Professional development

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.

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