Unemployed? Ten Quasi-Productive Things to Keep You Busy and Maybe Accomplish Something

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Here are ten things to do this summer that are free or cheap, and that are at least more productive than loafing on the couch. You’ve got the time, right?

1. Fill out an online job-matching questionnaire. The WSJ evaluated four of these new free services from sites like CareerBuilder.com. After answering questions, you’ll be sent listings for current job opening “matches,” which may or may not be ideal. Can’t hurt.

2. Consider a totally impractical new career. Perhaps pro wrestler or clown, or go to the stadium and become a ballhawk, which is a guy who tries to catch milestone home run balls—and then make some cash selling them to ballplayers or collectors.

3. Consider taking work anywhere you can get it. Tons of unemployed construction workers with nothing to do since the housing bust have taken jobs laboring on farms in places like California and New Mexico. Two 19-year-old friends in the D.C. area with few good summer job prospects started their own business, selling ice cream out of an old minivan, which actually sounds pretty awesome.

4. Sell some gadgets. Even old iPods with cracked screens can fetch a few bucks at eBay or other sites, as SmartMoney says.

5. Run. Loads of the newly unemployed find themselves with plenty of time to train for marathons. If the recession drags on much longer, there may be an upswing in hardcore 100-mile endurance runs.

6. Watch your stimulus dollars at work. Non-profit investigative journalism group ProPublica is asking everyday people to Adopt a Stimulus Project. The idea is with people closely monitoring and reporting the progress (or lack thereof) of a road being patched or bridge being built, taxpayers will get the most out of their money.

7. Clear out the garage, attic, closets, and kids room and have a yard sale. Just don’t sell recalled toys.

8. Get some new books or DVDs to entertain yourself by trading in some old ones through bartering site Swaptree.

9. Complain. And if you’re going to bitch—about a politician or a company that’s done you wrong—do it well. CNET lists websites and tips for getting results. More tips for complaining like a pro (or is it more like “being a good customer”?) here.

10. Buy some wine. You need to relax after all that hard “work.” And by getting your wine at heavily discounted prices, as explained in this LA Times piece, you can still sorta feel like you’re working—working the system, that is.