Most of us like routine. Life is just a little easier when the way we spend our time is dictated by external demands. When we have a job, we have a built in routine. We know just when to get up in the morning, how much time we have to get ready, when we need to leave to get to work at a specific time, when to eat lunch, when to go the gym, when to go to bed and what to do pretty much every minute in between. Without a job to go to, that routine no longer exists.

Perhaps, when you first lost your job, you thought you’d take the opportunity to catch up on some projects around that house that you hadn’t had a chance to tackle. Or, you thought you’d get some reading done. But, now that you have all the time in the world, you don’t seem to know how to best use it. You know the saying, ‘If you want something done, ask a busy person.” Sometimes, the more we have to do, the more efficient we are. Or, maybe you think you should be spending 40 hours a week working on your job search and you find yourself sitting by the phone or computer waiting for responses to the inquiries you have sent out.

Whatever your situation, I suspect you’re feeling a little like a fish out of water, not sure just how to make the best use of your time. Here are some tips that might help:

1. Establish a routine: Get up and dressed at the same time every day, just as you did to go to work.

2. Make a list of all the things you need and want to do and prioritize the items on the list. Include non-job search related activities as well as those pertaining to your search. It is perfectly alright to spend some time doing personal activities. Completing these tasks will help energize you and improve your self-confidence.

3. Create a schedule for yourself. Include job search activities and personal activities. Honor the schedule. Consider your unique energy patterns. To the extent you can, do high energy tasks when you have high energy and lower energy tasks during the times that your body just doesn’t have a lot of juice.

4. Apportion your time relative to the value of the task. Most people get jobs through networking. Spend more time on networking activities than other methods.

5. Manage interruptions. Set boundaries with your spouse, kids, friends and neighbors. Now that you’re home, everyone thinks you’re available. Clarify with others when you need to be left alone and when you will be available.

6. Create efficient physical space for job search activities: A spare room or a quiet corner of a room. Set up a work surface, files, a phone and a computer. Keep files organized so that you can locate information easily and you aren’t stressed by clutter. Take the time to straighten up and put things away where they belong before leaving your work area.

7. Avoid giving in to tempting distractions. Work on one thing until you’re done (see #8) before going on to the next. Don’t allow things like checking email or a visit to the refrigerator to distract you from what you are supposed to be doing. Many job seekers find themselves gaining weight and spending extra money because it is more fun to go shopping or out to lunch with a friend than to research companies. Beware of these temptations. Sometimes these activities are perfectly fine. Just be careful not to use them as avoidance tactics.

8. Schedule time on task either according to amount of time spent or completion of a task. For example, you can plan to spend one hour researching companies on the internet or, you can research companies A, B, C, and D on the internet until you have all of the information you need, no matter how long it takes. Either way is fine. Just define it and commit to whatever you decide.

9. Keep an ongoing follow up list. Many of the activities in your job search are dependant on others over whom you have no control. Often, after you’ve made your move, you must wait for a response. There are many tasks on your to do list that will require follow up. Each time you complete an item on your list, make note of what and when your next action will be on that task. Check things off as you complete them.

10. Take good care of yourself. Replenish your energy. At work, you got satisfaction from completing tasks, interacting with others, being part of a larger organization. Create ways to get positive energy and feedback. Exercise, maintain a healthy diet, socialize and get plenty of rest. Work on home projects or hobbies, do volunteer work. Even though those activities are not directly related to your job search, they will make you feel good, give you a more positive outlook and allow you to be more efficient in your search activities. And, remember, a job search requires many, many micro steps. Give yourself credit for all of them.

Practicing good time management habits will help you feel more productive and successful. It will help you be more focused, have more energy and get more done in all aspects of your life.

Author's Bio: 

Cindy Loughran is a certified professional coach and the founder and president of New Leaf Touchstone. Her products and services help people break out of their habitual patterns and make desired changes in order to create fulfilling and satisfying lives.