So Little to Do, So Much Time – “Good” Stress, Time Management and Goals

We’ve all heard the tired phrase – So much to do, so little time!

Well, having so much time and so little to do is just as draining and unproductive. In recent months, I’ve felt a weird mixture of both and I don’t like it. Having plenty of time but very little to do bores me to no end – I sink into apathy and find it difficult to resurface.

On the flipside, having too many tasks and not enough hours means rushing through tasks. I stop paying proper attention and become sloppy.

That’s what I’ve experienced with most of my projects lately. Sloppiness. I’m pretty sure even this blog post could be better but right now I don’t really care.

My greatest task, however, has been tackling the monster that is JavaScript. I’m not talking about doing a few hours here and there. I’m not talking about “Oh, I’ll give it a try…” I mean that I’ve actually been learning how to program in f***ing JavaScript.

Only now, in the last few weeks, has the penny truly dropped in terms of actually understanding the logic behind it. Before this year, I never really tackled coding proper (though I am a whizz at HTML & CSS). I’ve been following a Web Development course from CareerFoundry. So, I have a curriculum of tasks to follow. Its flexible but structured.

Now, after all those weeks of grinding through JS exercises, I have a backlog of course tasks to complete. Yeah, I’ve progressed in my understanding and fluency of JS. However, I’ve not actually progressed on the course itself.

Why? Because I was learning f***ing JavaScript.

In my limited experience, learning your first programming language means a lot of repetition. A LOT. I couldn’t just fly through the tasks on my course, have them approved and then forget about them. I wanted to be comfortable with everything, from data types to functions to functional programming (which still stumps and confuses me… unfortunately).

And loops.

I hate loops.

javascript for loop code
Oh, for God’s sake just DIE! (Yes, I’m aware I screenshot the cursor…)

Good Stress, Time Management and Keeping Your Goals in Mind

I’ll be frank with you: this blog post, for once, is mainly for my own benefit. However, I’m sure it can still be of use to all of you. That’s what I want to talk about three things: Good Stress, Time Management and Keeping Your Eye on the Goal.

So, first things first: What is good stress?

It’s the kind of stress which motivates you to get things done. It gives you slight anxiety, pushing you to finish a project and do it right at the same time. This was something I experienced often in my last job. I worked on a project but had a deadline. Instead of going down a rabbit hole (as I am wont to do), I cut out the unnecessary or extraneous steps and focused on the points I had to deliver.

Guess what? I didn’t do half a bad job. I wasn’t 100% happy with it but it was good enough.

Good stress ties in with time management. Good stress forces you to implement more effective time management. Focus on priorities. Right now, I have the following priorities:

  • Finish the heap of JavaScript tasks I have left on my actual course.
  • Develop my personal brand.
  • Keep up my job search, get as many interviews as possible.
  • FINISH THE DAMN COURSE

In many countries, finding a job would be top priority. We all need to eat. I am lucky enough, however, to live in a country with excellent social security.

counting money
That I PAID FOR, might I add. 600 euro a month went from my pay checks toward unemployment insurance.

So, finishing my course is top priority. Of course, in order to keep receiving an income I must be seen to be making an effort to apply for a job. My job search therefore continues to run in the background. It’s something I spend 1-2 hours a day on. That doesn’t just include applying for jobs. It means engaging on social networks, going to networking events etc (which I find difficult, being something of a recluse).
That also ties in with another “background” activity: developing personal brand. Which also ties in with this blog. Of course, this blog isn’t all about me. It’s about helping others develop skills and find remote/flexible jobs particularly within digital media. That’s my own, separate online marketing project which, admittedly, I haven’t really put that much effort into (because of f***ing JavaScript!).

NOTE: I did actually get a link the other month, though. Yay! Yes, I’ve acquired many backlinks in my career, but it’s been a while since my last link-building gig. Glad to see I’ve still got it!

So Then, What Now?

Well, I’m going for a walk first. I’m in Ireland right now and the house is right by the sea. After, I’ll actually edit this post and post it. After, I’ll apply for jobs (I found a nice bunch of gigs) and then… Well, the rest of the week will involve refreshing myself on JavaScript.
F***ing JavaScript (actually, now that I understand it, I quite enjoy it).

Personal Branding: Creating Your Mark

Personal branding isn’t taught in schools.

Which is a good thing for me, because I would’ve failed.

Most people like talking about themselves. When it comes to job applications though… many of us fall miserably short – myself included. Most of us aren’t great at highlighting our strengths and literally selling ourselves on paper. Again, this is something I fall victim to. That’s despite being quite good at writing sales copy.

The good news is there’s plenty of information about it on the Internet. The even better news is that creating a personal brand for yourself isn’t difficult! The majority of us just want to find a job. Even a bit of quick, slightly-better-than-average personal branding can make you stand out from the pile of CVs sitting on your potential employer’s desk.

kitten
There’s also plenty of information about cats… which may distract you.

All marketers (digital or not) are familiar with branding. A brand is the mark of a product or service. It’s instantly recognizable. It has its own style and flow. Logos are the ultimate example: many of the most successful logos are simple and can be recognized even during sunset, against the skyline. Just take a look at McDonald’s…

mcdonalds logo

Even if lights malfunctioned, the outline of Ronald’s Golden Arches would still be recognizable. There are very few people in the world nowadays who don’t know what McDonald’s is or where to find one. Pretty much anyone who has ever been anywhere know exactly what that giant M is pointing to.

So that’s just branding. Now it’s time to get personal…

What is personal branding?

With this type of branding, the product you’re advertising and selling is yourself. Or, more specifically, your experience and skill set. That’s what often gets a lot of people: it scares the shit out of most of us. It means we have to examine ourselves, recognize our weaknesses and really dig deep to find strengths that employers want to use.

The truth is, it’s not really that scary. You simply package what you’re good at then give it a bit of a “brush up”. Put it in front of the right buyers, and they’ll salivate all over it.

chocolate cake
If you try offering them cake, be prepared to deliver.

In my first blog post, I talked about shameless self-promotion and mentioned that I disliked it intensely. Many people are awful at marketing themselves (myself included), primarily because they feel it to be embarrassing/icky. What’s helped me in this situation is to create an emotional disconnect and view my brand as a product, a project.

Personal Branding Tips – Building the foundation

I could give you stock personal branding tips like “Start with what you like most”, “Be honest but no too honest” or “Don’t brag but don’t hide your skills”. These have a lot of truth in them – but they tell us nothing about how to actually build your brand. Zilch.

You already know what you’re good at – if your job history is anything to go by. Since most personal brand builders are aiming to snag employers/clients, it shouldn’t be too difficult to list your skills. The trick is finding a starting point for “publishing” this list, making it look attractive and -ultimately- ensuring that the right people see it.

Your CV already does that. But it’s crap. Because all CVs are boring.

In most industries these days (outside of online-based ones), it’s still a very good idea to have a website. Failing that, a blog is better. Most tips regarding personal branding sometimes overemphasize the beauty of a blog/website. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. It has to be a showcase, something that clearly displays everything you can do – as well as your greatest achievements.

cupcakes
For example, bakers can well display a portfolio of the beautiful cakes they make.

If you’re floundering and looking for a myriad of personal branding tips to get you going, stop. Gather your best work: bakers, get your cakes ready. Copywriters, compile your portfolio. Candle-makers… Get pictures of your lovely candles.

  • Create a portfolio site. With the countless free website builders around, this is pretty easy. WordPress it up, Joomla the crap out of it (or try Wix… very slow, but useful if you’re scared of HTML).
  • Do try to make it look nice. Like I said, it doesn’t have to be masterpiece. However, it shouldn’t be an eyesore (and no flashing/spinning/undulating images… this isn’t Geocities in the 90s).
  • Blog about it! You don’t have to, but it helps. You also don’t have to blog often… Once a month should do.
  • Promote it: Put the link to your portfolio in your CV. Link it to whatever social media accounts you have (personal branding definitely calls for the likes of a LinkedIn account!).

So, when getting your personal brand off the ground… That’s pretty much it. Personal branding tips will also dictate that you actively promote it. How much you do this, however, depends on you. Freelancers who are always on the lookout for new clients should dedicate a little time to getting their voice out there.

megaphone
Megaphones probably aren’t the best way, though…

Personal Branding Tips – A few ideas

Once you have a solid basis, you can take a look at a few tips to bring your personal branding further. Sharing your knowledge is a great way to get interested parties reading your blog. Twitter it, Instagram it, Facebook it. If you’re a writer, use your own unique voice (and establish the “voice” of your own brand first). SEOs can optimize their sites and track the analytics.

When it comes to discussing professional topics, I’d actually recommend LinkedIn and Twitter. Sure, Twitter’s not as “serious”, however I’ve found it to be a valuable source of knowledge and insight… All while letting you have a little fun. While LinkedIn is more “stiff” – it is actually a brilliant place to craft your professional persona.

Shameless Self-Promotion: Starting Off as a Digital Marketer

I’m not new to the digital and online marketing game. I’ve been doing it for over six years, beginning as a humble copywriter (at first working with content mills *shudder*). Eventually, I was taken seriously enough to work in what some might call a “grownup” job. I did SEO in the online dating industry. That being said, I believe any job that gets the bills paid on time is a grownup job. Though some might disagree…

There’s a lot to be said for self-promotion: and what I can is… I hate it. I don’t like writing about myself. However, in a professional context it helps to get the word out. It’s much easier to big-up dating sites, dental offices in random US towns I’ve never heard of and countless other products (even VoIP… though I had to research thoroughly into what VoIP was back in the day). So, the first step was creating my own site.

Building a Professional Website/Online CV: Where to start?

If you work in any marketing job, you’ll probably want to have your resume or CV out there for everyone (who is relevant) to read. So, it makes sense to have a website. Whilst my web development skills are currently still nascent, I do know my way around HTML and CSS at least. However, during the last week I’ve needed to get things done fast. So, I chose Wix.com to help me build a professional site – quickly.

wix landing page
Beautiful… but SLOW

I must say I found it confusing at first, coming from a coding background. I eventually got the hang of the tools. Although you can’t actually code anything yourself, the Wix site builder does helpfully indicate what titles and paragraphs are (h1, h2, etc.) for SEO purposes (which, to be honest, would be ridiculous if they didn’t…).

The site actually looks quite nice. There are a lot of themes that you can easily customize and quite fast as well: the site was up and running in a few days, and all I had to do was add content, chop and change things until it turned into something I could bear to look at.

My biggest problems with the Wix.com website builder?

I live in Germany. The word “Wix” in German (pronounced “Vix” and spelled “Wichs” by Germans) sounds like something very indecent that you ought to do in the privacy of your own room. While potential clients and employers may or may not be German, there will probably be a few people who’ll have a good chuckle.

Practically speaking, the site is very slow when it comes to loading (it does have a ton of features to make the site-building process as easy as possible). It took a good few seconds. While I’m not expecting the site to rank high on search engines, it doesn’t look very good for a digital marketing strategist to have any site that takes an eon to load.

I do plan on leaving it for now, though. The site looks nice, clean and displays my work experience, portfolio and projects clearly and efficiently. However, I think I will be migrating it to a new provider in the very near future… Lessons learned!