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Making the most of it – ways to spend your time when you’re out of work

It can be stressful to be in a job or industry where work isn’t guaranteed or if it dries up altogether. COVID-19 has also created a level of uncertainty around the future of work for many people, particularly casual workers.

If you do find yourself out of work for a period of time, remember that if you need extra financial support you can contact Centrelink to explore your options.

While you’re out of work, there are some simple practices you can adopt to make the most of your time, as well as making this challenging period easier for yourself and your family.

However, if you are out of work at any time life can be challenging on multiple fronts. Life during a pandemic brings its own challenges in addition to all this. The following suggestions need to be considered in conjunction with everything else you have got going on and not intended as another way to put pressure on yourself. Many days may be considered a success by just getting to the end of them! If you have anything weighing on you in addition to the pandemic (including a mental illness or being a care-giver) – you are on the frontline of this pandemic and taking care of you should be your main priority, whatever form that may take.

Consider transferring to a new industry

These days, on average Australians have five different careers in their lifetime. But making that change to a new industry can seem daunting, especially if you’ve always done the same job until now.

Sometimes it can seem like employers only want people with experience and formal qualifications, but many recruiters say they look for personal qualities instead. They want people who are enthusiastic and will learn on the job, and they want to see applicants who fit in well with the job and the company.

Skill development

Your skills, knowledge and abilities are the things that form the basis of what you do in your job every day. It’s important to look after those and always be on the lookout for opportunities to improve your skills and ensure you’re keeping up with advancements in technology.

Take on some volunteer work

Practise makes perfect, as they say, and doing some volunteer work can be a great way to practise the skills you need to improve on. That could mean volunteering within your industry to learn new things in a different environment, or doing something outside your usual work to get new skills that can help you in other ways.

These skills can often be taken with you to any new job. For example, if you volunteer somewhere that requires you to lead a team, then you’re getting valuable leadership knowledge that could help in your work.

Find (or be) a mentor

A mentor is someone who is more experienced than you, and who can take you under their wing to help you learn. There are lots of great things about having a mentor, including learning from someone you know, increasing your skills in a hands-on way, and developing a good relationship with that person. You can find a mentor by asking someone you respect to help you out.

It might sound surprising, but being a mentor to someone else can also help you learn. You can hear some different perspectives on things you know about, practise your leadership skills, and work within a different type of team environment.

Make a list of daily goals

Set your alarm and start each day with some purpose. This can be really reassuring and helps you manage any stress you’re feeling. Make sure you include things in your day’s plans that will help you stay healthy and get another job. Some of the things you might want to include in your days could be:

Searching for a job, which could take up a few hours each day in making calls, putting together applications, going to interviews and looking at job ads.

Exercise is really important to help you cope with stress. Make sure you keep some time aside to exercise every day, whether it’s going for a walk or heading to the gym.

Social things like spending time with your family will help you get the support you need.

Stick to a good sleep routine: wind down at the end of the day and go to bed at the same time. Sleep can help reduce your stress levels.

Add a little something fun into your days. Putting some time towards your hobbies will help lighten your mood and clear your mind.

Don’t forget that you need some down time, too. Leave a little space in your days for other things that might come up or for time to just relax.

Clear your head

The aim is to accept the things that have happened. Trying to pretend they didn’t happen won’t help you to move on. Instead, take some time to think through them in a constructive way and accept what cannot be changed. The next step is letting it go, stop dwelling on the past and look to the future. This can take some practise.

Consider the things that help you clear your mind. It might be heading out for a jog or a walk, playing sport, or going camping to get away from it all for a few days. Sometimes it can help to talk to someone about these frustrations. That might be with your partner or a friend, your GP, or calling a support service to chat through your worries.

Do whatever it is that helps to get some perspective and start to put the stress behind you. Be patient with yourself though, it’s okay to take some time to get over things.

Reset your goals

The third step in starting fresh is to decide where you’re heading next. Set some goals for the next stage: decide the type of job you’re going to look for, how you’ll reach that goal, and plan some actions towards that.

Keeping busy on what’s happening right now as well as what you’re aiming for in the future will help keep your mind away from dwelling on the past too.

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