Monday, April 17, 2017

Staying Productive While Jobless

A little over a month ago, I was let go. I could go into the backstory and pile on the woe, but Mondays are depressing enough. It's been equal parts rough and liberating, however, and looking back, I'm not heartbroken over the situation. But being unemployed until my next gig starts means a lot of time to myself–time that needs to be filled.

I've blogged about productivity before, but all those posts have been geared toward people with jobs. People who had so much to do all they actually wanted to do was watch Netflix. Now I'm faced with a different problem: How do I stay productive when I feel like I have all the time in the world? 

First, I don't actually have all that much time–not when you consider that I have to apply for unemployment, take care of health insurance (ugh), figure out a new budget, apply for a teacher's license, write a short story, edit a novella (twice), edit a novel, participate in a wedding, do flowers for two weddings... That's half the list. Half. 

Since I don't want to sit around watching Netflix all day, most of the things on my long-term list are self-imposed and not at all required. I enjoy getting things done, and I don't like being idle. 

I used to fill out a weekly notepad planner with everything I needed to do on breaks and after work, but I've decided to change my tactics. I found an old whiteboard calendar in my closet, and as I schedule responsibilities, I write them down. I'm a huge fan of writing things down. Putting it on my Google calendar helps me prevent double-booking, but I never look at it otherwise. So, big responsibilities go on the whiteboard. For instance, today says "French" and "Blog" because I needed to grade some French assignments and write a blog. 

Then, every morning before I work out, I write the order of my day on a piece of notebook paper. Fancy, I know. I list my projects by priority and split them into related categories. Here's how today's list went: Grade. Money order. Fingerprint card? Folder for resumes. BTT Blog-->BTT emails and interview reqs. Text Clara. Supernova. Dress fitting 6 p.m. 

The nice thing about to-do lists is that you can break things up into so many steps that you feel like you've accomplished much more than you really did. I could just write "BTT" for all my Beyond the Trope Monday responsibilities, but I like crossing things off, so I write more things down. In the end, my motivation to complete everything on the list is partly the idea of how terrible it would be not to ever get anything done every again (a.k.a. guilt trips) and a reward of a TV show and/or a food splurge when I finish things on time. It takes discipline, but it's worth it!

How do you stay productive when you don't have a boss hanging deadlines around your neck?

Michelle found folders from elementary school stashed in her library. Twenty-year-old Lisa Frank art is appropriate for holding resumes, right?

1 comment:

  1. Wished I had your organizational skills.

    I`ve tried all the tricks, but within days, I lose my charts, calendars, lists, and my attempts at organization devolve into chaos. I even bolted a whiteboard to my work office wall, filled it out that Friday. Then I left for vacation. Monday rolled around and I had lost not only the whiteboard, but also my furniture, equipment and walls. The agency had sold the building & the new owner had started the demolition. My office stuff was in a new location, but the whiteboard was a casualty of the demolition. I guess the universe told me to embrace my entropy.