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Blellow: A New Kind of Career Site

Blellow: A New Kind of Career Site

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    Combining social networking and your career isn’t exactly a new idea. LinkedIn launched in 2003. But the idea of using microblogging to support your job hunt or freelancing career is relatively new. This week, Blellow launched; the social networking site uses a microblogging interface familiar to anyone who has checked out Twitter to create some impressive tools for your career.

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    Helpful Microblogging

    Making use of Blellow is just a matter of typing a few words and posting them. Those words are meant to be a response to the question, “What are you working on?” but can easily become much more. When you post to Blellow, you have two possible choices categorizing your post: “I feel like sharing this” or “I’m looking for help.” The general idea is that you can easily get help, answers to questions or share resources with other Blellow users — and so far it seems to be working. At a glance, people are posting documents (and getting replies about how to improve them), sharing usability tips and even offering up advice about patent law.

    In practice, there are a few minor differences between Blellow’s interface and other microblogging sites. For one thing, you get a little more room than the standard 140 characters to share thoughts and ask questions. In fact, you get 300 characters — and the ability to attach files. You can also switch easily between viewing posts as a list or as threaded messages, as well as switch between reading the posts of everyone on Blellow, specific groups and your own network.

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    But microblogging isn’t the only allure of Blellow.

    Jobs & Projects

    In addition to providing a community where anyone can talk about what they’re working on and get some feedback, Blellow also offers opportunities to find more work. You won’t just find full-time jobs listed on Blellow, either. The site’s ‘Jobs’ page is broken down into full-time and freelance listings — and there’s also a ‘Projects’ list which offers both paid and pro bono work. While the pro bono work may not get a lot of attention, there are a few interesting projects listed — which may provide an opportunity for someone wanting to break into a new field or get a couple of portfolio pieces.

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    There is an emphasis on work that can be handled remotely (design, development and writing), although Blellow does offer an ‘other’ category. You’ll find individuals working in those areas (whether freelancing, full-time or some combination of the two) are also more prevalent in posting to Blellow, as well as in creating groups. From the way some project and freelance listings are written, I think Blellow may be a venue for finding clients for a small business or a consultant in the future as well as for freelancers.

    Community & Networks

    On top of the ability to share short posts, Blellow offers many opportunities to connect with the other folks using the site. At the most basic level, you can respond to posts or privately message back and forth — not unlike a simple microblogging service. However, you can also find and join a wide variety of groups on Blellow: these groups are especially useful if you’re looking for help with a specific problem but they also are a chance to connect with others in your field, check out who is headed to a particular event or find resources on a given topic. You can also create new groups of your own if you don’t see a particular group you’d be interested in.

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    There’s also a real-world element to Blellow. Meetups — as in events that you actually leave your house to attend — can be listed on Blellow and shared. You have the option of browsing through those in your immediate area (as indicated by the location in your profile), those in your state or all of the meetups listed on Blellow. At the moment, pickings are a little sparse — but I’m pretty sure they’ll grow after everyone gets past SXSW. The Blellow team has an official launch planned for the site during SXSW and considering how well it’s done during the limited beta, it seems likely that the official launch will be big.

    One More Social Networking Site

    Trying to decide just what social networking sites you’re willing to spend some time on can be difficult. Personally, I tend not to mess with more than three or so at a time. However, I’m adding Blellow into the mix because it’s shaping up as a solid resource — especially for individuals whose work is done primarily online. There’s a good mix, so far, of freelancers as well as full-time employees, which makes for a useful network to be involved in. The fact that it’s got a narrow niche — especially compared to other microblogging sites — makes it an especially useful choice in my mind.

    Blellow brings a lot of elements into its mix, incorporating the best of microblogging, meetups and more. It isn’t trying to be the only social networking site you every spend time on. Instead, it’s creating a very targeted network involving people that who can help one another in their work. The only drawback I see at this point is that users are limited to email and actually visiting the site to get updates. I’m hoping for RSS in the future, personally.

    If you try out Blellow, please let us know what you think about it in the comments.

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    Last Updated on March 30, 2020

    What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

    What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

    If you’ve got a big block of free time, the best way to put that to use is to relax, have fun, decompress from a stressful day, or spend time with a loved one. But if you’ve just got a little chunk — say 5 or 10 minutes — there’s no time to do any of the fun stuff.

    So, what to do in free time?

    Put those little chunks of time to their most productive use.

    Everyone works differently, so the best use of your free time really depends on you, your working style, and what’s on your to-do list. But it’s handy to have a list like this in order to quickly find a way to put that little spare time to work instantly, without any thought. Use the following list as a way to spark ideas for what you can do in a short amount of time.

    1. Reading Files

    Clip magazine articles or print out good articles or reports for reading later, and keep them in a folder marked “Reading File”. Take this wherever you go, and any time you have a little chunk of time, you can knock off items in your Reading File.

    Keep a reading file on your computer (or in your bookmarks), for quick reading while at your desk (or on the road if you’ve got a laptop).

    2. Clear out Inbox

    Got a meeting in 5 minutes? Use it to get your physical or email inbox to empty.

    If you’ve got a lot in your inbox, you’ll have to work quickly, and you may not get everything done; but reducing your pile can be a big help. And having an empty inbox is a wonderful feeling.

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    3. Phone Calls

    Keep a list of phone calls you need to make, with phone numbers, and carry it everywhere.

    Whether you’re at your desk or on the road, you can knock a few calls off your list in a short amount of time.

    4. Make Money

    This is my favorite productive use of free time. I have a list of articles I need to write, and when I get some spare minutes, I’ll knock off half an article real quick.

    If you get 5 to 10 chunks of free time a day, you can make a decent side income. Figure out how you can freelance your skills, and have work lined up that you can knock out quickly — break it up into little chunks, so those chunks can be done in short bursts.

    5. File

    No one likes to do this. If you’re on top of your game, you’re filing stuff immediately, so it doesn’t pile up.

    But if you’ve just come off a really busy spurt, you may have a bunch of documents or files laying around.

    Or maybe you have a big stack of stuff to file. Cut into that stack with every little bit of spare time you get, and soon you’ll be in filing Nirvana.

    6. Network

    Only have 2 minutes? Shoot off a quick email to a colleague. Even just a “touching bases” or follow-up email can do wonders for your working relationship. Or shoot off a quick question, and put it on your follow-up list for later.

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    7. Clear out Feeds

    If my email inbox is empty, and I have some spare time, I like to go to my Google Reader and clear out my feed inbox.

    8. Goal Time

    Take 10 minutes to think about your goals — personal and professional.

    If you don’t have a list of goals, start on one. If you’ve got a list of goals, review them.

    Write down a list of action steps you can take over the next couple of weeks to make these goals a reality. What action step can you do today? The more you focus on these goals, and review them, the more likely they will come true.

    9. Update Finances

    Many people fall behind with their finances, either in paying bills (they don’t have time), or entering transactions in their financial software, or clearing their checkbook, or reviewing their budget.

    Take a few minutes to update these things. It just takes 10 to 15 minutes every now and then.

    10. Brainstorm Ideas

    Another favorite of mine if I just have 5 minutes — I’ll break out my pocket notebook, and start a brainstorming list for a project or article. Whatever you’ve got coming up in your work or personal life, it can benefit from a brainstorm. And that doesn’t take long.

    11. Clear off Desk

    Similar to the filing tip above, but this applies to whatever junk you’ve got cluttering up your desk. Or on the floor around your desk.

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    Trash stuff, file stuff, put it in its place. A clear desk makes for a more productive you. And it’s oddly satisfying.

    12. Exercise

    Never have time to exercise? 10 minutes is enough to get off some pushups and crunches. Do that 2 to 3 times a day, and you’ve got a fit new you.

    13. Take a Walk

    This is another form of exercise that doesn’t take long, and you can do it anywhere. Even more important, it’s a good way to stretch your legs from sitting at your desk too long.

    It also gets your creative juices flowing. If you’re ever stuck for ideas, taking a walk is a good way to get unstuck.

    14. Follow up

    Keep a follow-up list for everything you’re waiting on. Return calls, emails, memos — anything that someone owes you, put on the list.

    When you’ve got a spare 10 minutes, do some follow-up calls or emails.

    15. Meditate

    You don’t need a yoga mat to do this. Just do it at your desk. Focus on your breathing. A quick 5 to 10 minutes of meditation (or even a nap) can be tremendously refreshing.

    Take a look at this 5-Minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

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    16. Research

    This is a daunting task for me. So I do it in little spurts.

    If I’ve only got a few minutes, I’ll do some quick research and take some notes. Do this a few times, and I’m done!

    17. Outline

    Similar to brainstorming, but more formal. I like to do an outline of a complicated article, report or project, and it helps speed things along when I get to the actual writing. And it only takes a few minutes.

    18. Get Prepped

    Outlining is one way to prep for longer work, but there’s a lot of other ways you can prep for the next task on your list.

    You may not have time to actually start on the task right now, but when you come back from your meeting or lunch, you’ll be all prepped and ready to go.

    19. Be Early

    Got some spare time before a meeting? Show up for the meeting early.

    Sure, you might feel like a chump sitting there alone, but actually people respect those who show up early. It’s better than being late (unless you’re trying to play a power trip or something, but that’s not appreciated in many circles).

    20. Log

    If you keep a log of anything, a few spare minutes is the perfect time to update the log.

    Actually, the perfect time to update the log is right after you do the activity (exercise, eat, crank a widget), but if you didn’t have time to do it before, your 5-minute break is as good a time as any.

    More Inspirations on What To Do During Free Time

    Featured photo credit: Lauren Mancke via unsplash.com

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