“Me time” is a hot topic in this 24/7 digital era where you can literally work around the clock. When your “work” is your job search, you’re faced with the same possibilities of spending endless hours, perhaps without breaks, trying to scare up that next opportunity. And if your job search equates to hunting down new clients as an entrepreneur or freelancer, you’re in the same boat, since you may feel even more pressured to do your existing client work plus continue to market for new prospects.
All of this time and energy funneled into seeking a new job or fresh income streams can quickly result in burnout if you don’t pause once in a while to practice self-care.
Here are some specific strategies on how you can periodically unplug from your search efforts and take some me time, while still setting and reaching ambitious milestones and goals for your career or business.
Burnout can occur from overdoing it in any type of activity, including your job/client search. Psychology Today describes burnout as “a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.” Put even more simply, when you find yourself feeling run down from spending too much time on your job search and uninterested in doing anything related to it, you may be experiencing burnout.
The best way to avoid the malaise of burnout is to nip it in the bud before it can flourish. This means pacing yourself through your job search, rather than constantly pressuring yourself to go full steam ahead. This is where an understanding of the importance of “me time” comes in. While your search for new opportunities is ostensibly “for you,” the fact that it involves what can only be described as work means that you need to take breaks from it to do something that feels fun to you.
Prepare for it
Don’t rely on whim to take some time for yourself in the midst of your job search responsibilities. Instead, schedule set times to do something different, calendaring me-time breaks just as you would any other important appointment. It also helps to identify in advance distinct activities that you plan to do during this time slot. By deciding that you’ll take a scheduled break from your job hunt to exercise, read, or meet a friend for coffee, for example, you can prepare what you need and anticipate your enjoyable respite.
Another helpful element of this preparation is deciding the number of me-time breaks you’ll take each day, each week, and each month, and calendaring those out on a longer-range basis. For example, if you’re self-employed and find yourself spending too much time doing marketing activities related to identifying potential new clients, you may benefit from scheduling set hours each week to devote to scouring for opportunities, paired with equal periods on the back end of those blocks where you recover with some well-deserved me time.
Look for signs
You may be nervous about devoting chunks of time to recovery from your professional initiatives at this stage in your job search. Perhaps you feel that you need to devote a certain amount of effort to your hunt before you’ll feel comfortable working in regular and reliable steps toward self-care. If that’s the case, you should at least familiarize yourself with the signs of burnout so that you can recognize when it’s definitely the moment to give yourself some me time.
Psychology Today lists the following signs related to burnout, whether from exhaustion, detachment, or lack of accomplishment. If you notice these symptoms arising, then take a step back and schedule in some me time before it’s too late:
- Feeling exhausted most days
- Difficulty concentrating
The bottom line is, don’t let yourself get to the breaking point when it comes to finding work or seeking new clients. By allowing yourself to take care of your needs beyond the job search, you’ll be a stronger and more resilient candidate.