The job search is rarely fun. You’re sitting in one place with a computer screen as your only companion, sometimes for hours at a time. It can get disheartening. Which is part of the reason so many people just quit looking.
And even if you don’t completely give up on the job search, it’s easy to fall prey to procrastination. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Wikipedia, random news websites—they’re all just a few clicks away. And your cellphone ensures that friends and family are possible distractions.
When it comes to job searching, ordinarily productive activities can become dangerous distractions. Maybe you’d rather do the laundry, cook dinner, or clean the bathroom than job search. You have to be careful with breaks too—a short walk can turn into a long stroll if you don’t time it.
Here are a few tips to help you deal with procrastination during the job search or anything else you’re having trouble concentrating on.
Clean Your Space
What does your desk or workplace look like? Is it neat and organized or could it use a good cleaning? If you thrive in a messy environment, that’s great! However, as noted by Unclutterer.com, a study conducted by the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute says that “multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation.” This means that as the amount of “stuff” in your workspace increases, your brain needs to work harder to focus on any one thing. So get rid of that clutter and clear your head!
Eliminate Future Distractions
Are you a coffee drinker? A music lover? Make sure to put on a fresh pot and pick out your song selection for the day before you start job searching. That way you won’t waste valuable time looking for the perfect song or brewing another pot. If you eliminate these distractions, it’s easier to stay on task.
Get a Concentration Aid
What else do coffee and music have in common? They help you concentrate! If there’s something out there that helps you concentrate, use it. This can differ for everyone. Some people like coffee, others don’t. Music helps some people concentrate, while it distracts others. It’s even possible your secret sauce is listening to ambient nature noises or twirling a fidget spinner. It might even be something specific to you, like pictures of your friends or family. Whatever it is, find it and use it.
Take (Timed) Breaks
Eventually the job search gets boring. Applications start to blend together and you’d rather do anything else than fill in your job history for the umpteenth time. When it gets to this point, it might be time to take a break. Try to do something that involves a bit of exercise, like walking around the house or doing a set of stretches. Just make sure to keep it to ten minutes or less.
Start with the Hardest Task First
When you’re looking for a job, you might be tempted to wait a bit on the longer applications and start out with the one-click apps. However, this might be doing your productivity a disservice. Those easier apps frequently have a lower rate of employer response on them (since so many people are applying), and longer applications are associated with higher quality companies. So start with the longer applications, and sprinkle a few easier ones in between as breathers.