4 Time Management Master Tips!

I know I’ve been gone for a while, but it just so happened that I took on a million (ok, maybe more like three) projects at once. I’ve been reading, writing, editing manuscripts, working on social media, and loving it all.

Having multiple projects at once that you DON’T enjoy could end up costing you, but getting lots done, and having fun while you’re doing it can be one of the most rewarding things ever.

If you’re a freelancer or  a contract worker, or otherwise self-employed, taking on a few projects at once can be beneficial for experience and finances, as long as you can pull it off without getting overwhelmed. Keep these tips in mind:

1. Take on projects that you feel passionate about. Feeling passionate about a job means you’ll most likely be more motivated to do it, instead of pushing it off. When fun TV and computer games are pulling you away from a boring project, maybe that project isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you look forward to doing a project, it’ll get done fast.

2. Schedule diligently. And stick to it. I have the job that I usually work 9:30-5:30. I’m not working all the time between those hours, but I keep it open so that I’m available. This is my main source of income, and I dedicate most of my time to it. I get paid hourly, and there are at least 4 or 5 hours of work for me to do every day. I schedule in a time for dinner and shower (and even an hour of TV time), and then I work on  one of my other projects for three or four hours a night, until I get tired. This is my schedule for 3 or 4 days out of the week. Sometimes, I only work my regular job and give myself some time off on side projects. Either way, have a specific time scheduled for every project. Make deadlines, stick to them.

3. Organize your Projects. I have a separate folder in Google Docs for all of my projects. Keep detailed records of the hours you work for every project and what you were doing during those hours. Computer desktops can be huge messes, but keeping them organized helps you keep track of everything you’ve done. The area you work in should be organized too. You’ll feel less frazzled if everything around you is neat.

4. Avoid Burn-Out. Balancing three projects is OK sometimes, but it might not be something you want to do for months or years at a time. It’s alright to take some time off and give yourself a week now and then to just relax. Burning out can absolutely destroy a person. Avoid it by giving yourself ample time to eat, sleep, and see friends, and dedicate a little time to a hobby every week.

There’s nothing like the satisfaction of finishing up an awesome project and cashing in. Success feels so good! But you won’t get anywhere on your own if you don’t know how to balance your time (in fact…I should be getting back to work…)

Keep doing a good job!

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Things are Going to be OK

I’ve been blogging for a little bit here, trying to offer some words of advice when I can, but sometimes you just need to hear this. Things are going to be OK. Those of you who are college seniors are probably in the midst of your thesis projects and studying for finals. When the work is not overwhelming you, the thoughts start creeping into your head…”what will I do once I graduate?” “where will I work?” “how will I make money?” Hang on! Take a deep breath. Clear your head.

A few months after getting out of school, I started getting itchy. I looked at local community colleges to see if I could take a few courses…web design, social media, there was so much I still had to learn! But in reality, it’s good to get away from school. After 17 years of education, if felt awesome to escape from the school schedule. No more semesters or finals or classes. It’s really kind of freeing.

Never stop learning. Read something interesting every day. Explore outside. Look at trees and plants. Pick up a book. Talk to someone. Your mind still wants to grow.

You will get discouraged. So you graduated at the top of your class, had an awesome internship and you’re getting job offers? Good for you, but you’ll still get discouraged at some point in your life. Stop looking at rejections in a bad light. They are practice.

There are very few things worth getting really upset over. Everything tends to work out in the long run.

Do something that makes you happy every day. We still have youth. Be grateful and kind.

Stand up to problems with a brave face. Confidence is easily faked, and real confidence will come with time. Don’t be shy (I’m still working on that one), we are all humans and we are all alive.

You will have problems. They will get fixed. You’ll be scared. Things are going to be OK.

Trash those Boring Cover Letters! 7 Killer Cover Letter Tips

Templates are boring. Generic is boring. Most cover letters are boring. When you write a generic template cover letter, you’re giving off the impression that you, too, are boring. Boring jobs hire boring people. Boring, boring, boring, now and forever. But I have a feeling that’s not what you want (or your wouldn’t be reading this article). We both know that you’re interesting, talented and that you have a whole lot to offer a potential employer. So why write something that’s going to make them yawn when you can write something that will blow them away?! Take note of these tips and remember, cover letters are the first impression you make on a potential employer. Make it count!

1. Start with a bang! Don’t just say “I came across your ad on ___________ and am applying for the position of ____________. An interesting fact about yourself that relates to the job is always a good pull.

2 Honesty. Cover letters that have blatant lies or information that you can’t back up with evidence will be ignored. If you say something in your cover letter, make sure to explain it in your resume.

3. Don’t act desperate. Don’t beg for this job. It’s not about what the job can do for you, it’s about what you can do for the company. The employer is looking for someone with skills that fit the position, not someone who asks politely for the job.

4. Don’t be stiff! Your cover letter has room for creativity, so don’t be so formal that your personality doesn’t come across. Employers like cover letters with a bit of spice, and so many people use generic, boring templates that taking just a few minutes to liven it up will make you stick out from other potential employees.

5. Address your letter properly. This is one that you hear about all the time. Don’t use “Dear Sir or Madam,” or “To Whom it May Concern.” Do a Google search for the company name and “head of human resources,” or “hiring manager” and you might have some luck in finding who to address your letter to. If you really can’t find a name, “Dear Hiring Manager” can work as a last resort.

6. Make it short and sweet. Three or four paragraphs of three or four sentences each is plenty. No one wants to read a novel!

7. End on a positive note. Summarize your qualifications, say why you’d be a good fit for the position, thank them for their time, tell them to check out your resume, and mention that you look forward to hearing from them, and you’re good to go. You can mention the best times/method to get in touch with you too.

Bang! Your cover letter just shot ’em dead! Need some opinions on your cover letters or have other tips to share? I’d love to take a look!

4 Super-Effective Resume Writing Tips

For me, writing cover letters is easy…heck, i even enjoy it.  It’s the resume-writing part that I hate. I’d rather write fifteen cover letters than one resume. You have a small space to cram in everything you’ve done, and if you don’t use the right format or the right words, it’ll go straight into the trash. What’s a talented job-seeker to do?

4 Super-Effective Resume Writing Tips:

1. Watch those verbs! When listing things you’ve done for previous jobs, use action verbs like “created,” “managed,” “compiled,” or “strengthened.” For example “I compiled hundreds of videos into the company’s video library,” or “I managed a team of five people on a video shoot,” rather than “I worked on the company’s video library.” Instead of just listing your qualities, relate them to real things that happened on the job.

2. Don’t make it too long! You’re just starting out, your resume shouldn’t be more than a page. No employer wants to read The Great American Novel when looking to hire someone for an entry level position.

3. No crazy fonts/colors. Except for (maybe) your name at the top of the resume, everything should be in 11 or 12 pt, Times New Roman or Arial font. A tasteful template can be used, but your resume really doesn’t need to be eye-catching. It’s the content that matters!

4. Don’t use the same resume for every job you apply to. Tailor the resume to the job you’re applying for, even if you just change a few words here or there. The cover letter is a better place to be creative, but the resume is the best place to highlight skills related to the job you want.

Stay tuned for more tips and tricks!

 

Budgeting Won’t Kill You

Having a monthly budget for your finances is always a good idea, even when you’re making more than enough money, that way if money ever does get tight, you already have lots of practice. Budgeting also prevents frivolous spending and promotes saving (because do you really need every episode of Futurama on DVD??).

50/30/20

50/30/20 is a easy budget to start with, that you can tweak to fit your own needs. This budget is a popular model for many people, and you can find tons of information about it all over the internet, but let me give you a quick rundown. 50 percent of your after-tax pay should go to NEEDS like rent/mortgage and groceries, 30 percent of your pay should go to wants, like clothing or going out to dinner, and the last 20 percent goes directly to savings.

It’s better to budget in percentages rather than amounts, especially if you don’t make a steady amount every month (in the case of freelancers). Also, notice the big percentage that goes to wants. That’s right, don’t deprive yourself. You can save more money if you feel like it, but it’s good to have a little wiggle room.

Budgeting is not a long, arduous process. It really only takes a few minutes, and it will feel good to know that you’re putting money aside in case of emergency. If you do need to make a big purchase, sleep on it for a little. If possible, come back to it a month later and ask yourself if you still need that item.

There are more posts about financial stuff coming in the near future. It’s something I’m still learning about, but we can learn together!

Internships: Get ’em While You Still Can

During the first semester of my senior year in college, I was required to have an internship. I kept it for the second semester as well. During that time, I got some awesome real-world experience and the same amount of credits I would have gotten for taking a class.  If your school doesn’t require an internship during senior year, talk to your academic advisor and see if you can get some credits for getting one. Most internships are unpaid, or offer a small stipend and many of these positions, especially those at larger companies, require that you’re working for college credit (otherwise, you’d be working for free, which in many countries is known as slavery).

When I was looking for my internship (I was looking for one in video production), I did a Google search for video production companies in my area. Many of these companies were smaller, so I sent them a cold email asking if there were any internship positions available. If you get a positive reply, you can follow up with your resume and cover letter.

Interview for as many internships as possible (the more interviews you take, the better you get!). Chances are, you may get accepted into a few places, but make sure to choose one where you’ll be getting experience in your field, not just answering phones and going on coffee runs. Check out my list of Awesome Questions to ask During Interviews, as most of them work for internships too. During these interviews, you should get a good feeling for how the company works, so go with your gut. If possible, pick an internship that’s close to home or school, because you’ll probably be working for free, and gas is expensive these days!

Internships are worth their weight in gold. Even if they don’t offer you a job after you graduate (which they might!), you will have some professional references and more experience than you would ever get sitting in a classroom.

The Pros and Cons of Freelancing

With more and more employers not wanting to pay the cost having full-time employees, freelancing seems to be the way that many college grads are heading. Freelancing is an option in many fields, like writing, web design, computer programming and photography. It’s not difficult to get started freelancing, but it’s important to weigh the positives and negatives first.

PROS:

  • Flexible schedule. If you’re good, you can juggle a few clients at a time, and in some cases you can even work from home (yay pajamas!).
  • Gain experience. Freelancing teaches you discipline, and really shows ambition. Employers look for that kind of stuff.
  • Work for a variety of  clients. A 9-5 can be boring. Freelancing really spices things up.
  • You’re in control of where you work, when you work and who you work for. And after a few years of doing this, you can make some serious money.

CONS:

  • Some jobs require you to have your own equipment or computer software. Ask a financial advisor what you can and can’t write off on your taxes as a freelancer.
  • Low pay. In most fields, you can’t expect to make $40,000 a year starting out as a freelancer. When I was looking into work as a freelance video editor, I got this advice from an experienced professional: “You may be poor for a while, but at least you’ll be poor and cool.”
  • Travel may be required. Big cities tend to have more freelancing opportunities. If you already live in a big city or the nearby suburbs, that’s great. But as a freelancer, you might not make enough money to be able to move.
  • Work isn’t guaranteed. Your monthly income might not be steady, and you probably won’t have benefits.

 

If you’re interested in freelancing, give it a try. It’s something you can do on the side while having a part-time job if necessary, and you’ll really gain some good experience (both work-related and life-related).