check X neighborhoods on Street Easy 2) Email X broker”  It sounds incredibly simple, but I believe by writing the whole thing out you’re holding yourself accountable to getting the task done.

3. Work Out. Everyday. The worst thing I can do for not only my productivity level but also my mood, is sit in front of the computer all day.  While I exercised frequently while I was working, I make even more of a point to do it now.  I always wanted to get into Pilates and now I have the time to do so.  Instead of spending money on classes I’m using Netflix.  Yes, Netflix!  They have a pretty substantial variety of streaming work out classes.  Trying different ones keeps me motivated.

3. All Those Things You know all those things you’ve been meaning to do or wanted to do but didn’t have the time?  Now you do.  Even if you searching for a job, you can’t do it all day.  There are only so many jobs one can apply to each day, and if that’s all you do, you’ll drive yourself crazy.  While I have a couple of projects and apartment hunting to tend to, in my free time I’ve been focusing on writing emails to old friends, cooking, and reading.  I’ve also been blogging much more frequently (which is perhaps the best part), and working on ways I can improve this space.

4. Managing Financial Stress Likely the biggest stresser of not working is the lack of income.  While it’s not enjoyable to constantly be dipping into savings, it’s inevitable.  That realization has been the most helpful for me.  I’ve cut back on my spending (aided by the fact that I’m living at home), but letting go of the guilt of spending money on something like a much needed hair cut or dinner out with friends here and there really helps.  You can’t remain cooped up during this time.  That said, keeping a budget is important. Even though you’re not spending money you’re actively making, plotting out your expenses for the month will show you how much of your savings you will need to spend, and help avoid unnecessary expenditures.

5. Restrict Yourself  Don’t turn the TV on until the evening. Don’t look at blogs and drown time in online shopping/Facebook/Twitter all day.  Whatever your weakness, set restrictions.

6. Embrace This Time Lastly, be sure to embrace this time.  And be proud of it! This may be the hardest one for me. Each day I get more and more comfortable with what I’m “doing.”  It’s easy to feel apprehensive about your decision or situation, and worry about what others will think. But as I’m constantly reminding myself, one of the worst ways I can waste my time is worrying about other people’s opinions.  Actively taking time off is no walk in the park, and if it’s right for you, go for it!

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§ 6 Responses to Staying Busy and Balanced

  • I am a list person. I make a list for everything. It not only disciplines but it helps me remember.

  • Erin Raffety says:

    I’m really enjoying your blog, and as a Ph.D. student, now doing my dissertation-research, I can also really relate to the necessity for self-scheduling. I think your tips are right on (early-rising, exercising, list-writing), and I think perspective is so important in life’s greatest transitions- for instance, looking at times of unemployment or underemployment as opportunities to tap into our passions and vocational desires, and re-imagine these typically less-than-hopeful times in our lives as opportunities. Sending some encouragement and admiration your way!

    • Clara says:

      Erin- I am so touched by your comment! Thank you so much for your support. I totally agree with your point about perspective, and recognizing these periods as opportunities for growth. It’s certainly on the easiest thing to do, but your encouragement really helps!

  • snowflakes says:

    Clara,
    Thanks for visiting my blog. I am a regular visitor of your blog and seldom I leave any comments; in fact, I was inspired by reading your food blog more and I am making a point to cook new recipes from food blogs once a week. I love the simplicity of your recipes and the content.

    About this post, I agree with you completely; I have been in the same phase for some time in my life, and I used all the time I had to venture into things that I have not been able to do before. And I liked figuring things out in my own pace. So you are doing amazing, and thanks for sharing.

  • pufferfish90 says:

    So I stumbled upon your blog (I love writing, so, naturally, I love reading other people’s writings). I had been scrolling through looking at your recipes and pictures (also love seeing good photography…I can’t take a good picture worth a darn, but I sure love looking at them : ) and I came across this post. I gotta say, this really got through to me. I have a job, but I’m living at home and I just feel like these rules are excellent to keep. I always try to get a balance going of having a quite time, working out, making my bed, but there is always the temptation on days off to lay in bed and watch tv all morning.

    Thanks for sharing this…I think I’m going to come up with my own “rules” based on yours to balance out my day to day life. : )

    • Clara says:

      I’m so glad you took something away from it! That’s exactly why I wrote this post, so it means the world to me that you benefitted from it. I too feel like staying in bed some days, but the more productive I am, the happier I am. I’m curious to see how your list turns out!

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