How many things do you try to do at once? Are you driving and talking on the phone? Are you sitting at your desk with a deadline, watching email scroll while half listening to a webinar? Or worse still, are you trying to make dinner while hungry kids congregate around the table while you talk to a client?
I am guilty of all of the above. And I am tired and I feel just a little a bit guilty. How much am I really getting done? What service am I providing to any of those I serve? What is the cost I am paying for my divided loyalties?
According to Tony Schwartz in his fascinating Harvard Business Review article, “The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time”, this frantic pace does cause some damage and might not be the most effective way to operate.
He says switching around tasks like that can impact productivity by an average of 25%. Plus you burn out your available sources of energy. Focusing attention on one thing at a time for a specified period allows you to get more done more effectively, probably with higher quality results.
There is a corollary here to job search. Job seekers have interruptions and distractions just like any other person. If you are working, you need to devote sufficient attention to your job to avoid drawing unwanted attention to yourself. If you are unemployed, unless you take steps, unstructured time can be as frantic as obligations from a formal job.
Distraction might always be there but unless you figure out how to productively search for a job, you will not achieve your job search goals.
What is a job seeker to do? Structure your day so you have time to focus on your job search without distractions. This requires an orderly approach to your day, which will be good for all aspects of your life. Let’s back into what you need and how to find it.
We know that networking is the best way to find a job. Networking includes LinkedIn updates and comments (about 15 to 30 minutes a day), setting up meetings with people who can help you (probably less than 30 minutes a day to identify folks and make calls), having coffee or lunch to network (probably 2 to 3 hours per week, which is averages about 30 minutes per day), responding to ads (15 minutes a day max) and correspondence such as thank you notes and follow up (maybe 1 hour per day). Add that up and a job seeker should probably spend less than 3 hours a day on a solid job search, some days more and some days a little less.
Where can you find that kind of time? More important, what are you willing to do to find that kind of time in your day? Assuming you still need to sleep and work if you are employed, the time needs to come from giving up something else or reorganizing your day. Again I ask, what are you willing to do to make that happen?
Tony Schwartz says “the best way … to fuel higher productivity and more innovative thinking is to strongly encourage finite periods of absorbed focus, as well as shorter periods of real renewal.” I agree completely.
Tony Schwartz recommends three changes to personal behavior. I would like to adjust them for job seekers:
- Do the most important thing first in the morning, preferably without interruption and before normal work hours if possible. If you are employed, schedule a meeting in your calendar for one hour first thing in the morning. Schedule a conference room for privacy if you need to. Then attend that meeting every morning to read and comment on LinkedIn, make appointments, handle correspondence, and follow up with previous meetings. Use your personal telephone and computer if possible.
- Establish regular, scheduled times for networking meetings. Put these times on your calendar and do not allow other meetings to interfere. Schedule and be sure to attend the local chapter meetings of your professional group.
- Take a real break every day. Take time off and truly disconnect, as Tony Schwartz says. Put your phone aside, step away from the computer and be in the moment with your friends and family. Laugh. Breathe. Think about something else. You will return to your regularly scheduled activities refreshed.
If you focus on what you want you will achieve your goal. What are you willing to do to get what you want?
The Interview Doctor® can help you organize your job search so you find the job you love. Call and find you how.