Career, Lifestyle

Productivity Hacks 101

I love a good hack (and not the wiki-leaks kind of hack, I assure you; scouts honour)…financial hacks, beauty hacks – you name it, I’m a sucker for it. Anything that is a cheat sheet for helping me to do something more effectively, count me in! However, I do have one personal favourite, which trumps all others, and of course you guessed it – productivity hacks.

During my short but well lived years on earth, I have learnt two very important things: 1) Oreo ice cream fixes almost everything and 2) time is a respecter of no man or woman. And whilst I would much rather spend my days eating Oreo ice-cream and watching the Good Wife (am I the last person to latch on to how great this show is???), I know that these goals won’t achieve themselves and this beast that is my career won’t evolve without my help or input.

And with that being said, I have searched far and wide (well google crawls across every corner of the globe so I think that counts) to find the best productivity hacks. However, I think this would be an appropriate time to insert a disclaimer (drumroll please) these are productivity hacks that I have found to work personally for me, of course you may have other ideas which I would love to hear.

Anyhoo, I present my favourite productivity hacks of all time; go wild with it 🙂

Be realistic about your to do list

Limit yourself to 3 things that you must absolutely, critically do that day. That way, you don’t feel deflated at the end of the day when that unwieldy to do list is still looking back at you with nearly half of the things still as they were in the morning – undone.

Block out specific times for tasks

Scheduling is probably one of the best habits I have cultivated after cooking in bulk. Allocate specific time slots to complete each task such as writing this post. It helps you to be more focused especially for the tasks that you really DON’T want to do.

Turn off alerts!

Switch off ALL notifications and this is really difficult. I mean who doesn’t enjoy a cheeky text from the Lover or a video of the niece/nephew to brighten up your day?? But needs must; you have to be ruthless. Switch off email and phone alerts! They are distracting and waste a considerable amount of time.

Say no?

I think this is probably one of my favourite words EVER. Its not everyday say yes…sometimes just say no and then revel in how good it feels.

Work on Sunday

Spend an hour or so getting some key things done to relieve yourself of some of the pressure in the week ahead. And in addition to this, complete a forward look. Write a list of key meetings and actions that you must get done that week – this includes calling your mum on the daily commute and following up with that friend to see if they are feeling better.

Keep a diary for heaven’s sake

At your age, you shouldn’t be forgetting your best friend’s birthday. There are a wealth of resources out there – either get a hard copy diary or use one of the many electronic tools that exist. No excuses!

Drink water

I know water is dull but it really is great brain food. It hydrates the body, which is needed in order to get the most out it. Get yourself a water bottle and just leave it in your pedestal and/or bag. It allows you to drink water in much more manageable quantities.

Use productivity tools!

I have recently discovered Wunderlist and can I just say it really does deserve a standing ovation. It is a great way for staying abreast of your many different to do lists and it has a beautiful interface which will always be a winner for me.

The genius Kofo, swears by One Note; it allows you to tabularise absolutely everything and of course it syncs across all your devices (what was life like before Steve Jobs?)

All else failing, I LOVE good ol’ pen and paper including the following:

  • Desk pads (nobel peace prize award please for the inventor)
  • Filofax – as a former moleskine user, I am a believer people and have joined the online filofax community *descends into heap of paper; exhilarating!*
  • List book – my lovely friend Titi bought me a list book *throws paper in the air*  it is fab because it comes pre-packed with post it notes of different sizes which are great for inserting into my filofax.

The trusted filofaxe and sheet from deskpad!

The trusted filofax and sheet from deskpad at the top!

SO…go ahead and maximise your day and I hope that these tools will help you to be more productive in the process. I am off to watch the Good Wife with the Lover minus the Oreo ice cream. Two out of three isn’t that bad…

Don’t miss me too much…

Ola

xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Career

Confidence is King

In the past few weeks, I have literally been reminded again and again about the importance of confidence. Between the various blog posts I’ve read and the messages that I have heard in church, they all emphasise the importance of maintaining your confidence.

It is clear that those that actualise their goals and dreams and excel in life all have one thing in common – confidence. And that’s not to say that you won’t have moments of doubts, I too definitely have them but it’s about ensuring that they do not get the better of you.

And the Bible constantly discusses this very subject; I have been gathering scriptures pertaining to this in the hope that I would share it in one blog post. But to be honest, I think this scripture encapsulates it all:

 ‘Therefore do not cast away your confidence which has great reward.’ Hebrews 10:35.

Your confidence may have been tried and tested this year, but as 2015 beckons, be sure to cross over with your confidence in tact and leave self-doubt deeply buried in 2014…

On that note, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year in advance. Thank you for reading my blog and helping me to do something that really makes my soul happy – writing! To the new followers that have joined this year and to the ones that have been active followers from the very beginning – thank you.

P.s.Just in case you haven’t had enough of me, I now write in some other places! One of them in particular, is dear to my heart because it is a lifelong dream of my dear friend Tobi; she inspires me daily. Check out her amazing magazine, Black Ballad at http://www.blackballad.co.uk

With very warm wishes, 

Ola xxx

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Career, Faith, Womanhood

Be Kind To Yourself.

The past couple of weeks have been…revelatory? Is that the word? I am not quite sure that is even a word to be honest as the dictionary is refusing to accept it but lets just say I have been shifting between a plethora of emotions ranging from melancholy to happiness to ecstatic and right back down to melancholy.

I felt slightly worn out and not in the physical sense I assure you but more mentally. It is a multitude of things that has triggered its onset such as working out how to break into the international development sector without doing a blasted internship…how to balance a very demanding job alongside postgraduate study…the list goes on…

And after speaking to a few women that I have the privilege of knowing, I realised that I am not the only one. We are all going through one frustration or another in relation to ‘where we should be’ and what ‘we should be doing’. Don’t get me wrong, we are happy and we can indeed count our blessings but there are other things that we are struggling to balance and/or desire that just hasn’t materialised yet and it has caused us to be hyper-critical to say the least

But I just want to share one statement with you that my lovely friend Phyllis told me last week: Be kind to yourself.

Celebrate you. You may not have all your ducks in a row but you are enroute to where you need to be. You deserve to be treated well so start with how you treat you.

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Career, Womanhood

Multitasking is a myth…

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Picture: http://www.gabenies.com

My mum is without a shadow of a doubt a phenomenal woman. Not only does she have a winner’s spirit and a fighter’s attitude, she is also a very deeply compassionate woman, loving, kind and selfless (I love my mama!) But as if all these attributes were not enough, she is also brilliant at multi-tasking and I do mean brilliant…

And no doubt the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. This well revered skillset has been passed onto my older sister. She can get all three of her kids ready and herself with her eyes closed, whip up breakfast , find time to pay bills online and still arrive 10 minutes earlier than the agreed time of meeting all whilst looking nothing short of fabulous (are you even human Page??)

Then there is me.

Let me just throw this assertion out there (just in case you missed the title of this piece) I AM NOT a multi-tasker and yes I am a woman.

Now of course I know I have to do it. It would be ludicrous to think otherwise. The 21st century demands it and if it is not our jobs then it’s our electronic devices which have been built to help us become better multi-taskers. I can now write a blog post on my iPad whilst listening to music and then publish it within seconds.

Multi-tasking has become something that we wear as a badge of honour. But is it really that good for us?

Research would actually suggest otherwise. Multitasking is taxing on the brain and this is especially true if we do activities that require the use of the same part of the brain. This could explain why so many people are constantly complaining of being ‘stressed’ and ‘burnt out.’

And it doesn’t stop there. We are not even that good at it! (Only 10% of the population are effective multi-taskers – shocking, I know!) It is a hindrance to our productivity so writing that all important email whilst scheduling dinner with your best friend over the phone isn’t very rewarding. Besides, the To-Do-List is still just as long by the end of the working day in any case!

So I am officially boycotting multitasking. Ok I take it back well at least I will make an attempt to do so but who am I kidding??!! I have a wedding to plan (he is absolutely aammmmaaaaazzzziiinnnggg *flips hair and dougies*), a full time job and I am a postgraduate student part time – HA! I think multitasking will be inevitable but at least I will try and limit it as much as possible; I will tackle one milestone at a time; now who’s with me??

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Career

Work Life: Make it Count! (Getting the most out of the working day)

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Picture by Kellyawilliams

This piece may not be for everyone and if you know that you go to work skipping every day with eager anticipation as to what the day might hold, then look away now (of course I am not being serious, keep reading; where are your manners?) This piece is targeted at those who are subjected to:

  • Hazardous working conditions (the colleague who always has the flu)
  • Working with special people ( including the pedantic Procurement Officer, the meticulous Manager, the condescending Coordinator for Project X and the anal Assistant Director)
  • Completing monotonous, repetitive tasks that are absolutely ‘essential’ (the crucial spreadsheet that must be updated once a month lest the organisation falls apart but deep down you know that no one really looks at it; let’s call a spade a spade Steve)

Honestly, I feel your pain brother/sister but until we manage to get that amazing business venture off the ground I think I have found a way to make work a little bit more bearable… (It’s nothing revolutionary and unfortunately it is not a proposal for a four-day working week even though I would be the first person to sign that petition!)

It is something slightly different: UP YOUR GAME. Change your approach/attitude to work. That’s it. Nothing out of the ordinary, no amazing 10-point plan, just up your game plain and simple. Let me explain (I have a sneaking suspicion that I might be getting menacing glares coming my way…)

We spend a lot of time at work. A LOT. More than you probably spend with your family which is all the more reason why you must maximise your working hours. Make the most of the time and ensure that it is of benefit to YOU no matter how mundane it may be.   

A couple weeks back I was dreading writing my usual monthly report because it has to be absolutely perfect and I am NOT a details person. I am all about the other important D – DELIVERY. But rather than go through my usual period of moaning, I decided that I was going to approach this report in a new way; I was going to adopt a more positive attitude. I was going to up my game! I was going to put my all into this month’s report and produce something so exceptionally brilliant, so aesthetically captivating that there would be no room left for complaints/amendments/suggestions/sorry-to-be-picky emails…

And my goodness did it work! I felt such a renewed sense of enthusiasm, better motivated to achieve my goals and with a much greater appetite to take on more. So whilst work can sometimes be seemingly unbearable, we must employ little tactics to make sure WE get the most out of it. At the end of the day, whilst I understand that of course it is all about the pay cheque, we must realise that we are giving our employers something much more valuable that we can never get back – our time. Let’s make sure it is a worthwhile investment.

 

 

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Career, Faith, Womanhood

Dear Younger Self…

Dear Younger Self...(Tash Parsons 2011)

Dear Younger Self…(Tash Parsons 2011)

Let’s just say I am having an Oprah moment. Over the last couple of months, I have been in a very reflective mood (I am not on the same level as Deepak Chopra but you get my drift). I have been analysing areas of my life but in particular the career journey that I have taken thus far although I am still very much on that journey.

And in the process, I started to think about all the things that I would tell my 21 year old self; the young graduate who probably took herself a bit too seriously. There are so many things that seemed insurmountable at the time but I overcame it! It did get better. And therein lies the beauty of retrospective reflection (beautiful alliteration, I know) you are also given the opportunity to celebrate the victories and triumphs, the highs and lows and most importantly it teaches you to be thankful. So here are the top 20 things that I would tell my 21 year old self and I would urge you to do the same; I found it to be quite therapeutic actually (well I am cultured like that ;-))

CAREER

  1. Don’t take yourself too seriously; laugh at those ‘awkward turtle’ moments (Ade you’re insane ;-))
  2. Stop agonizing over mistakes; it is not open heart surgery; it can always be rectified.
  3. Volunteer carefully. Being indispensable is one thing but being everything to everyone is another.
  4. Ask for help. ‘Superwoman’ no longer exists. Being strong also means knowing when to ask for help.
  5. Never despise small beginnings. Every job, every task, every event will all work together for your good. The dots do eventually connect. I promise 😉
  6. Believe in yourself and never allow anyone to make you question your capabilities; don’t give them that power; you are amazing and that is not debatable (thanks Wade ;-))
  7. Speak up! You will realise more times than not that you were right!
  8. Pull up a chair and tuck it in! You deserve to be at that table just as much as the next person.
  9. Keep Calm and Go to Sleep. Give it to God. Never lose a moments rest over work.
  10. Please. Never ever wear a T.M Lewin shirt to work. As in ever. Unless it is plain black or white. Nothing more to say here.

LIFE

  1. ENJOY THE JOURNEY DAMMIT. Stop and appreciate the small victories along the way. Live life.
  2. Always remember that no situation is permanent; ‘This too shall pass.’
  3. Chill out!!! It’s not that deep!!! Give your diary a break!!!
  4. Don’t be an open book. It NEVER has a happy ending. Learn to clip your lips gurrlll.
  5. God is real. As in seriously. Every problem has a promise. Abandon logic and trust him.
  6. Not everyone you start the journey with, you will finish with. #FACT.
  7. Know when to abandon the ship. Not everything is supposed to last forever.
  8. Get over it!!! No one cares about the tiny imperfections that you choose to magnify!!!
  9. Always make time for the things you love. It will lead you to discover your passion and purpose.
  10. Don’t sweat it. God loves His own 🙂

Feel free to share your own lessons that you would tell your younger self! 🙂

Until the next time. xxx

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Career

J.O.B = Just Over Broke, Part 2

SUIT (9 to 5)

I absolutely adore my ten year old niece. She has her moments as any ten year old would (good grief I still have my moments dammit) but she is ten times cooler than I was at that age. I’ll explain: she is smart, very smart (I have been assigned the role Aunty-In-Chief in preparation for her 11+ entry level exams; let’s just say I am questioning whether I really went to university *straight face*) she is bold, audacious and she has spunk; she has bite to her barkShe speaks her mind and is never ever afraid to ask questions and above all, she is a negotiator; she has mastered the skill (with ease mind you) of utilising the resources around her. I could most certainly learn a thing or two from her…

Two weeks ago, after visiting my older sister, my niece came back energised and inspired having learned how to bake cupcakes. She had her light bulb moment whilst pouring in the vanilla essence and stirring it into the mixture vigorously: she was going to start a cupcake business.  

She pitched her business proposal to me with ease. It was something short of phenomenal and it was so good that I was almost tempted to sign her up for the Dragon’s Den. She relayed in detail why it was in my best interests to invest in her cupcake business:

1)    No one would have to buy her credit for her phone because the income generated from the business would be used for that very purpose.

2)    She can call me in an emergency and she wouldn’t have to use the poor excuse of not having credit because she would be able to pay for the credit herself.

3)    She would be able to provide treats at every family function or shindig (any excuse to celebrate in my family) but ‘please note; there is no such thing as family in business Aunty Ola so all prices are non-negotiable.’ (she got it from her granny)

After I picked my jaw off the floor, I mustered up something that resembled ‘yes.’ It was impossible to say no in any case! How was I supposed to sleep soundly at night with that on my conscience?? But my niece was right on the money; she mastered the skill of harnessing the people around her in order to propel her dream. To date, she has:

a)    Roped me into writing an advert and paying for her supplies  

b)    Received two orders already and sat down to discuss ‘options’ with the parties in question.

c)    Ordered beautiful business cards online (did I hear someone say vistaprint? Did you miss the part where I said ‘beautiful?’ Welcome in moo.com– business cards that are so beautiful you won’t want to give them out)

And whilst I did laugh raucously at the audacity of it (I didn’t think she would actually charge her ‘bestest’ Aunty) the full extent of what she had done sank in. My niece didn’t just merely talk about starting up a business venture, she took action almost immediately. Of course in the grown up world (oh to be young again- Peter Pan was clearly onto something) our marketing strategy would have to be a lot of more advanced, our financial forecasts more credible bla bla bla but the lesson to be learnt here is that we need to take action and do something about our creative ventures TODAY. Thea Green, the founder of Nails Inc. discovered a niche in the market after travelling to New York for work purposes. She realised that in London we had no such thing as a ‘nail bar’ a place where you could get a speedy manicure to match your speedy lifestyle. When she got back to London, she alongside a close friend mustered up all their savings to start Nails Inc and she is expected to turn over £22 million this year. Not bad at all for someone who quit their full time job at a high end glossy magazine to pursue their dreams. Come on people; work with me here… (Literally) It’s time to put your money where your mouth is… 🙂

Until the next time! Xxx

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