A couple of summers ago, after finishing grad school, I went through a three-month period of unemployment, where it felt like every day was a battle to maintain my sanity.
I soon found myself maintaining a particular routine, just to try to keep some structure in an otherwise long, purposeless day. If you ever find yourself unemployed, I highly recommend following a similar schedule. May the Job Force be with you
10:00–10:30 – Wake up and force self to get out of bed. Whine and moan a lot.
10:30–11:00 – Eat breakfast. Chew cereal angrily.
11:00–12:00 – Swim laps in the apartment pool for no other reason but to kill time. Pretend THIS guy is in the water with you to make things more interesting:
12:00 – Try to convince yourself to shower, so that you can get the chlorine out of your hair. Decide that you don’t care if your hair turns green. You’re THAT hardcore.
12:05-12:30 – Shower.
12:30-1:00 – Get dressed, but not in real clothes. When you don’t have a job, you can wear any stupid thing you want and it doesn’t matter. You should take advantage of that!
1:00 – Sit down to the computer to start job-searching for the first time that day. Pray to the Gods of Employment to show a little mercy on you. Consider performing some sort of séance or animal sacrifice to please the gods and increase your luck.
1:05-2:30 – Apply for stupid bullshit jobs that you have no desire to do, but you’re running out of money and people keep asking you if you’ve found a job yet, and every time they do, a little part of you dies, and you can feel yourself losing your grip on sanity and you just want a fucking job, so you just keep searching, and you keep editing your resume until you hardly recognize it anymore, and you keep applying for shitty ass jobs you don’t want to do. Because that’s what grown-ups do.
2:30-3:00 – Weep all over your fancy-framed diplomas.
3:00-4:00 – Watch a little daytime TV on one of your three channels, because you can’t afford Netflix or cable. But you refuse to watch that Dr. Phil pseudo-psych bullshit, because he’s the worst. Even while unemployed, you still have your standards.
4:00-4:05 – Groan some more. Try groaning in different areas of your house to see how the acoustics change.
4:05-5:30 – Throw on the stained t-shirt that you’ve worn for three days in a row, and go out to run your daily errand. (Even if you have multiple errands to run, you can only allow yourself to go to ONE place. Gotta spread things out.) Go to Target and spend an hour staring at the pretty stationery, and then leave without buying anything but a single banana.
5:30-6:30 – Prepare ramen or instant mac & cheese. Eat your Target banana for dessert.
6:30-6:35 – Take deep breaths as you check your email. Try to convince yourself that if you think positively, you can MAKE a response appear from a prospective employer. Perform another séance for luck.
6:35 – Discover that there are no new emails. Decide it is your computer’s fault that you’re unemployed. Punish the computer with your thoughts.
6:37 – Receive a text from a family member or friend, asking if you’ve found a job yet. Consider murdering them.
6:45-7:00 – Lay on the carpet and cry some more. You’re going to miss having a place to live.
7:00-8:00 – Watch Grey’s Anatomy. Find yourself hoping that the entire hospital explodes into a huge fireball, and that everybody gets mangled. Especially Meredith.
8:00-10:00 – Begin the second round of job-searching, because for some crock of shit reason, employers have started posting new jobs at night, and if you wait until the next day to apply for them, you’re probably coming behind some overachieving assholes who are even more anal than you are, so in order to keep up with everyone, you’re going to have to up your level of anal, and you never thought you’d say that phrase in your life, but you’ve lost perspective, and you don’t know what to believe anymore.
10:00-10:30 – Consider taking up a new fun hobby, like smoking crack.
10:30-12:00 – Come up with an idea for a children’s TV show about a clog-dancing gremlin named Elvis. Write and illustrate the first 15 pages of the script.
12:00 – Check your email again. Discover that an employer wants to set up an interview with you!!!!!!!
12:00-12:07 – Run around your apartment like a madwoman, waving your arms in the air and making pterodactyl noises.
12:07-1:00 – Try on different outfits to wear to the interview, because even though it’s after midnight, and the interview is still three days away, you need time to prepare, and you’re not sure whether that pencil skirt still fits, and you briefly wonder whether a pencil skirt is perhaps too fancy for an interview at a nonprofit agency, but you don’t exactly have a lot of choices, and it seems like a better option than the dress pants with the hole in the crotch.
1:00 – Feel thankful that you showered earlier. Green hair really wouldn’t go with this blouse.
1:00-1:30 – Research interview tips. You’re going to interview harder than anyone has ever interviewed in the history of interviews.
1:30 – Fall into a twitchy sleep.
For those who have endured periods of unemployment or (other difficult periods), what kind of routine did you develop? What other strategies helped you through?