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Career Coaching by Former Fortune 500 Recruiters

Book Review: 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam

The subtitle to Laura Vanderkam’s “168 Hours” is You Have More Time Than You Think.  Indeed, that is the thesis she carries very convincingly throughout the book.  Vanderkam tracks people’s activities by the half-hour (real time diaries are included) to demonstrate that people fritter away more time than they think.  The upside, therefore, is now that you know this, you can choose your activities more consciously and get this time back.

I loved this book.  Full disclosure: Vanderkam cited one of my coaching exercises in this book.  But I shared the exercise in the first place because when Vanderkam and I connected (thanks to Peter Shankman’s HARO!) I loved the thesis of the book.  I have used time diaries for myself since the 1990’s and have recommended them to my coaching clients for 10 years now.  Like tracking your food intake or spending habits, tracking your time is very powerful in reshaping your self-awareness and priorities.

Vanderkam tackles both work and home activity as she looks at time spent.  She offers a lot of concrete examples and practical suggestions.  If you don’t have a high degree of flexibility and professional autonomy some of the strategies may be hard to implement.  But the intended reader is likely not in that boat so this is a small downside.  The book is inspirational and a great time management and productivity resource.  It is not structured as a how-to like a David Allen or Stephen Covey book, but it delivers a deeper message:  “168 Hours” is about making conscious choices, wise and meaningful choices about what we do with our time.  It’s not about doing more, but about doing what matters.


Filed under: book review, life coaching, time management, , , , , ,

Prioritizing Your Job Search Activities

I recently coached a young professional who wants to change careers but has done nothing with his search because he is juggling working full-time and attending graduate school. He feels like he doesn’t have any extra time, so his $64,000 question for the session was: “if I am limited in what I can do, what should I be prioritizing?”

Read my response in my latest post for TheGlassHammer.com:


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Match Your Work To Your Energy

Take this short energy quiz.  Give yourself 1 point for every Yes and 0 for every No.  How do you score?

I know what time of day I am most productive.

I schedule my most important work for when I am most productive.

I know what time of day my energy tends to sag.

I know what I need to do for a quick but sure energy boost (e.g., eat a snack, take a cat nap, go for a walk).

I know some activities and tasks that I can do even when my concentration tends to wane.

I know how much sleep I need each night.

I wake up without an alarm clock.

So how much do you know about your energy rhythms?  We all experience bouts of time when we can focus extremely well and times when we can’t.  Sometimes this varies based on the activity.  But many times, our productive and unproductive time blocks are consistently around the same times during the day.  We recognize that people are either early risers or night owls because it is a meaningful distinction, and we can empathize with it (I’m an early riser).

I don’t know what makes someone a morning v. evening person, but I do know that whichever you are you need to match your activities accordingly.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that night owls are destined for the graveyard shift.  But it does mean that where there is flexibility in getting things done you may want to schedule your most important work for when you are at your best.  This is one very basic way to match your work to your energy.  Rather than fight against the tide, you account for your internal rhythms as part of how you manage your work.

Similarly, you might reserve more mindless tasks for when you know your energy sags.  Perhaps this is when you return routine phone calls,  make that doctor’s appointment or run some errands.  Perhaps this is when you review previous emails or catch up on regular trade reading.  We all have regular activities that don’t require us to be 100% alert — figure out what these are and bunch accordingly.

Finally, there is a limit to how much we can get done if we merely match our work to our current supply of energy.  Ultimately you want to increase your ability to focus and work at high energy.  Therefore you do want to know how to maintain and increase your energy.  You want to get enough sleep and know how much is enough.  You want to harness and manage your best energy and therefore manage your work to its best.

Filed under: career coaching, life coaching, time management, , ,

SixFigureStart now at Vault.com

SixFigureStart’s On/Off Campus Recruiting blog debuted at Vault.com this week.    Check it out and let us know what you think.  Also, let us know what your busiest month is as a student looking for a job!  I’m curious…We select our topics for Vault based on how the recruiting calendar inspires us.  So our first column was about juggling midterms and on-campus recruiting as it is Oct.

One of the early comments was that the post was more suited to July.  JULY???  That’s a first for me.  Who is taking mid-terms in July, except summer school folks?  No personal issues with summer school but it is the exception not the rule.  And to be competitive for campus recruiting, you definitely want to be in an internship in July not in summer school. 

So what is the busiest month if not October?  Let us know.

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In A Job Search, How to Negotiate For Time

Just as you negotiate salary, with an active job search you need to negotiate for time.  Check out my advice on this topic in my latest Glass Hammer Ask A Recruiter column

Bonus tip for blog readers:  a job search is taxing enough without adding additional companies that you are not genuinely interested in.  In today’s tough market you have to cast a wider net.  I also believe that you shouldn’t rule out companies before you have researched them thoroughly.  However, once you know you’re not going to take a position there, save yourself and your prospective employer the time and bow out gracefully.  Keep the contact lines open for networking; just don’t pursue that specific job.

Filed under: career coaching, , , , ,

Resource management, the personal way

I did an interview for The Institute for Success and Goal Achievement in July — 4 obstacles to success, 4 solutions to success, general life coaching stuff.   One of the key points I focus on in the interview and in a lot of my coaching is how people use their personal resources.  We know that companies have resource management groups that allocate people and budgets and material to different projects.  How are you allocating your time, money, skills and energy? 

I had a friend who had a demanding job, two small kids, a husband also with a demanding job, and many community service commitments.  She dreamed of writing a book.  So she blocked off time to write.  She scaled back on projects and gave up the short-term cash for the long-term investment of completing her manuscript.  She researched the subject of her novel and honed her writing skills.  She committed to writing that book and told everyone she’d do it.  She put 100% of her resources behind the book, and yes, she finished it.  But no it didn’t get picked up.  Instead, a few years later she published another book.  Completely different subject than she imagined, but she became a published author nonetheless. 

We don’t always know how things will turn out.  But we need to get started.  And we need to commit our resources (our time, money, skills and energy) to what we want.

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