OR “What to do right now?”
This series of posts is intended mostly for the 10%+ of people (myself included) who aren’t working full-time. However, anyone with an ounce of free time can draw something valuable from what I’ve got to share. The “blessing” of being unemployed is the enormous block of free time that now appears in your life; it is how you decide to use it that will label this time as a gift or a curse. So, whether self-employed, by-the-man-employed, unemployed, or independently wealthy, read on and enrich your life.
The August 2009 Report released by the bureau of labor statistics puts the current unemployment rate at 9.7%. With a a U.S. work force of roughly 140 million, 13.5 million people are willing, able, and searching. I would bet that a large chunk of these 13.5 million are banging their heads against the wall, wasting daylight on CareerBuilder, HotJobs, etc. Job Searching can become a full-time job without pay, fulfillment, or enjoyment. At least you can do it in your underwear and have a beer while you’re at it. After a fruitless couple hours, perhaps you’ll head to the TV, hear more doom and gloom about the current and future state of the economy/job market. Misery.
So, before relegating life to staring at a depressing monster.com search and CNBC squawking in the background, here are some suggestions for using this valuable opportunity, and doing the things you always wanted to do but never got around to.
1. Channel free time into creative outlets
Writing: Dip the brush into your soul and create something. Writing, whether creative fiction, freelancing articles, or journaling your thoughts and ideas is a skill that can be applied to almost anything in life. You will become better at expressing exactly what you are thinking, and by taking pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, you will have something concrete to show for it. Enter a writing contest. Many free contests offer winners thousands of dollars for a winning essay. Create a fictitious world of lechery and deceit. Take a walk to a place where you can find a stranger, and create a shady past and unscrupulous desires for Stanger X. Have fun with it. If you carry a book/journal with you, those amazing ideas won’t flutter away by the time you get home. Your brilliant thoughts will be immortalized.
Music: Perhaps you own or can borrow an instrument. If not, go buy a harmonica for $10. There are enough resources online to establish a basal level of proficiency on an instrument (except accordion, which is damn near impossible). Don’t just play songs, write them. Create. If you already can play guitar, get better at it. Learn a new genre. Add some Flamenco to your death metal repertoire. Give lessons in your area and earn a buck.
WIth the popularity of MacBooks, GarageBand has become a more and more popular platform for messing around and creating both live instrument and electronic masterpieces. While our fathers might prefer to read an instruction book or buy the manual, we are of the generation that will tinker and fail and learn how to harness the power of software. Between the help file and an hour or two of seeing what works, you will have music. GarageBand is pretty powerful for a included program, and might inspire you to become the next Moby. Here’s a clip that I made while fighting a bout of insomnia. You can do anything from recording one track of singer/songwriter material to producing a symphonic 16-track masterpiece.
Craft: Take up crochet or knitting. Devote yourself to a particular project, learn from your mistakes, and you’ll be putting hats and sweaters together in no time. These can be sold for a modest income, or given to friends and family. Force your boyfriend to wear that hideous sweater, he has no choice. You made it. It will stimulate your brain, and after some experimentation, yield a finished product with both intrinsic and extrinsic value.
Visual Art: Though it is not my forte, painting and drawing fill lots of time, give you a finished project, and might even generate income. Now you have the time to focus, devote yourself to art, and create. Hone your digital photography, or grab that 35mm out of the closet and get back to basics. Remember the anticipation of seeing your developed pictures? Decorate your living space with this art. It is yours. Like anything in life, the more you practice and give birth to works of art, no matter how big or small, you will get a little better. Practice will not make you perfect, but will show guaranteed improvement over time.
The last thing I will say regarding art as a creative outlet is that all of these activities cost little to nothing. If you are enterprising enough, you can make money with them too.
Stay tuned, as tomorrow I’ll address a way to use your time that will undoubtedly make your life better.