Unemployment and Time Structure

An Insight

The view from my living room window is across a wide valley and every morning, before daybreak, I can see the lights of the tractors and other vehicles moving around at a distant farm. Peeking at those lights out in the morning darkness is as much a part of my routine as my morning coffee. But one day recently, after stretching out on the couch to watch the early news, I dozed off and missed seeing the tractors moving around.
When I woke up and realized I hadn't seen the morning activity, I was a little bummed. It bothered me all day - then I had an insight - seeing the lights of those tractors in the morning is part of my daily time structure, and my time structure got out of whack.

Time Structure

Almost everyone has some sort of time structure in their lives - they get up at a certain time, go to work at a certain time, watch a certain program at a particular time each day, eat lunch at a set time. During the week they have a day they clean the bathroom, an evening they call their mother, a day they do grocery shopping.

But for some, their time structure gets changed - an unemployed person doesn't have to get up and get an early start in the morning; a newly retired person doesn't have that regular job to go to everyday.
As for me, my husband lost his job and is unemployed and his being home is affecting my time structure, too.


I, at least for the time being, am a stay-at-home wife, and I was used to my hubby getting up and going to work in the morning. After he left for the day, and during the days of the week, I had certain things that I did - for example: Monday was laundry day, and I'd check emails in the mornings. I'd crank up loud music when I cleaned the kitchen - but with my hubby being home, my time structure is changed! There isn't as much laundry (I'm not having to wash his work clothes), often he is on the computer so I can't use it to check emails, and if I want to listen to loud music while I clean the kitchen, I have to try to find a time when he isn't in the next room trying to watch TV.

Importance of Time Structure

I did a little reading about time structure after my insight, and some people really take to having an unstructured day, but others can feel lost and aimless, and it can lead to depression. I'm pretty sure I fall into the second category.

Keeping a Routine

It's easy, whether you work-at-home, stay-at-home, or are unemployed to slip into an "everyday is like a weekend" mode and spend the day goofing off, but that also makes it harder to get back into a routine.
Experts recommend that unemployed people think of finding a job as their full-time job - search the ads, make calls, tweak your resume, and be busy everyday.
For people who work at home, it's recommended they have a schedule, a separate work area, etc.

As for me, as the stay-at-home spouse of an unemployed hubby, I have to rearrange my routine, and then when my hubby finds a job, I'll have to rearrange my routine again. I'll reset my time structure, and reset it again. It will keep me focused, it will keep me from getting depressed, and if nothing else, if I decide to go back to work, I think I'll rightly be able to write that I am flexible and self-motivated on my resume.

And so on...
Early tomorrow morning, while I am having my coffee, I'll take a peek at the lights of the tractors moving around at the farm across the valley....


  1. I've been unemployed for over a year now and this is an issue I deal with regularly. I used to thikn I was self-motivated but now know I need structure and routine. No plans means watching too much TV or reading not cleaning, cooking fresh food or exercising. Staying motivated to look for a job is tough work.

  2. I've been reading about your unemployment journey - you should've been a writer.