The one thing that very few of us place real value upon is time. Become consciously aware of how you are using time and how you are wasting time. If you could make €300 an hour teaching Yoga and some old friend expected you to cancel a class so you could listen to their litany of woes about their partner – for the fifth time – you’d tell that friend to take a hike. Track your time for a couple of weeks. Between sleep, work, commuting, and basic domestic tasks, a huge amount of your week is already accounted for. What is swallowing those remaining hours? Are you happy to give the amount of time you do to the activities and people you give it to? If you had to claw back 10 hours in the week – had to – what would you strike off your current list? Think hard about this one, any improvement or advancement you want to make in your career is going to cost you time. You need to find that time and you need to determine if the advancement is worth that time …
Invest in staying on top of what is going on in your sector. Make your employer pay or contribute for memberships and any CPD activity you need to undertake and make sure that you avail of any gatherings – breakfast briefings, etc – that are coming up. At your desk, use Google Reader to subscribe to relevant sites and blogs that have RSS feeds. It’s like having a newswire spewing out targeted material directly onto your desk. Set up Google Alerts for yourself, your products/services, your company, major competitors, players in your field and add the resultant feeds to Google Reader. That way, the moment any of these things are mentioned in News, Blogs, Groups, Video or the wider Web, you will be alerted. You used to have to pay a clippings service a fortune for this kind of information, now it’s free.
Invest a little time and a little effort in staying abreast of the best of yourself. Develop a capturing tool – a Moleskine notebook, a microphone to turn your iPod into a voice recorder, or you may be able to record your thoughts onto your mobile phone. When you have a “Eureka” moment at 3.00am, when you hear positive feedback, when you come across a nugget of information that could be useful to one of your contacts; capture it for later use. This could be information that should be on your CV. It may be useful in your next review with your boss. It could the idea that swings things your way in a pitch meeting. Capture these things and set aside a small amount of time every week to categorise them and store them.
Invest in a career plan. Why? This quote from Jim Rohn says it all: “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Nothing much.” Have the courage to specify what you want out of life, and more particularly, out of your career, for the next 5-7 years and write it down. Don’t show it to anyone if you don’t want to, but decide it and write it down. That way, when you come to any decision, any fork in the road, you can immediately ask yourself, “Does this bring me closer to my long-term aspiration?” If you can’t crystallise a picture for your long-term goal, you need to invest time and go back to square one.
The complete series listing of Top Tips for Irish Consumers is now available here.