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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work-Life Balance

6 Ways to Distract Yourself When You're "Just Waiting to Hear Back" During a Job Search

It can be easy to feel powerless when you’re hopeful about a job opportunity. Once you’ve done everything you can, from updating your resume to lining up your references to (hopefully) nailing that final interview, you might start to feel restless. You might start to feel even more restless when this keeps happening to you again and again. While you should definitely spend time figuring out how you can keep improving your application and interview skills, it’s also important to find distractions.

So,if you’re waiting to hear back from an interview you think went really well, or just from a few hiring managers you sent your materials to, here are some ways to keep yourself distracted. Whether you’re currently working full-time or unemployed, you can take advantage of the following ideas—especially if you’re feeling bored and unfulfilled at your current 9-to-5.

1. Start a Side Gig

One great (and lucrative) way to keep yourself occupied is by picking up a temporary side gig. This could be a position you can start immediately using skills or connections you have, like proofreading a family member’s new brochures, or helping a buddy set up his new personal site, or even babysitting for the family next door. Or, it could involve more skilled work, such as writing, photography, or designing cards and invitations for friends. Best part? You can take on as much or as little as you’re comfortable with.

And even if you don’t necessarily need the extra cash, if you find yourself anxious and restless as soon as you leave the office, starting a side gig to sharpen your skills and bolster your resume to boot is a no-brainer. There’s more than just money on the line when it comes to picking up something on the side to balance your full-time obligation.

2. Give Back to the Community

Getting involved in your community is a great way to give back. How you get involved varies from organization to organization and is also dependent on your own schedule. Whether you’re able to dedicate a few hours a week to helping out at the library, or you can commit to mentoring a young student twice a month, your participation will be valued.

On top of making a positive impact on what matters most, volunteering can also help you in your job search. As Muse writer Jessica Solloway says, “According to the 2016 Deloitte Impact Survey, 85% of hiring influencers are willing to overlook resume pitfalls when an employee includes volunteering on a resume—but only 30% of resumes include volunteering!”

3. Reconnect With the People You Care About

Know how sometimes your office gets into those really busy seasons, where either you don’t have time to catch up with friends and family, or worse, you do have the time, but you’re way too drained by the time the workday ends? When you’re between jobs and have hours each day to fill, use the bonus time to catch up with important people in your life. Just don’t forget to be flexible and willing to work around other people’s schedules—not everyone is trying to stay distracted during a job search.

4. Work on a Weakness

Remember being scared stiff the last time you had to give a presentation or run a meeting at work? Now’s the time to work on those skills and be prepared the next time you feel professionally challenged.

If public speaking has you nervous, this is your chance to conquer the fear. Go to local open mics, stand-ups, or other events in your area that’ll help you dip your toe in the water before you’re called on to make a major splash.

Is it a fear of socializing that’s in your “needs work” box? Attend networking events or join a regular group class (think: pottery, yoga, rock climbing) to brush up on your people skills in an environment you are actually excited to be in.

5. Commit to Your Health

If you’re like me, you’re always waiting for the right time to get back into shape. You say to yourself, I’ll start going to the gym regularly once I get past this big project, and I have all my free time again, or I’ll definitely pay attention to what I’m eating and be healthier—after this vacation ends.

Stop putting it off and vow to take back control of your physical health. Heading out for a run is a far better use of your time than desperately checking your email every three minutes. And planning out the week’s nutritional game plan is a lot healthier than LinkedIn stalking everyone at the company where you applied.

6. Learn a New Skill

You can always take a free class and learn a new skill or grow your knowledge in an area where you have a basic understanding and would like to know more.

Other free resources you can use to get started include Skillshare for creatives, Codecademy for coders, and Duolingo for language learners.

I get it: The job search is an excruciating process. But you have the option to make it a little less soul-sucking by investing time in yourself and the activities that matter most to you. You can still stay motivated, productive, and competitive, even when you haven’t heard back from the job of your dreams yet.

Plus, who knows? While you’re keeping busy, it’ll be smooth sailing with a job offer in tow before you even know it.

Photo of woman enjoying her side gig courtesy of CommerceandCultureAgency/Getty Images.