At Staying Busy

I’ve recently learned something about myself: I hate unemployment.

This did not come as a shock. I’m bad at relaxing; I’ve always felt a nervous need to be productive at all hours of the day, whether that productivity was real or imagined. I played

staying busy

Entertaining yourself doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. I wish I knew where this image originated.

a lot of The Sims 2 when I was a kid. It felt like doing something important, because in that game you are basically God, but in reality I was just seeing what would happen if tiny animated versions of my friends from school dated each other.

This is the same sort of productivity I’ve embraced for now–the kind that keeps your mind busy, even if it doesn’t necessarily end world hunger. Sometimes creativity and activity in general have fallow periods, and that’s okay. Here’s how to deal if you’re in the middle of one yourself.

What is not sucking? Not sucking is defined in the realm of keeping oneself busy as making sure one is physically, mentally and emotionally stimulated enough not to develop adverse symptoms of boredom.

1. Spread everything out. Remember when you were a kid and you didn’t want to leave your friend’s house when your parents showed up, so you’d take forever to put your shoes on? Now’s the time to pull that niche skill set back out.

For example, my schedule this week looks like this:

Wednesday: 

  • shave below knee
  • apply for jobs
  • write thank-you notes
  • pay rent

Thursday:

  • shave above knee
  • apply for jobs
  • dentist appointment
  • grocery shop

Friday: 

  • shave Duchovny (I have taken on a freelance position as David Duchovny’s barber)*
  • apply for jobs
  • eye appointment
  • return bras to Torrid

And so on. If I were employed, I could probably take care of all these errands in a weekend (and/or shave my entire legs in the shower). However, since I’ve got a lot of time on my hands, I need to spread out my productivity or I will feel like a boss for twelve hours and then like a lump the rest of the week.

joey friends

Hey, work is work, Joe. Still from Friends.

I can’t take credit for this method of staying sane. I actually got it from an episode of Friends, where Joey, the friends’ resident expert on unemployment, schools Ross on the risks of being too productive too early in the week.

2. Explore. You don’t need a lot of money to do this. Go to a neighborhood in your city that you haven’t spent a lot of time in, go to the next town over, cross a state line and head to a flea market. Be safe, but don’t be afraid to get a little messy. If you just can’t bring yourself to leave the house–and in this summer heat, I don’t blame you–try a new show on Netflix, read a book that’s outside your preferred genre, or go on Spotify’s Explore playlist and get hip to some new artists.

3. Take care of yourself. After all, it’s something to do. Shower every day. Shave, if that’s your thing. Wash your face, moisturize everything, cook healthy meals, exercise. Experiment with makeup. Yes, even if you’re a guy. There’s no law on the books that says you can’t cover a zit or draw a glittery line on your eyelid just because you identify as a dude.

4. Develop a new hobby. I, personally, have been throwing myself into strategy-based video games like Civilization V. Your new hobby doesn’t have to make you any money or make you into a more highly effective person. It just has to be enjoyable and take up time

catherine the great

I’m currently playing through Civ V as Catherine the Great of Russia.

and mental energy. Although, I guess, if you really wanted extra credit, your new hobby could be volunteering at a shelter, phone banking for your favorite political candidate, or learning a new language. But honestly, if you’re unemployed, you’re about as capitalistically viable as a Chevy Nova already, so don’t feel bad about leaning into it.

5. Get back on the horse. If you lost your job, you should apply for three to five new jobs per day. That way you get yourself out there without going insane because oh my gosh I already uploaded my resume why do you need me to fill out an hour’s worth of employment and educational history when I ALREADY GAVE IT TO YOU? 

If you just exited a romantic relationship or got dumped by your social group–or, hell, if you moved–you should focus at least an hour or two a day on finding places to meet new people, in real life, in your geographic area. (MeetUp is a great app for this.)

Dry spells suck. They just do. But they don’t last forever.

If you’ve got time on your hands, come talk to me on Twitter. Don’t forget to like this blog on Facebook, too!

*David Duchovny’s lawyers** have asked me to clarify that this is a joke.

**That was also a joke. I’m not important enough for them to notice me. Let’s keep it that way. Also, this whole schtick was much funnier to me in the shower this morning.

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