Don’t look now, but here comes Labor Day. If you’re not off doing something fun, you’re probably racing around getting the kids ready for school, or scanning the ads for new jobs. Sadly, for the unemployed, Labor Day doesn’t mean a break from working, but more of the same in terms of job search efforts.
If you already have a job, you might be feeling that combination of relief and despair that employed people experience during a recession. Relief that you have an income, of course, but also despair that you’ll be stuck with this job forever. High unemployment rates have a way of keeping people from voluntarily leaving jobs, even if they can afford to skip a few paychecks.
The result? Even people who like their jobs can feel trapped, while those who dislike their jobs are positively miserable.
Here are some tips for “making do with the job you have,” gleaned from my own experience and from my job search clients over the years. Create your own plan for getting through the months ahead.
1. Find something interesting to do outside of work, to give you an activity to look forward to each day.
2. Create ways to break up the workday, such as walks or errands.
3. Avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as gossip, that will only make you feel more negative.
4. Seek new assignments or projects to build your skills and distract you from your misery.
5. Change your hours to help you avoid co-workers who drive you crazy.
6. Look into telecommuting as an option.
7. Consider asking for a transfer to another department or branch.
8. Join a fun or supportive committee.
9. Take a class outside of work, or start work on a degree.
10. Decorate your space to feel more at home there.
11. Or un-decorate your space, to remind yourself that work is just a stopping point in each day.
12. If feasible, wear headphones, close your door, or otherwise distance yourself from problem people — just don’t be obnoxious about it.
13. Occasionally reserve a conference room for yourself, to provide a change of scenery and let you do some work in private.
14. Make the day go faster by providing yourself with a new riddle or challenge each day.
15. Save as much money as you can, to make this sacrifice worth it.
16. Take advantage of all the company programs, but especially any matching funds for retirement.
Amy Lindgren owns Prototype Career Service, a career consulting firm in St. Paul. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 626 Armstrong Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55102.