"Let's do lunch". It's the mantra of executives worldwide.
When you're unemployed, your friends will think you've got it made on the lunch front. You can have long, leisurely lunches. With a glass (or two) of wine if you want. Every day of the week! You don't have to get back to the office. And you don't have to make up a story to explain the wine to the guy in Accounting who reviews your expense report.
But I've found that these wonderfully long lunches are messing up my life.
Why, you say? How on earth could there be any harm in such a relaxing endeavor?
Here's why--- when you're unemployed, you're surprisingly busier than ever before. You're doing lots of networking to find that next job. And trying to stay in touch with your former colleagues (many of whom are reaching out to say "hey, will you tell me about any jobs you don't want that might be a good fit for me?"). There's only 5 lunches in a workweek. So if you're a halfway decent networker your lunch schedule is probably booked for weeks.
You're likely also trying to catch up on things like doctor's appointments, visiting the dentist, car maintenance, wrestling with your retirement savings, etc. And you might very well have a "honey do" list from your spouse of all the things that need to be done around the house (see my prior post re: all household chores falling to the unemployed spouse).
Unless you are a superhero, it's impossible to do all these things and still have a consistent diet of long lunches.
Instead, I've learned to embrace Coffee Meetings. A Coffee Meeting is just what it sounds like-- meeting someone at a local coffee shop to talk over a cup of java.
Coffee Meetings are efficient. A cup of coffee lasts 30 minutes at most. You can stretch it to an hour if you have two cups. There's no way it's lasting more than 90 minutes because someone will have to go to the restroom after drinking all that coffee.
Using this premise, you can do at least three Coffee Meetings a day and sometimes four if you make everyone come to a place of your choosing. Five is pushing it, though. You don't want to be so over-caffeinated that you can't sleep at night!
Here's your incentive--- "If I spend all day Wednesday meeting people at Starbucks, then I can take Friday off and go for that long bike ride." It's really that simple. It's no different than when you were working. You could easily cram Friday's work into Thursday and Monday if it meant you could take Friday off. Now you're doing the same thing but with networking meetings, visits with former colleagues, etc.
I've learned to do 3-4 Coffee Meetings a day once or twice a week. This way, I can have meaningful visits with 6-8 people per week. Then, I spend one day a week on all my other To Do items. I take one day off to play ("I've earned it!"). And I'm trying to spend that last day of the week doing some deep thinking and planning re: what I want from my future life.
That last one is tough and I can't say I don't throw it aside on occasion to go shoe shopping. But, overall, I'm trying to stick to this basic routine so I can see everyone, do all my chores and still enjoy the gift of having this time off.
Now if only Starbucks had a frequent buyer's club. I'd be able to fund my next vacation with all my points!