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How to Stop Procrastinating in Your Job Search

So much to do, so little . . . time? energy? nerve? Job search makes foot-draggers of us all. How can you stop procrastinating in your job search and move forward?

Maybe it’s a specific task you can’t get around to, like coming up with a better photo to post on LinkedIn. Or maybe you’re avoiding the whole job hunt, hanging on in your current role because the alternative–job search–is so daunting.

What are you going to do about it? Here are some tools and techniques that have helped many people to get things done. Here’s a heads-up: the most crucial tip is at the bottom of this list.

Make a little game out of it.

  • Set a timer for a fairly short amount of time, like 10-15 minutes, and commit to working on the task until the timer goes off. If you feel like it, continue after that.
  • Roll dice. If your procrastination comes from having several tasks you need to do that are all about equal in priority, make a numbered list and then roll dice or ask a friend to pick a number at random.
  • Collect checkmarks: List several projects you need to get around to working on. Every time you spend 10 minutes or more working on one of them, put a checkmark (or a smiley or symbol of your choice) next to that item. Get lots of checkmarks marching across the page and let yourself get a little kick out of that.

Use your imagination to motivate yourself.

  • Vividly imagine the benefits to be gained from completing the task. A compelling vision of your desired outcome makes it easier to take steps toward that goal.

Use the old “chunk it down” technique.

  • Divide the project into small, manageable chunks. Let’s say you’ve been planning to start doing some networking. The first step might be to make a list of people to talk to, or a list of companies you’re interested in networking your way into, or it might be to purchase an excellent how-to book like The 2-Hour Job Search or the 20-Minute Networking Meeting. Do that, then plan your next step, which might be to call one person or to read chapter one of the book.

Figure stuff out.

  • If you’re confused about how to approach your job search, or need more information, spend 10-15 minutes figuring out your next steps. Give yourself credit: this R&D is part of the project–unless you find yourself using it as a way to procrastinate. (Watch out for analysis paralysis!)
  • If you’re anxious about the a job search task, or about the the whole thing, ask yourself “What’s the worst that could happen? Now, what’s actually likely to happen?”

Buddy up.

  • Team up with a friend who also has projects they’ve been procrastinating about. Pick one or more of these techniques and check in regularly together to celebrate wins and cheer each other on.

Hire a professional.

  • Writing a resume is not easy, nor is optimizing a LinkedIn profile, planning an effective networking campaign or preparing to ace an interview. There are people who have studied these topics and amassed years of experience. Consider working with an expert.

Come up with your own anti-procrastination tip.

  • Got an idea? Please share it in the Comments!

Now, add this absolutely crucial step to any technique you use:

Acknowledge and celebrate your efforts. Appreciation is like oxygen: we all need plenty of it, we can’t function without it. Be very generous in appreciating yourself. Give yourself rewards and allow yourself to feel a sense of accomplishment for every milestone and baby step that takes you closer to your goal. Do this, and every technique above will work much better!

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