2014, Let’s Review Shall We?

1. I started a blog about something I’ve always enjoyed (personal development). I guess this is my blog-iversary? Have a glass of champagne on me!

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2. I worked on the World Cup!

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3. Traveled to Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Florida visiting friends and family.

4. Visited San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Connecticut for work.

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5.  I started a new gig.

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6. Moved back south. Happy to be reunited with some of my favorite people (and foods!)

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7. Figured out how to insert GIF’s into the post…watch out, 2015.

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And most importantly, thanks for reading! I love sharing this little slice of the internet with you all. Cheers! 

Do It Tomorrow

Over the past few months I’ve been trying and implementing the ‘do it tomorrow’ time management technique. I first read about this time management tip from Mark Forster. If you work in an environment where email comes in 24-7 (which is probably most of us) this time management tip may help you when it comes to prioritizing emails throughout the day. It will also help you get more done as a whole. An added benefit is only having the prior day’s emails in your inbox!

The ‘do it tomorrow’ technique has been so effective for me that I don’t think I’ll ever go back to how I used to manage my email. In fact, I’m able to get more done in less time (i.e., more efficiently) which allows me to make progress on larger projects and deadlines that normally wouldn’t get my attention until the last minute. Here are some things I’ve learned from ‘doing it tomorrow.’

  • Not urgent email can be a serious time waster. I quickly realized that I used to spend a lot of time answering emails that were neither 1) urgent nor 2) important. By answering these emails immediately I was often putting off doing more important things that were timely. The net effect was getting to the end of the day and having to spend hours outside of the office working on the important things because not-so-important things occupied my day.
  • My email inbox was overwhelming. Because I didn’t have a way to fully manage my inbox the sight of so many emails was virtually (pun intended) overwhelming. The ‘do it tomorrow’ technique allows for me to have a set amount of emails to work through. I usually get through them before the day is done which allows me to move more important projects forward little by little.
  • This actually made me faster in replying overall. When an email wasn’t urgent I would leave it until the next day. If it hadn’t been answered I would follow-up within a 24 hour period when everything was still fresh on everyone’s minds. In the past, an un-answered email usually goes to the bottom of the pile never to be heard from again until someone resurrects it.
  • I had email clutter. I would hold onto emails other people hadn’t replied to in the hopes that I would be able to follow-up at a later point in time but that responsibility became overwhelming.  At a certain point you have to trust that other people will also read their emails and that the project will get done.
  • This method can be life changing. My email inbox is suddenly manageable and I never have more than the prior day’s emails in there. After years of hundreds and thousands (no, unfortunately I’m not joking) of emails still in my inbox it feels good to have some control over it all.

So how does it work?

First, if you are starting today, move everything in your inbox to a ‘backlog’ folder. You will work through this day by day until it’s all gone. Starting today, as emails come in do the following:

  • If they are urgent: Answer them!
    • Note: You’ll usually know if an email is urgent. I consider an email urgent if someone else can’t do their job until they have a response from me, if an email comes from someone above me (boss or otherwise) on my team, or if it’s live TV and something’s wrong right now. Your situation may differ. 
  • If they are not urgent: Keep them in your inbox until tomorrow

That’s it. Tomorrow when you come in, you will have a set amount of emails to go through. The key is to finish each one. Respond or take action as necessary. Then, clear out those emails. Continue to work through the above process for the emails that come in as well. Next day: repeat.

When you finish going through the emails and have extra time (which you will) then you can start working through the backlog of emails until it is gone.

What to do with phone calls or in-person interruptions? Here’s how I’ve handled them. If it’s a phone call I normally know that it’s urgent so I answer and take care of the issue. If it’s a voicemail that’s urgent I take action. If it’s not, I’ll respond the next day. If someone has come to my desk in person then they will get my full attention mostly because I like interacting with people but also because it’s probably urgent.

The moral of this review is that if you work in an environment where there are  urgent issues and if your email inbox is overflowing than the ‘do it tomorrow’ time management technique may really make an impact on your day and your sanity. I encourage you to try it out and share your feedback below.

My Favorite Work Bags

Even though this blog is about personal and self-development, I thought I’d start sharing some things that have to do with business but which would classify as ‘style.’ Over the years I’ve found a number of things that have helped me and I wanted to share them with all of you.

First up: work bags.  My requirements for travel and work bags are that they must be functional, stylish and be able to carry my 13″ work laptop. I’ve found two bags that I’ve rotated throughout the past two years. Both of these bags are nylon. Before you write off nylon in favor of leather or some other material, let me explain why I like nylon: rain, snow, dirt…everything wipes right off. I’m never worried that I’m going to ruin a bag and they still look like new after years of owning them.

Kate Spade Calista Laptop BagThis bag looks amazing. I’ve gotten so many compliments on it. My only complaint is that I can only carry my laptop and perhaps a few papers. This bag is simple but elegant.

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Lo & Sons OMG BagI absolutely love this bag. I use this more on a day to day. I also use it on quick trips as it’s an overnight bag that also fits shoes and clothes (in addition to fitting on top of an overnight roller bag.) I got a dark brown color (which doesn’t seem to be currently available), but I do kind of wish I had gotten a brighter (read: more fun!) color.

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Both of these bags are pretty pricey. For the Kate Spade bag, I waited until an online sample sale and was able to get it for around $150 and free shipping.  For Lo & Sons, I waited for a coupon code and bought it for around $215 with free shipping. Both these bags are worth the price and the cost per use goes down dramatically as I use either one every single day.

 

Should You Get an MBA?

I stumbled upon the HBR blog post titled Should You Get an MBA from earlier today. The article has some good points that you can take into account if you are considering your MBA. I thought I’d list out some additional considerations and notes now that I’ve not only graduated from business school but have been in the workforce for a couple of years.

Get your MBA if…

  • You want to learn the basics of business. An MBA won’t teach you about how business is done in any specific company but an MBA will expose you to the basics of business: economics, corporate finance, marketing, leadership, etc. In most MBA programs the first year will be dedicated to your ‘core’ where you will be required to take classes from a cross-section of business fundamentals. If you are looking to make a career change and build a foundation this is a good place to do so.
  • Your company will pay for it! If your company offers education reimbursement for an advanced degree and if you think it will help advance your career then in my opinion there is no reason not to get your MBA. If you are able to dedicate the necessary time to your studies while handling a full-time job then this is a fantastic way to get your MBA while still bringing in a salary.
  • You want to grow your network. One of the best reasons to get an MBA is to grow your network with other people pursuing their MBA. The truth is that you will only spend two years together, but often your MBA network will spread far and wide throughout not only the country but also the world. As you grow in your own career it’s not unusual for your paths to cross with former classmates. In addition, you can take advantage of alumni networks both while you are in school and after you become an alum.
  • It’s required for a job or position that you eventually want. Often, most high level jobs will require some sort of advanced degree. As more and more people obtain their undergraduate degrees one way to stand out is to obtain your MBA.
  • You are looking for a career change. If you have decided to make a career change an MBA is an excellent way to bridge the gap. Often, this means going from non-profit to for-profit. But sometimes, it can mean going from marketing to finance or vice-versa. An MBA allows you to obtain an MBA internship in your area of choice and then (hopefully)_ enter at an MBA-level job in your industry of choice.

Now that we’ve talked about what an MBA can do for your career, let’s talk about why not to get an MBA:

Do not get an MBA if…

  • You think you need it to start a company. You don’t need an MBA to start a company. You probably have everything you already need, most importantly, your brain and creativity. If you want to get an MBA in entrepreneurship there are certain programs that will help you focus on that (including giving you resources, practice and guidance). In general, however, you don’t need an MBA to start a company.
  • You’re not sure why you are getting it: One of the largest things I notice when people are debating whether or not to go to grad school in general and for an MBA in particular is that it’s sometimes the default decision. It may be that your job has become less engaging or that you are are coming right out of college and aren’t sure if you should work or go straight through to grad school. No matter what you decide you must actually make a decision to get your MBA. It shouldn’t be something you do ‘just because.’ You should be able to articulate why you are getting the degree and how you would like for it to help you in the future. This advice doesn’t just go for MBA’s but for all graduate degrees.
  • You think you will graduate with a guaranteed six-figure job. Lots of people do graduate from business school with six figure jobs and an offer after their summer internship. But not all. If you have less career experience or are thinking about a career outside of traditional CPGs, consulting or finance firms then it’s likely that your journey may turn out differently.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it’s good to be aware of the stereotypes and how they play out in reality.

No matter what you decide, whether or not to go to graduate school and get your MBA is an incredibly personal decision. When I went to business school at Kenan-Flager, I was so impressed by the variety of people’s backgrounds and their desire to use their MBA’s in different ways. I wanted to continue to work in the sports industry but others wanted to make career changes or provide business leadership in non-profits, VC’s, or other industries. The opportunities with an MBA really are limitless.

Do you have any additional questions about obtaining your MBA? Leave them below! 

From The Web: 10 Highest Paying Work From Home Jobs

Nowadays, it’s not unusual for people to make a living working from home. While I’ve always enjoyed working for large brands and companies, there have been times when I’ve needed to make money between internships and before starting jobs. The occasional odd-job from home is nothing compared to building a career working out of your house.

The below infographic shows you ten careers that you could establish primarily while working from home. If you’re interested in flexibility of location while maintaining stability in your career take a look at the below career options. This infographic was originally shown on The Daily Muse.

10 Highest Paying Jobs from Home

 

Happy Labor Day

Labor Day Today is Labor Day. To many, that means the end of summer or the beginning of a school year. If you are lucky today is also a day off! Curious as to why we celebrate Labor Day? Time has a good summary here.

No matter what your Labor Day has in store, I hope you enjoy it. For me, Labor Day marks the end of my month-long hiatus from writing. I’ll be back with more articles this month. Here’s to getting back into the swing of things.

 

From the Web: Time Management eBook

I stumbled upon an eBook titled Time Management for Creative People.  I enjoyed it so much I wanted to share in the hope that it will help many people in their careers and life. In many jobs there are things that need to get done and things that are important (innovation, development, brainstorming) but which are not urgent and therefore, may never get done.

This eBook gives advice on how to handle that never ending inbox and how to slowly but surely make progress on those goals and items that never seem to be completed. Here are some top line items I took away from the book (and you can bet I’ll be implementing them tomorrow!):

Do it tomorrow: Not everything that comes across our desk is urgent. Sure, some of it is (especially if it comes from a boss or has a deadline of today) but for most everything else you can “do it tomorrow.” Your list for tomorrow becomes a set of emails and phone calls that you must return. Once you go through that list you are free to get to those creative items that never get done. There’s a sense of calm that comes from knowing the finite amount of work you need to get through (pending any other interruptions and/or urgent matters).

Clear out the inbox: For a lot of people (myself included), a full inbox can be overwhelming. Mark Forster suggests creating a “Backlog” folder and slowly chipping away at the email day by day until it’s all gone. The key is to schedule time to get through it all.

Set larger goals and schedule them at the right times: What are the items that you would like to work on but are never able to get to? Whatever these are, block time out for it during your most creative time of day. This is the time of day when you are most alert and when you can really devote your focus to creative tasks.

Find a way to capture your to-dos: Make sure you have a few ways to capture all of the to-dos. They could be writing them out in the office or on a note in your phone when you are on the go. After capturing to-dos make sure to review them (daily and weekly) and schedule time to work on them as needed.

Lots of insight in this short (~30 pages) eBook. I highly recommend browsing through it if you are looking for some tips on how to manage your time or become more effective on a day to day basis.

 

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