Do you feel like a chicken with its head cut off most days. Well I did too. Until I was introduced to time management and productivity books. Now I read them all the time to find new hacks to get more done in a day. Here are 4 books that really helped me out.
I don’t know about you, but there just never seems to be enough hours in a day. I just want to do ALL THE THINGS and quite frankly the idea of compromising or giving something up just doesn’t jive with my goal oriented and over achiever type of personality.
I want to cook everything from scratch, work out daily, mediate daily, spend meaningful time with my kids PLUS build a business that involves marketing on social media, writing weekly articles and newsletters, help out clients through career coaching and resume writing and more. Never mind the fact that I also have a part time job Career Transitioning, have to deal with all the admin associated with running a business and want some semblance of a social life!
I know that it is impossible to do all of that all the time, but I want to at least try my hardest to become my most efficient self so that I can tick off a ton of boxes every day. As an information gatherer and a reader, it comes as no surprise that I have probably read every Time Management and Productivity book on the market. So my time management is a hodge podge of all of these ideas that I’ve learnt but my system is one that also changes all the time depending on the week and my life at that moment.
Here are four books that really made an impact on my life, ones that I feel have allowed me to get more things done in a day.
1. The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
This is the very first book I read about productivity about 10 years ago when I was laid off from my agency recruiting job. Back then I wrote most of the ideas off as I didn’t think it really applied to me. But there were a few things I did implement and took to heart.
I loved his concept of the “New Rich” how your total take home salary isn’t how you should define your worth. In order to be a New Rich person, you need to create a life you WANT. This really resonated with me at the time as I was in the process of interviewing for a job I really wanted (Corporate Recruiter), only 5 minutes away from my house. But it was going to be a big pay cut. This book sparked a great conversation with husband in terms of what we value most. Money wasn’t at the top of the list, not even close. We also did the calculation and the hourly rate really wasn’t that different when you took into account the hours and money saved from not commuting and extra time at the office. So when the offer did come through it was an easy yes, and saying goodbye to the stress and the commute more than made up for the loss of some money.
Some specific time management tools of his I have implemented over the years are figuring how much time it really takes to complete a task and sticking to it, finding a way to eliminate meetings (or a way to join in remotely), and outsourcing/delegating the tasks you are able to.
When I am at my most productive, I’m following some of his ideas – don’t arrive at your desk without a plan or else you will just dawdle away the day in your inbox and being busy is a form of laziness (similar to a Gretchen Rubin thought that you can procrastinate with work).
In my opinion for 99% of the population the concept of a 4 hour workweek is laughable. But I would still recommend this book to all of you as it gives great insights on how to save you some time. Especially if you work somewhere traditional where they want you at your desk, this book talks about how to convince your boss to let you work from home on Fridays, now who wouldn’t want that!
2. The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen R Covey
This was the second book on time management that I read, since it is listed on pretty much all productivity and time management must read lists! This book showed me that my career, just like my life, was completely within my control. You can’t just sit back and wait for your dream career to land in your lap – you have to BE PROACTIVE (Habit #1), and you need to remember to place what you value most above all others so you need to PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST (Habit #3). There are 4 other habits, but for me and my career these are the two that have been most useful to getting me to where I am today.
His quadrant is also such a key for time management and learning how to prioritize your daily, weekly and monthly tasks. By examining the need for this task and the deadline allows us to plan out how our schedule should look.
If you are a reader, then definitely pick this one up. If not, then googling it and reading an article or two will suffice and everyone and their mother has written about it, for good reason!
3. Get you Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight
I love the no-nonsense style of this writer, and honestly as someone who doesn’t like being confined by the corporate world, I could relate to her story of giving it all up to pursue her dreams.
Plus, her approach is right up my alley with her three steps – Strategize (plan of action to achieve a goal), Focus (break it down and schedule it) and Commit (set yourself up for success). She leans into negative thinking as a way to propel you to take action which works especially well for those who don’t have a clear direction of where they want to go or what they want to do, they just know that they want to leave or put an end to what they are doing.
Sarah wants you to be very specific with your goals in terms of time management. For example, say you are struggling to keep atop of your current workload. Take a look at the core of what YOU CAN CONTROL. Are you spending too much time on social media? Then perhaps the solution is to limit your time online. And then focus on your impulse, do you feel the twitch and call of social media? Confront that impulse head on to put a stop to it!
One of my most used time management tips came from this book and that is the concept of a “MUST DO LIST”. Sarah recommends that you have a large running master to do list and that every day you prioritize that list based on urgency and importance (similar to above!) and then move that to your MUST DO List. That is your focus for the day, nothing else!
I highly recommend this book, it is a fun read with some great tips and a little bit of inspiration for anyone wanting a career change.
4. Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
This is one of the most recent productivity books I have read. I loved it – the idea of SAVERS (Silence, Affirmation, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing) is something I fully believe in. But it has been one of the most difficult to put into place. I have bits and pieces throughout my day. I meditate every night before I go to bed (96 days straight right now), I read every day and I exercise/move most days.
I want to do the rest, and I agree with the author that the mornings that I get up early and get all of that accomplished are the days that I am most productive as it sets a great tone for the day.
My problem (or excuse) is my kids. I have a 6.5 yo and a 5 yo who wake up at 6am and quite frankly I don’t want to get up any earlier. And even if, on the odd day, they are sleeping, when I try to sneak downstairs it ends up waking them up. Plus, first thing in the morning they just want to be near me, typically they want to snuggle in bed (there are only a few more years of that and I want to soak those cuddles up!) and then be in the same room as me so it is hard to focus.
But I believe so much in this. I believe that setting your intentions and your goals will not only increase your productivity but also increase the likelihood of you being a success. So I literally just researched a shorter version (since the book recommends about 90 minutes) and came across the 6 minute Miracle Morning by Hal. I’m going to tweak it to 8 minutes and only focus on the pieces I don’t do every day:
Silence: 2 minute gratitude meditation (in addition to my nightly meditation)
Affirmation: 2 minutes affirmations
Visulaization: 2 minutes visualization
Exercise: during the day
Reading: during the day
Scribing: 2 minute scribing – my gratitude, my daily goals and plan.
Anyone willing to join me? Tomorrow, I’ll let you know how it went!
The amazing thing about Happiness Books and these Productivity books is that they introduce to us concepts that we may never have thought about. But more importantly, they tell us the story of how to make the changes and how those changes can have a lasting impact on our lives. So if you are stuck in a job you hate and don’t know what to do, they can help you figure out what you want and how to make the time in a day to get there.
If even that is overwhelming, how about a 30 minute phone call – we can chat for free, let’s strategize where you are, where you want to go and how to get there.
How To Get Your Worth
You finally heard the great news – you got the job. But don’t accept just yet! Read below for some tips (and scripts) on deciding what you need to negotiate and how to get what you are worth.
A job search can feel like a ride on the twistiest and turniest of rollercoasters with all of its ups and downs so when that coveted job offer comes we just want to shout “YES” into the phone before they have even finished going over the details.
I see a lot of people whose self-esteem has taken a big hit while looking for a new job, especially if they have been laid off or stuck in a toxic or unfulfilling job. So having someone essentially say – “it’s you that I want” has us saying yes without thinking it through.
A job search is like dating. On a job search, you have a lot of crappy “first dates” followed by long periods sitting by the phone willing that “suitor” to just give you a call. But still, if just anyone asked you to marry them would you say yes without hesitation? Probably not!
Now, I know, it is different and not every job offer needs to be negotiated BUT every job offer needs to be thought through. And me being me, I have a plan for what you should do when that offer does come in.
Before the Offer
Do your research! Especially on the salary. There are so many sites now that offer salary insights like Payscale, Glassdoor, Indeed Pay. Try to narrow it down as best you can to the job, location and industry as those are all major factors.
Look back over any notes from previous conversations and interviews, did you discuss salary previously? What did you say you wanted, what did they say was the range? Did they talk about a total compensation plan (base + bonus), did you mention your salary history (base + bonus)? Also keep in mind extras, like did you have a car allowance? Do they?
Think beyond the pay cheque as well. Is there anything else that is important to you like vacation or working from home? Make a list of things you would ideally like to see in an offer, now you may not get all of them but it allows you to prioritize letting you know what you should fight for.
Do some research on you too. Go through the critical priorities they may have mentioned throughout the interview process (the main reason why they would be hiring you for) or the key skills that they are looking for. Think about how you would get them to where they want to be and how what you bring to the table in terms of skills, knowledge and experience they can’t get anywhere else.
Typically the offer process starts with a verbal offer. This comes over the phone and depending on the company or situation will come from the Recruiter (agency or corporate) or the Hiring Manager. Most of the time they go through the key details – job title, salary, vacation time, benefits. Rarely do they discuss the extras like benefit details (exact coverage), pension, education reimbursement, etc. Typically at the end of the call they want a verbal yes or no.
If they are putting their best foot forward in terms of salary offered, or the salary that was already agreed upon you should say this:
“I am excited about the prospect of joining the team. I would obviously love to see the contract, but I don’t anticipate any issues if what is written down matches what you are presenting although having some time to review will be appreciated.”
If the salary isn’t what you would expect you should say this:
“I am excited to hear such great news and while seeing an offer in writing is necessary, I do feel that we need to discuss the compensation further.”
Some organizations want the salary completely ironed out before submitting a formal written offer, some will send the written offer over just after delivering the verbal. Either way, if the salary isn’t want you want you would state something similar to the above as a way to open up the door to negotiation.
Once you have the written offer in hand take a look at the whole thing in terms of value to you, your bank account and your work/life balance. Pick 1-2 things to negotiate, the ones that are most important to you.
One thing to note, you can’t just expect them to say. Oh yes, you are right here is another $10k added to your salary. You need to show them your value and your worth.
The Salary Negotiation – Your Value
Always start this part off by thanking them again for the offer and by reiterating your excitement to join the team and organization. Then jump into your value. Talk about 1-2 of those critical priorities (for examples revamping a process, building a team, increasing sales) or skills (technical, job specific, interpersonal) and talk about how you can’t wait to jump in and have an impact/make a difference. Revisit a story you may have told them in your interview, or tell them the outline of the plan you have already created to make that difference. Mention how they as an organization can support you by setting you up for success through recognizing your value at this stage (in terms of salary).
How to move on from this depends on you and the company. You may want to give a number or they may want to step away and think about it. In my opinion, you want to give a number as it gives you more control. That number, though, is rooted in the research above, it is not plucked from the air! They will come back with a counter offer and you would either accept or give your own counter offer.
Beyond the Salary:
In the article 17 benefits that I contributed to I spoke about how to negotiate for Flexible Work Schedules but there are many other things that you should think about!
I’ve worked in corporate HR and supported corporate HR for the better part of 15 years and honestly vacation is one of the toughest things to negotiate. The reason why is the policy, the current vacation landscape of the team and the precedent it could set. The best way to negotiate is to match your current vacation.
“Currently I have 4 weeks of vacation and with a young family/love of travel, I value that time to get out to fully recharge. Honestly, some of my best ideas/work comes after a vacation! So keeping that 4 weeks is crucial for me and my success.”
2. Education Reimbursement:
Education Reimbursement saves you thousands of dollars a year while giving you valuable knowledge and beefs up your skills, resume and marketability. You may be able to negotiate an MBA which could save you $25k/year.
“Down the line, some further courses within this field could go a long way to build upon the knowledge I have acquired and so I was wondering if you have an education and training plan in place for this role?”
If they do not
“To me, a company can show that they invest in and value their employees if they were to provide tuition and book reimbursement. I want to be set up to exceed expectations not just today but in the future as well and furthering my education will be a factor in that.”
3. Membership Dues and Fees:
This is something that always goes ignored, especially for people joining organizations in an entry level job. Having them cover your membership dues and fees will save you around $1k/year and it gives you more credibility and keeps you active in your industry making a job search down the line much easier, all on the company's dime!
“I know how valuable being an active member within a professional association (Engineering, Procurement, HR, etc) is as it goes a long way to build up my network and credibility within an industry on top of being kept up to date on the latest trends, laws and technology. To be successful in this role, a person should be an active member, it may even be critical to the success of the role. Based on that, I feel that having my dues and fees covered 100% makes sense as part of the offer.”
4. Work from Home
Working from home is practically priceless, never mind the commuting dollars and time it saves you, especially here in the GTA. Finding a work/life balance these days is tough and in my opinion, the best way to find it is through making your work schedule work for your life. There is nothing worse than feeling chained to your desk and being able to negotiate to have a few of those work days at home will be game changing.
“The first 3-6 months in a new role it is critical to be in the office during normal business hours so that I can build relationships within the team and learn the business inside and out. But once I’m fully acclimated I would appreciate the ability to work from home. The loss of my commute would only mean more energy and time that I could dedicate. Plus, it would allow me the ability to focus 100% on a task without any interruptions. To save the company money on space and supplies, I would even be open to a desk share with a colleague.”
If you have experience working from home in a previous role, talk about how productive you were and the value it allowed you to have.
The Art of Negotiation is really hard for most people, but I hope that this article will give you the confidence to know your worth, ask for your worth and ultimately get your worth.
Having trouble getting that offer? Well maybe I can help with that!
Are you sending out lots of resumes with no interview requests – I can help you GET NOTICED.
Finding it tough to find that Hidden Job Market through networking or selling yourself in an interview – I can help you CREATE CONNECTIONS
Need help with it all, from start to finish – I can help you FIND YOUR WAY.
Tired of sending your resume out into the black hole of job boards? Read on for 4 ways to use job boards so that you can actually get a job.
As you know I like to emphasize networking your way into a new job, since 70-85% of jobs are secured that way.
But I know that most people spend the majority of the job searching time on job boards, it feels like it is easier. And after all, they DO work since 20% of jobs are found through job postings. So I never want people to ignore job boards! But I do want people to use them effectively.
Here are 4 ways that you can incorporate job boards into your search and getting them working for you instead of against you.
1. Use Your Time Wisely.
This is my number one tip, and one I really want you to pay close attention to. DON’T SPEND ALL OF YOUR TIME ON JOB BOARDS. Statistically speaking you need to send out about 40 resumes to get a job offer, and I’m not talking about getting a job offer for your dream job!
Plus, hitting enter or send on an application sometimes feels like you are sending your resume into a black hole which doesn’t leave you feeling good about yourself and your chances.
Come up with a game plan on how much time you are going to spend and how to make it a more enjoyable experience. For example your plan could to spend 1-2 hours every other day combing through ads and do it in a coffee shop. Or if it could be to spend 3 hours a week all in one session at home with some good music playing.
This helps keep you inspired during your job search and allows you remain positive which comes across in your marketing documents!
2. Look beyond the big Job Boards
Look I get it. Indeed and the other big Job Boards (aka Job Aggregator Sites) are seemingly pretty amazing. They appear to be a one stop shop but honestly they don’t capture all the jobs. Employer Career sites, niche job boards and LinkedIn jobs don’t always (or ever) get picked up by the large job aggregators.
Plus some industries, for example culture and nonprofit, don’t have a large recruitment budget and therefore do not have the manpower or an Applicant Tracking System to review the large volume of resumes that they could get from posting on sites like Indeed and Glassdoor. So they won't post there or will ignore applicants that come through those sites.
Each industry has their own niche job board and I highly suggest adding the ones that are most relevant to your search to review once/week.
Want an easy way to find the boards that are right for you, click here to download a list of 20 niche job boards for Canadians!
3. Market Yourself Properly
So this isn’t my newsletter, but I’m going to tell you a Recruiter secret anyways:
Recruiters HATE Indeed resumes. They are boring, monotonous and often missing key information. So when you find a job you want to apply to on Indeed or another large job board please submit your own resume!
When submitting the resume, make sure that the resume is optimized for an Applicant Tracking System using key words and proper formatting. Customize your resume as necessary to fit the job.
Don’t forget that at the end of the day a HUMAN will read your resume, so make sure it is a Modern Day Resume that will catch their eye and tell your story.
Lastly, always send a cover letter. Even if it doesn’t get read it shows that you are interested and willing to put in the time to deliver quality results, that is the worst case. Best case, your engaging cover letter get the Hiring Manager excited to meet with you making it easier for you to get hired!
4. Use Job Boards for Research
I love research, gathering as much information as I can is something that I love to do. However, I get that not everyone is like this. But for a job search, the job boards are a great way to figure out all the different types of jobs that exist out there, like did you know there was such thing as a Diary Taster?
It also shows you different companies and industries that could hire you, ones that you may want to being building a network strategy around. Say you love risk management and you only thought to work in financial services, well a quick search on Indeed brings jobs up in banks (of course), but also in education, in government, not for profit and healthcare.
All of this information will come in useful and will help you narrow down where you want to focus your work.
When you are looking for a new job or career it is important to have a game plan on where you are going to spend your job searching time. And job boards should definitely be part of that and can be very effective when using the 4 tips above. Don’t forget to get my list of 20 niche job boards, I’ve saved you the researching time!
Also, one last thing. I just wanted to boast just once more (please forgive me!) about contributing to this article on what to negotiate for. Next week I’m actually going to expand on it and give you some tips and tricks to asking for more money and other benefits, so stay tuned!
Sara Curto helps people find a career they love by teaching them a new way to job search.
The Secrets to finding a job you love
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