So 2016 was a shitty year. Many people think the Cubs winning the World Series was the lone silver lining, but I considered it a sign of the impending Apocalypse. The presidential election a week later confirmed my suspicions.

But for me, from the beginning, it wasn’t just national, it was personal. The year started off all wrong for me when I was handed an involuntary sabbatical from work, a.k.a. I lost my job.

I soon learned that everyone gives you a piece of their mind when you’re unemployed, whether you ask for it or not. They just can’t seem to help themselves. On one level I get why. People feel bad for you and want to help. The problem is that all they can do is talk, and in most cases talk is pretty cheap.

If you happen to be unemployed right now, I want to emphasize that you still have power. Nothing is permanent. Always remember that. Write it on your hand. Tattoo it, even. You can and will change your situation and find a new stream of income. It’s just a matter of when.

As someone who recently got out of the doldrums of unemployment, I can say that much of the advice you’ll get is flat-out awful. At best it’s meaningless and confusing and leaves you spinning your wheels. At worst, it’s counterproductive, sending you in the opposite direction from where you should be going.

In either case, next thing you know, you’re eating Ben & Jerry’s for lunch, bingeing on Breaking Bad and reaching for your first beer by 2:00 pm. None of these things, believe it or not, are going to help you find your next gig.

Without advice but rather through trial and error, I learned that surviving unemployment is really about moving on and finding income. To get out of it, you need a new source to replace the old one that was taken away. Maybe for some that goes without saying, but this simple epiphany really helped me filter out the nonsense people were serving up. Eventually I was able to hack unemployment with a few productive habits.

If you happen to be unemployed right now, I want to emphasize that you still have power. Nothing is permanent. Always remember that. Write it on your hand. Tattoo it, even. You can and will change your situation and find a new stream of income. It’s just a matter of when.

Here are three simple things you can do to ensure your moment of change will come sooner rather than later:

1. Own your unemployment.
Your first impulse is probably to hide your employment status. Don’t! Everyone can relate to the fear of unemployment, and most people want to help. However, no one will help you unless they know about your situation. So talk about it freely. Maybe not on social media, but definitely let friends and family and old coworkers and colleagues know that you are now looking for a job and why. That will lead to introductions and introductions can lead to new opportunities, sometimes from the most unexpected places.

2. Avoid grinding your axe.
Don’t complain about how your old employer screwed you over. It’s probably true, but no one wants to hear it, not even your mom. Sometimes it feels good to vent, but it accomplishes very little. Complaining is going to turn off people who might otherwise want to help you. Complaining also reinforces that you are a victim, which will make you feel helpless and miserable. It’s a toxic attitude to have and will only slow you down.

3. Track your time, all of it.
This may be the most important tip of all. When you’re unemployed, you have a lot of unstructured time on your hands. It’s easy to sleep in late and then go straight to Netflix if you don’t have a call or meeting with someone that day. That’s fine to do once in awhile, but if it becomes your daily routine, you’ll be in trouble.

A simple way to resist the sloth-like temptations is keeping a calendar and tracking both what you’re going to do for the day and what you actually did. Literally track every waking hour. It will show the good and the bad.

It’s all about the process, and it takes time to plant the seeds of future opportunities. The calendar reminds you that you’ve done the right thing, and because of that you will continue doing the right things.

You won’t always feel motivated. It’s hard to recognize that a small thing like emailing old contacts is productive. Just because there’s a delayed payoff doesn’t mean there’s no payoff. OK, some of those contacts will have no payoff, but that doesn’t mean you should stop doing it. It’s all about the process, and it takes time to plant the seeds of future opportunities. The calendar reminds you that you’ve done the right thing, and because of that you will continue doing the right things.

Without a calendar you can conveniently forget how you got sucked into a black hole of feeling busy while doing nothing. There’s nothing inherently wrong with re-watching Breaking Bad to pass the time while you’re waiting for contacts to respond. You just need to be aware how much time you’re devoting to it. This is especially true of seemingly productive activities like reading self-help or career search books. Those are worthwhile activities but only if you apply them in professional situations.

Additionally, the calendar helps you stay on top of when to follow up with contacts. People want to help, but it’s easy to forget to do so. Many people occasionally need a gentle reminder. This includes your future self. You too can get caught in the minutia of today and forget that you haven’t heard from that promising lead for two weeks.

Take advantage of technology already available to you through Google calendar (or something similar) to systematically set up pop up reminders after you’ve initiated (or reinitiated) contact. This little hack will make you look reliable and competent.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it, being unemployed is hard. There’s a lot of waiting around, which can make everything feel beyond your control. Many things are, but certainly not everything, as illustrated by what I’ve shared above.

Now quit watching Walter and Jesse and get cracking, bitch!

Oh and good luck!