Professional development

Three Ways to Advance Your Career In 2020

If one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to advance your career in 2020 and beyond,  consider these three (somewhat) easy tips.

Attend More Networking Events

Meeting new people is a fantastic way to create contacts and stay in touch with thought leaders in your industry. One way to meet new people is to attend industry events, like conferences, trade shows, and workshops.

Local businesses, chambers of commerce, or networking organizations like America’s Future Foundation regularly host events across the country to attract like-minded people. Utilize tools like Eventbrite or Facebook events to find new places to network in 2020.

Find a Mentor

If you want to really advance your career, having someone to advise you is incredibly useful.

Mentors can challenge you to grow, teach you new skills, and even introduce you to people in your field that can help you develop your personal and professional skills. 

Great mentors can be found at your workplace, networking events, or even in volunteer or charity organizations.

Specialize with a Master’s Degree or Graduate Certificate

Advanced degrees or graduate certificates can provide you with the tools and knowledge to advance your career along with meeting new colleagues.

Although I wouldn’t suggest getting a Master’s in marketing (unless your employer is paying for it) fields like law, education, data analysis, and accounting are especially worth it in the long run if you want to develop professionally and earn a higher income. 


Infographic Design By University of Alabama Birmingham

Readers’ Favorites of 2019

I’m so happy to present the top ten readers’ favorites from my website in 2019. My goal is to share as much as possible about my travels and how I make my remote career not only work but flourish.

Thank you for following along!

10. How to Create Passive Income Online

9. How to Develop Yourself When Your Company Won’t

8. Why Millennials Are Drawn to Multi-Level Marketing

7. How to Build a Professional Wardrobe on a Shoestring Budget

6. Ditching the 9-5: How to Find Remote Work Opportunities

5. 9-5 to CEO: How I Accidentally Started My Business…And Grew It

4. How to Make LinkedIn Connections Without Being Creepy

3. 13 Professional Habits You Should Implement

2. Dressing Well in the Workplace: How to Skip False Pretenses and Dress Like You Mean It

1. What NOT to Wear to an Interview

7 Creative Writing Apps Every Writer Needs

Whether you write for a living, for your blog, or just for regular email, it’s important to create quality content and work.

Regardless of your expertise, here are apps you need to excel as a writer.

Grammarly

Free and easy to use, Grammarly can be installed immediately on Google Chrome. Essentially, Grammarly is like your own virtual assistant for writing. This app can detect errors as you draft emails and offer suggestions for word choice, comma placement, and more. Additionally, Grammarly integrates with other project management platforms and social media.

Hemmingway Editor

Hemmingway Editor is an app that serves to help you create content that is bold and clear. It can easily be installed on your desktop and highlights even the most complex of grammatical errors in your content. 

The Brainstormer

The Brainstormer helps combat writer’s block by generating new ideas and topics to write about. With ideas regarding various topics, this app will help tap into your creative instincts with prompts to get you started, allowing thoughts to flow more naturally.

Wordbook

An easy and accessible dictionary, Wordbook allows you to search rapidly for language to use in its dictionary and thesaurus. It includes pronunciations and etymologies for increased understanding in addition to bookmarking and notetaking features to broaden your vocabulary and enrich your work.

Scrivener

An all in one solution, Scrivener allows writers across genres with long-form writing. More than a typical word processor, Scrivener includes different features like outlines and organizational tools, keyboard shortcuts, side by side editing, and much more. 

IA Writer

The perfect solution for shorter projects, IA Writer is a clean and distraction-free writing environment to focus your mind. Highlighting their plain text and total focus solution, this easy to use software serves as a word processor to allow you to focus on your craft.

MindNode

For visual learners and processors, MindNode allows you to get thoughts out with a visual representation of your ideas. If you’ve ever enjoyed mind maps in school, MindNode will enable you to take your ideas to the next level by providing a clear and cohesive structure to your thoughts.

How to Make Time for Professional Development

Making time for professional development can be a challenge, especially when we already balance work, volunteering, family time, and other activities. Learn to leverage what extra time you do have for professional development. It may just be the difference between where you are now and where your 5-year plan says you’ll be. 

Establish your goals

To make the most of professional development opportunities, it’s important to understand WHY you want to grow. Determine if you’re motivated by a career change, increased wages, or to boost your confidence. Clarifying your priorities will help provide a clear vision for your next steps.

Schedule time

Though professional development doesn’t necessarily need to be part of your daily routine, it does need to be on your calendar. You never know when you’ll be ready to look for a new job or start your own business. Put a few hours on your calendar every month, or look for networking events in advance so that you ensure you prioritize your future for when the right opportunity comes.

But nevertheless, establish a designated date, time, and place to make certain you follow through. 

Read regularly before bed

Despite reducing stress, improving cognitive performance, and increasing creativity, reading is an excellent opportunity for professional development. Books are an excellent medium to learn timeless professional principles and reading before bed will allow you to implement the most important takeaways before you enter your next workday.

Write regularly in the morning

A popular, but accurate, rule for this decade has been to create before you consume. Because we are bombarded with thousands of messages and notifications daily, creating before the noise enters allows you to generate new ideas and implement them.

Establishing this discipline first thing in the morning will allow you to enter a creative state before you consume any other information. It reinforces the information you glean throughout the week and can become a quick habit to capitalize on a new strength before the weight of your day is on you. 

Make podcasts apart of your routine

Even when life is busy, podcasts are a great way to access industry experts during your commute, time spent getting ready, or even during your exercise routine. Take some time every few weeks to research and subscribe to your favorite podcasts.

That way, as new episodes are released, you receive a notification directly instead of searching for episodes every time. The GaryVee Audio Experience, Marketing School, Tropical MBA, and Sales Gravy are some great ones to help you start.

Find a way to grow in your role at work

Sick of your job, but need a way to pay the bills? Take some ownership and see if it’s possible to grow in your role with different skill sets. Whether it’s creating processes for marketing efforts or event planning, there are ways to further your career while in your current position. Be vigilant for ways to expand and gain more responsibility.

Take an online course

Though we’d all love to go back to graduate school, realistically, student tuition continues to rise, and the value of a college education is sharply declining. Before you embark on an MBA program, look for established skills you can develop and find an online course or certificate program. Google, Udemy, Skillshare, and Coursera are excellent resources to consider. 

Find a community

Instead of attending networking event after event, choose an organization or recurring event to invest time in. Change your presuppositions about networking, and see it as a long term vehicle to foster mutually beneficial relationships instead of taking shortcuts to have a longer contact list.

Cast your net deep instead of wide by developing valuable connections you can trust. The Chamber of Commerce in your city, a BNI group, or a community like America’s Future Foundation is a great starting point. 

Ultimately, take time to refine your goals, choose one opportunity to further your professional education, and find a mentor or community to hold you accountable. Do these three things over time, and you’ll have a bright future ahead.

6 Productivity Hacks to Stop Wasting Your Time

Though many of us wish for more time in a day, we’re all given the same amount. And fortunately – or unfortunately – many of us are better at maximizing our time than others. If you’re feeling stuck and ready to get back to the grind here are some productivity tips to get your life back – and out of a Netflix rut.

Batch your time for similar tasks

Many of us still have a “to-do” list mentality, where we try to complete as many tasks on our list as we can.

“Task fatigue” can occur, however, so it’s best to group similar tasks together or group unrelated things together. So, if you have to send invoices, try to draft them at the same time you’re planning your budget. Or if you’re calling leads at work, do them all at once instead of every day for 15 minutes.

Turn off your notifications

Notifications can be distracting and divert you from bigger tasks you need to accomplish. They’ve become a substantial enough issue that even Apple CEO Tim Cook agrees. To get more time back, start turning off notifications to the apps you spend the most time on. (I’ve personally turned off all social media notifications!) Don’t be afraid to take the leap to turn off text notifications either. Be sure to limit your screen time and look into apps that help you monitor how much of your day is spent staring at electronic devices.

Try to get your primary “inbox to zero”

Though having an empty inbox may bring anxiety at first, this productivity hack may save you hours in the long haul. Schedule a few hours to do some spring cleaning and sift through your inbox for any important emails or ongoing projects that need to be saved. Then, create folders designated for important tasks.

Then, delete everything else. Make it your objective every day to have an empty inbox as you file and archive completed emails. Though it may take some time on the front end, your life will be a lot less cluttered.

Break up with Netflix

The obvious. Though we all love Netflix, track how much time you actually spend watching television. Instead of making Netflix your fall back, try to schedule times where you relax and watch TV, instead of running to it as your comfort whenever you’re stressed or procrastinating.

Use site-blocking plugins

Believe it or not, there are plenty of plugins on Google Chrome and other web browsers that will enable you to block distracting websites during specific hours. So if you’re reading articles on Buzzfeed all day, you can list distracting websites on your “blocked” list. Block Site also allows you to go into work mode!

Track your time

Plenty of project management solutions exist to keep track of your time, but you may also consider creating an excel spreadsheet or diary to track everything you do. When you really and truly do the math, it’s easy to see the holes that can be filled with more productive activities.

Know your priorities

Set firm boundaries, know your priorities, and know what you won’t commit to doing. Having a firm idea of the commitments you will honor will enable you to gauge where to spend your time to make it productive, and what to avoid.

Remember, you can always make time for what’s important to you.

And when you struggle to keep everything afloat, the right tools will make everything easier. If you struggle to know your priorities, whether you’re trying to create a blog post or structure your day, the right note-taking tools will work in your favor to make sure that everything is easier. (We spend a lot of time working hard rather than working smart and it’s time to flip it on its head!)

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