I know there are folks out there who believe that those of us who are unemployed are on this extended, paid vacation. Just living the life.
Yes, I said just last week that I was ready for a break. Absolutely true. And I’m in a better “head space” after 6 weeks of unemployment than I’ve been in a while. Certainly better than the last 6 months. There’s only one problem now.
I’m getting cabin fever. I like having things to do. So having a job was a good thing. Having a job like my last one, where I had lots of different tasks to do, was a REALLY good thing. All I had to do was show up each morning and I had LOTS to keep me busy.
Here’s what I HAVE to do these days:
Prepare meals and eat them, keep the apartment and myself reasonably clean, look for a job, feed the cats, file my unemployment claim each week. Then there are three radio commentaries I am committed to writing and producing each week. Beyond that there are three bills that I have to do the actual work to pay (my wife handles the rest online). If I’m a nice guy (and I’m a helluva nice guy) I have shovel and run the snowblower for both me and the family who lives in the other apartment in the building.
Seriously those are the only things that I HAVE to do. The rest of the day is free. That may be the most dangerous sentence in this entire post.
You see there are days when I don’t get much done. My longest stretch of not leaving the house for any reason so far has been three straight days. Admittedly, the fact that it’s winter and colder than usual has something to do with that. I joke about being “A single man living with two cats” but there are days when I’m closer to that stereotype than I’m really comfortable. This isn’t happening because I’m “on vacation”. It’s happening because it’s easy to simply slide into a mental fog. You look up and suddenly it’s three hours later. Suddenly it’s Friday and you haven’t gotten around to anything yet. It’s another day when that next job, or even job opening, hasn’t appeared. Another day that isn’t doing what you want it to do. After a while it begins to grind you down.
That’s not good.
It’s another way that having a routine helps. It can be tough to remember what day of the week it is without a routine. That’s why this post (which normally appears at 9:30 AM) is going to appear closer to 5:00 PM. I forgot what day it was. Thursday = “Life Among the Unemployed”. That routine can get me up in the morning, keep me busy, hold that fog at bay.
I’m working on several different projects. That’s important for me because I get bored pretty quickly. If I can work on something intensively for a while and then walk away and do something else that’s good. I’m busy which keeps me from fretting about not finishing that other project. I know that eventually I’ll look at it and say “If I just do this then…” and I’ll make more progress. People who think in straight lines get crazy around people like me. I’m working on it. I promise.
So I’m digitizing some family videos and some old audio tapes and working on a wood carving gift and I’m ready to circle back to some writing projects and there’s my guitar and my exercise routine. Maybe I’ll do something interesting for a meal next week. The hardest part of being unemployed is keeping myself mentally engaged.
So that I’m ready for my next real job.
Whatever it turns out to be.
And I’ll keep you up to date on how that goes.