Checklists help us get organized. There are a lot of things that need to be done the first week after you get laid off.. Taking stock of your finances is especially important if you are low on savings, or have large expenses. Making sure you’ve read all the documents you’ve received, and probably/maybe talked to a lawyer if needed (either if you feel you’ve been discriminated against, or if you have separation documents needing review). Working through your emotions is key, of course. This page has two checklists of things experts, and my friends, told me to do that first week. Most items link to more details, so check those out too!

My first week? Well, I had planned to hike on day 2. Here’s what my notes say:

Apparently we didn’t go hiking! But, I did golfing (sic) during the day, in November. I was clearly distracted the first few holes. It was obvious I was not working, and my brain was telling me I should be working. Eventually, I moved onto worrying about my golf score, and not not working, but I didn’t play well at all.

Golfing in November is a big deal for someone that lived most of his life in Minnesota, btw….normally golf allows me to really be present in the moment, to really concentrate on my next shot (well, when I’m not mad about a previous shot…). But clearly, my notes say otherwise

The 12 Item Checklist for that First Week After Being Laid Off

(I didn’t manage all of this, you probably won’t either, that’s ok)

  1. Take care of your mental health
  2. By now, you should have filed for unemployment benefits (I, alas, forgot this step, just one reason I started this site)
  3. Talk to a lawyer about any documentation you have questions about (I definitely did this)
  4. Make sure you understand your health insurance situation, and have a plan (Unfortunately, my wife is self employed, so we had limited options)
  5. Develop some kind of routine that gets you out of bed, and doing at least several hours of productive things every day
  6. Start assessing your financial situation
  7. If you are entitled to outplacement services, start using them (Sometimes this is great, sometimes not. If you don’t like your adviser, ask for a different one)
  8. Start an exercise routine
  9. Talk to someone that you like talking to, nearly every day
  10. Use your company’s employee assistance program, if you have access and are having difficulty processing this change
  11. Keep a journal, it will help you through the process faster
  12. Write down a list of positives from your previous job, things that you did, so you have stories for your upcoming interview

More to Do That First Week of Being Out of Work

  1. Assess your eating and drinking habits, make sure they are healthy
  2. Start a mindfulness practice
  3. Take or plan a staycation or vacation (mostly, take a day or two not to think about this stuff, or to think about it less)
  4. Clean your place
  5. Talk to a financial adviser
  6. Assess your career goals
  7. Update your resume
  8. Talk to a recruiter
  9. Apply for some jobs
  10. Practice interviewing
  11. Write your stories for interviews
  12. Contact student loan providers – you may be eligible for a deferral
  13. Contact companies you owe money – you might be able to work out terms/delays
  14. Stop automatic contributions from savings/checking to retirement accounts
  15. Talk to a therapist, or use your former company’s employee assistance program if you have access
  16. Do your favorite hobby (like golf or hike) once or twice
  17. Analyze your spending habits, start making changes (we cancelled a wine club membership right away)
  18. Document your network
  19. Update social media profiles
  20. Organize your closets, and donate clothes/shoes you never wear
  21. Sell unused items online, or at a garage sale
  22. Burn your old business cards or to do lists from work
  23. Pick up garbage on your walk, even one piece
  24. Smile, smiling changes your brain chemistry for the better
  25. Read one of those books you’ve been meaning to read (go to the library if you don’t own any)
  26. Garden if you have one
  27. Search the internet for advice
  28. Subscribe to newsletters offering advice on finding a job, or mindfulness, or whatever you want
  29. Don’t forget to grieve your loss
  30. Reach out to some former coworkers, and say hi. If you worked for a big company, they might not even know you are gone

You won’t do all of these, I estimate I did 21 or so, including most of the first list.