How to Structure Your Day If You’ve Been Furloughed


Getting the notice that you’ve been furloughed may feel better than getting laid off, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty abound.

If you’re like many Americans during this crisis, you may have even had to Google the word furlough to understand what’s going on. It’s not a concept that has had a place in our lives before — certainly not to this level.

But if you’re furloughed, it means you are on leave from work without pay, and there’s a promise that you might have a job when the economy gets moving again.

And, not to add to your stress, but it’s important to remember that there are no guarantees. So, it’s important to stay productive and motivated during this furlough period.

Here are some tips to structure your day if you’ve been furloughed.

Early Morning Hours

In the early days of your furlough, you may want to take a little break and treat it like a vacation. But it’s not a great idea to make a habit of it. During this time, you’re going to want to maintain a routine that’s similar to the structured days you’re used to. This will help you remain productive and it could help keep you from succumbing to symptoms of depression and anxiety.

So, try getting up around the same time you’d get up for work. This tip is also helpful if you have young children because it will allow you to get in a few productive hours before they’re even awake.

During this time, you may choose to have breakfast, tidy up, exercise, shower and get dressed or do anything productive. The key is to take advantage of the early morning hours, so you already feel productive when the afternoon slump hits.

Late Morning into Early Afternoon

Keep the momentum going throughout the morning. If you have kids, this may be a time for homeschool to begin. This is also a great time to brush up on your career skills. If there are any certifications you can get to make yourself more marketable, now is the time. Or if you’re really worried about the safety or longevity of your current job, you may want to start looking into a career change.

Regardless of whether you’re in a recession-proof industry, you may want to take this time of social isolation to upgrade your skills. When you feel like you’re working towards something positive and productive, it can help quell the anxiety about having been furloughed.

The Afternoon Slump

We’re all familiar with the afternoon slump we experience at work, but you might be surprised that it can hit at home too. Whether you’re tethered to the couch watching soaps or spending a productive morning researching career upgrades, you might start feeling deflated when the late afternoon hits.

The afternoon slump usually starts around 3:00 pm and can last an hour or more. To combat this natural phenomenon, try increasing your intake of energy-boosting foods like blueberries, leafy greens and dark chocolate. And as long as it’s not too hot outside, the afternoon slump is a great time to go for a walk or bike ride outside.

The 5:00 Danger Zone

We’ve all heard the phrase, “it’s 5:00 somewhere.” And some of us have even been known to use it as an excuse for day drinking. But day drinking during this pandemic is especially dangerous because there’s no stopping it.

If you do it once, you can do it again and again. And even if you’ve gone the entire day without drinking, that magical 5:00 hour hits and you might start yearning for a glass of beer or wine. And as always, one won’t hurt you. It’s the habit that can be damaging.

If you’ve already had a problem with alcohol before this pandemic, that 5:00 hour can be especially tricky. Either way, maintaining sobriety through all this is going to be a day-by-day effort. Find something you can look forward to during the evening hours (something that doesn’t involve alcohol).

Ultimately, this time can provide many benefits to us all — even though it can also be incredibly stressful. It’s all about how you choose to see your situation and how you structure each day.