Dr. Meg Jay from The Defining Decade – 30 Is Not The New 20

Check out my girl, Dr. Meg Jay! She’s on TED talking about her lessons for twentysomethings.

I did a post series on her book, The Defining Decade, where we learned about the importance of using our twenties to build of future in work, family and personal life. Listen to this talk, read some of my posts, and take the time to read The Defining Decade. If you learn and act, you will be better prepared than most of your peers.

“Thirty is not the new twenty, so claim your adulthood, get some identity capital, use your weak ties, pick your family. Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do. You’re deciding your life right now.” ~Dr. Meg Jay

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3 Tips to Wake Up Better

Are you the type of person who repeatedly hits the snooze button in the morning? Or who could just sleep all day?

Here are three tips to get you up and going in the morning.

1) Put Your Alarm Clock Out of Reach

Moving your alarm clock to somewhere you can’t reach it will force you to get out of bed. This will prevent you from hitting snooze and turning back over under the covers. Try putting it under your bed or across the room.

2) Take a Shower in the Morning

Taking a shower in the morning can jolt you awake. I like to take a nice cool shower to wake me up. My Neutrogena Deep Clean Invigorating Foaming Scrub also helps wake me up. The little bursting scrubbing bubbles have a fresh tingling sensation that really helps my face to wake up. That’s my bonus jolt of energy for the morning, a shower can help with or with out the face wash.

3) Eat Breakfast

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a reason. Eating breakfast gives your body nutrients to get moving. It’s like putting gas in your car to get going. Running on low or no gas won’t get you far, and a quick gulp of coffee won’t get you through the day, just like a quick gas fill up won’t get you through your whole road trip.

These are three simple and easy tips o add to your daily routine. I know, you’re probably thinking, “Katie, this sounds like I’ll have to wake up even earlier, why would I want to do that?” Trust me, I never called myself a morning person, but I found myself more productive and awake by trying these three easy steps. I first tried waking up 5 – 10 minutes earlier to see how my day would go. My day was less hectic because I was on time. I wasn’t stressed running around trying to get ready in a rush and then hustle off to the next part of my day. Instead, my day started off calm and relaxing.

My Personal Morning Routine

My morning routine goes something like this… (I have to be to work at 9:30 and I’m about 45 minutes away.)

  • 7:30 Alarm clock goes off.
  • A quick morning prayer and/or read of my daily inspirational quote app.
  • Take a shower, brush teeth, all that good hygiene stuff !
  • Get changed, do make up, get pretty and awesome looking! Sometimes I put on a country music playlist in the background.
  • Make and have breakfast. It’s usually about 8:00-8:10 around this time.
  • 8:25 Start packing bag, putting on my shoes, grab keys, wallet and phone. I usually have my lunch in the fridge and key necessities in my bag ready to go.
  • 8:30 I’m out the door! Giving myself a little 15 minute window to be a little early or plan for the unexpected.

This is a normal daily routine for me when I’m going to the office. Some days I have time to sit and watch some morning television while I eat breakfast. Other days I make a breakfast sandwich or grab a granola bar for breakfast on the go. It all depends on how much I leave to do in the morning or how early I need to get into work.

Bonus Tip!

If you haven’t tried the app Sleep Cycle, download it! This app analyses your sleep cycle all night to wake you up during your lightest sleep. Waking up during your deep sleep cycle is probably the hardest thing to do. I love this app because I feel light and easy waking up instead of heavy eyes and a drowsy body.  If you use this app, you won’t be able to use tip #1. You need to have your phone charging and laying in your bed so the phone can run all night and analyse your body. I think it was free when I downloaded it, but now I think it’s a dollar. I think it is worth the try if your body really fights you hard in the morning.

Don’t think any of these tips will work? Try them for a week or at least once. Come back and tell me what you think!

How do you wake up in the morning? What is your morning routine?

Where Have I Been!?!?

Oh my goodness it feels like years since I’ve written a new post! I apologize to all of you readers and I thank you for the continued support of comments and views while I was away. And a very merry welcome to new followers!

As you may know, I am a production assistant for Sesame Workshop, meaning I work at Sesame Street helping with a variety of tasks to make creating the show possible. The last few weeks have been crazy busy! We’ve been at the studio creating new pieces for the show. Although I can’t give you any clues as to what we did, I can tell you that I am surrounded by so many creative and talented professionals. The team never seizes to amaze me, the writers especially. The writers are so talented in creating content that is educational and entertaining for children, but also have content for the parents, guardians, babysitters, nannies, teachers or whoever is watching the children.

Since I’ve been away so long, I thought I would share with you the type of work I have been doing while I was away…

Studio

Our studio is at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens. The studio has been there from the very beginning! When we are shooting at the studio I have a variety of tasks to complete so everyone else can do their job smoothly. Let me give you a generally run through of my day…

The day before I will usually receive the running order. The running order is basically our shooting schedule for the day. I print and distribute copies to everyone the day before so they know if there have been any changes and what to have ready first. Some people receive timed running orders, which are the same thing but someone has written the actual times of when we should be doing what and how long it should take. This is how the producers, stage manager, director and a few others can see if we’re on time or not.

In the morning I come in and immediately check my email. Even though I handed out the running orders the night before anything can change in a matter of hours… minutes really. Sometimes there are no changes and sometimes I have to start all over again. Either way, in the morning I hand out any running orders to people who weren’t there the day before and put up two extra large printed copies on the studio doors and talent doors. During the day the production stage manager will cross out what we’ve completed so everyone knows where we are. And it’s a real motivator to see how much we’ve done!

In addition to my running around with running orders (see what I did there 😉 ) I set up snacks and waters in the control room, hand out walkie talkies, refill water coolers and make sure the stage manager has waters on set for the talent. You may have seen my quality snack presentation on my Instagram. These tasks are small but I take pride in them. The little things need to get done so the big project can be fully functioning.

At a break before lunch I check in to see who needs lunch orders. There might be a vocal recording or meeting during lunch, these people will need personal lunches ready for them. These people could be talent, producers, directors, clients, international partners… basically there’s a potential I’m getting lunch for someone who is important. I need to coordinate my time to make sure I can get all the lunch orders at a time that is not interrupting their work schedule, order the food with enough time for it to arrive on time, and set it up before the lunch break. Taking these lunch orders gives me an opportunity to meet some pretty amazing people. Taking lunch orders and going on coffee runs is how I first met a lot of people at Sesame who are the reason why I work here.

The rest of the day is a little less planned out. I can get a random phone call to go on a run to pick something up for the director or an email saying we’re making changes that I need to notify people of. Sometimes I have time to observe on set. I learn so much from just observing. It’s also a great time for people to learn more about me by coming over chatting when they have a break.

Studio time can be a little hectic. I can wake up at 5am and not be back in my precious bed until after midnight. Normal call time for me is 7:30am at the studio, but depending on the work load I might come in earlier to set up. A normal wrap time can be from 6pm – 9pm. On long days we work more than twelve hours. I’ve learned how to get into a routine to keep me going for an entire week. You learn to adapt your lifestyle to what work asks of you. There are weeks when I’ll wake up, go to work, go home, have dinner, shower, go to bed and never see my roommates. It can be tiring but studio time is my absolute favorite! I would rather be on set than anywhere else!

Gala

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I was asked to help the stage manager for our Gala. You may have seen my pictures on Instagram for this as well. I was an assistant stage manager for the Sesame Workshop benefit dinner where we honor people for the extraordinary achievements and raise money for Sesame productions. The Gala is basically a dinner and a show. We have celebrity hosts, Muppet bits and a musical act. This year we had George Stephanopoulos and Ali Wentworth as our hosts and the PS22 Chorus for the musical act. A stage manager’s job is to make sure the show runs smoothly and talent has their cues. This was a one day project so we arrived early for a meeting with the director. When I say “we”, I mean the 3 camera men, the teleprompter, the other assistant stage manager, the stage manager, the assistant director, the director and myself. The director went over the script with all of us to share his vision of when shots and entrances would take place. I was out in charge of all the Muppeteer entrances. I marked up my script to see who had to be where, when and with what.

I loved working the Gala because I had never done it before. It was kind of similar to my theater experience in high school, but I was never actually a stage manager. It gave me new exposure to something that I think I could do one day.

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks but I love the chaos. The constant need of things getting done gets my adrenaline pumping so I can keep going throughout the day. What I’ve learned from my time at Sesame Workshop is to do everything that is asked of you to your best potential and do it with a smile.

If you have a job that at first glance might not look too important, look again. You’ll be surprise how much you would be needed if you weren’t there. Make an impression by taking yourself and your job seriously. Go above and beyond the normal. It’s a great opportunity to show your potential, but most importantly you will be happier at your job.

How I Stay Organized with Evernote

Image representing Evernote as depicted in Cru...

I mentioned before that I am a big culprit of downloading apps and never using them. Recently I decided to change that by starting to use Mint.com and Evernote. I spoke about my experience with Mint.com here, but let me tell you now about my new life saver, Evernote.

Evernote is like the junk draw of your smartphone. You can leave yourself notes, create lists, upload pictures, and share them with multiple people. I love that you can access it through phone, tablet or computer. It allows me to update with ease and quickly recall an old thought anywhere, anytime.

I can organize all my random thoughts throughout the day in one place. I used to quickly jot down ideas on a paper, but that paper can easily get lost on my desk. That piece of paper is also not in my back pocket when I’m on the train or when I get home from work. When I’m away from my desk, my phone is in my back pocket so I can edit, add to and access my thoughts at any time!

I use Evernote for work and in my personal life. Here are some of the notes I’ve created so far…

  • Blog Ideas – I keep a list of inspirations to write about here at Ask the Young Professional for you guys!
  • Books to read – I post links here from amazon, reviews from blogs and lists of recommendations from friends
  • Movies and TV to watch – I like to make a list of the shows up for nomination or that I see a traler for so I don’t forget about them in my busy life
  • Music to download – I hear a song I like on the radio, Pandora, iHeart Radio or Shazam a song on the street, I put it here
  • Photos and snapshots sent to me by friends
  • To do lists – I have one for work and outside of work
  • Places I want to visit – restaurants, parks, events, landmarks… There’s been too many times I forgot what recommendations someone gave me, this list helps me to actually make it to these places!
  • Budget and Goals – I made a list of all the budget decisions and goals I’ve made for myself because before I would write them down in a notebook, but I would never have that notebook on hand when I needed to remember!

There are a lot of different text formats as well. So you have more options with your text than with apps like the iPhone Notepad. My favorite, the check box. Instead of just make a bullet list, like the one above, I can put a check box next to items and actually check them off when completed.

There are so many different uses for this app. This is just what I’ve started with over the last week or so. I’m sure I will put this app to use even more in the future.

Do you have Evernote? What other apps do you like?

For more information on other helpful apps look here.

Top 10 Management Tips

This blog is suppose to be all about sharing learning experience I’ve had and advice I have received from others . We can learn so much from others, especially from those who have been in the work field longer than us. For this reason I am going to share the top 10 management tips that have be revealed to me.

1. Accept that you will not be always “a part of the group”.

As you move up in your position there will be more be more people and outcomes you will be responsible for. It is natural for you to stray away from the group whether it is your intention or their’s. Keeping your workers’ respect and loyalty is most important, and this may cause a line of division socially between you and people who work below you.

2. Take responsibility of all your decisions.

Own your decisions. Make good purposeful decisions and follow them through, even if they fail.

3. Know why you told someone to do something or why you made a certain call.

Make each decision you make meaningful. Even the smallest decision should be motivated by a purpose. Also, be sure to share your reasoning with workers so they can trust and understand your leadership.

4. Be honest about your own mistakes.

Own up to your mistakes. It shows you are responsible and your workers will trust you. Trying to cover up your tracks will only make you look weak and unprofessional.

5. Get feedback.

Feedback is always good. You will hear what management practices have been working and how you can improve communication with workers. Feedback can only give you room for improvement for yourself and the work environment you have created.

6. Find your person to mentor. 

It is important to have someone to train. It is important not only because you will share knowledge that will help form someone else’s career, but it will also leave room  for you to move up. Having someone who is trained to move up to your position leave you free to think about how you can advance as well.

7. When giving constructive criticism be specific and make sure to listen.

Constructive criticism can be tricky. Be careful with your word choice. Get to the point and make sure you listen to their response.

8. When you encounter a problem try not to be reactive.

Instead of emotionally reacting to a problem be calm, cool and collected. Take emotion out of business and only deal with the solution, especially in time of a crisis. There will always be time to look back as to what caused the problem.

9. Be fair in giving direction and assignments.

Make sure you are evenly dividing work and being fair in enforcing the rules. Not everything needs to be completed right away and there is no need to micromanage.

10. Don’t be afraid of confrontation.

Confrontation will happen. You will have to make people unhappy. Listen to what he/she has to say but stick to your decision and explain calmly.

 

Do you agree or disagree with any of these tips? Or do you have any management tips you would like to add?

How To Live Your 20s

There’s been so much talk about how to live your twenties. What I got from all the talk was that there were only two ways to live. You either worked really hard or you partied really hard. After this week of events I realized my perception has been completely misconstrued.

The twenties shouldn’t be lived one way or the other; it should be the years where we are taking advantage of what we can do now that we can’t do later.

That’s what the YOLO mentality is really about. There’s only a short period of time where you can do certain things before you become too old to do it or worse, too busy. There will come a day where your life schedule doesn’t allow you to be spontaneous because of all your responsibilities. I really hope it doesn’t come to that and I will try incredibly hard to not let it, but the time we’re given now should not be taken for granted.

The best thing the twenties can offer is flexibility. We can do everything with little to no baggage. We can move across country. We can go on a self-exploration. We can stay up all night and then go to work the next day, if we wanted you can always make up for sleep later. We can completely change our life and have little to no effect on the people surrounding us.

That’s the freedom the twenties gives so I think it’s only fair that we take advantage of that. We should be using our twenties to live in the moment, whether it is for work or play. We shouldn’t be afraid to take risks now that we won’t be able to later.

Let’s live our twenties to the fullest by making time for career advances and also taking advantage of what life has to offer.

What to do with “Free Time”

Ever feel frustrated not having enough to do at work? Then ask for some!

Whether you’ve completed all your assignments for the day or you simply have a slow day you might want to see what other work you could take on.  You could ask in person, send an email or make a quick phone call.

How to Ask

How you go about this is important. Think about the work style of your co-workers. What will be the simplest and the least intrusive way to ask him/her? You will most likely have to figure out who likes what type of communication by testing the waters a couple times. Some of my co-workers only communicate via email, others like it when I walk over to talk in person and others would rather not have me come to them at all. You will find out that sometimes you just have to wait for someone to come to you.

If that is your case to fill the rest of your day I would suggest utilizing the time you have to work on something for yourself.

Personal Time Fillers

This is a personal choice and will vary depending on what your job is, but here are some suggestions of projects I’ve done with my spare time…

Type up Notes

I have taken notes in my previous meetings and trainings so I something to refer back to. I turn these notes into an outline of responsibilities I have and how to complete them.

Make a One Sheet

A one sheet is the typed up steps on how to complete a project. If done properly someone should be able to look at the one sheet and complete the task without any assistance. This is helpful to have on days when you are absent and training someone else.

          Short Cuts and Cheat Sheets

I have created a few short cuts and cheat sheets that are posted at my desk for quick reference. For example, to review and correct time sheets I receive I need to recall what different budget codes mean. I have created a cheat sheet that lists what the general codes mean; W code is a Broadband code, C code is Outreach projects, and F codes all have to do with Revenue.

Create a Schedule

For regular projects and deadlines it might be helpful to have a schedule in a monthly, weekly or daily calendar. I personally like to have my big regular projects in a monthly calendar. Going back to my time sheets example, I have created a monthly schedule where I layout when I need to send my e-mail reminders to employees for due dates, when time sheets are due to me, pay days and deadlines when time sheets are due to payroll. For me it is helpful to see the big picture of my schedule, but you may have a reason to narrow your view.

These are just a few extra projects I like to try and fill my time with. It is important to stay busy and not use extra free time to goof around on the internet. I know it sounds obvious but you would be surprised how much your company can see of what you do on your computer.

At one of my old jobs before graduating we had a new director. She worked well with everyone and always got all her work done. The problem was that she got all her work done in the morning and just surfed the web after. Sounds innocent, but she was fired. The company could see her internet usage and viewed this as a sign of laziness because she did not take the initiative to see if there was more work she could take on.

Do you have any productive time fillers to keep yourself busy, but more importantly, productive and organized?