It seems that everywhere I turn someone has lost a job. Countless friends, clients, and family members are being affected by the economy, and find themselves in a confusing new environment - overwhelmed about what to do next. This major life change can cause a big disruption in your everyday routines, habits, and organizing systems. Your goals and objectives need to be re-evaluated; plans re-set; and working space within the home re-defined.
Here are some tips for surviving the organizational challenges associated with a layoff:
1) Communication. Now is the time to start a regular family meeting if you haven't already. Schedules will be in flux, morning routines changed, and you're likely to have more availability to participate in family activities and errands. It's also important to have open and honest communication about finances, emotional states, and short term goals. Your family will be better able to support you during this time of transition if you address issues head-on, rather than avoiding conflict or trying to be a self-sufficient superhero.
2) Treat your job search like a job. Set up your computer email files and workspace as you would your office, and set "office hours" for yourself where you will essentially go to work. Your job will be networking, checking job postings, writing letters/resumes/correspondence/social networking/etc. In setting office hours, you can also manage the temptation to constantly and obsessively be on the computer, which isn't healthy. Remember that this time of unemployment is also a time for reflection, self-evaluation, and re-connecting with your family and friends. Don't forget to set time aside for all of this, which is ultimately more important.
3) Re-evaluate your home office space. If you don't have a designated desk or workspace in your home, now is the time to set up some dedicated space for yourself. Even a small desk in the corner of a room will suffice. The important thing is that you identify a space where you will conduct your job search activity and that serves as your office. Shared space is OK as long as you can work effectively. Remember that Functional Places is never an advocate of having a desk or office in the bedroom if it can be avoided! You will also need to set up appropriate filing systems for your outplacement and severance materials, job leads, contacts, etc.
4) Consider meeting with a financial planner. Find a fee-only financial planner who is not tied to promoting any specific products. He or she can help you look at your current budget, spending habits, and scenarios. You'll know how long you can get by on your severance/unemployment, and what choices you will need to make short-term and long-term. This can help take the stress out of the unknown, and also set up guidelines for family activities during this transition.
5) A professional coach can help you re-evaluate your career goals and do some valuable self-assessment work. Sometimes a layoff offers an opportunity for a much-needed career change or shift; but it can be overwhelming to know where to start or what steps to take. A coach will work with you to identify your goals, set an action plan in place to get you there, and keep you accountable to completing tasks along the way.
6) Take advantage of outplacement services - but don't overdo it. Outplacement services are a wonderful resource, but it's easy to get caught up in trying to take advantage of every seminar, resource, and workshop. Choose the ones that have the most interest for you, and that will give you the most return on your time investment.
7) Keep a daily journal. It's all too common that feelings of depression and low self-worth can do a number on your self-esteem. Rationally, it's easy to say that a job loss in nothing personal; but emotions will certainly be up and down. Keeping a daily journal of what you have accomplished towards your goals, what you are feeling, and monitoring your self-care activities is a great way to keep you on track and give you some positive reinforcement. You will also begin to see patterns about which times of day are your most productive - so that you can set up your daily schedule accordingly.
8) Organize a support group of friends or colleagues that are in a similar situation. Use your meeting time productively - to share ideas, be accountability partners, and help with goal-setting (rather than as "vent" sessions).
9) Keep detailed notes of your networking efforts, and use systems like Outlook to set reminders to yourself for important follow-up phone calls and correspondence. Take notes about each conversation. Next time you speak with a particular contact, you can ask a follow-up question about your last conversation that really shows you are paying attention and on top of your game. Even something as simple as "How did your trip to Chicago go last week?" shows that you have attention to detail.
10) Make a list of projects that you want to complete around the house and prioritize them. Set a goal for what you will do each week so that you don't fall into the temptation of throwing yourself into home improvements and neglecting important job search and self-care activities.
Stay positive, organized, and focused on your goals. Remember that things happen for a reason, and take advantage of this time to make sure that the next step you take is the right one for you and your family.
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