Professional development

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.

The Power of the Professional Headshot

Presentation is everything, especially online. And you cannot build your brand without a professional headshot.

Unfortunately, many people think they can get away with using an image taken by an amateur, or even a poorly lit “selfie,” only to find out later that nobody trusts a professional who can’t – or simply won’t – take themselves seriously. In the end, you’re better off going to a professional photographer for help.

So when weighing the pros and cons of going with a professional photographer for your headshot, it’s important to keep these factors in mind, especially if your goal is to create an online brand that speaks for itself. 

Making a Great First Impression

Back in the day, word of mouth was everyone’s favorite marketing strategy. Ads, as a matter of fact, seldom spoke about the men and women providing a certain service as the product did all the talking. But with the introduction of the internet in our daily lives, service providers themselves became the product.

While today, word of mouth is still important, people want to see who they are dealing with before making a final decision. And when the time to choose comes, they pick someone who inspires true confidence.

When shopping for a professional photographer for your headshot, keep in mind that your image is, for the most part, how potential clients will see you. And unless you want to leave a bad first impression, investing in a professional headshot will make or break your career.

Good Photography Highlights the Best in You

Good photography is not only about proper lighting and finding the best angle. A professional photographer can help to communicate what we can’t say with words by bringing out the best in us. (They also should be able to point you to a seasoned hair and makeup artist or a stylist if you really want to go the extra mile with your photos!)

Instead of simply snapping a photograph, a pro will be able to guide you so that you may convey the confidence, professionalism, and warmth you want to communicate.  

Without this, clients may not believe what you say about your own accomplishments. 

Stand Out in the Crowd

When you use a professional headshot for your online portfolio, you let prospective clients have a better idea of who you are.

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. And it is precisely because it speaks volumes that you want to use a professional photographer who can capture your personality with ease.

Furthermore, you want your headshot to be authentically you so anyone who sees it will be able to identify you in a crowd!

By familiarizing potential clients with how you look, you also make them more likely to trust you. 

In a world that is saturated with professionals competing for the same clientele online, having a good following on social media isn’t enough, but having an exceptional headshot will get you where you need to go.

Boost Your Morale (And Your Pocketbook)

Adding a personal touch to your professional website isn’t just about adding an image that speaks to your audience, it’s also about feeling good about yourself!

When we boost our self-confidence, we also feel more likely to take on more challenges.

And while headshots are key in building a prosperous career online, they serve an additional role: to make us feel confident in ourselves. 

I had my latest headshots taken by Meagan Gilbert Photography and my hair and makeup done by Ashley Troxel, Professional Makeup Artist. I am beyond happy with their work and fully recommend them for professional headshots and all your photography or styling needs!

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

Digital nomads use telecommunications technologies to earn a living. I’ve been working remotely since 2016 and have been a digital nomad since July 2018. I often work remotely from countries other than the United States, coffee shops, public libraries, and sometimes co-working spaces.

It’s starting to become the newfound “millennial dream,” but without hard work, it can be difficult to make it a reality. The daily grind, cultural norms, and rising student debt can also get in the way. Though landing a remote position may seem daunting, nearly 38 percent of workers will be able to work remotely in some capacity over the next decade, according to Remote.co.

Here are some easy ways to get started researching opportunities regardless of your background to begin settling into remote work.

Earn your way there with your current company

Though it may seem impossible to earn remote status with your employer, step out of the lens in which you view your position and ask yourself: “Is it possible to work remotely within my current role? Does anyone else at my company do this?”

Even if only one person works remotely, you may have the leverage to begin initiating conversations with your employer if you’ve paid your dues.

Though it may seem to be a risk, if you’ve been loyal to your company, nothing is impossible. Though it may mean moving to a different position or leveraging odd hours, be open to discussing new possibilities.

Pick up clients as a freelancer

If you’re interested in this workstyle but are unsure if working remotely may be the right lifestyle for you, consider taking on several clients as a freelancer, initially.

This way you can begin to establish work rhythms that will benefit you if and when you do make the decision to transition into remote work.

If you have a skill like graphic design or photography where you could grow your client base, consider starting your own small business.

Look for startups on websites like Angie’s List and note the companies

There are websites that can guide you on your search to finding the right remote positions, just like Angie’s List. Many tech companies offer remote opportunities directly from this website. As you search for positions online, Google also offers “work from home” as a filter as you aspire to search for positions as well.

Consider making a spreadsheet of all the companies you find that have these opportunities, and connect with hiring managers on LinkedIn. Though there may not be a position you qualify for immediately, begin scoping out companies you would like to work for and continue to check back for the right opportunity.

Look into creative circles

Creative Mornings and Creative Circle are great resources as you continue the search to help you land remote work, in addition to networking with like-minded digital nomads.

Co-working spaces are another creative outlet to network and collaborate with other entrepreneurs. Seek out any opportunity to cultivate relationships with people who currently work remotely and aspire to learn from them.

Take on multiple jobs and passions

Though some may find certain jobs unappealing, a compromise to obtain a remote lifestyle may mean sacrificing your full-time salary, in exchange for a lower paying job.

Therefore, taking on multiple passions – like your remote position that gives you work flexibility in addition to another revenue stream – may make this lifestyle possible for you a bit sooner. Explore different options and combine the passions that generate revenue.

Go all in! 

Even if you hate your job, remember that no one is forcing you to work there. Be thankful for the income, development, and stability your company provides no matter your frustrations.

But when the time comes, don’t be afraid to take the leap and go all in to embrace remote work.

Making Your LinkedIn Connections Matter

In some respects, LinkedIn can make or break you in terms of networking and applying for jobs. Recruiters and peers will spend time looking at your profile if you’ve taken the time to create it, so it’s important to make your online impression just as great as in person.

As you continue to take your networking online, here are the do’s and don’ts to make your connections really count.

Do respond to connections quickly

Just as it is appropriate to respond to emails, phone calls, and even text messages within 24 hours, LinkedIn is another communication channel to add to your stream. Ensure you respond within two business days as contacts reach out.

Don’t ignore requests because you don’t know the person

Though it may seem creepy, on LinkedIn it is perfectly normal for different connections to add you. Whether it’s a recruiter, a potential employer, or just a person who wants to network with you, see if the connection will be mutually beneficial before you disregard it.

Do update your headshot

Keep your headshot clean and professional. Don’t include other people or pets in this photo, and ensure your photo reflects the way you want to be seen in the workplace. Again, your headshot is one of the first online impressions you’ll make.

Don’t confuse your Facebook audience with LinkedIn

Respond to connection requests as soon as possible, and add contacts as you meet them.

Unlike Facebook, it’s socially acceptable to add someone on LinkedIn immediately after meeting them. Think of it as the follow-up email you would send after a networking event. Furthermore, recognize that the content you post on LinkedIn should look different than on Facebook. Keep your LinkedIn profile professional and focused on your career aspirations – not your family photos or dinner recipes.

Do personalize your connection requests

Instead of adding connections at random or sending generic messages, do include a brief personalized note when connecting. Include how you met or any mutual connections, common groups or interests, or any other information that can bridge the gap so you can actually build your network instead of having miscellaneous connections that don’t really know you.

Don’t spam your connections

Even though LinkedIn is a professional network, no one appreciates messages that sell to them. Though connecting and networking are important, be tactful. Invest in relationships first.

Do endorse your connections

If you recognize that someone you are connected to possesses certain skills, always endorse them. Likely, they’ll return the favor. You never know when an endorsement could lead to another position.

Don’t ignore opportunities that may arise

Even if you’re content in your career, you never know when your company may go under, the economy may turn, or when you desire to grow beyond your current position. Be open to potential opportunities that seem promising, and don’t limit yourself from going through the process.

Remember, you are in the driver’s seat and have the upper hand to say, “No, thank you.” Don’t discount the potential you may encounter. It may just be your next big break.

Instagram

  • "You should dye your hair."⠀
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"I hear Americans get drugged."⠀
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"Are there terrorists?"⠀
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I've stayed in a lot of places that are considered "dangerous" and these are the comments/questions I get the most. ⠀
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My response is always the same.⠀
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Altering my appearance to "blend in" is silly and not all parts of Central & South America or the Middle East are dangerous. In Israel, you're going to see soldiers with machine guns in public places. Expect to see the same in most of Latin America outside of resorts. ⠀
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If you're looking for trouble you're bound to find it, regardless of location. (And as a writer who covers oppressive/corrupt governments, I know I'm not always going to be the most welcome wherever I go.)⠀
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But, I choose not to live in fear. ⠀
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(#TBT to these crystal clear waters in the Dominican Republic)
  • Drunk or just drunk in love?? 🥂😅🧐
  • With #BlackFriday quickly approaching, be cautious about ads featuring "cheap flights" or "great vacation deals." If something seems too good to be true, it usually is. ⠀
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If you're looking to book your 2020 travel soon, have an idea of standard ticket prices as you search. ⠀
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For example, I’m not impressed by round trips to New York from Europe for $500+ when I know that I can probably find something cheaper from Chicago without having to use my flight points or spend the time to get from Indianapolis to NYC.⠀
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The way I see it, round trips from the Midwest to major cities in Europe like London, Paris, or Zurich are reasonable if priced $400-$600. It’s an incredible deal if you can find a round trip like this for $400 or less.⠀
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One ways to Europe from New York are reasonable for $200-$300 but are especially good deals if you can get them for $200 or less.⠀
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And any flight from the Midwest or East Coast to Asia for $1,000 or less is always a great deal IF they are nonstop or have one short layover.⠀
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Read more about how I buy cheap plane tickets #ontheblog ⠀
(Oh and I booked Colombia 🇨🇴 Send your recommendations my way!)
  • Hey, @kylepierce17 can we just get married next weekend? I’ll see what our priest has going on. #307DaysToGo 😆
  • #TenYearChallenge (Closer to 9 years apart, though.) Same hair cut, same desire to wear all black, SAME PIECE OF HAIR THAT STICKS TO THE SIDE!, better eyebrows! 🤔🤣
  • An honest review of camel milk: the series. 🐫 SWIPE 😂
  • I went with a bare face to TWO meetings this morning?! I’ve always struggled with my skin and finding a good dermatologist, skincare from @the_lassi_indpls, and @michianamicroblading have been instrumental in taking care of acne and scarring from my teenage years + thin and frail brows. Plus moisturizing. And drinking water. And washing my hands before I touch my face. And wearing sunscreen. #AsSheIs
  • One of the biggest reasons why Americans don’t travel abroad – other than not having a passport – is the cost of airfare. Rising taxes, hidden fees, and baggage add-ons don’t help, but if you can manage to travel only with a carryon and during the offseason, then it IS possible to travel frugally. ⠀
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My roundtrip from Cincinnati to Iceland? $300⠀
Chicago to Paris? Close to $350⠀
One way from JFK to London? $290 ⠀
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I don’t usually travel outside of the U.S. during Q4 (because it’s expensive) but I’ve got Colombia, Peru, Iceland again, and wherever we decide to go on our honeymoon on my list for 2020. I’ve written a list of the biggest ways I save money on plane tickets #ontheblog. ⠀
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Where do you want to go in 2020?
  • *me, looking to find something witty to say about the time change; really it’s all a racket by the federal government*🇨🇭photo taken during my trip to Switzerland this past spring with an overpriced latte
  • Damn what a month. 4+ AIER titles on Amazon, wedding planning in full swing, clients served, and my article reprinted by @entrepreneur!? Like what!? 😳 
You CAN turn your passion into your dream career. It’s not easy but the adventure is worth it. ❤️ Read the full article at the #linkinbio
  • Five years ago & a lifetime to go. #PerfectlyPierce ❤️
  • Wishing I had more photos of me with camels so I could post one every hump day (Wednesday.) This fella loves Kit Kat bars, giving kisses (he had some nasty breath tho 🤢), AND he sports a nose ring.

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