It's been said that time isn't everything, it's the only thing.
When you're job hunting, this is especially true. Because every day spent in the wrong job (or in no job) can seem like an eternity to you and your family.
As we wind down the year this month, here are four tips to help you save time and get more done every day, so you can find your next job faster …
#1: Plan Every Day
"A lifetime is composed of days, strung together into weeks, months, and years," wrote Earl Nightingale. "A successful life is nothing more than a lot of successful days put together. As such, every day counts."
To make every day count in your job search -- and in your life -- it's best to plan ahead, so you're doing the right things, at the right time, in the right order.
Most folks don't, unfortunately.
If you ask any 10 people to show you their daily to-do list, only one or two could produce one. And it's no coincidence that only about 10-20% of people ever achieve real career success.
So, to join the top 20% in your field, whether you're employed now or not, the first thing to do is to plan every day in advance. It need take only 10 minutes, but it could easily save you one or two hours a day.
Start by jotting down the five career-related things you must do tomorrow. Be specific. Don't write, "Find job leads." Write, "Find 3 job leads."
#2: Prioritize Your Tasks
Once you determine the five things to do tomorrow, rank them in order of importance to your job search. This should take no more than a few minutes.
It doesn't matter whether you use a Day Planner, a sheet of paper or a PDA, just jot down and number the five things you need to do tomorrow, in order of importance.
Tip: It's a good idea to plan and prioritize your tasks the night before, so you can "sleep on it." About one hour before bed, take a few minutes to review your plans for tomorrow, then put the list away and do other things. When you wake up the next morning, you may find, as I have many times, that your subconscious mind has worked out the answer to a problem while you were sleeping. Try it tonight!
#3: Work on Top Priorities First
First thing tomorrow morning, take out your to-do list and look at item #1. Start working on it and keep at it until you finish. Then work on #2, and so on, until it's time to stop for the day.
"Don't worry if you've only finished one or two; the others can wait," says Earl Nightingale. "If you can't finish them all by this method, you could not have finished them with any other method. And without some system, you'd probably take 10 times as long to finish them and might not even have them in the order of their importance."
Sounds simple, doesn't it? The truth almost always is.
#4: Plan for the Long Haul
It's not enough to plan the days and weeks that make up your job search. You should also plan for the months and years that make up your career.
One way is to set up a system to collect and manage the information that accumulates over the course of your working life. "You want to plan not just for this job search, but for the ones that will certainly happen in the future," says Jason Alba, creator of JibberJobber.com.
While it might be nice to remember the names of everyone in your sixth grade class, it would be really, REALLY nice to remember the names of everyone you networked with, say, two years ago, when you last looked for a job.
Contact management software can help "connect the dots between people you've met and things you've done," says Alba, who designed JibberJobber.com to solve the problem of lost opportunities that plagues most job seekers at some point.
"I tried managing my job search in a single spreadsheet that grew until it became unmanageable, and then I started missing appointments and losing details," says Alba.
If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, surely a bottle of planning is worth a keg of time :-)
To get the most out of the minutes, hours and days that make up your job search, take a few minutes tonight to plan for tomorrow and the days after that. You will then string together enough good days, weeks and months to create a truly successful career.
Kevin Donlin is contributing co-author of "Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0." Since 1996, he has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. For a free Guerrilla Job Search audio CD, visit MyNewJobHunt.com.