The Small Change That Made My Job Search Way Less Stressful

Not too long ago, my wife and I spent a few days at an amusement park where I constantly had to resist the urge to buy a wizard’s cape. It was my mother-in-law’s birthday and it was technically a time to celebrate (again, I was at a place that sold wizard capes!).

But I’d been out of work for months and all I could think about was the job search waiting for me back home. I had a few freelance gigs that were helping us make rent and buy groceries, but I was still consumed by the fact that I wanted a full-time position ASAP—and was having the hardest time finding one.

A lot of people (especially my wife) couldn’t understand why I refused to mentally step away from my hunt. And I really wished I could. After all, we were on vacation and I’d have plenty of time to search when I got home. On one hand, I knew that. On the other, I couldn’t stop searching and scrolling. I pretty much applied for any positions I could find that seemed relevant to my career.

Long story short, I had no strategy. Sure, applying to opening after opening made me feel productive, but it was also adding a ton of unnecessary stress to an already stressful process and wasn’t leading anywhere.

After spending my trip going through the motions and seeing no results, I knew I had to find a better strategy—and that strategy became more obvious when my wife reminded me that my job search was my job for the time being.

I’m a firm believer in scheduling things for myself on my personal calendar, but for some reason I hadn’t been doing that with my hunt. It seemed silly at the time, but I finally realized that if I wanted to feel less anxious about my progress, I’d have to be intentional about how I spent every single day of my week.

So, here’s the weekly schedule I ended up implementing for myself:

I went into this schedule making thinking that it would actually stress me out more. What I found was that not only did it help me stay productive on a consistent basis, but that it also gave me a little more autonomy over my week.

Of course, when I scored interviews, everything got pushed back (and for good reason). But this even had an impact on my personal life. If a family event was scheduled last minute, I knew exactly what on my calendar needed to be moved, and when I could do it later in the week. And when everything did go to schedule, I was able to enjoy my days off more because I knew how much I had done to keep everything moving.