Finding full-time work isn't that fun. At first it is, waking up late and sending 'tell the man I said hi!' texts to your friends, but after a few days the novelty wears off. Waking up late just acts as a reminder that you're unemployed and a lack of money means you've had to change to a pay-as-you-go package meaning frivolous texts will have to be eliminated.
To stop myself slipping into the wake-up-at-midday-and-tune-into-top-gear psyche (aka student life) I produced some rules. These aim to keep me on the straight and narrow and should optimise my ability to get hired.
1) Wake up at 8am every morning. Factored into this is a 30-minute period where I can watch the news in bed and check only essential websites - Facebook, Twitter, BBC... rapperzoninstagram.com (if you haven't seen it you must. Unless you're a job seeker then don't, it's a complete waste of time).
2) Be showered, fed and in the office (my bedroom) by 10am.
3) Up until lunch (1pm) all I am allowed to do is check job websites and send applications.
4) After lunch I allow myself to relax after a strenuous morning. Music may be played while more job-hunting ensues and I may, if I'm happy with the mornings shift, move to the meeting room (lounge) and sit on the sofa.
5) All job applications must be checked and read at least 10 times. I am now at the point where I can almost recite my CV which I think makes me a dull person. A very dull unemployed person. That's not on the CV.
6) As a journalist it seems logical to be clued up on current affairs. Therefore the one pm and 10 pm news must be watched every day without fail. I eagerly await the weatherman although it has very little influence on my day because of rule number seven.
7) I can only leave the house before six for essential reasons, e.g. it's snowing (the recent flurry filled me with self-loathing as it made me break most of my rules).
8) Write at least one article/blog entry per day to keep my recently acquired NCTJ journalism skills ticking over. It can be on anything. I wrote one on the thoughts of a melting snowman. Don't think that one will be seeing the light of day. Actually, deleting it right now.
As we all know the job market currently isn't great and I'm resigned to the fact that it could be a little while before it's time to get suited and booted. In weak moments, often Tuesday mornings or after another meal of budget cornflakes, I will stray from a journalism job website and look at something else. The pay is enticing and the absence of "write three 500 word articles which reflect your personality and writing style" means I could knock out loads of applications. A few minutes will pass and I'll remember how much I want to be a working journo and the amount of time and effort I have invested to become an underpaid, overworked hack.
So I go back to my most visited websites, mediamuppet, gorkana and holdthefrontpage. Almost all the working journalists I know struggled to find their first full-time job and they often tell me perseverance is the key. So here I am writing this at 7.10pm. It's past my self-imposed six pm watershed and I'm still working. The rules seem to be working. Looks like they're here to stay.
Follow Charlie Lemay on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@charlielemay