Category Archives: professional

Small Steps Lead to Great Destinations (Part 1)

Only four days into 2018 and I’m already looking forward to the weekend.

But I’ve already accomplished some things, however small. One of my big hang-ups last year was knowing where to separate my professional life from my personal life, to truly make clear mental distinctions, for my self and loved ones’ sake.

No matter how challenging or rewarding, most people’s lives and jobs are a source of stress. However, while some seem to inherently know how to leave their work at the office each night and return to it in the morning, others, such as myself, carry it into off-hours like an old suitcase with one handle. So one goal I am actively pursuing and encouraging this year is leaving projects at the door, and setting appropriate boundaries so that all tasks can be given equal opportunity to be focused on and completed.

Prior to, well, Tuesday, I used a sole task management system to streamline all processes, projects, and communications — professional and personal. In doing so, little did I realize that I was not optimizing performance as intended. Instead, I was muddling various stresses and responding with misdirected energies. Without the distinction, I soon grew numb and unresponsive to a tool designed to make me more productive.

With that, I’ve decided to separate my tasks between two systems: Microsoft Outlook for professional tasks, and Google Keep for personal tasks. Considering I have used both Office and G Suites in such a capacity over the years, it makes sense. I already feel lifted by the change, which has proven to be more psyche-oriented than purely administrative.

To recap: You wouldn’t run a half-marathon in a pair of six-inch stilettos, nor would you expect to sail across the ocean in a bus. Yes, shoes are shoes, and vehicles are vehicles, but knowing how to use them effectively and for their intended use only increases the benefits, inclusive of health and well-being. 

In the case of task management, seeing “practice restorative yoga” next to “update spreadsheet” was more burden then help. Making a clearer distinction of my personal and professional goals has already benefited me greatly, positioning me a few steps closer to my destination.


How Do I…? Mental Feng Shui 

Whenever I hear about feng shui, it’s referenced as being an arrangement of objects to where the placement holds the possibility to either foster or hinder energy. It’s this energy that we need to attain a desired outlook, perception, and foundation for oneself.  (This article via Real Simple explains it really well.)

Now, I’m not an expert, but if there is one thing I know it’s that it is about far more than furniture. If, at its core, it is about what keeps things in the direction in which we are going, then I’d like to apply the concept to the space where we spend all of our time — our minds.

Below are five potential ideas on how to do so:

1. Daydream for a minute. Literally, for 60 seconds (or 30, if you’re really pressed for time). The brief shift in focus may be all that’s needed to get to the next moment with a little less stress at the helm.

2. Change your smartphone’s wallpaper or theme. It’s a little like getting a new sheet set, to be honest. As a Samsung user, I’ve found plenty of free themes in the Samsung Themes section of Settings (and I’m fairly certain the iPhone has plenty of options available as well). My two favorites are Ece and Aurora_curiosoo, shown below:

Ece Samsung theme

Aurora_curiosoo Samsung theme

3. Update your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn has quickly become the social media equivalent of one’s resume, without the formal pressure of a cover letter and stiffly-worded salutation. Even if you aren’t looking for a new employment opportunity, it’s a good way to remind yourself of your strengths and abilities especially if you happen to feel stagnant for one reason or another. Plus, the news feed and following capabilities make it a great space to build and maintain a professional network. Not everyone can make it to meetups or mixers,  but you can definitely log in to LinkedIn.

4. Do something different. Anything. Use a different pen to note tasks. Walk a different route during your afternoon break. Eat your salad with a different salad dressing. Listen to a band, artist, or podcaster that sounds like or covers similar topics to whoever you currently listen to. It is the quickest way to do something out of the box yet remain close to any previously designated boundaries of comfort. And on that note…

5. Keep your ear to the ground entertainment-wise. There are numerous options to stay in the now with TV, films, music, and books. I’ve had Netflix and HBO Go for ages and recently subscribed to Amazon Music. Personally, I enjoy the relative non-commitment of listening to numerous albums before buying them, But also, there’s something about commercial-free streaming that keeps the vibes at a cool, even keel.

This is merely my personal take at present — please feel free to leave any tips in the comments on how you funnel energy and iron out the kinks.


Lead photo via Benicia Herald

Is LinkedIn the New Facebook?

I used to follow a very notable personality who I had assumed was an expert in nutrition, fitness, etc. Without naming names, it was one of those situations where — with  an e-book, numerous videos, subscribers, a certain aesthetic and surety in one’s voice — it would have been tough to not think they were an expert in some way.

Naturally, not just this one person, but many others I’d assumed to be relative experts, started coming out as just that: personalities, with life experience as teacher, and not experts in their field or line of interest.

Now, to me, there’s nothing wrong with any of that. However, there is something to be said for some backing regarding one’s experience rather than merely what they speak about. It’s one of the reasons why I’m taking public speaking courses, digging through old textbooks on literary theory, looking to perform personal essays — for me myself, I need some educational backing to improve upon my interests, and to work with the world around me to do so  (but I digress… so worth it, though).

With all that said, LinkedIn is quickly becoming the hottest place for normal folks to build one’s brand, if not already. No longer a place to merely update your resume in between jobs, it is a highly active networking/sharing platform for professionals of all types.

On YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, etc., if you’re a lifestyle / vegan / travel / fashion / fitness / model / guru / whatever, you’re probably going to be lost in a sea of carefully crafted personas. LinkedIn, however, is a slightly smaller pool with with less trolling and more substance. It is user-friendly with liking, sharing, and following capabilities, but is built on professionalism first. Now a place with influencers and channels, it’s a buzzing environment and a lot of fun to navigate.

In my personal opinion, Facebook is quickly becoming MySpace in the form of memes, viral video sharing, and random pages of cluttered, black hole content. It seems to be implementing flashy integrations to boost its relevancy when compared to competitors rather than actually improve users’ experience — whereas other outlets such as LinkedIn provide more focus, with the foundation of professional networking that seems to curb any overstepping.

Social media is definitely not going anywhere. It provides an opportunity in which spectator can be entertainer (and vice versa), a highly interactive format where anyone’s voice can be heard. That’s powerful. And really, for all the meh content and functionality, there’s some really great stuff out there as well.

But if you’re looking to improve upon your brand and network, I highly suggest LinkedIn. If you’re not logged in at least three times a week, well, you really might want to be. In fact, I dare you.

Do you think I have a point, or is this all BS? (I don’t think so, but I’m open to being wrong).

What’s your favorite way to network?