Things to do while underemployed


For the past year, when not distracted by other things, I have been trying to think of that one thing I could do while hanging around with a lot of time on my hands. Like mastering the guitar by playing it every day, or writing a novel (or at least a lot of short stories). I’m still searching for the one idea that grabs me enough to actually do it, which has mostly brought me to the conclusion that I am lazy. Give me some free, empty time and I will fill it by being free and empty.

I decided to create this list because when I typed those same heading words into Google, searching for inspiration, I was directed to a plethora of career networking blogs. And I’m after more of a motivational ideas list to get me out of the house and off the Internet, rather than the duplicated recommendations of multiple self-designated experts (who all suggest I start my own business, and I’m just not that entrepreneurial). I should probably be writing this in a notebook while sitting in a park or on a train to an unknown destination rather than a blog if the aim is for less internet, more excitement, but, details shmetails.

Some of my list is obvious, others are things I already do, most I should do more of. I am still hanging out for that big idea that will keep me interesting or employable or at least prove how worthy my time was spent over the past year and over the next year (or two), or SOMETHING. Mostly I just want to be able to speak Italian. And I really would like to be able to play the guitar. But onto my list:

Learn a language. Obviously. As well as learning lists of words (I have the 1000 most commonly used Italian words sitting on matts computer waiting for me to translate them), try fun things like using the duolingo app, reading Harry Potter in your chosen language, or playing Internet scrabble. Or translate something, so that you really have to understand the grammar rules and word orders.

Read. A lot. All the books. It’s time well spent, and time spent away from the computer – if you’re reading a real book made from paper.

Write. Also a lot. Not a novel, likely, but short stories or essays.

Study online. Through coursera, or learn to code here. It’s free! And we love free.

Exercise. Free exercise, like walking and running or youtube yoga and Pilates. I like this 30 day challenge and the occasional blogilates.

Cook. Because you can.

Visit museums. Because you should.

Sign up to WWOOF and volunteer on organic farms. Better for proper, nothing at all happening in the week unemployment, or summer.

Train for, and maybe actually run, a marathon. Because all that running is hard to fit in around a full time working schedule.

Keep up to date with your email and snail mail correspondence. But don’t expect reponses, because your friends are busy with their jobs.

Craft. Just a little.

Learn an instrument. This one has been a New Years resolution for the past 5 years, so I should stick with it.

Or, sleep in everyday, stay up-to-the-minute up-to-date with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc, nap often, eat all the food in the cupboards. NO HAYLEY!

I’m leaving off things like volunteering or learning ballet and contemporary dance, not because those things aren’t amazing and valuable but because they are mostly out of the realm of possibility for me (small town living, everyone is foreign. Or maybe it’s me that’s foreign). Unless I sign up to Zumba classes at the gym. And while starting up a LinkedIn account is a good idea for when you’re ready to rejoin the working world, I’m going to let you know now that everyone online are those who are already fully employed and motivated, i.e., they’re not going to make you feel positive about career breaks, at all.


3 thoughts on “Things to do while underemployed

  1. Lynne And Gerry Prins says:

    I thought spreading New Zealand accents around was something 🙂 :). I’m sitting in bed in Abu Dhabi. Gerry and I only slept the first half of hour our five hour chance. But nicer here than in the transit lounge.

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Consider this your personal MBA, time to read, reflect and enjoy gelato.
    One of the best books I read last year (while underemployed) was ‘The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business [Charles Duhigg] ‘ – pick it up if you get the chance.

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