When you’re looking for a new job, time management is an important skill that will help you achieve your goals quicker. Setting goals first and prioritizing them (see January article in Featured section) will help determine how you use spend your days. If you’re unemployed, your days should be filled with a variety of job search related activities. If you’re working, planning time outside of your work day also requires you to manage your time well. Either way, the amount of time that you dedicate to your job search will directly impact your results. Here are four strategies that might help you use your time more efficiently.
Time blocking involves scheduling blocks of time on your calendar (whether electronic or paper) and dedicating those intervals to completing your action steps. When searching for a job, you might block off two hours to reach out to contacts for networking purposes. Another hour might be blocked off for interview preparation or resume work. Monday mornings might be a good time to evaluate your job search strategy and follow-up with contacts. Schedule your time blocks just like you would meetings in the workplace and stay focused on the task at hand. Time blocking is a great tool to plan your days and to hold you accountable for completing your job search tasks.
Covey’s Time Management Matrix
This theory from Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” might be my favorite because his Time Management Matrix recognizes that the challenge is not managing time, rather, but to manage ourselves. This matrix is a great reminder to control interruptions throughout our day that are “urgent” but not important. “Important matters that are not urgent require more initiative, more proactivity”. We must take action, creating opportunities, and making things happen. Tasks such as scheduling networking meetings or researching a potential employers before an interview both fall into Quadrant II. With many of us still working remotely and if you have other family members in the house, this visual tool can help you identify what is urgent and what is important.
The Pomodoro Technique
This is a time management system that encourages people to work with the time they have rather than against it. Using this method, you break your workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. These intervals are referred to as pomodoros. After about four pomodoros, you take a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes. Fans of this method claim that they are more focused and productive because of the sense of urgency posed by a timer. Also, they get totally immersed into a project and aren’t tempted by distractions because of the shorter time chunks. As well, they feel more refreshed at the end of the day because of taking breaks away from their computer. You can use an actual timer or download one on your phone.
Mind Your Screen Time
According to an article from Healthista, “eight out of ten people check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up, and the average person checks their phone 150 times per day.” With the job search, you’ll be communicating with potential employers or networking contacts and want to respond in a timely fashion. Be mindful and create boundaries. Vow to stop looking at screens at 5:00 p.m. or take a break from screens on weekends. Be careful of going down “a rabbit hole” when researching company websites or LinkedIn profiles… As I tell my kids, technology is a great servant, but a horrible master. Make sure that your time online is purposeful and is moving you towards your career goals. And, maybe set a timer to remind you to stop.
Whatever time management method you use, remember to schedule time for fun and to celebrate the small successes. The job search may feel like a marathon some days, so it’s important to recognize your smaller achievements. Trust in the process, and let me know how I can help you on this journey. firstname.lastname@example.org