Category Archives: Career

How to have a Productive Week

how to have a productive week

Ever have a case of the Mondays?

Nothing is going your way. You just can’t seem to catch up and the thought of getting ahead is probably not going to happen until Friday. Let’s be real – this is not our week.

Well that was me most Monday mornings. I was struggling bad. I would always have these great hopes of kicking the week off with a bang, but then it wouldn’t happen.

Until I changed one thing… one simple thing.

I plan on Sunday nights.  

That’s how to have a productive week.

That’s it. Simple huh?

I take a look at my calendar on Sunday evening while J and I are relaxing in front of the TV. I keep J and I’s calendar on Google – one for my personal events and one for the family and/or J’s events.

I like to take a quick glance at the week ahead to know what I’ll be up against. If it’s a quiet week then I don’t need to do much planning, but if it’s going to be a hectic one then I typically start laying out how it’s all going to go.

Especially with it being tax season, I’m working 6 days a week and it’s really easy to get behind on stuff around the house. I like to plan out when we’re going to go to the grocery store, work on the nursery, meal planning, and what appointments I have at the office.

Meal planning has been such a huge help for J and I lately. I wrote about how we meal plan awhile back (I even have a freebie planner to download), and it’s such a great tool to have. Especially on the nights I have to work late. I can typically plan something easy to make that night and J will have it ready for when I get home.

It’s awesome!

What do you do to get ready for a busy week? I swear by planning ahead on Sunday nights and would recommend it to anyone and everyone!  This is how to plan for a productive week.

How to Rock Your Job Like a Boss

how to rock your job like a boss

With over 10 years of experience, I’ve learned how to rock your job and help you stick around for the long haul.

Between high school, college and now I’ve had a number of jobs.  Now, don’t start thinking that I’ve job hopped over the years.  That’s not true.  I typically stick at a job for well over a year, but I sometimes add 1 or 2 jobs on top of my main one.  You see, I don’t like to sit still and I like to make money.  So I’m willing to bust my butt to reach my goals, which I have to say, are mighty big!  

Over the years I’ve seen co-workers come and go.  I’ve seen bosses get agitated with some characteristics of my fellow co-workers. I’ve created a list and I want to share it below with you.  There are certain things that we all know we shouldn’t do on our job – steal, lie to our boss, procrastinate, etc.  But do we know what we should be doing?  What qualities do we need to possess to be a standout employee?  Well, I’m here to help.

I’ve always tried to put my work first.  Now, don’t get me wrong – if my family or friends really need me then I’ll be there in a heartbeat.  But I like to think that my strong work ethic at the office has helped my bosses to be more understanding when I do need to take off.  I also try to not make a habit of it.

A few years ago I was working in a small attorney’s office.  At the time, it was just the attorney and me.  Now, years later, the attorney has expanded well beyond the two-man operation from when I first started.  That has nothing to do with me, other than the fact that I was willing to help out and was honest when I couldn’t take on more.  Anyways… back to my story…

A few years ago, one of my closest friends lost someone very important to them.  Now they never asked me to attend the funeral.  They knew I was working and had school, they also knew the 6 hour round-trip car ride wasn’t going to be easy with everything else going on.  But I knew in my heart that I needed to be there.  This girl meant the world to me and she still does. So I asked my boss if I could have 1 ½ days off.  He asked why and I could tell he was thinking – this isn’t even a family member why should I give it to you.  But I said one thing that really helped – I understand this is short notice, I will work late the next few days to get caught up and I do not expect to be paid for vacation time.  He looked at me and said if it’s that important then you need to be there.  I can manage for a day without you, but be prepared to work when you get back.  So I left.  I drove 3 hours home, went to the funeral, sat by my best friend and was just present.  

At the end of the day, I drove back and showed up to work on time the next day.  I worked my tail off getting caught up and none of my work slacked in the least.  I proved that I was worth having.  But what I never admitted and was hoping that I wouldn’t have to is that I knew in that moment how valuable I was.  I knew that I was replaceable, but I also knew my friend wasn’t.  So I was willing to take that risk, but by being granted a little freedom and understanding, I was willing to prove him that I was worth keeping.  That’s what you have to do.  You have to be willing to give more than you take.

Let’s face it – employers are looking for key characteristics of a good employee.  

If you have a few qualities that’s good, majority then that’s great, but if you have all of them then you are going to be in a golden position to work your way up.  

Here’s what I’ve noticed over the past ten years as the qualities employers are craving for in their employees:

clock

SHOW UP EARLY – I understand rare mornings happen and your alarm doesn’t go off or the baby was sick and you just couldn’t get there on time, but the majority of your mornings you need to show up early.  I’m not talking an hour early, but a few minutes or so.  I know when I get to the office, I have to turn my computer on, get some water and set my purse down.  By getting there a few minutes early, I can take care of all of that without rushing around.  That way when 8:00 am hits you’re already at your desk ready to work.

STAY LATE – If the work isn’t done then be willing to stay a few minutes late.  It won’t happen every day and it will really show your employer you’re committed.  

I had a job once I loved.  It was hard and challenging, but I loved it.  My boss was great, my co-workers were wonderful and I went to work everyday loving what I was doing.  So on the rare occasion a client’s documents weren’t completed or a client needed a late appointment, I was willing to stick around.  I didn’t do it because I was hourly and liked the extra 30 minutes of pay – that wouldn’t be worth it.  I did it because I thoroughly enjoyed what I did and liked helping.  That’s how it should be.  

BE POSITIVE – No one likes Negative Nancy.  Don’t be a naysayer.  There is nothing worse than someone who complains all. the. time.  Stay upbeat and you will notice how easy it is to hit your goals or how much more willing your co-workers will be to help you out.  You never know – you’re day may actually go by faster, too!

Ask for more work – Once you’ve completed your daily, weekly or monthly tasks don’t just sit around on Facebook.  Reach out to get more.  Try to learn as much as you can because you never know when it’ll come in handy.  Plus, if you’re willing to take on more work to help out then that might cut back the nights you have to stay late.  Just a thought…

TAKE THE INITIATIVE – This quality goes with the one above it – asking for more work.  If you see something that needs to be done then do it, even if it’s not your assigned task.  It’ll keep you busy, help the office and you might just prove yourself a bit, too.  Plus, taking the initiative means not putting something off until the last minute.  There is nothing more frustrating than watching a co-worker be assigned a task to complete by the end of the month.  Here we are on the last day of the month and they are just starting the task.  Then you find out that they can’t complete their assignment because they don’t have all the pieces.  If they would have started 3 weeks ago when it was first assigned, then they would have noticed what all they needed and it could have been ordered.  

Here’s another example of taking the initiative.  I had a job once where the receptionist was suppose to clean while she had free time.  If we were extra busy one week then the cleaning would slack because she would have less free time.  So if I went to the bathroom, I would just grab the cleaner and wipe everything down when I was done.  It took less than 2 minutes and the bathroom was clean for the next person.  Plus, it really helped out the girl at the front desk who was swamped with calls and appointments.  She was instantly my best friend because I was willing to help her.  

man-person-hands-coffee-large

GO ABOVE AND BEYOND – again, show them you’re worth it.  I am a huge believer in NOT doing the bare minimum.  If I want my job to last and I want to prove that I’m irreplaceable then I am willing to take on more work, work harder than anyone else and commit to the company.  

In one job I had worked my way up to be the office manager, which meant I was writing everyone’s paycheck, balancing books, paying our payroll taxes, ordering supplies, managing and training the staff.  However, the office needed more.  The staff was behind and we needed help with drafting documents.  So instead of saying, “sorry, that’s not my job anymore.”  I figured out a way to help.  I took the smaller cases aways from the paralegals so they could spend more time on the bigger, more complicated ones.  It was hard and I was stressed some days, but being able to help out was so much more important to me.

BE WILLING TO LEARN – The first thing you have to realize in any job that you take on is that you don’t know everything.  With that in mind, you have to be open.  You have to be willing to try new ways of getting the job done and finding better solutions.

BE WILLING TO TAKE CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM – I used to be the first one to become defensive when I just felt like I was going to be criticized.  It’s a hard pill to swallow to find out that the work you did isn’t good enough or right.  It’s rough.  But to grow as a person you have to be willing to take criticism.  Now, I am NOT talking about destructive, down-right mean criticism.  I’m talking about listening and learning from someone that is willing to help you grow.  

One really standout way to take constructive criticism is by taking notes.  In the moment, I may not be thinking clear because I’m trying to still defend why I completed those actions.  So by taking notes then I can process everything on my terms.  Plus, it’ll help me the next the situation comes up because I can refer back to what was suggested to me.  It shows the boss (wo)man that you’re really invested in getting better and are willing to learn.

BE OKAY WITH GRUNT WORK – Let’s go back to the time I cleaned the bathroom to help out.  Now, it wasn’t the only time I helped clean that office nor was it the only job I had that I cleaned at.  I remember working at Office Depot my first few years in college.  I liked it for the most part, but my least favorite task was cleaning the bathrooms.  Disgusting.  But it was a task that rotated between staff members so when it was my turn, I would roll up my sleeves and do the best job I could.  

I knew that job and that task wasn’t forever.  And I also knew that I wasn’t too good to scrub a toilet.  I was not raised to think that something was beneath me, so I gave it my all.  You have to be will to scrub a few toilets (figuratively or literally speaking) to get ahead.  What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.

Startup Stock Photos

BE A TEAM PLAYER – you have to be willing to put the company’s well-being above your own.  Now I’m not suggesting you lie, cheat or steal to help the company, but what I am saying is pitching in to help out.  At my current career (I say career and not job here, because this is what I will be doing for the rest of my life) we have quotas to hit. So, as a team we help each other reach our individual quota. If I’ve hit mine then I ask who needs help and vice versa.  That’s they way it’s suppose to be.  If we each hit our quota then we win individually (a nice little bonus!), but if we help the office reach the overall goal then the office does better, which we will see a benefit from in the long-run.

Like I said earlier, you have to have some of these qualities to be successful at any job.  I used a lot of office-type jobs in my example, but I’ve done most types of jobs.  The only one I haven’t done is food.  Well, I worked at an ice cream shop and snow cone stand one summer, but that’s the closest I’ve come to food.  I’ve worked at several different types of retail stores and office jobs, but they all have one thing in common to be successful.

You can check out my other career tips here

You have to be willing to work hard, show up and get the job done.  This is how your rock your job like a boss!

My Fiverr Experiment

fiverr experiment

Fiverr. Here we go!

Ever wonder how those blogs make so much income every month?  Well I do.  I am trying hard to figure how they make affiliate income, how they are able to get guest posts opportunity and so much more!  So I am going to work really hard this year to make this blog profitable.  Now I don’t want to sell my soul and I don’t want to create so much work for myself that I end up hating blogging, but I am curious how it all works.  I’ve been spending the last month researching and reading so I can learn how it’s done.  I know I need to take baby steps and that’s my plan.

The first experiment I am going to try to start making a little more income is with Fiverr.com.  I have setup my first gig and have started promoting it across my social media.  I also have been reading other blogs about their Fiverr experience and think I am ready to see what I can get from it.

Here is what I plan to do on Fiverr:

Here’s what I can’t do (at least right now):

  • I don’t have a fancy, high-dollar budget to actually spend on promoting my gig either on Fiverr or Facebook, so I will have to wait until some income comes in before that’s a possibility
  • Be too cheesy.  I know a lot of bloggers recommend reaching out to people in your network or social media that could benefit from this, but I just can’t get myself to do that yet.

What ways are you making extra income on the side? I’d love to know!  Write a comment and share!

Talking To Your Boss About Leaving Your Job :: My Experience

leaving your job If you read my last post about knowing when it was time to leave a job then you know what decision I made.  I have been with this company for over 5 years and have worked my way up from a part-time receptionist to full-time office manager and bookkeeper and then came full circle to a full-time paralegal.  I had signs that showed me this job wasn’t the one for me, but when I realized that then I also knew it was time to talk to my boss.

It’s hard to sit down with someone that you’ve gotten to know over the past few years to have a hard discussion with.  Luckily for me, I can have a pretty open conversation with my boss and walk away feeling that it was productive.  Here’s how I went about talking to my boss about wanting to leave:

1) start the dialogue and letting him know that you want to talk.
2) be honest with how you are currently feeling.  Some may say that the workplace is not the place for feelings, but when you know someone for over 5 years and he’s seen a lot from you then it’s okay.
3) do not back down from what you want.
4) tell him the issues you are having – some may be personal and some may be the office procedures.
5) be flexible about leaving.

For me, there were some cases that we needed to finish up.  Yes, I could have left him without any help, but that wouldn’t have been very nice.  Plus, he’s been there for me in the past and the least I could do was be there.  I sat down and had this conversation about a month before wanting to leave.  That way we both had a specific date in mind and the chance to wind up some cases.

It’s never easy to start a new chapter in your life, but sometimes it’s a necessity.  Do not let being miserable at your job make you an unhappy person.  Life is too short to be angry and sad.  Only you have the ability to make change happen.

If you dream of having a different life or a different career then realize that you might be standing in our own way.  I had so many supportive people around me telling me it was okay to make a switch, but I had to finally believe it to make it happen.

Signs It’s Time For A New Job :: My Experience

signs it's time for a new job The end of the year has come and I can finally make a big announcement that I’ve been keeping from you.  The title probably gave it away, but I have decided that I want to change jobs.  It’s been a long time coming and a pretty hard decision.  I don’t love my job, but I am absolutely crazy about the people I work with.  It makes it so hard when you dread going into the office each morning, but know that you are making a difference with the people you work for.
signs it's time for a new job What happens when you think you are ready for a career change?  There has to be some signs that lead you along your way, right?  Well, I had a few signs it’s time for a new job:

1) I dreaded going into the office.  I am never one to dread talking to people and helping people.  So when I started to hate it, I knew I was in the wrong field.

2) It’s not where I saw myself in 5 years or even 1 one year from now.

3) I want to own a business some day and there was no potential for me to own a part this one.

4) I was tired of complaining.

A few simple and direct signs is all it took, well that and about 3 months.  The next step was talking to my boss.  I’ll go more into that in another post.

Image via behappy

10 Tips To Start Your Day Off Right

ImageChef Word Mosaic - ImageChef.com

I love advice from others, but sometimes you just have to learn things the hard way.  Most of the time when it comes to sleeping, or not sleeping enough, you come across ideas that tend to stick out.  At this point in my life with everything I am striving for, such as working hard to start a career, having this lovely blog that I post on, being married, loving two dogs unconditionally, and having a passion for DIY projects it’s hard to get enough sleep.

But the biggest tip I ever received was never to get more sleep, but it was to start your day off right.  So, here are my 10 tips to start your day off right:

1) wait to check your email
2) give yourself time to decompress in the morning
3) plan the night before – what is the biggest thing you have to get done tomorrow?
4) know what you are going to wear before you get out of bed
5) pack your lunch the night before – saves money and stress of having to do it before you leave
6) eat breakfast
7) take care of urgent tasks as soon as you get to the office
8) pick 3 things to get done for the day whether it be work related or personal – what will you be the most upset with if it doesn’t get done?
9) say good morning to your coworkers – it won’t kill you to be nice and it might be recipricated
10) leave in plenty of time to get to work on time

Cheers!

Learning to Deal With Others

 

dealing with others I like to think of myself as a pretty easy going, likeable person that can see the good in just about everyone and every situation.  And most of the time… I really am like this, it’s no lie.  However, there are people and moments in my life that catch me off guard or rub the wrong way.  Usually my eyes are a dead giveaway to these type of people and moments.  You know, the deer in headlights gaze that is undeniable.  My eyes cannot tell a lie, no matter how hard I try.

I usually ask myself “is it even worth getting along with this person?  Will they even be in my life in the next few months or years?”  Most of the time I think the answer is “NO”.  But as I get older I realize the value of relationships and connections.  Just because there are some people in the world that you do not get along with does not mean you need to instantly alienate them.  You never know when you might need their help.

Now it’s about learning how to cope with people that I do not like.  Putting on that smile and grinning to make it through the moment I have to share with them.

Getting older does have some benefits, but I sure do miss the days on the playground when you could ignore the mean girl on the jungle gym.

Cheers!

What I Would Do Differently As A College Student

In college you have friends, professors, advisors and mentors that you follow and look up to.  With all of that help and guidance it’s hard to say that you ‘missed’ anything.  But for me there a few things that I wish I could have done differently.  Now that I am older and maybe a little wiser I would like to pass down that infinite wisdom to other college students.  I wrote a letter to incoming freshmen a few months ago, but there are always new areas to learn from.

First, take more pictures.  Back in my day I didn’t start college off with some fancy iPhone that could snap video and pictures with a click of a button.  Nope, I had to carry around a digital camera in my clutch.  Sometimes that oversized wristlet did not go with my outfit and I wasn’t about to leave my ID, money or phone at home so the camera was left behind.  Man, if I could go back to some of my favorite memories and just have a camera in my hands – that would be awesome!  I would love to have documentation of those crazy, awesome, never happening again moments.  Mainly for proof that it actually happened and then secondly so that I don’t forget 30 years from now.

Second, intern more.  I had one real intern throughout college.  It was for a local advertising firm.  I liked it just fine.  It was not what I dreamed of, which is probably why I am not pursuing advertising today.  I learned the hard way, real fast about office politics and why Ms. Big Client’s kid got all of the good assignments even though they were a complete screw up and had no idea what responsibility was.  While I sat at the front desk answering calls and designing the boss’ personal Christmas party invite.

If I could go back, I would have found an internship each semester to do and possibly a second one during the summer months.  I would have not worked so much at a job I no longer have so that I could have experienced more in fields I was interested in.  I could have built my resume to be pretty strong and made a lot of connections in the real world.

That’s it.  Two simple pieces of advice for today’s college students.  Read it, learn it, and then go do it.  Don’t regret your actions so that you can not move forward, but simply learn from others so that you can better yourself.

Cheers!

Faking It

faking it

Does faking it work?

It’s no lie that there are days that I just do not have my stuff together, like the other day.  I wake up late or I just cannot seem to wake up.  I have zero motivation to get things done.  It happens to us all, well at least that is what I’m telling myself – days like these happen to everyone, not just me.  But when you are trying to start a career these days need to be rare.

How do you get over the blah feeling?  Fake it.  When you leave the house and step into the workplace, you leave that blah feeling at the door.  You plaster a smile on your face and carry a notepad with you so you do not forget anything in the fog.

I know faking it will not always get you to the place you want to be in your career or will it completely erase that blah feeling.

Take lots and lots of notes.

 I have always loved to-do lists, even at a young age.  So, on the days that you just aren’t feeling it carry around a notepad.  That way you are prepared when your boss calls you into his office to give you a jumbled to-do list that deals with 8 separate clients and a few administrative tasks sprinkled in.  Make details so when you come back to the office the next day your notes make sense and you can remember what you are suppose to be doing.

Wake up early.

If you are like me and like to hit your snooze a few times, then set your alarm earlier.  That way when you finally roll out of bed you will still have time to wake up, get your bearings, and not be rushed.  I feel fierce the mornings that I take time putting makeup on, picking out an outfit and finding jewelry to wear.  I know the days that I leave the house fully dressed I feel good about myself and I rock it at work.

Wait until you get to work to check e-mails.

I get distracted when the first thing I do in the morning is grab my  phone to check  e-mails.  That is the worst mistake I can do.  An e-mail  can get me all worked up then I spend too much time thinking about it and not enough time getting out of bed.  I have started waiting until the workday has began to check e-mails and it has made a difference.

Let’s be honest, my work does not care one bit if I am “out of it,” the clients do not understand when I say that my head is just not in it .  That screams I am unprofessional.  So, faking it the days that you need just a little push will help.

Cheers!

Quarter Life Opportunity

Quarter Life Opportunity

Ever read something that just hits you like a ton of bricks?  And you’re left standing (or in my case sitting) there like “wow, that is so me.”  That happened to me the other day when I ran across fellow blogger Cat’s article in the Huffington Post called “Quarter Life Crisis or Quarter Life Opportunity.”

I have been following Catsince she started, but those days I had another blog and was pretty quiet on the blogosphere.  I’ve seen her grow into this great blogger with great posts and this article is no different.

I have been saying for years (well at least the past 2) that I am going through a Quarter Life Crisis.  I do not know which way my life is going to turn, I am panicked that I do not have a “career” yet, and I do not own a home.  My “crisis” hit on my 25th birthday, I went out with my best friend and got rip roaring drunk.  I woke up with not only a headache, but also a knot on my forehead.  I only remember bits and pieces of the night including the start, the middle and a random 40+ year old lady telling me that she’s been clubbing for over 20 years.

Since that night, I have worked to find a purpose in my life.  I did not want to be someone who had been clubbing for 20+ years, and as a girl that hardly went out in my early twenties I highly doubted it, but still – it was scary folks!  I am lucky that I found someone to share my life with, someone that deals with my panic moments of being an adult with no career who thinks that defines my purpose.

I work hard, I do.  I am willing to be the first one in the door and the last one out.  I am willing to take all the responsibility that I can for my workplace.  I take calls from angry clients that do not understand something, I make the hard calls that need to be made, I get more stuff done in an 8-hour period compared to majority of people I know; however, it does not feel like a career.  I am not where I wanted or more importantly, where I thought I would be by my late twenties.

However, I need to stop looking at it as a “crisis.”  The position I am in is good.  I am still young, I do not have small children to feed or shelter, just two furry dogs that I think are my children.  I am educated and love school so the idea of furthering my education always makes me happy.  I have family and a fiance that will support me.  I love all aspects of business and being creative, so the window is wide open for me to pursue a plethora of options.

Why do we, as mid to late twenty-somethings think that we are not living up to our potential when our lives are not what we dreamed when we were 12?  This, my friends, is not a bad thing.  It’s an opportunity to create the life that we want, even if you are like me and are not sure what that life looks like.

There is not one job or one career out there that will satisfy every aspect of what makes me happy.  Maybe that is what the world is evolving into, individuals with multiple jobs and not the typical 8-5, Monday through Friday.  Perhaps our generation will be much more fulfilled than the previous generation.  Our generation will be able to have a healthy balance between family, work, and play because we will design the jobs that we WANT to work around the life that we WANT to live.

I know that when I go to work each day and feel that I have a made a difference, am happy with my overall performance, and have moderate amounts of stress (because I am weird and like some stress) then I know that I will have found my calling.  Until that moment, I will continue working hard at my 9-5, designing prints for my beloved Etsy shop, and creating for this little blog of mine.

Cheers to the opportunity that is in front of us!