How to not overload yourself

I have always wanted to be everything to everyone. In high school, I took on cheer captain and newspaper editor the same year I was in five AP classes and applied to colleges while trying to hang out with my friends before graduation.

It was hell. But I thought that’s how high school was supposed to feel.

So then in my undergrad years at college, I repeated my mistakes. At one point, I was elected an officer in my sorority, worked two on-campus jobs, took 18 credit hours of class, and eventually had a complete breakdown. I was surprised, but my friends and family were not. I realized that I’m doing both myself and others a disservice if I try to do everything.

It’s hard not to, though, when you’re like me and you feel like you’re disappointing someone if you’re not doing everything humanly possible. You have to remember, though: You can do anything, but not everything.

Be picky with your time and your talents.

Trust me, no one will be let down when you’re doing what you love and being realistic about what you can devote yourself to.

But how to choose?

Think about what you actually enjoy.

What makes you forget about everything else while you do it? What is on your mind all day?

For me, a few things stand out above the rest: Writing, reading, listening to music, dancing, and helping others. That last one is the toughest to sort out, because it means I raise my hand for just about anything someone needs, but look at it this way: You can help others with things that you enjoy helping with. I like helping my sorority with PR and dance choreography for talent competitions, because I enjoy PR and dance already on their own.

 

Check each box on your list, not all the boxes on everyone’s list.

Be a joiner, but be selective. Don’t just join everything to join everything– pick things with a purpose to you.

If you want to get more involved in campus clubs or other organizations and need help narrowing it down, pick up to four that accomplish the following categories:

  • Career/School: Something that benefits your academic success, like an honors fraternity, a club specific to your major (Psychology Club, for instance), or a professional organization
  • Service: Something that benefits others, such as Make-A-Wish or Alternative Spring Break
  • Fitness: An organization that promotes being active, such as a club soccer team or Zumba class
  • Fun: An organization that fits with one of your hobbies or passions, like photography club, Quidditch if that’s your thing.

Start with the essentials.

If you need to make money, make time for a job. If you need to get better grades, block out more time for studying. If you work full time and you want a promotion, stay focused to make it happen. Then, if you’re doing fine, start adding on.

Take stock of your goals and figure out what you need to reach them, and then you can zero in on what is actually important. It’s amazing how much better it feels to have three things on your plate instead of ten.

I know you want to get involved in everything, but if you spread yourself too thin and can’t dedicate 100% to each thing, there’s no point in doing it. I’ll say it again: You can do anything, but not everything. Find what you really want to do. Then go do it, and do it with all the energy you’ve got!

XO,

CC

 

 

Motivate yo self

You’ll figure out pretty fast that 90% of the people in this world do things because people tell them to. I made that statistic up, but I would bet that it’s close to the truth. Few of us actually care enough to tell ourselves what to do, and when we do, others think it’s weird. But whatever. Let your freak flag fly. Because when you’re able to tell yourself what to do instead of waiting for someone else to, that’s how you become the boss.

Easier said than done, though. Which is why not everyone can be a boss.

It’s all fine and good to say you’re a driven self-starter, but it’s another thing to actually be one.

It means not sleeping in until your first obligation (11 a.m. class) and getting your butt out of bed to work on a paper at 9. It means waiting to binge-watch Riverdale until a night you don’t have anything else you need to be doing. And it means learning how to manage yourself, because you are a human being and not a machine that can automatically sit and do stuff. Here’s how:

Get the crappy stuff out of the way before you do the fun stuff.

You might be super excited to write a blog post or do an interesting project or get started on a paper that actually sounds fun, but to really focus, you need to clear out the cobwebs. If you have boring things hanging around in the back of your mind, it makes it harder to really enjoy doing the other things. So just do all the things.

Treat yo self.

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If I have something to look forward to, it’s a lot easier to try to get things done. I’ll tell myself a goal– like, answer those emails you did not want to touch– and then once I get to that goal, I’m free to take the longest shower of my life and spend the rest of the night painting my nails, grabbing ice cream with BF, and/or watching the latest leaked Game of Thrones episode.

Don’t multitask.

I repeat: Do. Not. Multitask. Seriously.

I know you really, really want to multitask. Don’t do it.

They have done the studies and the facts are the facts: Multitasking does not help you. It only hurts you. It makes you so much less productive, because the time you spent shifting your attention to a new task is time you can spend on your current task. I know you think you can be a superhuman and those facts don’t apply to you, but you are a human being and you are just simply not built to do it. More on this later, because I can take a whole blog post just on this.

Alternatively, build out 20-30 minutes at a time just on one specific task. And if you’re feeling flow, just keep going.

Get out of your house.

I’m currently sitting outside the library, because on my way home I randomly saw an open table and decided to sit down instead. I have accomplished so much more in my hour outside than in five hours on my bed. Find your happy place for work– it shouldn’t be the same as your happy place for relaxation. I don’t care if it’s the library, Starbucks, or even your car dealership while you’re waiting for an oil change. I do that sometimes. Oil changes are some of my post productive hours. Go ahead and laugh. I’ll be sitting in a quiet lounge drinking free coffee at Toyota.

 

Practice yoga and exercise.

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If you’re just sitting like a bump on a log all day, you’re going to put yourself in a slump where you never reach the right state of mind to work. This shouldn’t be hard on yourself– if it’s too much of a pain to get to a gym during your working hours, set up a yoga mat by your desk and take 20 minutes to breathe and stretch. It will make a world of difference. I personally don’t know how to teach myself yoga, so don’t let that stop you. Go on YouTube and find a free class. I like this one for a quick detox.

Yoga not your style? It’s not always mine either. Take a short walk. Go to a spin class. Just do something active, even if it’s the last thing you think will help.

Get started.

Just start. Tell yourself you don’t even have to finish it. Because once you start on a task, even without the intention of spending a lot of time doing it, you’ll be surprised how much easier it is just to keep going and finish it. Starting is the hardest part, and it’s also the easiest, so do yourself a favor and trick yourself into doing it by starting it.


Anyone else have ideas for staying self-motivated? Anything weirder than going to a car dealership? Please spill.

XO,

CC

 

 

 

 

How to continue building your career at school

It can be frustrating spending the summer in the ~adult world~ at an internship, only to have to go back to school in the fall. I’ve spent the past three summers doing internships, and every time I went back to school, it felt like I was putting my life on hold instead of getting ahead. But this isn’t the right way to think (you are in school to get your degree and therefore get ahead, after all), and you can still take advantage of your time in school by developing new skills and gaining different experience.

Which sounds like bullshit, but I am not here to bullshit you. Some people spend college doing the minimum, which involves skipping lectures and selling your textbooks halfway through the semester to buy a burger (guilty as charged on the latter). You are going to spend it possibly doing those things, but also still growing on a personal and professional level. You can have it all. You can enjoy a burger bought using blood textbook money and simultaneously become extremely hireable.

Sound too hard? Here are a few different plans of action for continuing your career while still making it to class and slaying that degree:

Plan A: Continue your work for the company you interned at

If you have a strong desire to keep working your internship and think you can handle it (school is, like, hard sometimes), ask if there’s a way you can continue after class. If you’e in the area, you can offer to stay on part-time at the office, or you can help out remotely. I had one internship that let me extend my internship through fall and work virtually from school, since I didn’t have to physically be in the office to do my job effectively. It will depend on your industry, relationship with the company, and geographical/time constraints.

Pro tip: Give them a reason to let you stay on– pitch your contributions and show them that they still need you!

Plan B: Freelance for local businesses and nonprofits

If continuing the internship isn’t an option, you can also take on freelance work. Into music and event promotion? Offer to help out your local concert venue. Enjoy shopping and social media? Ask around at the fashion boutiques in your town to see what you can do for their Instagram. Do you already feel passionate about a nonprofit in your area, and think you can contribute your professional talents to their cause? Volunteer on a whole new level. My sorority works with the Alzheimer’s Association, for example, and I would love to do PR for them while I’m in grad school.

Plan C: Work on your resume and personal brand

This actually should’t be a Plan C; it should just always be an ongoing focus as you start out in your career. It takes serious time and energy to update your LinkedIn profile, re-design your resume, maintain a personal website and construct a portfolio. Or at least, if you’re doing all of these things right. In school, you’ll have more time on your hands than when you’re working a full time job, so take this as an opportunity to spend time on yourself.

Also, remember that you just finished your internship, so it’s important to update everything with that new position under your belt! Know it’s a pain. Just do it.

Plan D: Learn and develop new skills

At your internship, did you realize you could work on certain areas to make you stronger in that industry? Now is the time to work on those areas. I learned over one summer that Excel spreadsheets are a major part of entry-level work in PR (Surprise! Sometimes your dream job involves things you thought you were avoiding). So now I know to focus more on learning the ins and outs of Excel, and it’ll make me an even stronger candidate since many PR/journalism/communication majors don’t think to learn it. There are plenty of online resources for teaching yourself skills, and taking the time to develop those skills while everyone else was snoozing through class will set you apart.

2017-2018 is going to be an amazing school year, and you can make it an amazing professional year, too!

XO,

CC

 

 

How I Became a Morning Person

Most articles will tell you that one of the most common habits of CEOs and successful people is that they start their day early. What the article doesn’t tell you is that successful people pretty much have no choice.

Or rather, they did have a choice at some point– back when they were an intern, maybe, and they could either go the extra mile or not.

I have this theory that being good at your job is not as much about talent as it is about time management. And mornings are the ultimate time for time management. It sucks at first, but getting up just an hour earlier puts an extra hour of time back in your day. It’s like a freebie.

No one is bugging you.

The time from around 5-8a.m. is all yours. You can do whatever you need to do– work out, grab coffee, get a project done, or God forbid, eat a healthy breakfast for once. All without a single text or email.

Mornings don’t sound all that bad when I put it that way, do they?

But it’s not easy getting yourself in the habit, which is why not everyone does mornings. Everyone can do mornings, though. It just takes a few tricks.

Turn down the AC.

When you wake up and it’s freezing outside your bed, that does not make you want to get out of bed.

Turn up the coffee.

I mean, you probably knew this tip was coming. You can’t exactly wake up and smell the coffee unless there’s like, actually coffee. Coffee is a morning drink (for most people that aren’t me and only drink coffee once a day) for a reason- it motivates you to get your butt out of bed and at least a few steps into your kitchen. Or Starbucks. Whatever it takes.

Make it easier on yourself to get ready.

Figure out your outfit the night before. If you’re going to the gym, set out your clothes and shoes in advance. It sounds dumb, but

Eat a good breakfast (or at least a passable one).

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Were those stock photos enough for you?

No?

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Still not convinced?

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Aha. Thought so.

One of the perks of perking up in the early AM is having time to get yourself a decent breakfast. Food is an excellent motivator for just about anything.

Go to bed early.

I am a bit hypocritical in this advice. Sleep is not my strong suit. But it’s super important to get yourself in bed at least by 11 to be able to wake up early. Common sense, yeah, but suddenly it’s 2 a.m. and you have no idea why you’re still up writing a blog post. Whoops.

Lose the alarm.

Seriously, it sucks. Use a song instead. A song you like but are okay with not liking, since you’ll hear the sound of an alarm every time you hear it. I used to use “Amber” by 311, but it was so relaxing I sometimes slept through it. So. Don’t do that.

Make it a habit.

Once you’re consistent, your body will get adjusted to the rhythm and it’ll be second nature to be one step ahead of the world. Grab yourself a coffee for being so damn on top of it.

Does anyone else have pointers for becoming a morning person?

XO,

CC

 

 

Work Playlist of the Week: Uplifting Electronic Goodness

Every week, I bring to you a batch of the hottest non-hits that get me through the work day. Fair warning that my musical taste ranges from Blondie to Bassnectar to Britney Spears.

Week of 6/19: A rough week that called for uplifting electronic goodness.

“Not Alone,” Matt & Kim

I haven’t listened to Matt & Kim in a hot minute, but this kept me bouncing in my seat through some stressful stuff.

“Life Itself,” Glass Animals

I first saw Glass Animals at Lollapalooza last year, and I was impressed with their ability to not sound like every other alternative band out there at the moment.

“I Can Change,” LCD Soundsystem

It’s like the 80’s came back! Enjoy this keyboard-driven song that’s both laid back and upbeat.

“We Are Your Friends,” Justice

I can always use some Justice in my life. Fingers crossed I get to see them at Lollapalooza this year, which is (of course) in the park across the street from my office building. And then I can hear them FOR REAL from work! Just kidding. That would be more depressing than cool.

“DVNO,” Justice

More Justice because you can never have enough.

“Oblivion,” Grimes

The nice thing about Grimes is that the music doesn’t distract you too much. Sometimes music makes me want to dance a little too much, but this song is perfect for when you need to be in the zone and crank it out.

“Ready for the Floor,” Hot Chip

Hot Chip is another band I’ve had the pleasure of seeing at Lollapalooza, and they never disappoint. I must just be in the music festival mode, with Taste of Chicago and Pitchfork both coming up soon…

“Where’s Your Head At,” Basement Jaxx**

Just a great electronic head-banger. Also see below.

**BONUS: “M.E.,” Gary Numan

THE ORIGINAL SONG THAT BASEMENT JAXX SAMPLED. I actually discovered this when looking for new 80’s music, and this guy was so ahead of his time. Holy wow.

 

How NOT to get it done

You’ll find a ton of articles telling people how to be more productive and get things done. Well, here I am to tell you how I don’t get things done.

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If I don’t write it down, I don’t get it done.

Think you’ll remember that mental note? Think again. Everything will fly right out of your head the minute after you tell your boss, “Yeah, I can definitely do that!” And then you don’t.

Use a Post-It. Keep a notebook on you. Set reminders on your phone. Whatever you need to do to get it out of your head and into the physical realm ASAP.

If I don’t tell someone I’m doing it, I don’t get it done.

It’s not always enough to hold yourself accountable. If someone knows what you need to do, even if it’s just your roommate, you’ll still feel more responsible for doing it.

If I don’t block off time, I don’t get it done.

Literally schedule time on your calendar to do a task. Treat it like an important meeting.

If I don’t list my tasks in order of importance, I don’t get a single thing done, I just sit there and panic at all the things I need to do and then don’t do anything.

Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. I’ll say it one more time: Prioritize. Categorize emails based on level of importance– this is like dividing and conquering, because once you split up your tasks, you’re mentally putting things into more manageable chunks. It’s still the same amount of work, but because you’re separating your tasks into groups, you can tackle one group at a time without feeling overwhelmed.

Once the panic sets in, it’s hard to stay focused, and you’re so distracted worrying about the things you need to do that you don’t do any of it.

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If I don’t stay organized, I don’t get it done. 

Because if you lose the thing you were supposed to do, you can’t do it.

If I don’t get it started, I don’t get it done. 

The hardest part is when you actually start doing the thing. Until then you just procrastinate and do other things.

If I don’t have coffee in my system, I don’t get it done.

XO,

A

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun (Or Need Time Management Skills)

Most people at work and in school wish the day would go by faster. In PR, it’s a different story: There isn’t enough time in the world to get everything done that needs to get done, and that’s probably why Public Relations Executive is listed in the 10 Most Stressful Jobs among Taxi Driver and Airline Pilot. But like taxi drivers, I somehow survive the traffic jams of my job; it just takes time management and nerves of steel. Easy, right?

That’s not to say I haven’t had my crashes. Every once in a while, I’ll feel beyond overwhelmed at work and realize that I’m missing a meeting or a deadline on a task that had completely slipped my radar. It’s especially hard for interns, whose time is less valued. As an intern, you’re seen as dispensable, so your tasks pile on faster than you can handle them– you’re expected to be up for the challenge, no matter what else you have going on. It gets frustrating, because you feel like you’re juggling so much that you’re going to drop the ball at some point. But guess what? If you’re able to juggle everything without dropping the ball, you won’t be so dispensable anymore. You’ll be needed, respected, and appreciated.

Easier said than done, though. How exactly does time management work?

How to Not Drop The Ball

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Manage Up

Here’s a term for your buzzword list: Managing Up. I actually heard this one in a staff meeting at work, of all places, and it means working effectively and building a strong relationship with your boss. Here are a few ways to manage up:

  • Grab coffee with your manager and tell them your goals for the job. Alternatively, email a memo to your closest supervisors, so that your managers know what projects to give you and appreciate your ability to think about your career.
  • Understand their perspective. As stressed as you are, your boss is probably more stressed, and they’ll be appreciative when you’re responsive to
  • Anticipate your manager’s needs. Make sure to be thinking about how you can make their life easier, and it will make your life easier in turn.

Overcommunicate

Granted, I work in the communications industry. But in any job with tight deadlines an multiple projects, your boss will be just as nervous as you are about something getting done, so she/he will want updates on what’s getting done. This relates to my last point of managing up– you want to keep an open, positive line of communication with your managers about your workload.

  • Don’t wait until you’re done with a project to tell your manager how it’s going. It’s tempting for me to wait until I’m all finished, then present it to my manager with a grand AHA! HERE IT IS email (not literally, but you know what I mean). However, this means there could be a long period of time when your manager has no idea you’re taking care of it, and might even give you a new task because they forget you’re busy with another assignment. Tell them what you’re up to. Give frequent progress reports.
  • Send updates whenever you’re swamped and give a heads up when you’re going to be out of the office. If you have to run out for an hour to complete a task, for example, send a quick email letting your teams know how they can reach you.
  • Before signing off and leaving the office for the day, follow up on each of your projects with your teams to make sure everything has been taken care of.

Don’t Go Overboard

As important as it is to be proactive, you also don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. Be honest about what you can and can’t handle– and if there’s something you truly have no time for, make sure your boss knows before it’s too late.

  • Plan for a crisis each day. When planning out your schedule and workload, leave yourself a cushion of time in case an urgent request comes up.
  • Be assertive with your time. Ask if a deadline is hard; often, your supervisor will say they need something by noon, but it can really wait until 3.
  • It’s okay to say no. Delegate tasks that can be delegated (even to another intern, if you’re an intern) and be honest about what you can and can’t take on.

Think One Step (Or Three) Ahead

If you work ahead and know what’s coming, you can make time that didn’t exist. When you’re feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day, you can create more.

  • Look at your calendar at the end of each day to see how tomorrow looks. Have a ton of meetings? See if you can take care of any tasks the night before so you don’t feel swamped.
  • Always assume something is going to take longer than it actually is. It’s better to overestimate a task and be left with extra time, than to underestimate and get left behind.
  • Use the Time Management Matrix: This is life-changing. I discovered it last week when Googling time management tips during an SOS moment at work. Just draw the grid and bullet-point your tasks according to Urgent/Important, Not Urgent/Important, Urgent/Not Important, and Not Important/Not Urgent. See below example:

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I know this was a doozy of a post, but it’ll save you from a doozy of a work day. These are just a few of many time management tips, so if you have one I missed, share it in the comments below!

XO,

A