Archive | October, 2013

How to Cut Back on Distractions So You Can Be Insanely Productive

30 Oct

noiseeeee

I’ve been overdosing on coffee lately and I feel like a zombie. I look at my to-do list and I want to cry.

School… work… 354 e-mails to read… it’s disgusting.

But instead of being productive, I find myself getting distracted and overwhelmed and then I have these anxiety-induced nervous breakdowns which really don’t help me get any of my work done.

And then, post-breakdown, I just feel bad because my wonderful boyfriend has to deal with me when I’m a crazy lunatic. Which is 95% of the time these days.

So basically, today’s guest post by Kevin Gannon is exactly what I needed to read! Thank you so much Kevin! You rock! Check out today’s post to read about cutting back on distractions, so you can be a fully-functioning member of society… NOT a crazy lunatic like me. ********************************************************************************

The fantastic team over at Copyblogger recently wrote about seven bad habits of insanely productive people and it instantly made me think about how productive I had to be in college. As an English major, I was balancing lengthy papers with day-to-day homework, reading assignments, and the like, all while trying my hand at writing for the college newspaper and blogs.

Needless to say, I got a lot done, but I also found myself getting wrapped up in distractions—bad habit #5 at Copyblogger—that made some of my assignments and articles take longer to wrap up than they should have. I mean, how often do you find yourself, say, firing up Twitter or Facebook on your new smartphone or tablet only to realize you’ve been browsing for like 20 minutes? I though so.

When my distractions got to be too much, I realized I need to make a change. And after doing some research, I found that my phone could actually help. Some of this is going to seem easy, others might seem impossible, but I know firsthand that these tips will help you cut back on being distracted and, as a result, make you more prepared for the workforce.

Find the Right Organizational App 

I always found myself wasting time as I transitioned from one task to the next. But then I found Wunderlist, and I realized how easy it was to keep up with my schedule.

The app looks nice and clean, is super-simple to use, and allows you to setup alerts so that you’re reminded in case you miss something. That might seem anxiety-inducing, especially for the to-do list haters out there, but once you get used to it, you’ll never go back to your old ways. You’re going to need to be more organized once you take on a full-time job, so this is key.

Get Confident and Know Your Priorities 

As I wrote earlier, I had my hand in a lot of pots during my college years. And even though I’m satisfied with how everything turned out, I will admit that there were times when I could have better prioritized. With everyone exclaiming their accomplishments across social networks, this can lead to the form of social anxiety known as “fear of missing out.”

In other words, you’ll feel like you need to do everything everyone else is doing. No, you don’t. You need to gain the self-confidence to be proud of what you’re doing and not worry about what your bajillion Twitter followers are up to this afternoon. With that confidence comes fewer distractions, too, because you’ll be more focused on your own accomplishments. This goes in hand with…

Schedule Some “Me” Time 

When you’re in school, it’s so easy to get caught up in everything, be it your social life, school work, internship, part-time job, or all of those. But what about the time you need to yourself? Don’t be afraid to schedule some well needed “me time,” and that goes for after you graduate too.

This time should be spent completely off the grid, aka get off the web and any kind of electronic device, so you can give your brain a rest. If you’re the creative type, this is especially helpful for sparking some new ideas. In other words, take a breather.

Hopefully this helps you make the transition from college to the “real world” smoother for you. Good luck!

This is a guest post by Kevin Gannon. He is a recent college graduate with an English degree, a caffeine addiction, and a passion for online journalism.

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What to Do When You Take a Leap of Faith and Fail

15 Oct

never give up

Today’s Guest Post was written by Alison Horner. I’m thrilled that I was able to connect with her, and that she’s decided to share her story with us. Here’s a post for anyone who’s been scared to take a risk lately…Enjoy!

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It was July.  Hot.  I was sitting on a curb in DC in business casual attire during my lunch break, sweating not only from the summer sun, but also from the decision I’d been rolling over in my mind for the past few weeks.

I wanted to leave my secure paycheck to start my own business.  I wanted to do work that was meaningful and challenging and more ‘me’.

“What will you do if you fail?” my coach asked me.

“I’ll probably get a different job to fill in,” I replied.

I decided soon thereafter to take the plunge and give it a go.  I handed my boss my two week’s notice, and I tasted sweet, sweet freedom.  

Then reality set in.

I didn’t know what to do with my new workdays to be effective as a business owner.  I didn’t know how to get clients.  And I wasn’t figuring it all out fast enough.

As my savings began to dwindle, I realized I was up against the worst case scenario my coach had asked me about.  I was failing.

What’s interesting is that I didn’t wind up homeless or penniless or in any of the other dreadful fantasies our fears can create.  

Instead, I picked up my head and did what I’d previously told my coach.  

I found another job to cover my living expenses.  It was a position with some flexibility and a clear end time, both of which I hoped would provide me with the opportunity to learn how to run my business successfully.

It worked.  I eventually reached the point of once again working full-time on my business.  Only this time, I had a few years of part-time experience under my belt to inform my actions.  Instead of wondering what I ought to be doing with my days to grow my business, I had overflowing to-do lists of ideas I wanted to try and tactics I had learned.

When I look back on my younger self, the one who jumped into the unknown so hopefully and, yes, so naively, I have to shake my head and smile.  I shake my head because she was blatantly unaware of what she didn’t know.  But I smile because of her courage to take a leap, to risk failure, and to act on pursuing her dreams.  She understood that she might be making a mistake, but she was willing to try anyway, to learn, and to revise her plans as needed.

That first step of leaving an ill-fitting job in pursuit of my own business set me on a course that I never gave up on.  I stuck with my dream even when it looked like it had failed.  And while mine isn’t an immediate fairy tale success story, it is a story of success through persistence and perseverance.

So go ahead, take a risk.  

Ask yourself the questions my coach asked me.

What’s the worst that can happen?  What are you going to do if that worst case scenario happens?  

And then follow-up with the question that matters most.

What are you going to do after that?

My answer was to keep trying, and that’s what made all the difference.

Alison Elissa Horner specializes in helping people figure out their career direction. You can sign up to receive free tips on navigating your career at www.alisonelissa.com.  Alison is also currently offering a free telecourse called ‘Creating a Winning Career Plan’.  For more information and registration go to www.alisonelissa.com/creating-a-winning-career-plan/.

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Twentysomething Comparisonitis

7 Oct

thief

They say one third of people in their twenties feel depressed.

I believe it, and this is why…

It seems that the society we live in today has somehow found a way to make sure that we compare every single aspect of our lives with that of other people.

It makes me kind of nauseous just thinking about it.

In our twenties, we’re paving our path, digging through dirt, figuring out which road we’d like to go down.

We’re discovering ourselves.

We’re discovering the world.

And that’s absolutely beautiful.

But is seems that every time we manage to achieve something great in our lives, we then feel the need to compare ourselves to other people.

We compare ourselves to coworkers. We compare ourselves to celebrities. We compare ourselves to that nerd we kind of knew in high school.

And you know what? That nerd is now a senior executive at a kick-ass  job. And that nerd is  getting married. And that nerd is having a baby. And that nerd is living in an awesome apartment. And that nerd is debt-free. And we know all of this because it’s plastered all over social media.

Suddenly, all the awesome stuff we’re doing doesn’t seem to matter all that much.

What matters, instead, is the fact that we’re not senior executives at a kick-ass job. And we’re not getting married. And we’re not having babies. And we don’t live in an awesome apartment and God knows we’re not debt-free.

A.K.A… life sucks….why me?

What did I do to deserve such a lame life?

Seem familiar?

If you say you haven’t felt this way, you’re probably lying. And that’s fine, I can’t force you to admit it… but we’ve all been there.

I’ve been there.

But we need to make a conscious effort to NOT be there.

Because when we compare ourselves to other people, the only things we see are the things we don’t have. 

And that’s a shame, because we should be saving our energy to focus on much more important things.

Instead of seeing the things we DON’T have, we need to focus on what we’ve accomplished. We need to focus on the good in our lives, and we need to be thankful for every bit of it. Then, we need to focus on our goals, on our dreams, on our next steps.

Not on the goals and dreams and next steps of other people.

So as you continue making the most of your twenties, make sure that you’re doing things for the right reasons.

Make sure that you’re saying “YES” to that job because you love it!

Not because you want everyone on Facebook to know that you have a job.

Make sure you’re getting married because you love someone.

Not because you want to post a picture of your 2 carat diamond to see how many likes you can get.

Make sure you’re having a baby because you’re ready.

Not because you’re tired of staying home with your cats while all your friends have mommy/baby play dates.

Focus on yourself.

Focus on your life.

Do things not so that the world can see, but so that you can know what you’re capable of.

So you can be sure of your worth.

Of your potential.

Do things so that you can live the life you’ve always dreamt of.

So that you can be happy.

Because you deserve that happiness.

You owe yourself that much.

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