To Get More Done, Track Your Time

Katie Corbett holds the book "Coach Yourself to Success" by Talane Miedaner.

By Katie Corbett

If you don’t already have a job when you are looking for your next one, job hunting can involve huge swaths of time that will get away from you. You might intend to apply for jobs, only to discover you spend your whole day watching videos on YouTube or going down the rabbit hole that is Thought Catalog. How can you know when is the best time to apply for jobs or when to schedule interviews so you will be at your best mentally? And if you do have a job when you are looking for your next one, how can you keep yourself from wasting the limited time you do have to fill out applications so you can find work that is a better fit? For me, the answer came when I decided to track how I spent my time.

In her book, “Coach Yourself to Success,” Talane Miedaner says that the best way to determine what you do that wastes time, as well as to find your most productive hours of the day, can be deduced by writing out how you spend your time during a typical week. I did this by creating a spreadsheet with the hours of the day running across the top, and the days of the week running down the side. I kept track of what I did during each hour of the day. (You can create a template and print it out, or find a time-tracker app for your phone, or order a journal with the time blocks already mapped out. Do what will work well for you.)

If you are thinking, “But, Katie, that sounds super tedious and boring,” you are right, it kind of was. But what I learned from this exercise has made any frustration I felt totally worth the effort. As a result, I learned:

• How Much Sleep I Needed: I discovered that I usually slept for seven hours within a 24-hour period.
• I Can’t Take Short Naps: When I conk out, I’m asleep for at least 90 minutes–if not three hours.
• I prefer to Problem-Solve in the Morning: I made it a point to schedule job interviews in the morning, because my brain was most fresh and ready to meet challenges at that time.
• I Slow Down in the Afternoon: This time was great for taking a break, either to relax with friends or to bake or read alone.
• My Best Creative Solutions Come at Night: I would sometimes lie awake at night and get a great business idea, think of a contact I should reconnect with to help with my job search, or get some inspiration to write a fiction piece or start a new hobby.

After I learned these insights, I did my best to act according to them. I stopped calling myself lazy when I laid down to sleep, since I knew I would be up in about seven hours. I scheduled interviews, cold calls, and cover letter writing in the mornings, made plans for relaxation in the afternoons, and kept a notebook or my phone handy late at night so I could jot down my ideas.

What could you discover if you tracked your time for a week? You never know until you try it. Be sure and pick a typical week, free from vacations or business trips. Jot down what you are doing during each hour and note how much energy you have. What are you waiting for? Grab your spreadsheet or journal and get to tracking.

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Have More Fun: Install Ten Daily Habits

Katie Corbett holds the book "Coach Yourself to Success" by Talane Miedaner.

By Katie Corbett

When a person has almost total control of their time, and nothing concrete that needs doing, it can be easy to become bored. Job hunting can be a time with little structure and not very much fun. I found a tip in “Coach Yourself to Success,” by Talane Miedaner, that was a game-changer for me during my search. This tip involved developing a list of ten daily habits.

The trick in sticking to this list is that the habits need to be fun. It should not be just another list of things you need to get done that day. Some of the items on my list included:

• Trying something new
• Reading fiction
• Spending time with a friend either in-person or on the phone
• Praying at specific times of the day, which served to keep me on a more set schedule
• Flossing my teeth. Admittedly, this is not very fun, but it only takes a minute and I always feel amazing afterward.

What fun things could be added to each day of your life if you made a list? Could you take up a new hobby? Rekindle your love of an activity you set aside in the rush of your daily grind? How could you impact the lives of others? And I repeat: This isn’t meant to be a list of the things you “should” do. It has to be fun, make you feel good, or bring a smile to your face. If it doesn’t, then it’s not on the list.

Whether you are on the job search or already work, this tip will likely brighten up your day and make life more fun and interesting. So give it a try. What’s on your list?

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Unclutter Your Life: Make a List of the Things that Annoy You

Katie Corbett holds the book "Coach Yourself to Success" by Talane Miedaner.

By Katie Corbett

Sometimes, it can be hard to think, focus, or get things done because there are a ton of little things that seem insignificant, but they add up to equal a pile of annoyance. Whether it is the additional time it takes for you to find papers at your desk, that pesky cell phone charger that still works–if you tilt your phone a certain way while it is charging–or the looming tough conversation you know you need to have with a friend or family member, it can be a good idea to make a list of all these little things so you can tackle them once and for all. Getting the little annoyances taken care of will free up your mind for the more pressing problems in life.

I read this tip in “Coach Yourself to Success,” by Talane Miedaner. I first created my own list in May of 2015, when I was in the midst of my job hunt. I wanted to do everything I could to restore order at a time in my life that felt uncertain.

I created an Excel spreadsheet and made column headings for the life categories that needed work:

• Tasks and Chores
• Home
• Work
• Money
• Family
• Friends and Relationships
• Hobbies
• Pets
• Bad Habits
• Body

In each category, I wrote all my little annoyances down. I began working my way through the list. Instead of crossing off items, I put a star next to them, because that is way more fun. I had a “Totals” column and kept track of the items yet to be handled and it was exciting to watch that number go down.

At the time, I was deciding if I should move to San Diego for my boyfriend, and there were a bunch of little annoying things I would need to deal with if I chose to make that move. If I decided to stay where I was, that choice would eliminate a bunch of worries all at once. Realizing this caused me to see how I truly felt about moving–and about the person I was dating. We eventually ended our relationship–for many reasons aside from the move–and this gave me the freedom to double down on my job search, since I knew where I would be living.

Make a list in any way that works best for you. It will bring you surprising clarity and peace of mind, just knowing all the little annoying things in life have been written down. And if some things on your list can not be handled right away or if you feel powerless to deal with them, just writing them down acknowledges to yourself that you don’t want that thing in your life anymore. Revisit your list six months to a year later–maybe some of the problems you felt like you couldn’t handle took care of themselves.

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To Find your Dream Job, Design your Ideal Life

Katie Corbett holds the book "Coach Yourself to Success" by Talane Miedaner.

By Katie Corbett

When I was job hunting, it was easy to apply for any job just because it was an available job. I applied for many jobs I didn’t want, and interviewed for positions I was not enthusiastic about holding. I looked into fields I thought would be ideal, only to discover they involved crazy hours or commission-only pay. I didn’t think about what kind of job I wanted until I was encouraged to design what life I hoped to have.

I was flying home in February 2015 from visiting my then-boyfriend in San Diego for Valentine’s Day. I read “Coach Yourself to Success,” by Talane Miedaner, and came to the tip about designing my ideal life. The author states that it is easier to find a job that fits into the life you want, rather than trying to live your life around a job you hate. I thought back to my days in data entry and to the amazing two jobs I had held after that and realized this advice had some merit. I pulled out a piece of paper and a slate and stylus–which is a writing implement used to write in braille–and got to work designing my life.

My ideal job involved working for 20-30 hours per week, having time to read and write for pleasure, spending time with my significant other going to new restaurants and sight-seeing after work and on the weekends. The point is, I thought about what I wanted, wrote it down, and kept this vision in my mind as I continued my job hunt.

About a year-and-a-half later, I landed a job working for a local healthcare company in their communications department. The job was part-time, so I was working 33 hours per week. At the same time, I began dating the man who would become my husband. (We both enjoy going on day trips and he can usually be persuaded to try a new restaurant every now and then.) While at this temp position, I ended up meeting the woman who hired me for my current job in communications working 25 hours per week. That made for two ideal jobs in a row, and all thanks to my lifestyle design. Try it out for yourself. Here are some questions to get you started:

1. Where do you want to live?
2. What kind of work do you want to be doing?
3. How many hours per day or per week do you want to work?
4. How do you want to spend your time when not working?
5. Who–or what kind of people–do you want in your life?

Start living as many aspects of your ideal life as you can now. If you have written down the answers to these questions and keep the ideas firmly planted in your mind, the rest of your ideal life will likely fall into place. It won’t happen overnight, but the ideal life is worth taking the time to create.

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