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Top 7 Things You Can Do Today to Transform Your Career

Top 7 Things You Can Do Today to Transform Your Career

Advancing your career can come in many shapes. But there are specific things you can do today to transform it.

Most of us try dozens of non-impactful activities that can only advance our career by 10, 20% at the most. We should be focusing on smaller activities that can have a major impact.

Today, we’re going to share the top 7 things you can do today to transform your career. Hope you enjoy!

1. Seek Out a Mentor

There’s no need to reinvent the wheels when it comes to having a successful career. No matter what industry or dream you have, it’s very likely that someone has already achieved what you want. They’ve made mistakes and learned the hard lessons that you could learn from, so you don’t have to make the same type of mistakes yourself.

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Where to start: A mentor doesn’t have to be someone you have a real-life relationship with. Getting in touch and building a relationship with a mentor takes work, but anyone has access to a mentor in today’s information age. You can pick up a biography of someone you admire, listen to their podcasts, watch their interviews, etc. Instead of having one mentor, you can have ten mentors that each provide a unique perspective of life and career.

2. Learn How to Speak a Foreign Language

Learning a language can add between 10–15% to your wage. According to The Economist, these are the breakdowns by the most useful languages to learn for annual bonuses:

  • Spanish — 1.5 percent bonus
  • French — 2.3 percent bonus
  • German — 3.8 percent bonus

If money is not your only motivation, keep in mind that these bonuses were awarded because bilingual employees were shown to be more valuable to employers they worked for. Being more valuable in the marketplace can open you up to new and greater opportunities (even around the world if you learn a second language), provide you with more freedom, and ultimately a greater purpose to your career.

Where to start: If you want to advance your career with a foreign language, it’s best to focus your attention on becoming a better speaker of your target language, since most of your language skills will be used towards communicating with other people, whether it’s clients, partners, and co-workers.

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Learning a language may seem difficult at first if you have a full-time job, but you can use online websites to start learning a language online with professional language teachers, any time of the day, any day of the week. Lessons are usually just 30 mins each, so you can fit it into your schedule, no matter how busy you are.

3. Practice Your Public Speaking Skills

When Warren Buffett was asked what’s the most important skill you can learn, he said “improving your communication skills.” It’s a life-long skill that will become increasingly more useful to learn as you advance your career, and it can be the single factor differentiating you when the competition gets stiff.

Where to start: Check out your local Toastmasters to be surrounded by a supportive community of fellow learners. You’ll receive constructive feedback, provide feedback to others, and grow together as professional public speakers. It’s one of the best ways to get practice for beginners and even advanced speakers.

4. Enroll Into an Online Course

Online education is without a doubt the way we’ll learn anything in the future. The benefits of learning online are vast, from being able to learn anywhere, anytime that works for you, and at an affordable rate (often free).

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Taking courses online to learn a new skill related to your work or future industries you want to enter can be a great investment to the advancement of your career. The good news is that there are more places to get started than ever.

Where to start: The list of places to enrol into online courses is endless. You can check out Udemy, Skillshare, CreativeLIVE, or non-profit organisations like edX, which streams lectures from the top universities around the world, including Harvard, Yale, and Stanford.

5. Do More For Your Network Than Ever Before

While most people try to do everything they can to expand their network, they don’t do nearly enough to nurture the current network they already have. You’ll be surprised how much you can benefit from just adding more value to your network, because it’s likely that whoever you want to meet is just one or two connections apart from the people you already know.

Where to start: List ten people that you admire most in your current network, and the people that you think can advance your career. Send a gift, take them out for coffee, and become involved in their community (if they have a blog, podcast, etc.). Focus on doubling down on the quality of people in your network, rather than spreading yourself too thin.

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6. Travel to a Place That Makes You Uncomfortable

This may appear irrelevant at first. But some of my biggest career moves have been when I’ve travelled the world alone to foreign places like Colombia, Argentina, or Peru. By putting yourself in these uncomfortable situations, and isolating yourself from the day-to-day distractions, you can reflect on what you truly want out of your career, and think on a higher level than you do normally.

Where to start: There’s no better way to start travelling than to pick a location and book your flight ticket.

7. Become Better At Managing Your Time

In order to do any of the things we mentioned above in this article, you’re going to have to get better at managing your time. Everyone has the same number of hours in the day, but those that can be more productive will get more done, learn more skills, and grow faster in life and career. Getting a few more things done per day may not seem critical, but when you repeat the same process every day for a year, two years, five years, than the gap increases exponentially.

Where to start: Read more books and articles about how to manage your time properly. A good book to start with is Getting Things Done by David Allen, and using productivity tools to complement your time management tactics.

More by this author

Sean Kim

Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.

How on earth do you get out of that spiral?

Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.

So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:

1. Improve Your Time Management Skills

Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.

For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.

Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.

“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery

2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts

These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!

This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!

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But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.

For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.

There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.

3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools

It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.

Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.

4. Use Your Phone Wisely

Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.

If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.

5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs

If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.

In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.

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One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.

6. Use a “To Don’t” List

We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.

But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.[1]

Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.

7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia

When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.

Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson

And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.

8. Be Concise

Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.

One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,”[2] which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

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Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:

  • Making new contacts
  • Talking about yourself at a job interview
  • Meeting people at conferences or parties
  • Phone calls to new clients

9. Ask the Right Questions

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz

How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.

When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.

Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions.[3] When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

10. Learn as Much as You Can

You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.

Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

11. Look After Your Greatest Resource

No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.

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If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.[4]

Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.

12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder

As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.[5]

But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!

The Bottom Line

The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.

Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!

More About Working Smart

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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