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7 Ways to Stay Busy and Remain Marketable While Unemployed

Liz has spent the last year on a journey of doing more with less.

Languishing in unemployment? These seven activities can help keep you busy and job-ready until you land your next gig.

Languishing in unemployment? These seven activities can help keep you busy and job-ready until you land your next gig.

Being unemployed can be tough. There may be little to no money coming in. It can be easy to grow isolated. It's not uncommon to apply to dozens of jobs and not hear back from a single legitimate opportunity (pyramid schemes and insurance sales don't count).

Luckily, there are several things that you can do to stay active while unemployed, and many of them could give you experience or connections to help you land that next job! Below are seven productive ways to spend your time while you are unemployed.

1. Organize Your Life

Becoming unemployed can leave you feeling helpless. When your livelihood has been taken away, bills may become hard to pay. Becoming organized is the first step in gaining control of your life, and that organization starts at home.

Clean your house room by room; create piles of items to keep, donate, and throw away. It is important to donate because your unneeded items could help someone else in your community, and if you keep the receipts, you may be able to write off the donations on your taxes.

Even if you can't get the tax credit, sometimes the karma is all the reward you need. If you have more valuable items that you don't need but don't want to just give away, use websites like eBay, Craigslist, OfferUp, and Facebook to sell them, but remember to do your research for fair prices and meet buyers in public places for your safety.

A clean home will leave you with a sense of accomplishment and more control of your life, and getting rid of excess stuff will help you foster an appreciation for what you have.

Where to Donate Items You Don't Need

2. Socialize

Unemployment can leave some people feeling isolated, whether from embarrassment or lack of funds to do activities. Do not isolate yourself! Doing something as simple as writing a letter or email or having a short conversation with a friend, family member, or neighbor can help fight the blues. Exclusively using social media like Facebook doesn't count; some studies have shown that extensive use of social media can increase feelings of anxiety, envy, and isolation.

Join a club. It doesn't have to be something that costs much money (if any at all). Whether it is a book club through the local library, a knitting or quilting circle through a craft shop or community center, a bike or motorcycle club, or a gardening club, clubs keep you active and allow you to engage with people that have similar interests and may provide good networking opportunities to help you get your next job.

Volunteering can also keep you active and give you a sense of purpose, and it also looks good on a resume. Find something near and dear to your heart like an animal shelter, school, library, youth organization, or senior center, and give them some of your time and effort. Sometimes, that can be more valuable than your money.

Places to Volunteer, Network, and Meet People

3. Study

Don't just sit around and watch television; do something to better yourself. Visit your local library and learn about something you enjoy or something that could help you in your career. Pick up a For Dummies book (or something similar) and learn about computers, Microsoft Office, business communication, cooking, speed reading, CAD, a foreign language, or something else you might be able to use in your life or career.

Take a class. Community colleges offer an inexpensive way to learn, and some colleges (like Harvard, MIT, and Carnegie Melon) offer free lectures and coursework online. You may not get credit or a certificate for completing free online courses, but you can still develop skills and build a knowledge base for the next thing you want to do.

Online Learning Resources

4. Exercise

In addition to keeping your mind sharp, you should also keep your body active. Especially if you are doing most of your job-hunting online, you may find yourself growing sedentary. You don't have to spend money on a gym membership to stay active (although, for some people, this can help with motivation).

Try activities like walking around the neighborhood, taking a nature walk, walking the dog, mall walking, jumping rope, and climbing stairs. Play with your kids. Join a sports league through your park district. If organized workouts like Sweating to the Oldies or Buns of Steel are more your speed, there are plenty of videos on YouTube and apps for phones and tablets to get you going.

Fitness Apps

5. Get Into a Hobby

Explore your talents and indulge in a hobby. Use this downtime as the opportunity you always wished you had to read those books that you have been meaning to read or write the blog that you've had in the back of your mind. Research your family tree. Practice your photography.

Just remember not to let your hobby take over your life (especially if it is expensive). For example, a little bit of video gaming is fine, but eight hours of video gaming doesn't qualify as a job. Tone it down and find something else more meaningful to do with some of your time. Do crafts such as sewing, knitting, crocheting, or painting. This is a constructive outlet, and the end product may be sold or given as a gift.

6. Share Your Knowledge

While not everyone goes viral and becomes a social media star, anyone can start a YouTube channel or a blog and share their knowledge or opinion. Do you know a better way to fold laundry or cook a popular dish? Do you know about history or science and can explain things in a way that draws people in? You may have a sense of humor or some expertise that will wrack up the hits, and if you are popular enough, you may be able to monetize your content.

Have knowledge but not eager to play the fame game? There are also websites that offer positions as online tutors for topics like test-prep, foreign languages, math, science, technology, and psychology.

YouTube/Blog-Help Tools

Online Tutoring Platforms

7. Practice Religion or Spirituality

Whether you find comfort in Jesus, God, Allah, Buddha, Isis, or Zeus, the excess time that unemployment provides is a great chance to get in touch with your spirituality. Religion is a great source of strength to guide you through to your next opportunity. Become active in your place of worship or find inspiration in your favorite holy book.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Liz Woodward


Brittany Brown from Sydney, Australia on November 03, 2014:

This is such a great hub...I honestly wish I had read this when I was unemployed for six months after moving overseas. All I did during that time was watch TV and gain weight, which I'm still fighting to get off :(