Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Make productivity great again

Do you ever find yourself facing a mountain of things to do at home without knowing where to start? What about having hundreds of unopened emails in your inbox? If you’re nodding your head, don’t worry – I’ve been there too.

If you need a hand tackling your to-dos, I’d like to share a few learnings from a fantastic resource – a book called Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen. Getting Things Done provides a paradigm-shifting way to think about your work, your tasks and your deadlines. The takeaways from the book are helpful for not only being organized at work, but at home too.

GTD e book photoI was first introduced to the book and its methods in a training session at work. I was pleased to learn that some of the practices were already part of my daily time and task management routine. Since, I’ve read the book and I’m more aware of how the principles positively influence my productivity, and I’ve improved how I use them.

Both life and work can throw a seemingly-endless stream of stimuli at you every day. Take your email inbox as an example. Emails can be nerve-wracking because each one varies in the level of engagement required from you. They can demand an answer to a question, include a message that you’re CC’d on only for reference, provide a document or presentation that requires your detailed review, share details for a new project, or even alert you to a crisis. This can be overwhelming without a system that enables you to filter them based on importance, urgency and priority, and then apply your attention appropriately.

The system that can help – with both email, and everything else you need to do – is the Getting Things Done methodology.

This methodology is the key to productivity. It makes you appropriately engaged with the tasks at hand so that they can be managed effectively by understanding the one next step that you need to do. This doesn’t mean that every item on your plate is completed immediately, but instead, you take the right step that ensures you’ll get those things done when they need to be. At the same time, you get them off the laundry list of to-dos that are running through your head.

Why is it important to free up space in your mind by relying on a system, rather than your brain power, to manage your daily to-dos? You can gain a feeling of control and focus your attention where you need it. This will provide the mental capacity to be creative, solve complex challenges, think of new ideas, and focus on being stress-free.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

The philosophy behind Getting Things Done is summed up nicely in the following quote:

“If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.” – David Allen

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how the Getting Things Done system works. The below Workflow Map demonstrates how random inputs are filtered as actionable or not actionable, and the possible steps you can take based on context, time available and resources.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

What are some of my Getting Things Done habits? I boost my productivity by:

  • Writing actionable to-do lists – It might be intuitive to think about the things that you need to do in terms of entire projects. Rather than just listing my projects on my to-do list, which can be both overwhelming and not actionable, I break down those projects into the immediate next steps that I can take. For example, if I need to write a media coverage analysis report, there are many steps that need to be complete before writing the actual report. For example, a first step would be to compile the coverage and the associated metrics into a chart, and a second step could be to ask my colleagues for similar reports that were completed in the past so that I can start with a template. Writing these micro actions down provides me with a snapshot of all the steps that go into a project and how long they’ll take, so that I can move the project forward while managing my time effectively.
  • Acting immediately – This doesn’t mean that I immediately finish each task. Instead, when something new is put on my plate, I take the first step toward getting it done right away. If I can complete the task within two minutes – like sending a short email response or providing availability for a meeting – then I’ll do it right away. If not, I’ll either delegate the task and set a reminder to follow-up with the person regarding their progress, or defer it by adding it to my to-do list (broken down into actionable steps, of course), setting due dates in my calendar and filing emails/files to reference later.
  • Keeping a clear email inbox – My goal at the end of each work day is to have an empty inbox. To achieve this, I consistently review my emails and move them to designated folders that are based on my projects. If emails include an attachment, before filing the email I’ll save the attachment to my computer or the company shared drive to refer to later. If there’s an action item that I need to complete eventually, I set a meeting or a reminder in my calendar. Find more tips for managing your emails here. This helps reduce the potential for chaos in my mind because I’ve already addressed each email appropriately.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Want to learn more about Getting Things Done without reading the book? Check out two videos: an animated book summary and a TEDx Talk by David Allen on the high-level principles.

Have you tried applying the Getting Things Done system to improve your productivity? How did it work for you? Share in the comments.

Image credits: Pixabay.com; Laine Jaremey; David Allen & Co.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Quitting vs. crafting: How to get the job you want

Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now? How about 20?

Have you ever realized that where you see your career in the distant future can depend on your job today? The job-related decisions that you make now can play a role in the path your career takes, and can impact whether your vision of the future becomes a reality.

Two trends – job quitting and job crafting – present relatively new ways to approach your career. They are ways of obtaining job satisfaction, while also strategically building the career you strive for.

Job Quitting
The job-quitting economy is based on the premise that job seekers eye jobs that will be helpful for the next step in their careers once they quit them. Rather than accepting a job offer for its benefits, salary, corporate culture and promotion potential, so-called “job quitters” look at if they can gain the transferrable skills and experience they need to progress in their careers, whether the company’s reputation in the industry makes other companies desire its employees, and how the role can serve as a stepping stone to another more prized job.

As companies have transitioned from hiring less full-time and more contract workers, the job-quitting economy has naturally evolved as the mindset of job seekers changed to see certain jobs as ways of getting to a job with full-time perks down the road. But in today’s highly-competitive job market, full-time employees may approach their careers with a job-quitting mindset too.

The concept of a personal brand, which many consider to be helpful in landing a job, underlies the job-quitting economy. The transferrable skills gained in a role contribute a job seeker’s overall Me, Inc. package, which is what makes each person stand out from the competition.

Some drawbacks of approaching your career as a job-quitter could include less fulfillment at work, as you might not fully engage and reach job satisfaction if you only see your role as a stepping stone to the next one. Further, jumping from one role to the next after too little time may cause future potential employers to see you as a “flight risk” who could leave their company after too-short a time.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Job Crafting
To get the job you want, there’s another option other than making a huge change and joining another company. This option is called job crafting, which involves making incremental changes to your responsibilities or day-to-day experiences at work, resulting in increased job satisfaction.

How does job crafting work? To start, try listing the skills and abilities you’d like to have to progress in your career. Maybe gaining or advancing technical skills, business acumen or leadership abilities are important professional development areas for you. Then, get creative and make an inventory of the different ways that you could add these activities to your work. Once the list is complete, a conversation with your manager or other colleagues might be required to ensure that they’re aligned with your professional development ambitions, and so they understand why you are taking on new tasks.

If successful, the growth and changes that you achieve by crafting your job will move you toward your career goals.

Potential cons of job crafting? Your workplace, manager and co-workers must be open to your role evolving or a change in your job’s responsibilities. Without external support, your attempt at job crafting might end up being a flop. It also takes patience and time for your job to change into one with the attributes that you’re striving for.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Now that you’ve learned about these two trends, do you think you’ve ever adopted a job quitting or job crafting mindset in the past? If not, which trend do you think you’d be more likely to take on to shape your career? Share in the comments.

Image credits: Pixabay.com.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Tips for turning a hobby into a side hustle

Results of a 2017 study revealed that 44 million Americans take on extra work to make extra cash, in addition to working full-time. This is generally known as having a “side hustle.” The study identified millennials as the largest group of side-hustlers.

What are some of the most common side hustles? U.S.-based research tells us that doing the following activities allow people to earn cash on the side.

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That said, what differentiates a side hustle from a part-time job?

While discussing his book Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days, author Chris Guillebeau clarifies what makes a side hustle unique: striving for financial independence.

“A side hustle is not a part-time job. A side hustle is not the gig economy. It is an asset that works for you. Picking up a few extra hours at the factory or at the coffeehouse is not a side hustle. Jumping on TaskRabbit or Uber when you feel like it isn’t a side hustle, either. The problem? Someone else can pull the plug. Gig economy businesses have literally folded overnight. If the intention of a side hustle is to create financial independence, then working within the gig economy is a walk in the exact opposite direction.” – Chris Guillebeau

Now that we’re on the same page about what a side hustle is, let’s tackle how to do it well. The secret is to figure out how to turn something that you love doing, like a hobby, into paid work that you can do on your own terms.

Why a hobby? According to Mark Zuckerberg, having a hobby outside of work is one of the best ways to cultivate your passion, leadership skills and technical abilities. Having a hobby is considered so important by Zuckerberg that Facebook’s hiring managers ask job candidates about their hobbies during interviews. What was Zuckerberg’s personal hobby? Last year, he figured out how to build an artificial intelligence (AI) system to control his home.

It’s easy to see how mastery of this task could result gaining a skill set that a person could monetize into a side hustle by offering a service that makes other people’s homes AI-friendly. (On a side note, you could also apply the knowledge gained from the experience to your full-time role for a potential career boost if it’s relevant to your job.)

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, side hustle, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

But, before you get started with your own side hustle, check out my five tips below for transforming a hobby into extra cash:

Tip 1: Follow your passion – By turning a hobby that you were formerly doing for free into something that’s paid, there’s a better chance that you’ll love spending your non-9-to-5 time doing the work.

 Tip 2: Use skills you already have – Understand your existing strengths and think about what people would pay for. Can you repair smartphone screens? Do you have a passion for personal training? Are you able to consult as a communications advisor? Any of these services could provide value to customers.

Tip 3: Manage your time – One of the downsides of having a side hustle is the potential for burnout. If the income from your side hustle work supplements the income from a full-time job, don’t jeopardize that full-time role. Find a balance between the two positions. Understand how long each side job will take so that you can over-deliver to your side hustle customers, while ensuring that the time spent on your side hustle doesn’t compromise your performance at your full-time job.

Tip 4: Build your network – How you connect with others to promote your side hustle depends on what product or service you’re offering. If you fix and sell used bicycles, you can connect with local customers on Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace. If you provide a consulting service, you can reach customers through social media channels and word-of-mouth. Get creative about how you reach your customers to get maximum exposure.

Tip 5: Set a goal – Think about why you’re spending your free time on your side hustle. Decide what you want to achieve early in the process. Whether it’s a saving a certain amount of money or completing a specific number of jobs, knowing you’re getting closer to your goal can provide perspective when you’re putting in extra hours every week. Learn about setting SMART goals here.

What other tips do you have for a successful side hustle? Share in the comments.

Image credits: Credit Loan; Pixabay.com; Laine Jaremey.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

How can I earn PMP PDUs for free?

Professional development is critical part of everyone’s career, no matter what industry they’re in. Opportunities for professional development have been shown to benefit companies, and have been ranked as more important than pay for millennials.

For people with certain professional designations, the completion of professional development activities is not only helpful, but it’s also necessary to maintain the designation.

Since obtaining the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification in February (and proudly crossed off one of my professional goals for 2018, which I shared in a post from earlier this year), I’ve started to complete the mandatory project management professional development units (PDUs). Completing PDUs allows PMPs to stay relevant as the professional evolves and as needs of employers grow and change. PDUs are educational tools that can come from a variety of in-person, digital and on-demand sources.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine JaremeyThe Project Management Institute (PMI) stipulates that PMPs must complete 60 PDUs every three years to maintain the certification. One hour of training or education equals one PDU. Learn more about the PDU requirements for PMPs at PMI’s website.

One of the things that I noticed when I first started to investigate PDUs is that they can be expensive, which is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s important for PMPs to have high-quality and relevant training, and paying to attend an excellent in-person workshop or online course could provide a lot of value. On the other, completing some PDUs at no cost can reduce the overall financial burden of this requirement. It’s up to the PMP to decide which professional development opportunities are worth paying for, and which free opportunities still provide value.

If you’re a PMP, or considering becoming one, and find the costs associated with earning PDUs daunting, check out my suggestions for earning free PDUs below:

  • Listen to podcasts – Podcasts can be listened to at any time and in any place. I’d recommend the Project Management Podcast. It covers a wide variety of project management-related topics, the episodes range in length but are generally not too long, and the host provides a clear roadmap at the beginning of each episode that outlines its learning outcomes. Projectified is another relevant podcast that’s produced by PMI. A tip: Making notes while listening to a podcast provides proof of participation in case a PDU claim is audited.
  • Read – PMPs can earn PDUs for reading articles, blog posts and books. Picking reading subjects based on the areas for improvement indicated in the PMP exam results, or focusing on a specific area of the PMI Talent Triangle, can allow PMPs to advance where they need to most. This activity is great because one PDU is earned for each hour spent reading, so a lot of PDUs can be banked by the time a book is finished. Where can free reading materials be found? Local libraries are good sources for books. For example, check out some options based on the search results for “strategic project management” at the Toronto Public Library. Or, many blog posts, articles and white papers can be accessed for free. Again, making notes while reading can provide proof to PMI in a PDU audit that the claim is valid.

Woman reading in chair

  • Watch webinars – PMPs can log-in to Projectmanagement.com using their PMI credentials for access to live and on-demand webinars. The webinars can be searched based on the PMI Talent Triangle area, webinar length and other keywords. I’m a big fan of the on-demand webinars because I can access them outside of business hours when it’s most convenient for me, since many live webinars run during the work day.
  • Participate in online symposia – Projectmanagement.com offers full-day virtual symposia throughout the year, which allow PMPs to hear from experts in the field while earning PDUs. For example, I participated in the annual PMXPO in March 2018 (check out the agenda here). This full day of live webinars allowed me to earn 6.5 PDUs, and I had on-demand access to the presentations after the event in case any sessions were missed so that I could earn all of the PDUs being offered. The upcoming PMI Talent and Technology Symposium that takes place on June 13 gives PMPs the opportunity to earn 6 PDUs.
  • Work in the field – Many PMPs are already working as project managers for some portion of their day jobs, so they can get credit for something they’re already doing! PMPs can document and submit descriptions of up to eight hours of project management-related work for up to eight PDUs.
  • Give back – This category of PDUs captures the time spent teaching or mentoring others on project management. It also includes creating or delivering project management-related content, like webinars, presentations, or even blog posts (like this one!), to help further the education of others in the field.

What other free PDUs do you recommend for PMPs? Share your suggestions in the comments.

Photo credits: PMI.org; Pixabay.com.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Canadians can now Google their ways to new jobs

Last year I reported on one of Google’s new search features for people seeking a new job: Google for Jobs. At the time, this tool was being piloted in the U.S., while Canadians were awaiting a launch within our borders.

Google’s job search functionality is now available in Canada.

What’s it like? For the purposes of this post, I did a quick search of communications jobs in my area, and really liked what I saw. The search results loaded quickly and were easy to review. I liked that there were tags listed across the navigation bar at the top of the page to filter the results, and the option to turn on email alerts for new postings under the search terms. Check out what the results looked like below.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Not stopping there, on April 26, Google announced a $1 million investment into a new platform, called the Employment Pathway Platform (EPP), which will provide even more search capabilities for Canadians looking for jobs. It will search based on commute distance, ability to work from home, industry, title and time commitment. What’s also cool is that this new platform will be the result of a partnership with Toronto’s MaRS innovation hub, and my company is located in the MaRS Centre (pictured below).

MaRS Centre West Tower

Once it launches, the new platform’s users can obtain a skills assessment, find jobs that match with current abilities and skills, and get information on courses that can help users build their skill sets.

This technology will help job searchers adapt to how the workplace is evolving. From automation to artificial intelligence, jobs today are changing at a rapid pace, and will continue to in the future.

This means that workers (including me!) must be open to continual learning and training opportunities to stay efficient, effective and competitive in the workplace. In fact, according to Inc.com, 91 per cent of the respondents of one survey said that the most successful employees are the ones who can adapt to the changing workplace.

Fortunately, the EPP will “pull together data skills and training options from multiple sources and then analyze a user’s existing skills and employment preferences against this.” Having data that will contribute to skills-building is definitely a perk for users of the future service.

The new platform that will result from the Google/MaRS partnership and investment is expected to launch next year. I’m excited to hear more about the new platform as things move ahead.

Do you think you’ll try the new platform once it’s available?

Image credits: Reuters; Erin Sugar.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Is it time for a change?

Have you ever made a change in your career?

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine JaremeyWhether it was from one job to another, from one industry to completely different one, or a change in the patterns of how you work and lead others on a day-to-day basis, a career change is a big transition. But, have you ever thought about how when you make these types of changes can impact your success?

I was inspired to think about how I would respond to this question myself after reading the March 2018 issue of ELLE Canada. In an article called “Say When,” journalist Sarah Liang reports on a new book called When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, by Daniel Pink. This book covers the scientific research linking the timing of decisions and their outcomes.

Let’s reflect on the title of this post: “Is it time for a change?” There’s more to making a decision than simply going with your intuition or what you feel comfortable doing. Be strategic. The timing of changes or other important milestones in your career can have long-lasting impacts.

“The secret to success is actually getting strategic with the game-changing “whens” of your working life, from major pivot points to the minutiae of the daily nine-to-five.” – Sarah Liang, ELLE Canada.

When does timing make an impact on a career, according to the article? There are four times to consider.

  1. On your mark, get set, go! Although people often can’t control it, when you start your first job can mean boom or bust for your career. The research tells us that those who graduate university in years with high unemployment earn 2.5 per cent less than peers when the rate was low, even 15 years into your career.
  2. All good things come to an end. I’ve heard that it’s important to stay in a role for three-to-five years to give you an opportunity to evolve in the job, and to also appeal to potential future employers who might be reviewing your resume or career history. The article reports that being in a role for three-to-five years is a prime time to seek a boost in position or pay at a new job.
  3. Can’t get you out of my head. You may find yourself thinking about getting a new job or changing careers at certain times of the day or the year. Things like energy ebbs and flows during the day, holidays throughout the year, or even your work anniversary may trigger thinking about moving on to something new.
  4. Like a boss. Good leaders do things like respond to their team members’ emails in a timely manner, and schedule review meetings in the mornings when staff are generally more alert.

It’s clear that looking at the bigger picture in terms of the timing of your career as a whole when making decisions has an impact on both the big and small things, affecting overall success.

How has timing impacted your career? What other milestones or moments make an impact? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image credits: Elle Canada; Pixabay.com.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey
Quote

New year, new goals, new you

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, for many of us, the start of a new year is the time to take on resolutions to change ourselves for the better.

At the start of a new year, I like to reflect on my goals and check-in on where I’m at with them. A rule of thumb for me is:

“Write down two personal, two business and two health goals for the next 1, 5 and 10 years. Do this four times a year. Goal setting triggers your subconscious computer.” – Lululemon mantra

This mantra works well for me because it reiterates the importance of having different goals across the different facets of life, and over different time ranges. Writing your goals down is also very effective at helping you stick to them – even billionaire Richard Branson agrees! I also love that it acknowledges that goals can change based on the different circumstances that you face when you check-in on them, even if you haven’t achieved them yet – and that’s okay!

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Although it’s January 3 and I should probably have fleshed out more of my 2018 resolutions, I’ve so far only focused on setting professional goals for the year. To keep me accountable, I’ll share them (in writing!) here. This year, I’m going to step outside of my comfort zone as a communications professional and expand my skill set in other related areas that aren’t categorically “PR”. I’ll be honing my graphic design skills and further advancing my project management knowledge.

What are your 2018 goals? Do you jot your goals down and check on them often to keep yourself on track? Share in the comments.

Image credits: Pixabay.com, Laine Jaremey.