4 Productive (and Fun!) To-Do Lists to Try When You Don’t Feel Like Job Searching

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When you’re looking for a new job, you may go through spurts of “avoiding” and “doing” all the tasks related to getting hired. It’s natural to put off the responsibilities on your job search to-do list during times when you’re feeling insecure and uncreative, or lack confidence in your abilities. On the other hand, when you’re feeling motivated and thrust yourself fully into your search, it can feel a lot like “all work and no play.”

One way to find a happy medium is to create some to-do lists that can help you:

  • Fuel your creativity. This includes creative problem solving and strategy, not just pursuits of an artistic nature.
  • Reconnect with friends, family, and the rest of the outside world.
  • Just have some fun.

What’s that, you say? Oh, you’re on a job search and you’re not allowed to have fun? Nonsense! Research suggests that fun and play is good for us. As the saying in Psychology Today goes “play is serious business.” Additionally, setting aside time for fun and activities that you find personally rewarding can help you stay optimistic during a long job hunt.

So put a little buoyancy in your life and try out these four types of to-do lists to refresh and rejuvenate:

The Play Time List

  1. Do a physical activity. Get your body moving. Take a dance class, run around a playground, or hang from a jungle gym.
  2. Try the adult coloring book trend.
  3. Invent your own game with a friend. Make up your own rules.
  4. Take yourself out on a play date. Go to a museum, craft store, or paint-your-own-pottery place. Imagine the possibilities.

Why this helps: Well, “imagine the possibilities” says a lot. When you think in possibilities rather than obstacles, you notice more options and opportunities. And as we’ve already mentioned, play is good for you! Perhaps you’ve been single-minded in your job search and have only been looking at one type of job. Imagine the doors that can open up if you expand your search and rethink your strategy.

The DIY Home Refresh List

  1. Spend a couple of hours on Pinterest or your favorite DIY (do-it-yourself) or all-natural/organic blog. Discover some make-yourself recipes for home cleaning products and have fun scenting them with your favorite aromas. Feel good about improving your environmental footprint.
  2. Swap out a cleaning tool with a sustainable alternative, such as newspaper or rags made from ratty clothes instead of using paper towels. Put the pennies you save into a rainy-day fund. Take a minute to daydream how you’ll spend it.
  3. Find another use for a cleaning product. (Be sure it is safe to be used in the new way!)
  4. Pretend you’re Heloise and brainstorm your own helpful hint. Share with friends and family.

Why this helps: Finding new uses for common products encourages you to think differently and use the resources that are available to you as solutions to your problems. If you can make household chores more fun, you do it with your job search too. Also, the DIY factor can help you feel more creative. Channel that creativity when you write your next cover letter!

The Whet Your Appetite List

  1. Buy one new (to you!) type of produce at your local farmer’s market or vegetable stand. Figure out how to make something delicious with it.
  2. Use a new spice in your cooking for a week. See how it changes the flavor of each dish.
  3. Schedule an “Around the World Around My Table” week. Pick a recipe from a different part of the world each day and cook it, or order takeout if that is more your speed.
  4. Eat with someone you’ve never shared a meal with before.

Why this helps: Exposing yourself to new things in one area of life (like your diet) tends to open up the playing field in other areas as well. Think about what a new taste sensation might open your eyes to—new restaurants in new neighborhoods, new colors, a new circle of friends as you go forth to continue your exploration of those types of cuisines.

When you have a meal with someone new, you open your reach. People naturally tend to bond over food, so it’s a great way to do the necessary (eat to sustain yourself) while forging a new connection in an authentic way. Break bread!

The “I’ll Do It My Way” List

No numbered list for this one! This is your opportunity to do exactly what you want to do, in the way you want to do it. What type of to-do list is missing for you? Whether it’s a list of travel destinations, family members you want to check in with, or your own creative extravaganza, you get to fill in the blanks on this one.

Why it helps: Structure has its merits. Think what driving would be like without it! Imagine if everyone drove along roads in whatever way they felt like. Laws and rules can keep us safe, and guidelines and how-tos prevent us from spending too many hours trying to figure out how to do something that has already been effectively mapped out.

However, sometimes when we consistently (and sometimes blindly) follow structure as opposed to coloring outside the lines, we don’t develop and explore our own ideas as much because we don’t have as many. When we give ourselves permission to explore and play, the ideas follow.

How have more fun to-do lists helped you get out of the doldrums and into a better frame of mind? Share your experiences below!

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About Author

Throughout my 15+ year career in resume writing, career coaching, higher education, and working with nonprofit job seekers, I’ve used an approach that is nurturing yet practical and driven to achievement. As Audience Development and Content Manager at Idealist for our online publication, Idealist Careers, I bring relevant tips to today's social impact job seekers and career changers with sensitivity towards the challenges they face. I also am the writer of our career advice column, "Ask Victoria". Understanding the roles that a positive outlook and holistic self-care play in career success, I share with our readers time-honored methods for improving confidence and productivity. Have a question? Ask at askvictoria@idealist.org. Follow me on Twitter @_AskVictoria.

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: 4 Productive (and Fun!) To-Do Lists to Try When You Don’t Feel Like Job Searching - Aim Blog

  2. Julia Horrocks on

    I think your articles are fantastic!! Great ideas and I will read them again when discouragement about my job hunt starts to creep in!!

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