Show your boss how valuable you are. Ace that performance review.

It’s time for annual performance reviews. You can hear the business world release its collective angst-filled sigh.

Employees with barely enough time need to fight for their jobs and hopefully eek out a nominal raise. Managers with too much work to do must toe the bottom line while still encouraging their employees to return to work.

As George Carlin says, “Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.”

Suddenly, it’s your time to fight for yourself. And don’t forget that you want your pay to keep up with inflation in Hunger Games for the workplace. But, if you haven’t prepared all year long for your annual performance review, what can you do at the last minute to get that raise or promotion?

1. Prepare to sell your best of self.

Get your game face on. Overcome that limiting belief that you’re not good at sales or that selling is slimy. If you want any hope of convincing your boss that you need a cost-of-living increase, a raise, or a promotion, you need to sell yourself and the value you bring.

Yes, you bring value to your company. The better you can convince your boss that you’re an asset, the better the chance you’ll walk out of your annual performance review meeting happy. Everyone, including your boss, seeks love or satisfaction and avoiding pain. Use this to your benefit, even if you must bite your tongue.

2. Review saved emails and files.

A lot can happen in a year. It’s easy to forget accomplishments from 11 months ago. While that compliment you got from your boss’s boss in February made your day, you might have forgotten it by now. That one project that kicked your butt for an entire week early second quarter might be a distant memory today.

Review your email history, saved emails, and the files saved on your computer. Take notes and be prepared to use this information to sell the value you add to your boss and the firm. These examples of your competence are vital as you sell yourself as deserving of a pay increase or promotion.

3. Use last year’s annual review and this year’s goals.

Annual performance reviews are measurements. Measurements need at least two data points. For projects and responsibilities that lasted more than one year, use last year’s annual performance review as the basis to show how far you’ve come.

Be prepared to address every previously established goal for this year. If your goals changed mid-year, share how far you got with both your original and new goals.

4. Be specific and brief.

If you report to a senior manager or an even higher-up, be prepared to be specific and brief. Your boss will see through your façade if you go on forever. They’ll think your bloviating at best and lying at worst, both of which are a waste of their time. No one likes to have their time wasted.

Keep it simple and stick to the facts.

5. Support all your success with benefits.

Busy bosses sometimes need reminding of how valuable you are to them. You’re an expense to your boss and firm. That’s fine if you’re providing enough value, so be clear with the value you’re providing. Use the Actions/Benefits Formula.

With each statement of value, complete this formula: “I did A, which resulted in B,” where A equals your action(s) and B equals the quantifiable benefit(s).

When you’ve completed that formula for all the benefits you include in your annual performance review, rephrase your statements for the same results to not sound monotonous. You don’t want your boss to fall asleep on you.

Practice ahead of time for best results.

6. Be real.

I’ve already addressed not being too bullshitty. You can bullshit a little if you’ve got the data to back it up. Include too much, though, and your boss will dismiss your review. That could mean no bonus or promotion, and that’s no bueno.

Being real means including challenges in your annual performance review. You’re human, and to make it appear otherwise is inauthentic. Your boss wants an authentic performance review so they can work with you.

Be open to their feedback. Write their feedback down. Follow up with clarifying statements to prove that you hear what they’re saying.

Be realistic, but don’t show all your cards. Don’t admit mistakes. Instead, frame them as “challenges” and “opportunities” the way a politician would.

7. Going forward, prepare all year long.

Can you wait until the last minute, like your midterm presentation in college, to score yourself a good performance review? Sure, and it’s possible. However, you want to make more money, right? Do you want to climb that corporate ladder? Then, don’t shoot for a C or even a B.

Go for the A+!

As soon as you turn on your office computer in the new year, create a folder in your email and a file folder on your computer both titled for the current year.

Whenever you receive a positive comment or review, file it and save it. Anytime you’ve completed or been a part of a successful project, save the supporting documentation. Start immediately. It’ll make preparing for next year’s annual review much easier.

Don’t include every positive quote or successful project in your next annual performance review, just the biggest, the best, and the most important. These give support for the amazing sales pitch you’ll give next year for more money and more responsibility.

When you rock your annual performance review and get yourself that raise or promotion, use your increased income to build a more financially secure future by increasing your retirement plan contributions, paying off debt, and investing.

Taking on more responsibility and increasing your income does you no good — if doesn’t reduce your financial stress or truly improve your quality of life.

With the right preparation, you’ll feel more comfortable in your next performance review, and your confidence will show, potentially landing you higher pay and a better position.

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Create your dream job. Glitter optional.

Once in a while, we present Adulting.tv LIVE! Subscribe on YouTube to hear about future events, and share your questions about or suggestions for our next discussions!

Show Notes

Today we don’t have a video, but we did talk to Lillian Karabaic from Oh My Dollar!. We talk about finding your dream job. Lillian has had several interesting jobs in her life, and she’s done what she can to enjoy what she does.

Sometimes, your dream job isn’t what you think it is. And sometimes you have to create your own dream. No matter your path, though, it’s possible for you to enjoy yourself and make a difference.

Lillian brings a dash of glitter to everything she does, from personal finance to job hunting. Let’s make it happen. With kittens!

Oh My Dollar! on Twitter.
Oh My Dollar! on Facebook.

And make sure to join us at the #Adulting community on Facebook!

Listen to the audio podcast below.

Hosted byHarlan L. Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart
Music bybensound.com

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Leave the cat memes and gifs on facebook. If you’re serious about networking and growing your career, you have to get your LinkedIn game up.

The vast number of social networking opportunities can sometimes leave the people overwhelmed and confused about which social media networks to focus on and the best practices for each platform. What works on one platform probably won’t work on another.

If you’re a social media holdout, I get your confusion. It seems like almost everyone is on Facebook, but it’s a dizzying space with a mix of political rants, favorite recipes, pictures of babies, and vacations. If you’re looking to connect with people professionally, Facebook presents some very specific challenges that most professionals would be wise to avoid.

Twitter is the land of sharing the occasional crazy thoughts and funny memes. Again, professionals could set themselves up there, but the temptation to stray from professional decorum is too great, so again, professionals should continue to seek another platform to set up their professional profile.

What sets LinkedIn Apart.

Fortunately, LinkedIn provides a great space to set up business profiles that will hopefully resist the urge to descend into craziness and connect users with great professional opportunities.

First, users of LinkedIn need to be clear about what the purpose and goal of LinkedIn is: it’s a social networking platform that professionals use to connect with other professionals and companies. You typically will not see cat memes, baby pictures, or the other random-ass stuff that you see on other platforms.

These people mean business. I will be the first to admit that I find LinkedIn to be…aesthetically underwhelming. It is not a space that focuses on being pretty. It unapologetically focuses on the process of connecting professionals one connection at a time.

Building your profile.

That approach especially applies to the picture that you share on your profile. Again, it should be a professional picture. Your hair should be neat, your clothing unobtrusive (and, maybe a bit boring). Basically, think of it this way-you’re presenting yourself as a professional. You want a picture that screams “hire me” or “work with me.” Not, “I’m crazy” or “last one to play beer pong.”

Next, begin filling out your profile details-being mindful that these will be viewed from a business professional lense. People will look at your details with the thought of: would I want to work or collaborate with this person? As you fill out your profile be careful to avoid trite catchphrases, but figure out the best way to communicate:

  • Leadership roles that you’ve been in. Are you the president of your local professional association? Do you run workshops that help other business professionals? If you do you would be considered an influencer?
  • How you helped organizations that you’ve worked with. Did you help them make more money? Attract media mentions? Grow their clientele?
  • Or, are you an entrepreneur and have helped people grow their income? Find confidence to grow their own business, etc.

As you share your details, be a bit unemotional about it, but, do share the details.

Don’t get sucked into the great 3rd person vs. 1st person profile language debate. Every since LinkedIn was founded people have argued (sometimes in circles) about the choice of pronoun that you should use when working on your profile. My advice is to use the language that you feel will best highlight you and stick with it.

Master social etiquette.

Time to get social. LinkedIn has a feature where you endorse other people’s skills. Feel free to endorse your connections’ skills. Comment on people’s posts and projects that they’ve shared on their timelines. Be genuine in your interactions. You will find that your contacts will also share the love!

Don’t forget to share projects that you’re working on, resources that may be useful to your contacts, and connect people that you feel may be able to help each other in their business.

LinkedIn also has a pretty fantastic blog offering tips and ideas for users of the platform. It’s definitely worth a look. In fact, LinkedIn’s online resources are much easier to use than Facebook’s (which tends to be way too techy).

Finally, like all social media platforms, remember that LinkedIn functions like a search engine. What that means is that certain keywords and phrases will make your profile easily found by other professionals and businesses looking to potentially partner or hire people.

Spend some time typing in phrases that you would use to search for people or resources. Look at how those profiles are set up.

LinkedIn may be the “unsexy” social media platform, but it absolutely gets the job done.

Do you have any good LinkedIn tips to share? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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You may want to take this job and shove it, but the best thing to do is much more boring.

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It’s really tempting to quit your job with a flourish. We’ve seen the stories of the souls who launch into a tirade and stick it to the soul-sucking company they’ve been working for years.

It’s a nice thought, but an office meltdown or dramatic exit as you leave customers in a lurch probably isn’t the best way to quit your job. When you burn bridges, you run the risk of having your behavior come back to haunt you later.

Today, we talk about how to quit your job without destroying your career, and while keeping your network intact.

Concepts

  • Reasons your current work relationships matter.
  • The importance of maintaining connections for networking purposes.
  • Why a dramatic exit might feel good but could cost you be ruining your reputation in an industry.
  • How to approach your boss about having the talk about you quitting.
  • Tips for having the conversation with your boss, without telling your coworkers.
  • The importance of talking with HR and making sure you understand the terms of your employment.
  • What you need to know if you plan to work for a competitor.
  • How to respond if your boss is being unpleasant.

This week’s DO NOWs address the steps you need to take in order get ready to quit your job. They include double-checking the terms of your employment before you talk to anyone, as well as creating a script.

Our listener this week really wants to be mean to everyone in their toxic work environment. However, that might not be the way to go. We talk about the merits of being professional no matter what — even if you don’t want to maintain relationships with those around you.

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Don’t let your fate rest in one person’s hands.

A recent study in the U.K. showed that kids no longer aspire to be singers, actors or athletes. They’d rather be business leaders and entrepreneurs.

Well, that’s just dandy. No, it really is.

Sure, I wanted to grow up to be Madonna or even Stevie Nicks. But, for many reasons (obvious and not so obvious) that was never going to work out. I got into business — much to the relief of my parents. That worked out pretty well. I made it to middle-management and life was easy.

Then, I got the bug!

I couldn’t work for someone else any longer, wanted to do my own thing, and I knew what I wanted to do. Then, life wasn’t so easy. The life of an entrepreneur is a roller coaster. However, I wouldn’t change it for the world because now that I’ve survived the good, the bad and the ugly, it’s excellent.

One of the reasons my business is good to me is that I’m no longer reliant on one stream of income. The second and better reason is I’m no longer reliant on one person for my income. Finally, there’s diversity in what I do. Today, alone, I’m working on three of the incomes streams I mention below. If I wanted to, I could choose to do none of them.

To me, that speaks to the power when you diversify your income streams if you want to be an entrepreneur today. Here are my recommendations for you to consider and how I’m using (most of) them.

1. Monetize your blog.

You already know that I want you to become a blogger. I want everyone to become a blogger. I think blogs are as important as resumes. Plus, they can create the opportunity for you to go solo. There are many benefits to having your blog, some of which I’ll include in the following.

One of the easiest ways to make money from blogging is to monetize your blog. Google Ad Sense and Amazon Affiliate Links are probably the two most popular and accessible ways to monetize your blog. There are other companies you can you, but these are the only two I’ve used, so I don’t want to mention them.

When I first started blogging, we used Google Ad Sense that included a banner ad at the top and bottom of our blog and a square ad on the right rail of our blog. Choosing specific parameters, I permitted Google to rotate ads carousel-style on my blog.

Because you make money when people who visit your blog click on these ads, the more traffic you have, the better your return on your investment (ROI). Over time Google Ad Sense and their competition have decreased in their ROI, but they’re still an easy way to make money when you start blogging.

I use Amazon Affiliates for two reasons. The first is I have more control of what I promote on my blog. I don’t run the risk of advertising the vacuum cleaner of the week to my audience who has no interest in vacuum cleaners.

On top of that, I don’t have unrelated banner and square ads taking up real estate on my blog. Amazon Affiliate links are a better way than Google Ad Sense to make money in our experience. We have a blogger friend whose whole business is based on Amazon Affiliate Links.

2. Add affiliate marketing to your blog.

The most lucrative marketing strategy, at least for me, is affiliate marketing. Affiliating marketing is when you establish a relationship with a company to promote or sell their product on your blog.

The reason affiliate marketing is lucrative is two-fold. First, the affiliate payouts are better — at least for the companies I partner. My blog is about personal finance for the LGBTQ community, and all my affiliates are finance related.

The second reason affiliate marketing is lucrative is because I only affiliate with partners that can serve my niche. For example, when I talk about the benefits of refinancing a loan, I can link directly to an affiliate of mine that does that. My readers don’t see an ad for the vacuum cleaner of the week when I’m helping them lower their interest rates.

Another friend of mine has a course about making money with affiliate marketing. If this is something you want to learn, check it out.

3. Start freelance writing.

Freelance writing has been good to me, but it took me a while to earn credentials to become a freelance writer. I’m glad about that. Of course, I wanted to get paid for my writing the first day I started blogging. When I look back on my first blog articles, though, I recognize that they’re horrible.

Blogging for myself for years helped me find my voice and style — learn more about being a better writer. That time was valuable.

When you’re ready to write for others, it’s worth it. It’s helpful, though not necessary, to find clients in the niche you’ve established for yourself on your blog. I’ve seen it’s easier to sell yourself because your portfolio aligns with your potential client’s needs.

That said, I write for Adulting, which isn’t exclusively about personal finance. It’s been fun and worthwhile for me.

Another friend of mine has a course that teaches you how to become a freelance writer, even making it your primary income stream. If this interests you, I highly recommend her course.

4. Connect with brands for brand partnerships.

Brand partnerships are fun! I’ve done everything from simply attending an event to being part of a game show.

As your following grows on your blog, and as your email list gets bigger, and as your social media presence grows, you’ll become an “influencer.”

Fancy, huh?

Simply advertising on television and radio aren’t marketing strategies anymore. Brands partner with people or other businesses that have a following to generate interest and excitement in their products and services.

For this income stream, Twitter has been invaluable. Twitter’s struggling, and many think Twitter’s dead, but for me, it’s been great because it’s the primary way that I’ve been able to connect with top brands in my niche.

Again, I’ve only partnered with brands I believe in, and that align with my business’s mission. I don’t want to bring my readers to an event where they’ll be sold something that will sabotage their goals and our relationship.

As my social media following has grown, I’m having discussions with brands that aren’t in my niche but with whom there could be a symbiotic relationship.

5. Become a public speaker.

Public speaking is also fun after the nauseous pit in your stomach goes away, at least for me. Now that I’ve overcome that feeling, public speaking has been good to me.

Having a voice on your blog makes getting into public speaking because people and businesses want to know what you have to say before they hire you to say it. Again, having a social media following helps, too. Companies like it when you can attract an audience to an event.

Public speaking can be very lucrative once you’re even slightly established. If you get into public speaking, you’ll do some gigs for free. Just like with your first articles, you’ll eventually feel that not getting paid for your first public speaking gigs is a good thing.

Once you’ve gotten better at the craft, the trajectory to earn good money is slightly less than vertical. An added perk with public speaking in cities where you don’t live is that the people and businesses that hire you expect to pay for your travel, hotel, and some food.

Another friend of mine has a public speaking course, that’s all about how to get into the public speaking space. It’s the course I use and some of his templates I still use today.

6. Become a podcaster.

Honestly, I fell into podcasting totally by accident. Thank heavens I did fall into it.

I love podcasting because it’s a wealth of information. I’m gay. My husband’s gay. Our platform is personal finance for the LGBTQ community. One might think that I know my community inside and out. But I don’t. There is so much that I don’t know — and my podcast helped me see that.

When I learn something new on my podcast, I research it and learn how my business can help. This new knowledge gives me content for future podcasts, freelancing writing, and articles for my blog that link to affiliates with solutions. See the cycle?

Podcasting has also been a good income stream for me. Some of my brand partnerships have happened in part because I’ve included my podcast as a selling feature with the partnership. Also, because brands want to connect with my niche, the LGBTQ community, brands have asked to sponsor my show.

7. Sell courses.

I’m creating my first course now. As you can see from all my recommendations above, many online entrepreneurs create courses on topics they’re capable of teaching. Even before you start doing any of the above, you may already be an expert in something you can teach.

That’s great! Don’t wait. Create your course. Make your course your main platform.

Is it easier to sell your course after you’ve generated a steady stream of traffic to your site and after you have a substantial social media following? Yes.

Is that the only path? No.

I have another friend/colleague, who established her course as her platform and her blog traffic and social media following followed.

Being creative with marketing your course may make my above recommendations easier or unnecessary.

8. Be a social media manager.

My next two recommendations aren’t income streams for me, but I know many people for whom they are.

Social media is essential for bloggers. It can be a full-time job itself. In fact, for many bloggers, it is. That’s why they hire out their social media to social media managers. As your business, brand and social media following grow, it’s harder to stay engaged with your social media followers personally. Your blog traffic and your social media following are your bread and butter. Don’t dismiss it.

The good thing about becoming a social media manager is that if you like (or are already good with) one or more social media platforms, research on YouTube and with podcasts how to become a social media manager for someone else, and you can make yourself a nice income.

As with anything, you may need to start at the bottom of the income ladder, but it won’t be long before you can make this a part of your income stream.

9. Help others by becoming a virtual assistant.

Though I haven’t been a virtual assistant, I desperately need one. The job description for a virtual assistant is broad, and you can define it on your terms. Virtual assistants:

• Manage emails
• Manage calendars
• Manage social media
• Help with editing
• Website/blog design
• Research
• Act as personal assistants
• Other random items

What and how much service you provide will help determine how much you charge, commensurate with experience. If you need, start out simple and small. As time goes on, add more skills to your resume and increase your prices.

The most significant selling point of being a virtual assistant, in addition to the income stream, is that you virtually assist from literally anywhere in the world. It’s in the job title. Want to work from Idaho Falls? Do it. Want to work from a beach in the Caribbean? The option is yours.

These are just nine ways you can diversify income streams. They’re not the only ways. Hopefully, these nine will get your entrepreneur brain churning on all the ways you can make money in addition to working for your boss or working for yourself.

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Got told your job performance isn’t up to par? The answer isn’t at the bottom of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Your response can change everything.

There are certain feelings you start to leave behind after adolescence. The intense anxiety of a first date. The raw shame of being scolded by a parent. The unbridled excitement of Christmas morning.

You might think the churning feeling in the pit of your stomach after failing a test goes away, too. Until you get a bad performance review at work.

There’s nothing worse than being told you’re doing a bad job. It’s a confidence killer and can leave you questioning your entire career. It just sucks.

But a successful career comes from moving past adversity, and a bad review isn’t the end of the world. What really matters is how you move forward from it.

If you got torn apart on your latest review, here’s how you can put yourself back together.

Commiserate and cool off.

I remember my first official performance review. I was so excited. Growing up, I remembered my parents getting performance reviews once a year, usually followed by a hefty annual bonus or raise.

When I sat down, I expected to get a glowing review, full of remarks about my hard work, dedication, and ingenuity – followed by a nice fat check.

Unfortunately, that’s not what I got. While my boss was complimentary, he was also quick to point out my flaws, many of which I hadn’t noticed. I was blindsided and furious, but in the meeting, I remained stoic and professional. I considered that an emotional triumph, even if I wanted to go cry in the bathroom.

I went back to my office, closed the door and took a few moments to breathe. Then, I went to the nearby CVS to pick up some chocolate and call my mom.

I was so disappointed in myself. I remember staring at the official performance review with my total score on it, a 3.5 out of 5. Didn’t my boss like me? Wasn’t I doing well? I felt like a high schooler again, freaking out after a bad test score.

Venting to my mom made me feel better, as did inhaling a bunch of junk food. After I returned to the office, I decided that I liked my job and wanted to get better at it, even if meant facing some things I didn’t know about myself.

If you get a bad review, take time to cool off before you respond to your supervisor. Responding well to criticism is a key component of being a good employee. Pouting or whining about your review will only make you look worse, feel worse, and fail to improve.

Instead, look closely at what your boss said. Realize that more than likely, they’re just trying to help you become better at your job. The more you improve, the better off you’ll be, so try to see a bad review as an opportunity.

Talk to other people at work.

If you’re still not convinced that your boss is on point with her criticism, talk to other people at work to see if they agree. Remember that they may hesitate to be honest with you, hoping to avoid hurting your feelings. Make it crystal clear that you really want the honest-to-goodness truth.

Even if your coworkers do agree with your supervisor’s assessment, they should be able to remind you of your strengths and valuable contributions as well. Maybe they’ll be able to share their own stories of bad reviews. Getting an outside perspective can help you see that this isn’t the worst news you could possibly get.

Ask your boss questions.

When you get a bad review, it can leave you spinning. You might be too focused on getting out of the room ASAP instead of trying to understand what you did wrong. However, it’s important to leave an evaluation with a clear idea of what you’re doing badly and how to correct it.

For example, if your boss says your presentations aren’t persuasive, you need to figure out why. Are they too boring? Are you not identifying your client’s pain points? Where exactly are your weak spots?

It might seem embarrassing to ask for a breakdown of your flaws when you’d rather highlight your strengths, but it’s important to dig deep into the criticism. Your boss needs to know you understand how you can improve or they won’t feel confident in your abilities. They’ll be impressed if you clearly want to get better, and disappointed if you try to walk past any criticism.

Follow up later.

Once you’ve had a chance to look over the review and implement the necessary changes, find your boss a month or so later and ask them if they’ve noticed any differences. You want to make sure what you’re doing is working, and make your desire to improve clear to your boss.

You can schedule a formal meeting to determine if the changes are working. Even if you’re still falling short, your boss should appreciate your resolve to find a solution. Remember, employers like problem solvers, so always come prepared with other ideas that might work.

How have you responded to a poor performance review? Let us know in #Adulting Facebook community

 

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Don’t let the holiday music and parties get you off your game. Here’s how to enjoy the season while keeping things together!

I live in Colorado and as I’m writing this we are gearing up for our first snow day…even though the weather has been near 80 degrees for the past couple of days. Weather whiplash is a very real thing and so is decreased productivity during the holiday season and colder months.

This year has been epically crazy, so a lot of people will probably be caught off guard by the fact that the holiday season is just around the corner. OMG. You’re probably having a minor panic attack as you read that sentence and I’m right there with you. I’m freaking out because the holidays have historically killed my productivity if I don’t have a well-thought-out plan.

Let’s plan together and stay on top of things.

Work your schedule.

First, spend some time reviewing your schedule from October through January. Why those four months in particular? They are the four months where people begin to shop more, celebrate the holidays, and have a substantial uptick in personal plans.

Those plans may include: trips to visit relatives or friends, holiday parties, going to the theater, or hosting an event at your home.

Grab your planner and write down as many of those events as possible so that you have a clear idea of what’s coming up. Then, remove any event or activity that isn’t 100% necessary from your schedule. By taking the action of removing unnecessary events from your schedule you’re creating a buffer in your schedule and freeing yourself from obligations that will ultimately distract you from taking care of the things that are important.

Fall in love with the word NO!

The holiday season tugs on many people’s emotions. As a result, people may find themselves saying “yes” to activities that are a distraction. People may also need to say “no” when asked to participate in activities with emotional vampires.

You’re probably wondering how an emotional vampire affects your productivity? Well, they suck your energy dry. If drama ensues (and it typically does) with an emotional vampire, you’re getting sucked into calls recapping and discussing whatever imagined drama that the emotional vampire is upset about.

Saying “no” will be one of your most powerful productivity tools this holiday season. You’ll thank me later! On the flipside of this, say “yes” to activities with people that will lift you up and fill you with joy.

Shop from home.

In the age of Amazon Prime, Hello Fresh, Thrive Market, and Safeway grocery delivery, why on earth do you still insist on going to the grocery store several times a week? On Saturday or Sunday take some time to review your upcoming week. Create a meal plan and order your groceries or a meal kit service.

If you’re needing new clothes, order them instead of going to the store, and if you’re feeling especially focused on embracing systems to make your life easier, you may consider scheduling someone to help with cleaning during weeks when you have a ton of guests or just an especially hectic schedule. Don’t clean before the cleaners arrive – that’s a waste of your time!

Spend time getting ahead wherever you can. Here are some personal and professional examples:

  • If you celebrate Thanksgiving and plan on having guests that weekend, begin planning NOW. Start picking up non-perishable items such as: condensed milk, extra aluminum foil, the baking pan for the turkey, or canned cranberry jelly. Or, you could order a pre-made meal and save your time for spending time with friends and family.
  • Work backward on your projects. What do I mean by this? Look at the projects you’re currently working on and spend time getting ahead of those projects by looking at the end result you’re working towards. Figure out the deadline for those tasks and then work backward from that deadline. You’ll most like complete those projects faster and you’ll also create a time buffer because you’ll be ahead of your schedule.
  • Digital content creator? Blogger or Podcaster? Spend some time scheduling your content ahead (building a content buffer) similar to what was mentioned during the previous point.

Part of managing and maintaining your productivity is acknowledging that you can’t do everything and that the holiday season is a constant process of balancing:

  • Your expectations
  • Other people’s expectations
  • Social Commitments
  • Work

Maintaining your productivity during the holidays ultimately requires you to give yourself some grace, focus on one day at a time, and have realistic expectations of what you can do for you and what you can do for others.

Do you have any good tips to share? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Entrepreneurs play by their own rules and are living the dream – and then reality sets in.

I love my job. As a freelance writer, I have the time and freedom to travel, exercise and pursue hobbies whenever and wherever I want. If I have to finish an assignment, I can do it just as easily from a hotel lobby in Bermuda as I can from my home office. It’s a gig that I wake up every morning grateful for.

But sometimes, it can be a real bitch.

Freelancing, for all its allure, is a risky and stress-inducing career path. It forces you to manage every aspect of your business – and face all the consequences for your mistakes. Working for yourself will make you appreciate aspects of an office job you never even thought of.

Basically, I’m trying to tell you that freelancing has a dark side.

It’s isolating.

As an extrovert, it’s not surprising that one of my favorite parts of my old job was chatting with coworkers. I loved gossiping about other people in the office, discussing the latest “Game of Thrones” episode, and fighting over the leftover bagels.

Now I work at home. The only other living creatures are my husband and two dogs – who are great company – but don’t offer the same opportunities for varied opinions and perspectives. I miss the camaraderie of the office and being part of a team. When I have a problem with an editor or want to complain about something I saw on Twitter, I don’t have other people to do it with.

My situation is even more frustrating because I moved to a new city at the same time I quit my job. I have friends here, but it’s not the same as seeing a consistent group every day. Making new friends is always hard, and even more challenging when you work at home all day.

In some ways, freelancing is the job that’s least compatible with my personality. I love being around people and still dream about the good ol’ days when I could vent to a coworker in person. Even though I love making my own decisions, I miss holiday office parties and big staff meetings.

It’s all on you.

When I had just graduated from college and was looking for a job, a friend asked me if I had considered becoming a freelance writer. I was trying to find a job in the magazine industry, which is as competitive and difficult as “The Devil Wears Prada” makes it out to be. Months after graduation, I was still unemployed.

I told her I didn’t want to freelance full-time. It’s too unstable, I said. I knew a few freelancers, and most of them were seasoned journalists who had written for Esquire or The New Yorker. I couldn’t even land a gig at my hometown newspaper.

It’s ironic that I became a freelancer when I spent so many years vehemently opposed to the idea. While I’ve gotten used to paying quarterly taxes, buying my own health insurance and working on vacation, I still don’t enjoy the instability.

Unless you have regular retainer clients, you have to drum up business every month. Most of the time, I land more than enough work to cover my bills, entertainment budget, and savings goals. I’ve also had several slow months, where I’ve had to dip into our emergency fund to cover the bills. Some days I feel rich – other days I feel jealous of my friends who still have regular 9-5 jobs.

It’s all-encompassing.

At my last “regular” job, I never had any problems leaving work at the office. I didn’t check my email on the weekends or during vacations, and I didn’t feel guilty for it. My job was not my life.

Now, my job makes up a bigger part of who I am and how I define myself. Since my personal email and my work email is the same, I often check it when I go to bed and when I wake up.

I’ve heard the same from others who have started their own business. I once read that being an entrepreneur means working 80 hours a week for yourself instead of working 40 hours for someone else. I’ve gotten used to this new mindset, but it’s not for everyone.

It’s unpredictable.

Even when I was working in the unstable field of journalism, I never worried about losing my job. If I got laid off, I could collect unemployment and move back home until I found something else.

Now I’m always in fear that my freelancing clients will dry up, that my luck will run out or that robots will learn to write articles better than me.

To combat my fear and anxiety, I save a lot for retirement, have a substantial emergency fund and remind myself to enjoy being self-employed. I can travel when I want to, take on work that I enjoy and get to see my friends and family more than I ever did before.

Are you an entrepreneur who has experienced the dark side? What are some other tough things that people overlook? We’d love to hear about it in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Unpaid internships suck. Make the most of a shitty situation.

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One of the common themes of the college experience is the internship. So often, it’s required to graduate. And, even if it’s not, many people feel like an internship is necessary in order to get practical work experience.

But just because an internship is necessary, it doesn’t mean that it’s actually useful. In recent years, controversy has surrounded unpaid internships, thanks to some shady practices by some companies.

Before you decide to go for an internship — especially one that’s unpaid — listen to this week’s episode.

Concepts

  • Advantages of some internships.
  • How to make good connections with an internship.
  • Drawbacks to internships.
  • The problems with unpaid internships.
  • How to make the most of your experience, even if the situation isn’t ideal.
  • A look at the federal guidelines governing internships.
  • Tips for managing an unpaid internship when you really can’t afford it.

This week, DO NOWs are about deciding whether or not an internship is worth it, and then taking steps to get the best possible position.

This week’s listener question deals with weighing the pros and cons of different types of internships. When does it make sense to take an unpaid internship over one that’s paid?

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Resources

Useless unpaid internships.
Are unpaid internships exploitive?

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Not getting the downtime you deserve? Here’s how to ask for a vacation.

If you’re like me, you work to travel.

You can’t travel, though, unless you can get away from work. Even if you don’t have the travel-bug, staycations are worth it. But getting vacation time is necessary if you plan to get away at all.

Studies suggest that men who don’t take a vacation at least once a year are 32% more likely to die of a heart attack. It’s miserable to die for work. For that reason alone, you should vacation as much as you can.

The problem is, it’s easier to get a child to stop saying “no” than to get a boss to start saying “yes” to more time off. Here are ways to go up, up and away and far and away (yes, that’s two movie references in one sentence).

Negotiate vacation time before taking a job.

The absolute best time to arrange adequate vacation time (read: more vacation time than you’re offered) is to negotiate the amount of vacation you want — or think you can get — before you accept a job offer.

Before you sign the employer/employee contract, you have the leverage to negotiate more of what you want. The more the hiring manager wants you, the more leverage you have. Sure, you could negotiate yourself out of a job. But, in most cases, by the time negotiations start, the hiring manager has usually made their decision and put in the time to extend the offer.

If, during the negotiation, you feel like you’re starting to lose, stop. Just remember that negotiating before you accept an offer is optimal. Negotiating afterward isn’t impossible; it’s just improbable.

Negotiate vacation time before taking a promotion.

If you’re reading this article after you have a job, all hope isn’t lost.

Getting vacation time isn’t a matter of applying to another company, either. Just ask for a promotion within your current company. A job promotion often comes another opportunity to negotiate for more. You’ll already be talking about a pay increase, so you might as well throw in talk about a vacation increase.

It’s likely that your company has salary and vacation policies established by its human resource department, but everything is negotiable — especially for the right person for the right promotion. The better your current job performance and the better you interview for a promotion, the more likely you are to get the pay and vacation you want.

Swap increased pay for increased vacation time.

All salary negotiations run the risk of stalling. All businesses have budgets. Maybe the person hiring you doesn’t have complete control over what they can offer you. They probably have a range to stick to.

If you’re not satisfied with the salary or pay offered, negotiate your other benefits. Along with vacation time, you can ask for more sick time or the ability to work remotely on a regular basis. Everything’s on the table, so create the full-employee benefits package, commensurate with the job, you want.

Be awesome enough to request more vacation time.

Good companies do what they can to retain good employees — and keep them happy. If you’re not up for a job promotion and you don’t want to leave, you can still negotiate a vacation increase by being so awesome they can’t deny you one.

Being awesome isn’t enough, though. It also helps to be smart. Wait for the appropriate time and circumstances to ask about getting vacation time. If it’s a recession and your firm has frozen salary increases or is laying off employees, it’s not the time to ask for more vacation. If your boss is having a bad day or your team is overloaded, don’t bother asking for more time off.

If your company is performing well, your team’s firing on all cylinders, and your boss has a grin on their face, that’s a good time to ask for more.

Propose a remote work/play vacation.

Thanks to the internet and computers, more jobs can be performed any time of day from anywhere in the world. As time goes by, more businesses are acclimating to letting their employees work remotely, if only on a limited basis.

Studies show that providing employees with even limited remote-working flexibility can boost performance. Just this year, my husband’s employer approved employees working remotely to extend vacation time. Therefore, we can fly somewhere for a week-long vacation, and he can continue that “vacation” another week by working while we’re away.

To be fair, this is more of a perk for me than for him. But, he enjoys taking me out to dinner in an exotic location after I spend the day at the beach and he spends the day working pool-side (sarcasm off).

Take unpaid leave.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. If you aren’t getting vacation time as desired, you can always take unpaid leave. Unpaid leave isn’t always available, though. But, if there’s that option, it can be one way to get in some downtime.

Unpaid leave is just what it sounds like: time away from work without a paycheck. Remember, the more unpaid leave you take, the less take-home pay you end up with. Be sure your budget supports such a move and don’t sabotage long-term saving and investing goals.

Buy vacation time.

The option of last resort is to buy vacation time. Again, not all businesses offer this choice. Buying vacation time means your company will take money out of your regular pay in exchange for time off.

I didn’t know this was an option until I read my human first employer’s human resources manual a year after I was hired. It’s just as well because I started buying vacation time, thinking that it was incredible.

I sure did enjoy getting vacation time, but I didn’t love the smaller paychecks that followed. Unlike taking unpaid leave, vacation time that’s bought continues to plague you after your vacation ends.

Taking vacation is a good and necessary part of working. Too many of us (Americans) take too few vacations. While I’m doing my part to raise the average, make sure you do your part, too. If you need or want more vacation than you have, these seven tips will point you in the right direction.

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