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How to Manage Your Job Search Time

You may have broken your goals down into small chunks and gathered everything you may possibly need for your job search using social media, but if you don’t practice good time management, all those efforts may be for nothing. If you haven’t yet experienced how easy it is to while away the hours on a social media site, it can happen without you even realizing it.

Because you’ve elected to look for a job by using all the social media tools at your disposable, you need to arm yourself with some strategies for staying on track.

The chunking technique

For many people, sitting down for an hour or two to work on a project seems daunting. Others have trouble concentrating for more than ten minutes. For many in the personal productivity world, the optimum time to concentrate and get work done is between 20 to 30 minutes.

So chunking is an approach to time management that encourages you to work in 25-minute increments, taking short breaks after each productivity session. You really can get more done by breaking it down.

Here are the essential principles of the chunking technique:

  • You must work without distraction during a chunk (25 minutes of uninterrupted time).

  • A task that takes more than four chunks is too big. Break it down.

  • If a task takes less than one chunk, add it together with other tasks.

  • Use a timer that rings at the end to keep track of your chunks. You can buy software timers as well as kitchen timers that have been repurposed for this technique.

  • Don’t allow interruptions after you start the timer. If you do get interrupted, make a note of it.

  • When a chunk is finished, you must stand up and take a three- to five-minute break. This break is important.

  • The chunking technique shouldn’t be used in your free time — enjoy your free time!

Looking at a big list of to-do’s can be overwhelming. Because each chunk is for focusing your energy, writing a daily list of to-dos can help reduce anxiety.

You can apply the chunk technique to your job search by following these steps for each of your job-searching tasks:

  1. Choose the topmost task from your daily task list to work on.

  2. Set the timer to 25 minutes and begin working.

  3. Work on that task until the timer rings.

  4. If the task is finished, cross it off; if not, put an X next to it.

  5. Take a break, stand up, walk around, or do something else for five minutes.

  6. Return to the task if necessary or move on to the next item on your daily task list.

    After four chunks, take a longer break (about 30 to 60 minutes).

A note about interruptions

Interruptions to your work can become a real problem. They essentially rob you of your concentration and ultimately make your tasks take longer than they should. Specifically, recovering from an interruption takes ten minutes. So in order to be truly productive, you need chunks of uninterrupted time.

Guard your work time selfishly and use some strategies for minimizing interruptions of either type.

  • Internal interruptions: These types of interruptions are probably the most common and occur when you interrupt yourself. Every time you second-guess your task list or start replanning your job search, you take yourself away from your task. So if you suddenly feel the need to make an urgent phone call, don’t. Unless it’s an emergency, you can just write it down on your task list to be done later.

  • External interruptions: True emergencies are rare, so if you get a phone call or e-mail, let it be. If someone comes into the room and wants to talk, kindly explain that you’re busy at the moment but will get back to him when your work is complete.

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