Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: Random Things to Do When You’ve Been Laid Off

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Random Things to Do When You’ve Been Laid Off


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  • Volunteer. This is probably the best way to get out of the house while doing something meaningful that you might not otherwise get to do. A personal favorite of mine is the Garfield Park Conservatory

  • Lean a new skill. We're in the computer age and there is no time like the present to ramp up your skill set. One good way to start is with Google, they have plenty of FREE online training. You can become Google Adwords Certified . Additionlly, there are other Google Seminars and training classes you can take.

  • Meet Ups, Tweet Ups & Professional Networking. Join as many professional communities as you can that make sense. Many of these events have free OR very inexpensive "networking" events where you can meet other like-minded (out of work) professionals. I also like to call these events – pick up joints for the sing & over 35 set.

  • Go back to school – while you're at it. Many people are realizing that there is no better time to take advantage of their free time. If you start your MBA this fall, before all the student loan money dries up, we may just be coming out of this "economic downturn" before you graduate!

  • Sell your stuff on Craigslist or eBay. Craigslist is certainly the cheaper route to take, the downside is you have to deal with phone calls and meeting people at a location to exchange money & the items. Many times, the "location" is your own apartment or house. eBay, on the other hand, does take some getting used to, there is a "community" that will scrutinize your credibility if you don't have enough "stars" and it costs money. eBay fees have risen significantly over the years.

  • Utilize Free Wi-Fi. You likely have millions of things on your plate that you never got around to while you were employed (that sci-fi novel you never finished, the website you were building in homage to your pet Iguana or that really tough, extra credit math problem you had in 8th grade that you always wanted to solve). You need a place to get these things done, right? Find a place with FREE Wi-Fi. Starbucks is a good start (and where you'll find me two days a week) but there are PLENTY of other places. The Map Room in Bucktown (Chicago) opens at 6:30 AM each morning, serves coffee, bagels & pastries along with delicious beer & huge helping of FREE Wi-Fi. Otherwise, take a look at this LIST for all your other free spots in Illinois.

  • Start a blog. I find it is a great way to pass the time, make new friends and even learn a new skill. I found Blogger to be the most idiot-proof (yes, I am putting myself in the idiot category). From there I would recommend Wordpress next (tons of free themes) and then Typepad.

  • Take lots of pictures. Websites like istockphoto.com allow amateurs to upload their high quality photographs onto their site and if someone "buys" the usage of your original photo, you get paid! Let's face it, you don't have to be a professional to take lots of pictures and digital space costs nothing! So, if you have a decent camera and a memory card – what are you waiting for? Take your camera with you everywhere you go and snap those pics!

  • Use Twitter. I've been a tweeter myself for some time but only started using it more and more in the past few months. I found a WEALTH of information on Twitter simply by "following" the right people. I get boat loads of links to useful information on a minutely basis. (FOLLOW ME! Click on the bird)

  • Get free stuff. Have you ever heard of buzz marketing OR Word of Mouth Marketing? Well, companies like bzzagent.com send free goods or coupons to individuals who are willing to try a product of their clients' in exchange for feedback and spreading the good word.

  • Shed those pounds. You can sign up for a fun-run and contribute to charity as well. Just about every major metropolitan area has a Mother's Day 5K that you can run or walk. You can train for the run with a friend, socialize and get in shape. Don't have any friends? No worries! Running stores like Fleet Feet or the Nike Store organize running groups 1-2 times a week. Also, organizations like CARA or The New York Road Runners Club have tons of events and fun runs in which you can take part.

  • Travel. Yes, I know, most of us don't have this kind of cash but for those who do – DO IT! If there was ever a time, this it it my friend! There are plenty of travel agents with great rates and tours. A good friend of mine took a year off from his "Wall Street" job to travel around the world, check out how he did it Songer Uncensored .

  • The Library. I know, you don't want to hear it but here it is. Your local public library can be an amazing resource for limitless opportunities.

  • Other random ideas. Cut coupons. Listen to podcasts. Get your finances (what's left of them) in order. Help your parents clean out their basements. Cut the clutter (see above, Craigslist, people will buy just about anything). Write your will. Start a scrapbook (I make collages, it seems less dorky). Organize a night out with friends in a local bar and get drink specials for the group. Cook. Play a sport. Scan old pictures. Read. Clean your bathroom (deep clean it). Meditate. See a matinee. Community classes at the local Park District. Start a new collection as a hobby (stamps, coins, post cards). Keep a moleskin notebook with you at all times and write things down as they occur to you AND THEN DO THEM.

    Hopefully, this list should be a good start to help you stay off 24 hours of television, Wii or Yelp.com and booze.


     

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