If my career in officiating has taught me anything it's that I need a structure from which to work on me improvements. The structure from which I work involves core values, a schedule template, and a place to start to get me motivated.
This post will cover how I will handle my schedule, and provide the starting point I used to get going. Factors to consider are common for everyone. They involve family, work, household maintenance, and personal maintenance along with making time for learning new skills. I know everyone's needs and lives are different. This is merely an example of what works for me.
Tools You Can Use
There are many digital ways to schedule your day. I use the calendar on my Galaxy S5 to handle major events in my life. I can easily share it with my wife and others by simply adding their email addresses. I know there are hundreds of scheduling and calendar apps you can download. I prefer to keep my simple.
I keep a physical month-to-month planner in my bag. In it I write my referee schedule so I can track mileage and income from it. It's a simple way for me to track dates and times in a big picture way that keeps me from double booking myself.
For a day to day list of getting tasks done, I use 4x6 note cards. Again, there are tons of digital ways to handle this. Maybe it's because I'm not a millennial with an inbred connection to my phone, but I like the analog method for this. I talked about a few more things you can use to be productive on LinkedIn HERE.
Find what works for you, and at the same time try new things. Give something a fair shot. If it doesn't feel uncomfortable at first you aren't on the right track. The idea here is you will try new things to get more new things into your life.
Decide What's Important
I won't preach to you about life. It's yours to live. My goal here is to give you some tools and ideas so you can get back to feeling useful again. With that, you must decide what events, people, and ideas are priorities in your life.
For me, my first priority is learning. That means I spend a lot of time reading. I read short form blog posts, full length books, and instructional manuals. I pray, and read religious texts. I also make time to pick up new skills. I'm learning to code and build websites through Treehouse. It's easier than you think, and I'll gain real world skills I can soon turn into money.
Right under learning is service. I'm a volunteer mentor for SCORE. I serve in my church callings. I routinely give platelets and blood at my local Red Cross. With my main job as a referee being so stressful and thankless most of the time, I feel very useful when I can give my time to those who need it.
Third is my wife and family. My kids are all grown and gone. I don't have any grand children to watch after so my day is pretty clean. I use my home time when my wife is at work to do dishes and laundry. This makes her happy, and helps me feel useful.
Fourth is my single method of making money right now. I officiate three sports,. That means meetings, games, schedules, and training. This takes up the majority of my day, but I have learned to plan correctly so everything gets done.
Embrace The Grind
Getting back on your professional feet by learning new skills is a long haul. I know I felt like I could make a quick transition after I earned my MBA. Little did I realize there were many others like me who are better connected.
The amount of noise you will encounter on your way back is deafening at times. You may come across something you think is a quick answer until you realize someone is trolling you for your email address, time and money. Don't get discouraged.
Stick to the process. I'm a little over two years into my road back into the professional world, and I'm nowhere near done learning. After getting my MBA, I quickly realized how few technical skills I had. The hard technical skills are what will get you noticed. You can then sell your awesome personality and willingness to work once you get in the door.
There will be lonely days that never seem to end. There will be times you will hate everyone and everything. Just know with time and effort you will find your path. It may not be the one you originally envisioned, but if you are open and honest you will get there.
Make It Happen
Once you have some tools and rank your priorities, you must execute. Start small with a few tasks each day based upon what you want to learn. Find what interests you in business and write about it somewhere. LinkedIn has a great free blogging platform where you can cultivate your voice. Right now you are saying you have no idea what to write about. Neither did I at first.
The important thing is that you start. Take a look at my profile and read my first few posts from November 2014. Examine the style and syntax, and compare them to my later work and this site. Over time I learned new concepts, improved my style, and better applied my understanding. I studied those I admired and copied their style. I embraced the idea that I can't quit finding new reasons to get better.
Another important aspect is to embrace social media. I found two platforms in Twitter and LinkedIn and decided to focus my energy there. Start small and work from there. Live where your audience hangs out. Find a few people to follow and go.
My earliest success came from curating content on Twitter. I'd find several relevant blog posts from Google searches and attach one or two hashtags and share it. Start simple and keep going.
Don't Just Sit There. . .
These are some first steps. There is plenty more to come, but I won't overwhelm you. Start here and keep moving. It's easy to be bitter and angry and the world. Get away from that space. It will just keep you anchored in the past. I love the quote from Dwayne Johnson where he said "There's no substitute for hard work. Always be humble and hungry."