We all know the feeling. You’re applying for jobs and plan to reward yourself with 20 minutes of Snapchat or Pokémon Go (gotta catch ‘em all, right?) for every application you submit. But soon, 20 minutes turns into two hours and before you know it, it’s already the end of the day and you’ve only applied to one job. Sigh. Why is time management so hard?
Well, the good news is that when done the right way, procrastinating can actually be valuable to your job search (really!). Next time you are tempted to check your social media accounts for the fifth time in one hour (but who’s counting?), try one of these seven productive procrastination moves instead.
Are you an ISTJ? Or ENFP? This famous questionnaire will provide you with a comprehensive overview of your personality in the form of four letters. Knowing your "type" will give you a deeper understanding of your strengths and weaknesses as well as expose you to careers that may be a unique fit. Plus, 89 of the Fortune 100 companies reportedly use Myers-Briggs to analyze prospective employees, so you might as well get ahead of the game.
"I think it’s important to know what your strengths are," says millennial career expert Smiley Poswolsky. "Realize what you enjoy, what your interests are, what your gifts are, what you want to improve upon, and that self-reflection will help determine the type of culture that you would best fit into."
According to neuroscience research, clutter makes it harder for you to focus and reduces your brain’s ability to process information efficiently. Having a messy living space or desk could be holding you back from a productive afternoon of job searching. Take 30 minutes to get organized, and you’ll be surprised at what a difference a clean space can make.
Potential employers are going to Google you; as a matter of fact, 84% of hiring managers admitted they will review your social media presence before officially extending an offer, and there’s not much you can do about it. What you can control, however, is the content they see when they search your name.
"It’s important to remember that what you post is a reflection of who you are and what you care about," says Poswolsky. "If all your images are of you partying, then that’s what your prospective employer’s image of you is going to be."
So take a trip down memory lane, and even if your account is private, go ahead and delete any unprofessional photos and tweets. Does your page feel empty now? Focus on showcasing interests that are relevant to the job you want. Start with listing off any courses you’ve taken, transferable skills or work experience, certifications and events and workshops you’ve attended.
"Your platforms are an opportunity to show potential employers that you’re truly passionate about certain topics or issues," says Poswolsky.
The job search is stressful, and some days, all you want to do is just pull your hair out. Attending a yoga class, engaging in meditation, or even breathing deeply for two minutes every day can drastically reduce your anxiety levels.
"I think practicing mindfulness is a wonderful habit to develop when you’re young, because not only will it help clarify your thoughts and keep you on an even keel in your job search," says workplace journalist Anita Bruzzese, "but it’s something you can use throughout the rest of your career."
Are you overusing cliché terms on your resume and not providing enough details? Maybe it’s time for a revision. Copy and paste some of your cover letters and emails into a word-frequency counter to check out a few of your top hits. Better yet, try the phrase-frequency counter to gain even deeper insights into your writing trends.
Write down three of your most recent job-search "wins" (e.g., you scored an interview) as well as three of your most recent "losses" (e.g., you received a rejection email). What do you notice? Are there any trends? Maybe you’ll gather that sending a follow-up note after an interview really does make a difference.
"Treat it as research," says Poswolsky. "If you’re constantly being rejected for the same type of role or position, that’s something to think about. Maybe it’s because you don’t have the skills you need to do that job, and that’s okay, but maybe you should consider taking a class or workshop to get those skills."
This suggestion might be a little meta, but check out writer Tim Urban’s procrastination TED Talk the next time you feel you’d like to take a break from applying to jobs. It may just change your perspective and give you a much needed motivational push to keep plugging along on your quest for employment.
This article originally appeared on Monster and is reprinted with permission.