Here are some tips that might help:
- Review your schedule with an objective eye before you begin your job search or career exploration. Pinpoint how much – if any – free time you now have in your schedule.
- Decide how much time you want to dedicate to your search or exploration daily, weekly, or monthy. Be precise. How many minutes or hours will do you need to spend to get the results you want in your preferred timeframe?
- Compare your desired time allotment with your schedule. Will your current schedule accomodate your search/exploration plans?
- Schedule your job search or career change activities into your planner – don’t just assume they’ll fit in somewhere.
- Consider temporarily suspending other activities if your schedule is too tight to add in your search or career exploration. What hobbies, interests, affiliations, or activities can you reduce? What chores, errands, or tasks can you delegate or outsource?
- Communicate your intention and schedule changes to all those impacted by your decisions. Be clear with those around you (family, friends, colleagues, partners, associates, peers) about how your schedule will change, when the change will go into affect, how long it will last, and why you are making this temporary adjustment.
- Let those who are closest to you know how this schedule change can positively impact your relationship and life. Give the most detail and information to those who mean the most to you. Engage their support and agreement by helping them understand why this search or exploration is vital to you both.
- Put firm boundaries around your job search or career change activities. Don’t allow routine things to interrupt your search. Define in advance what kinds of things you would be willing to allow yourself to be interrupted for (family emergencies, urgent phone calls, calls from prospective employers, etc.) and if necessary negotiate this with your significant other/family members.
- Create SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-focused) goals for each search or exploration session. Break your action plan (you do have a job search or career change action plan, don’t you?) into doable steps and schedule specific tasks into specific time slots.
- Aim for quality rather than quantity. Avoid shotgun job searching and career exploration. Focus intently and complete the right activities at the right time rather than trying to do everything all at once. Recognize that your career will always suffer if you avoid best practices and rely instead on those actions you are most comfortable and familiar with.
- Make your search/exploration time as productive as possible. Set clear goals, focus on and achieve them, and evaluate what is and isn’t working for you on a weekly basis.
- Avoid activities that will pull you off track. Most job seekers allow themselves to get pulled into too much Internet research and end up getting too few resumes out the door. If you are easily seduced by Internet research or online job boards, then set a timer and make yourself stop when the alarm goes off.
- Consider using job search or goal software to keep yourself on track. Elsewhere in this blog I have noted several job search software products that can help keep your search on schedule. Goal software can accomplish some – though not all – of the same tasks. Or, set up task lists in Word or Outlook. It matters less how you do this than that you get it done. Play to your preferences and make your planner/organizational system work for you. If you don’t have an organizational system in place, that’s what you’ll need to do first.
Don’t expect your job search to fit into your life with little adaptation. By applying a little creativity and patience to your time management process, you can squeeze in the job search and career exploration activities that will enable you to make the shift you need to make.