How to Be Your Most Productive Self at Work

be your most productive self

Finding motivation day in and day out can be hard, especially after the excitement over your New Year’s resolutions has worn off. However, there are adjustments you can make in your daily routine that will get you back on track to becoming your most productive self. You may even be so productive that you’ll find yourself looking for additional projects to work on. Ok, who are we kidding, that probably won’t happen, but it’s at least something to work towards!

Time block

One of our favorite time management tools is time blocking. Set a timer on your phone for 10, 15, 30, or 45 minutes and focus yourself on an assigned task during that period. You can also buy a time cube from Amazon, which essentially does the same thing, it’s just a bit more invasive.

With a timer going, you hold yourself responsible for completing the task at hand in the allotted time. The time you set aside is strictly for uninterrupted work. The tricky part is getting your coworkers to understand.

When working in an office, especially in a cubicle or a communal space, it can be difficult to maintain your focus with all the external stimulation. People are walking by, there’s chatter, a coworker stops by to ask you a question, you hear rustling and bustling in common areas… it’s a constant battle between you and your distractions. So what’s the solution?

Usually, the quietest time in an office is in the morning and conveniently we are also the most alert in the morning (even if you’re not a “morning person”, it’s scientifically proven). Unfortunately, the other quiet time in the office and our second most productive time is around 10pm, which is clearly after office hours. If flexibility isn’t an option at your job, you can try time blocking in 30-minute increments for 3 hours from 9am-12pm and take 5-minute breaks in between.  30-minutes is usually enough time to get your most important work done, or at least started, but it’s also not too long of a time where you feel you can stretch out your productivity, (i.e. check social media or chat with your neighbor).

Turn off your phone

Turning off your phone is probably the most obvious tip to boost productivity (assuming you’re not using it to time yourself), however, not many people utilize it. You may be someone who has enough self-control to get by without checking your phone when you’re in the zone, but the “push notifications”, texts, and phone calls don’t know that.

When you see your phone light up you will be tempted to check it. Push notifications want you to check your phone because it means you’re active in the apps notifying you. And being active in apps during the workweek essentially means you’re not being active where you should be… in your work! That’s not to say you should keep your phone off all day, just turn it off during your work hours or during your time blocks.

If turning off your phone isn’t something that interests you, with newer iPhones there is a “do not disturb” option that is meant to be used while you’re sleeping but there’s no reason you can’t use it during your most productive hours of work. Another alternative is to turn off all “push notifications” which will keep the phone alerts to a minimum.

Lay off the sugar and caffeine

Sugar and caffeine may seem like a good idea when you’re dragging – they give you the kick you need to get going. But in the long-term, they’re not so good for your health or productivity. As quickly as you get your “high”, you start coming down and eventually crash.

A healthier alternative that will still get your brain working is drinking decaf tea. This is a psychological trick used to wean off coffee. The hot tea drink imitates a cup of hot coffee, thus your brain is tricked into thinking you’re getting your caffeine fix when in reality it’s decreasing your craving. Chewing gum is another solution.  It stimulates your mind by increasing your concentration and alertness.

If you’re desperate for a little sweet fix in the afternoon try having a piece of dark chocolate.

Hydrate

Whether or not you consume coffee and/or sugar, you still need to hydrate with lots of water for maximum results at work. Not only will drinking more water make you feel good physically, but it will give you the mental boost you need to tackle any projects at work. In a recent study, 34 adults were tested on 2 separate occasions and their performances were measured. The occasion when participants ate a cereal bar and drank water, they performed 14% better than when they performed the same task with just a cereal bar and no water. Coincidence or science?

Your mind needs water so hydrate consistently throughout the day. Your body will thank you and so will your boss!

 

How do you stay productive during the workday? Tell us in the comments!

 

Written by: Brittany Johnston

The ONE Thing That Will Help You Dominate in 2017

how to dominate 2017

By now we are well aware of the fact that there are plenty of ways to start fresh in the New Year. So much so that it is safe to say the expression “New Year, New You” is a bit redundant. We also know that halfway through January New Year motivation fades and you’re left in the same place you were in 2016. That’s exactly what we want you to avoid which is why we’ve come up with the one thing that will help you dominate in 2017:

The ONE Thing.

Yes, you read that right, the one thing that will keep your career in gear is a book called The ONE Thing by Gary Keller. Without being a #spoileralert, The ONE Thing assures us that we can conquer just about anything by asking ourselves the focusing question:

What’s the one thing I can do right now, such that by doing so, will make everything else easier or unnecessary?

It’s a simple question that can have an enormously powerful impact. Asking ourselves this question will prevent us from feeling overwhelmed when we don’t reach our goals exactly on their target dates. This question also helps us to prioritize what we should be doing versus what we want to be doing. Most of the time what we want to be doing, i.e. sleeping in, going on social media, skipping our workout, staying quiet in meetings, is just the opposite of what we should be doing.

The things that make you uncomfortable, that you sometimes fear or want to avoid are the things that will ultimately help you dominate 2017.

Getting started

The first step to killing it in 2017 is to make an action list, not to be confused with a to-do list. To-do lists are filled with things we want to do, but most likely we don’t get around to doing them. Action lists are packed with actionable items we can do right now such as, “submit resume to xyz as opposed to “apply for 3 jobs” which is something that would be found on a to-do list.  The more specific your action list the better.

You want to make the items on your action list answer the question, ‘What’s the one thing I can do right now that will make everything else easier or unnecessary?’ So, find your top 3 things that will make your other things easier or unnecessary and start executing!

Things to keep in mind…

Opportunity will not fall in your lap and if you want to reach your goals in 2017, you have to prioritize doing what will help you get there. This means cutting your to-do list down from 10 things to the 1-3 things that will give you the highest results.

Think about it, if your one thing for 2017 is to get a new job yet “do laundry” is at the top of your to-do list, that’s not going to get you where you want to go, is it?  As stated in The ONE Thing, 80% of our results come from 20% of our efforts. And that 20% does not include doing laundry… though that is important too!

 

Now we want to know, what’s the ONE thing you want to achieve professionally in 2017 and what’s the ONE thing you can do right now to help you achieve it? Tell us in the comments!

Written by: Brittany Johnston

Career Over Coffee: Kyla Brennan Founder of HelloSociety

kyla brennan hello society

We are thrilled to announce our latest Career Over Coffee as the founder of the uber successful social media marketing agency, Hello Society. Kyla Brennan is the epitome of a career girl who doesn’t waste any time seizing an opportunity. From Executive Assistant to Executive powerhouse, Kyla can teach us all a thing or two about creating a job, negotiating, and finding the right people to work with.

Briefly describe how HelloSociety started.

I was working as an Executive Assistant in an incubator in Santa Monica. Not like the baby kind, the business kind. I had this idea that you could use people that were popular on Pinterest to drive sales for businesses. I asked my boss if I could start reaching out to companies to ask if they wanted to utilize these influencers. He said, “Go ahead but we’re not going to pay you.” So I just started cold calling people. When it actually worked they got on board.

I honestly did not mean to start a business but it just kind of happened.

I started by myself for the first few months. I didn’t hire anybody and finally, my boss suggested I hire somebody and I thought, “I don’t know how to do that!”, I really didn’t know how to do that.

I had accounting and billing and customer service for HelloSociety, but it was all just me so it looked like I was a bigger company. I would just reach out to companies for these services and I didn’t know how to price myself because no one was doing it yet, so I had literally zero prices. Anytime somebody would say yes, I would say something higher until they wouldn’t pay it anymore.

What are the deciding factors when deciding to work with an influencer?

Number one is their audience size, so they have to have a certain number of followers and also their ability to create really good content. Professional quality photos, videos, things like that.

Describe your typical day as the CEO of HelloSociety.

Every day is different but ever since I sold the company it has changed a lot. I used to be a lot more hands-on and now 70% percent of my day is dealing with the new accounts and figuring out how to integrate that.

Has the vibe or start-up feel of the company changed at all since you were acquired by the New York Times?

No not at all, luckily.  They’re in New York and we’re in Santa Monica. I don’t think it feels different within the office; we are still totally autonomous so it still feels like a start-up. They are making the transition to digital so I think they look at us and their other acquisitions as experts in the space.

What do you base the majority of your hiring on? Personality, cover letter, experience?

Well there are a bunch of stages. I require a cover letter from everybody because I think that no matter what you are doing you should be able to write. You should be able to articulate why you want the job. You can tell a lot from somebody’s cover letter, so that is really important to me.

But it really depends on the job. For sales, I need sellers that know people. For most of the jobs I would say it’s about attitude and excitement about the position and the person’s willingness to work really hard. The fact that they’re excited about a start-up knowing it can be difficult and stressful but they’re ready to dive in and do anything.  It’s those people that are always successful.

For someone new to the industry or changing careers, what would you suggest they do to get their foot in the door at a company like Hello Society.

I think it depends again, on the position. First apply for an appropriate position. If you don’t have necessarily the relevant background but you’re applying for more of an entry level position then that’s smart.

If it’s in a totally different field and you express a lot of enthusiasm for it and you accomplished a lot in something totally different, it demonstrates your work ethic, which is also something we look for.

If you don’t have any experience in a certain field and you go straight for a Senior role just because you were Senior in another industry, that’s not the smartest approach because generally somebody needs more experience in that specific industry. You have to be able to tough it out and come in at a lower level and if you are really a Senior level person, then you’ll be able to move up relatively quickly.

What advice would you tell your younger self regarding finding a career?

I think it’s great to have a path in place but sometimes I think that people become too attached to their paths. I had no path so at least that’s what I would tell somebody else. It’s okay to let go of your path and explore opportunities.

For me I would say I wish that I had been little more serious at the beginning which I never thought I would say, but to have read business books. The minute that you find something you like, educate yourself on it because not knowing stuff, being ignorant about things, is the easiest way to mess them up.

Also, work on your public speaking skills. Everybody needs public speaking skills! It’s still not my favorite thing but once you do it, just like anything else, you get used to it.

l remember thinking about math in college like, “I’m never going to have to use this”. But something that I’ve learned is that no matter what you do for a living, if you want to keep moving up the ladder, public speaking is something you have to be able to do. You can only reach a certain point without being a good public speaker.

Was there one moment where you felt you had “made it”?

The first time I got a check in the mail. The check was for $350 for a 4-day campaign. It was the equivalent for what we would now charge $50,000 for. It was hilarious. But I had no idea about pricing myself so that seemed like a lot at the time. I remember being scared to even ask for it on the phone. When you don’t have any money, you have no concept of what a lot of money is, so they sent me a $350 check and that was my moment. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh people are going to pay me for this’.

 

What questions do you have for Kyla? You ask, she’ll answer! 

 

Interview by: Chanel DeVetter, Written by: Brittany Johnston

New Year, New Job? 3 Ways to Refresh Your Resume

refresh your resume

In 2016, 66% of employees were entertaining the idea of a new job. The results from our most recent job market survey haven’t been revealed just yet but there is a chance that that number could be the same, or higher! This means competition is tough and if you want to land the job of your dreams then you’ll definitely need a resume refresh for 2017.

Now is the time to get creative, there’s no excuse not to with an abundance of resume resources available online. The traditional resume format, with work experience bulleted and generic wording is not going to make you stand out. Employers want to see you’re up with the times since they can research candidates with the click of a button thanks to social media. But that doesn’t mean your resume should be left collecting dust.

Try a new template

Creating a resume from a Word doc is old news. Creating or buying a unique template online is the way to get your resume to stand out. Well, that in addition to a killer cover letter and amazing experience, of course.

You want your new resume template to reflect the type of work you do. If you’re an Art Director, let your creativity shine. If you’re an SEO Analyst you may want to keep things on the simpler side. Either way, a new resume template will help set you apart from the crowd.

Some of our favorite resume templates can be found on Etsy and Creative Market.

Include your side gig

A side gig is not something to be overlooked. In fact, including a side gig on your resume shows you have a passion and interest outside of work. It also shows how diverse your skill set may be. Maintaining a consistent hobby, project, or side gig outside of work requires self-discipline and drive, which are two characteristics that employers strongly value.

In today’s job market, unconventional work experience is widely accepted and sometimes even encouraged. So don’t think for a second that your non-profit, retail shop, or graphic design company won’t impact your chances of getting hired, because they absolutely will.

Keep it minimal

We know our attention spans keep getting shorter, so if you want your resume to have the optimal effect, you need to keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Our expert recruiters say resumes should be no longer than two pages and it’s even better if you can condense your resume to one page.

This means limiting your experience to only the necessary elements that apply to the specific job you’re submitting an application for. Yes, your resume should change according to each role you apply for.

In fact, hiring managers could get bored and/or overwhelmed reading through your entire professional career on your resume. For example, if you’re going for a position in Marketing you don’t want to include your summer job at a day care during college unless of course, that’s your only work experience.

Instead, you want to include your Marketing related experience, with specific examples. If you increased X number of email subscribers in X amount of time, your potential employer wants to know! The more specific you can get with your job responsibilities and accomplishments, the better.

 

Overall your resume should be minimal but not bare, relevant but not boring, and exciting but not overwhelming so you can take the New Year by storm.

 

How do you want to expand your career in 2017? Tell us in the comments!

Written by: Brittany Johnston

3 Ways to Be Heard in the Workplace

be heard in the workplace

Not everyone who is outgoing has great ideas and not everyone who has great ideas is outgoing. So what happens if you’re the latter of the two? It’s time to find creative ways to be heard at work because no matter what industry you’re in, communication is key!

If you want to thrive in the workplace you need to be able to communicate your ideas, skills, and talent in a way that is easily understood. If you’re not the best communicator this can pose a challenge. Here are three ways to earn respect and be heard in the workplace without causing a scene:

Speak up

Weekly meetings, brainstorming sessions, and in-house trainings are just a few of the opportunities you have to be heard in the workplace. There really is no better time to appropriately express yourself, than in those situations.

There are times management will depend on your ideas and feedback. They rely on you for direction just as much as you rely on them. How else are they supposed to know where you stand in your career and what you want out of the organization?

Speaking up may be uncomfortable at first but don’t give up. You may be timid and unsure of yourself but once you start you’ll be unstoppable!

Show you’re happy to help

Whether at work or in your personal life, respect needs to be mutual. If you’re not willing to support your coworkers they’ll be less likely to listen to your ideas or feedback. When you take the initiative to help around the office, even in areas that are outside of your department, your coworkers will take notice. People value those who are happy to step in and lend a helping hand when they can. The next time you have an initiative you want to bring to the table you’ll be much more likely to feel support from others.

Take a survey

If your company offers an anonymous survey or has a “suggestions box”, take advantage of those opportunities to voice your opinion. 24 Seven conducts an annual job market survey that takes the pulse of the workforce. The feedback we gain from this survey is used to advise employers on what their employees are looking for and vice versa.

The more awareness that is drawn to issues in the workplace, the more likely they are to be resolved so don’t hesitate to speak up on a survey.

How do you make yourself heard in the workplace? Tell us in the comments!

And don’t forget to be heard and take our job market survey and enter for a chance to win $500!

Written by: Brittany Johnston

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