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Working From Home With Kids When Coronavirus Has Shut Everything Down

Working From Home With Kids When Coronavirus Has Shut Everything Down

Working From Home With Kids When Coronavirus Has Shut Everything Down. The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. Things are changing quickly every day, and most of us have seen our typical routines turned upside down. More and more workplaces are allowing or requiring remote work, while school and daycare closings and “social distancing” restrictions mean that whole families are suddenly spending a whole lot more time at home together.

That means many working parents are facing an unprecedented situation: working from home with kids and without access to the camps, babysitters, playdates, and even Grandma-dates that you might normally rely on to get through a school break or a snow day.

It won’t be smooth or perfect, but there are a few strategies you can use to make your new situation a little easier. We have real-world tips from remote workers who’ve balanced career and children in close proximity to help you through this difficult moment.

1. Get Creative With Your Schedule

If you have another adult home with you, consider a split schedule. “Our entire family was housebound for 15 days last winter when there was a polar vortex in Wisconsin,” says Melanie McKay, a scheduling manager for Kaplan Test Prep. “At the time our kids were two, six, seven, and nine. My husband and I both had to work from home and school was canceled. At the beginning of each day, we decided who would be the ‘on point’ parent. That person would work at the dining room table, feed the kids, and suggest activities for ‘bored’ children while the other parent worked in a different room.”

Of course, it may not be possible to get all your work done during regular business hours if you’re also on duty with the kids. “One way we maximized work time was by working odd hours,” McKay says. “I worked before the children were awake. My husband and I staggered work times during the day, and one of us worked in the evening when the children were in bed.” You’ll also need to take meetings and deadlines into consideration. Which ones can be shifted around, and which are cast in stone?

Whichever time slots you end up working, there will be an adjustment period as you retrain your mind to focus during your new “business” hours. You may enjoy mornings, but getting up at 4 or 5 AM to work is different from getting up early to exercise. So set yourself up for success. Pick out tasks in advance and then gather all of the tools and information you’ll need to complete them. Your tired brain will thank you later.

2. Be Up Front With Your Boss

You might need to make adjustments to your work schedule in order to watch your children. Before you do, talk to your boss or HR.

Begin the discussion by contextualizing the news. Remember that this isn’t your personal situation, it’s a community issue. Convey this point tactfully by stating the facts in a straightforward way. It’s also always good to come into this kind of conversation proactively with a clear action plan, says career coach Melody Godfred.

So for example, Godfred suggests you might say:

“As I transition to working from home, I wanted to share that I am also responsible for my three kids, who I will be homeschooling for the time being due to school closures. I am creating a schedule that I will share with you so that you’re aware of when I will be available or unavailable for calls or collaboration. I am absolutely committed to maintaining the level of excellence you expect and will remain in close communication with you so you’re clear on how I’m meeting our goals. I appreciate your support and look forward to navigating this together.”

3. Stick to a Routine

Maintaining a daily routine will help everyone stay occupied and manage some of the anxiety caused by this big change. Go ahead and write out a schedule (including which parent is on primary kid duty if you’re trading off) and pin it to the wall or the refrigerator so kids can refer to it throughout the day.

“The kids had a list of things to do each morning (dress, brush teeth, empty the dishwasher, read for 15 minutes), and we steered them toward different activities each day such as puzzles or fort building,” McKay says.

With some schools closing for a month or more, you’ll want to build in “school” time every day, too. (Bonus: School time can equal pockets of work time for you.) If your kids’ schools have set up remote learning, follow the plan and use the resources provided by their teachers.

Just resist the temptation to have a screen time free-for-all: “Rationing screen time was an important part of my child engagement strategy,” McKay says. “They knew that those were the only two hours that they would get to watch screens all day, so they focused on the show and let me focus on work.”

Juggling work and childcare is an intense but survivable experience. Many remote workers successfully navigate this reality every day. While your situation is different from families who regularly work at home while taking care of children, you can build a temporary structure for your temporary circumstances. With a little bit of planning, lots of discussions, and an adaptable attitude, you’ll be able to better weather your COVID-19 stint at home with the kids.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you if you have any questions about how to working at home with your kids. We are home to the #1 San Francisco career coaches and Los Angeles career coaches, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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How to Motivate Yourself When You’re Not in the Mood

Career Motivation

Career motivation can be elusive. Some days you feel it and other days you can’t grab a measly corner of it no matter how hard you try. You stare at the computer screen, willing yourself to type, create, develop, and instead you find yourself simply going through the motions, barely caring about the work you’re producing. Needless to say, you’re totally uninspired, and you don’t know how to make yourself feel otherwise.

Quora users have been there, and they have real and practical solutions for digging up that lost motivation and getting a job not just done—but completed with a sense of passion. Read on for tips and tricks that’ll get you motivated in no time.

Don’t Think About it as Hard Work

“There is only one way for me to motivate myself to work hard: I don’t think about it as hard work. I think about it as part of making myself into who I want to be. Once I’ve made the choice to do something, I try not to think so much about how difficult or frustrating or impossible that might be; I just think about how good it must feel to be that, or how proud I might be to have done that. Make hard look easy.” – Marie Stein

Think about it: If the project you’re faced with isn’t viewed as drudgery, but rather as a piece of the puzzle that’s helping you along your career path, then perhaps the energy required to do it will be easier to come by.

Create Small, Bite-Sized Goals

“There’s a reason donut holes are so lovable. They’re easy to eat. Before you know it, you’ve eaten a dozen of them. This is how goals should be too. Of course, you should have a really big, audacious goal. But make sure you break down that goal into bite-sized, consumable goals. This way you’ll feel like you’re making progress in your journey and you’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment when you complete the smaller goals. A feeling of progress and achievement is a beautiful combination.” – Nelson Wang

You’ve no doubt heard this advice before, but have you applied it to motivation? Rather than focusing on a large, scary goal, take one thing at a time and break the big goal into ideas you can digest one at a time.

Stop Caring About the Things That Don’t Matter

“Doing things that don’t mean anything costs [us] a ton of mental energy. Look at your aggregated to-do list, find things you know that you don’t care about, and get rid of as many of these activities as possible. You will stay more consistently motivated if you’re working on activities that are inherently meaningful or are part of a larger mission.” – Nick Miller

It’s not always best to finish what you started if, down the line, you can’t even remember the reason you started something in the first place.

Just Do It

“To get motivated to start doing something, from my own experience, the most effective trick for me is to just do it (sounds trite, but it works.) As soon as you think something needs to be done, jump into it, doing it immediately (of course, provided the conditions are feasible.) You must not think about anything else, suppressing all other thoughts, keeping your mind blank, acting like a robot. Yes, it sounds weird, but it does work! Otherwise, you will debate whether you should do it now or there were too many issues with doing it, or there are other more pleasurable and exciting things to do over this boring task.” – Bob Win

Instead of waiting around, willing yourself to feel motivated, what if you just went ahead and started doing the work you know you need to do? Dive into the project and trust that the focus will be what you need.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you come up with other motivation tips that work for you. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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4 Phrases Your Boss Wants to Hear

Fact: At some point, every one of us has (or had) a boss.

We wish they had all the answers. It would be ideal if on every rung in the ladder, we could look to our bosses to actually lead us, guide us, and be our mentors.

But managers don’t know everything, and more often than not, they need our help, too. Unfortunately, only the best leaders actually ask for it.

But why wait to be asked? Here are four tiny sentences that every boss is secretly dying to hear you say, and that’ll help you manage up and make both you and your manager shine.

1. “I’ve Got This”

Maybe your manager has a few bosses of her own who have just joined on. These new players are demanding, and she may not know how to manage them and their requests. Projects she used to oversee—like the ones you work on—may not be her top priority right now, nor might she be the best person to guide you. So, what do you do? Easy. You tell her “I’ve got this.”

Why it Matters

A great boss knows that to succeed, she has to set priorities—which means she has to hand them off to someone else. Letting her know you will own this might give her the confidence she needs to let you run with it. And then you have an opportunity to flash your best work.

2. “It’s My Responsibility”

Too often people are either not held accountable or refuse to be, pointing the finger elsewhere. Usually, there’s a fear of retaliation if we make a mistake or if we shine a light on what went wrong. (Note: If that’s the culture you’re in, you might want to ask yourself if it’s where you really want to be.) But all things considered, taking responsibility for something you did or raising your hand when you see something that could be potentially damaging to your company is what leaders do.

Why it Matters

At the end of the day, stepping up to own our mistakes shows great character and courage. It’s what every great boss should praise (and not punish) in a direct report.

3. “I Disagree Because…”

Your boss may not always like or agree with what you have to say, but he’s far better off with a team that’s unafraid to speak up, instead of a bunch of “yes” men and women. You were hired for your judgment and counsel. Be respectful but be sure to speak your mind when it serves the company and its goals. True leaders will heed what you say and respect you back.

Why it Matters

Confident leaders won’t make you feel as if you’re walking on eggshells when the truth may hurt; rather, they’ll seek out direct reports they know will always give it to them straight.

4. “Can I Help?”

Why not periodically throw them a life preserver? Asking if you can help is an open-ended invitation to your boss, letting her know you’ve got her back and recognize that her workload is split between delivering to her higher-ups and managing you.

Why it Matters

“Can I help?” is another way of asking “Are you OK?” Letting her know she’s not alone will mean more to her than she may let on and will help you earn her trust as someone she can count on in times of need.

Sometimes, people think it’s “safest” to keep their heads down and say nothing. But, if you want to make a difference where you work, and you believe that what you have to offer can do that, then don’t hesitate to give these phrases a try.
Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you come up with more phrases your boss wants to hear. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Your Guide to Answering the Most Common Interview Questions

Wouldn’t it be great if you knew exactly what questions a hiring manager would be asking you in your next job interview?

We can’t read minds, but we can give you the next best thing: a list of some of the most asked interview questions, along with advice for answering them all.

While we don’t recommend having a canned response for every interview question (in fact, please don’t) we do however recommend spending some time getting comfortable with what you might be asked, what hiring managers are really looking for, and what it takes to reflect that you’re the right person for the job.

Interview Question and Answer Study Guide:

1. Tell Me About Yourself.

This question seems simple, so many people fail to prepare for it, but it’s crucial. Here’s the deal: Don’t give your complete employment (or personal) history. Instead, give a pitch—one that’s concise, compelling, and shows exactly why you’re the right fit for the job. Talk a little bit about your current role (including the scope and perhaps one big accomplishment,) then give some background as to how you got there and experience you have that’s relevant. Finally, segue into why you want—and would be perfect for—this role.

2. How Did You Hear About This Position?

Another seemingly innocuous interview question, this is actually a perfect opportunity to stand out and show your passion for, and connection to, the company. For example, if you found out about the gig through a friend or professional contact, name drop that person, then share why you were so excited about it. If you discovered the company through an event or article, share that. Even if you found the listing through a random job board, share what, specifically, caught your eye about the role.

3. Why Do You Want This Job?

First, identify a couple of key factors that make the role a great fit for you (e.g., “I love customer support because I enjoy the constant human interaction and the satisfaction that comes from helping someone solve a problem,”) then share why you love the company (e.g., “I’ve always been passionate about education, and I think you’re doing great things, so I see strong alignment.”)

4. Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job?

Definitely keep things positive—you have nothing to gain by being negative about your current employer. Instead, frame things in a way that shows that you’re eager to take on new opportunities and that the role you’re interviewing for is a better fit for you. For example, “I’d really love to be part of product development from beginning to end and I know I’d have that opportunity here.” 

5. Why Should We Hire You?

Your job here is to craft an answer that covers three things: that you can literally do the work and deliver great results; that you’ll fit in with the team and culture; and that you’d be a better hire than any of the other candidates. 

With all of these, write your answer out and spend time saying these out loud. We would never suggest that you memorize a canned answer but the more you are familiar with your narratives the more comfortable you will be when you share them. We also suggest you write up stories from experiences you’ve had that you would consider wins, challenges overcome, and other anecdotes that reflect your impact and success.
Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you with in depth interview preparation and much more. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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How to Know if You’re Making the Wrong Career Move

Imagine you are facing a major career decision. A new opportunity arose that would increase your engagement and give you more autonomy. Taking it however means leaving a job that you’ve enjoyed, focusing on a different type of work, and facing a substantial learning curve. Uncertain, you almost miss the window to apply… What do you do?

One of the biggest doubts that gnaws at a decision maker’s peace of mind, is worrying about making the wrong move. What if I take this new job and regret it? What if I’m not prepared enough to move up? What if I strike out on my own and fail? Just how, exactly, can you tell if you’re about to make a wrong move? Like many things in your professional life, there’s no black and white when it comes to making a bold career-changing pivot. But the following three questions may help you work through your concerns. (Of course, if your circumstances are complex, it’s time to schedule with one of our career coaches.)

1. Do You Have a Sense of Foreboding?

Do you feel a tiny lingering sense of dread when you think about the new opportunity? Maybe your potential boss minimized some of your accomplishments in the interview, making you wonder if your work won’t be valued in the new space. Or maybe you met the team, and while they were polite, they also seemed a bit tightly-wound, making you wonder how they handle a tough deadline or if this is the culture of the department.

Think you would just walk away if you encountered red flags like these? Don’t kid yourself—there are plenty of reasons we ignore warning bells, like a bigger paycheck, higher status, or the opportunity to live in a great location. But, if you see these signs, you shouldn’t overlook them simply because you want to make more money. A nagging unease or feeling of discomfort could be your big brain’s way of letting you know that you’re not ready or that it’s not the best option.

Look, it’s inevitable that a career change is going to create some anxiety. (If it doesn’t, check your pulse!) You don’t need to automatically turn down a great offer if you’re feeling nervous, but you should try to determine if it’s more than just butterflies. Ask yourself, “Am I uncomfortable about something that’s happened in this process, or am I just nervous at the thought of change?”

2. Are You Feeling Desperate?

If you’re in a crummy situation and you hate your job, and you get a chance to make a change, there’s a chance you might make the jump just to escape your current situation. Make sure you’re approaching the decision with a clear head so you can determine if the new opportunity actually offers something better or if it just seems that way. Remember that you need to vet this new opportunity. You need to assess if this new company, culture, team, management, product, is an actual fit for you and sets you up for success.

If you can’t find that clear headspace on your own, talk to someone. When you feel panicky, it’s incredibly difficult to maintain perspective. Someone on the outside, someone who doesn’t have your emotional attachment to the situation, can often be of enormous help. A trusted friend, mentor, or career coach can help you recognize and sort through your options.

3. Are You Trying to Spite Someone?

You’re not the only one who’s dreamed of getting an incredible opportunity to rub in that colleague’s smug face. But, c’mon now, that’s obviously a terrible reason to actually make a career move. If you let them drive your decision, you’re giving them control, and it’s unlikely that the decision is truly what’s best for you and your professional trajectory.

If you can remain secure and productive in your role, you’ll ultimately have more control, and eventually, new doors will open for you, giving you the chance to evaluate your options objectively.

Here’s a final nugget to bear in mind when wrestling with a major career decision: If you truly know what is a fit for you, if you know what you need in a career to thrive, and you have vetted the company, your potential co-workers and boss, the culture, then you are likely to make a good, solid decision. Still wondering “Am I making the fight decision?” Ask our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers who all offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Questions to Ask if You Want to Win Over Your New Boss

Starting a new job is all about making a good first impression. You have this amazing opportunity to start over—to build strong relationships and set your new career in the right direction—so don’t just enter your new office without a game plan or the same old routine you did before.

This means asking a lot of questions as soon as you get started. You may worry about being annoying, but asking questions is actually a great way to quickly understand the inner workings of your new company and also get on your boss’s’ good side.

While there are no bad questions, there are some that will boost your reputation better than others. For example, here are four that are worth asking in the first few days and weeks if you want to get ahead.

1. “How Are You Doing?”

First off, this shouldn’t be a one-time question. In fact, you should be asking this regularly of your new boss, if not daily. (And hopefully they’re asking the same of you.)

Why? Your boss is probably very busy, very stressed, or in some instances feels ignored or underappreciated, so making them feel noticed is an instant plus for you. And, it gives them a chance to open up. This could lead to more transparency, even more opportunity for you to get involved, and it’s the number one strategy for managing up.

We are aware that not every boss is going to take this kind of question and immediately become your new best friend. But at the very least it’s a nice thing to ask and that will help you build rapport.

2. “What Can I Take Off Your Plate?”

Their answer might be nothing (you’re new to the job, so it’s possible they’ll let you know when they’re ready to hand stuff off to you.) Or maybe they’re currently working on something that could use an extra set of hands. By asking rather than waiting for them, you make it easier for them to delegate—and shine a spotlight on your work ethic. Even when you aren’t asking this question directly, you need to be asking yourself this question. If this is top of mind when it comes to your boss, not only is this a leadership perspective, but you can be sure you’re headed in the right direction.

3. “Who Should I Meet with in My First Week/Month?”

Networking in a new job is crucial. You should be meeting with not just your new teammates, but other teams and executives (if possible) to get a better sense of your company’s goals and initiatives and how they tie back to your role.

Getting your boss’s insight on who you should interact with shows you respect their opinion but also are proactive about collaborating.

4. “What Are Your Goals for Me in the Next Month/Year?”

Thinking long-term shows, you’re driven and ready to hit the ground running from day one.

It’s possible your boss doesn’t know yet, or maybe their sole aim is to get you onboarded. In that case, turn it on them: “What are your goals for the next several months?” If nothing else, you can set your own goals and actions by figuring out how you can contribute to theirs.

Looking for more ways to impress your boss? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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What to Ask Yourself if You’re Questioning Your Career Path

You’re not completely sold that you’re on the right career path, but the idea of making a change is daunting. There are so many unknowns and the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Plus, if you do decide to change course, will you have to take a step back to develop the necessary skills?

Wondering if you have the time and energy required to transition into the right career path may be a valid concern, but it shouldn’t stop you from pursuing a path you love. Before you make a switch, ask yourself the following three questions.

1. Are You Developing a Competitive Advantage?

In The Start-up of You, authors Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha teach that we’re all entrepreneurs of our own careers. They argue that to become competitive in today’s global market, it’s critical to understand your assets (what you’re good at,) your aspirations (what you want to do,) and the market realities (what people will pay you for.)

Having only one or two isn’t enough. You need all three to develop a true competitive advantage. Know your assets and aspirations in light of the market realities—then pursue a path that maximizes all three.

2. How Often Do You Think About Work Outside of Work?

The importance of this question is best illustrated through a story. Henry Eyring, a former business professor at Stanford University, tells how he ended up choosing his path. His father, who was a renowned scientist and professor, hoped his son would follow in his footsteps. In Eyring’s words: “My father was [teaching physics] at a blackboard we kept in the basement…Suddenly he stopped. ‘Hal,’ he said, ‘we were working the same kind of problem a week ago. You don’t seem to understand it any better now than you did then. Haven’t you been working on it?’”

Eyring admitted he had not. His father then said: “When you walk down the street, when you’re in the shower, when you don’t have to be thinking about anything else, isn’t this what you think about?”

“When I told him no,” Eyring concludes, “my father paused…then said, ‘Hal, I think you’d better get out of physics. You ought to find something that you love so much that when you don’t have to think about anything, that’s what you think about.’”

To be successful you don’t need to obsess about your job 24/7, but if you’re only thinking about your job during the hours of 9 to 5, it may be a sign you’re on the wrong path.

3. What Does Your Career Path Look Like 10 Years Down the Road?

Think of those in your company or industry who are more senior than you. Do you eventually want to be doing the type of work they’re doing?

If you don’t know what your current path looks like, schedule an informational interview with someone more experienced. These informal meetings are a great way to find out what you can expect in the future. Consider asking people what they like most about their job, the types of projects they work on, and what advice they’d give to someone in your shoes.

Your answers to these questions will help you understand whether you should double your efforts in your current job or start figuring out your next move.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you if you are questioning your career path. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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5 Brilliant Tips for Dealing with a Difficult Boss

In an ideal world, we would all have fantastic managers—bosses who helped us succeed, who made us feel valued, and who were just all-around great people.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. But whether the person you work for is a micromanager, has anger management problems, is a flat-out workplace bully, or just isn’t very competent, you still have to make the best of the situation and finish your work.

To help out, the Ignite Your Potential coaches have gathered the best advice for dealing with a bad boss. 

1. Make Sure You’re Dealing With a “Bad Boss”

Before trying to fix your bad boss, make sure you really are dealing with one. Is there a reason for the behavior you’re seeing? Are you being too hard on him or her?

“Observe your boss for a few days and try to notice how many things she does well versus poorly. When she is doing something “bad,” try to imagine the most forgiving reason why it could have occurred. Is it truly her fault or could it be something out of their control?” Fast Company

2. Identify Your Boss’s Motivation

Understanding why your boss does or cares about certain things can give insight into his or her management style. It’s also a way to “manage up” (understanding what the demands are on your boss and how you can best support them. There are plenty of additional articles online specifically about this topic. Think of this as an opportunity to learn this useful skill.)

“…if the rules are totally out of control, try to figure out your boss’s motivation. Maybe it’s not that he really cares about how long your lunch break takes; he actually cares about how it affects other employees’ morale and the perception of their superiors.” Brazen Careerist

3. Don’t Let it Affect Your Work

No matter how bad your boss’s behavior avoid letting it affect your work. You want to stay on good terms with other leaders in the company (and keep your job!) If you are unable to do this… it’s time to begin a job search and leave before you sabotage yourself.

“Don’t try to even the score by working slower or taking excessive ‘mental health’ days or longer lunches. It will only put you further behind in your workload and build a case for your boss to give you the old heave-ho before you’re ready to go.” Work Awesome

4. Act as the Leader

When dealing with an incompetent boss, sometimes it’s best to make some leadership decisions on your own.

“If you know your area well, there is no reason to not pursuing a direction you know will achieve good results for your company. People who do this are naturally followed by their peers as an informal leader. Management, although maybe not your direct boss, will notice your initiative. Of course, you don’t want to do something that undermines your boss, so keep him or her in the loop.” Careerealism

5. Avoid Future Bad Bosses

When interviewing with a new company, do your research ahead of time to make sure you’re not getting into another situation with a less-than-ideal manager.

“Have coffee or lunch with one or more staffers at the new company. Ostensibly, your purpose is to learn general information about the company, how it’s functioning, and its culture. However, use this opportunity to discover as much about your potential boss as possible, without appearing creepy of course.” Inc.

Need more tips on how to deal with a difficult boss? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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6 Ways to Manage Your Email Inbox—According to People Who Get 100+ Emails a Day

Between sifting through spam, crafting the right responses, and keeping tabs on the messages that require follow-up, staying on top of your inbox can feel like a job in itself. That’s why the Ignite Your Potential coaches curated a list of tips from professionals who have figured out the secret to efficient, organized inboxes—despite getting hundreds of emails a day.

1. Only Keep Emails Requiring Immediate Action in Your Inbox

No emails in your inbox might be too lofty an aim, but by being ruthless about which messages get to take up real estate in your inbox, you can get pretty darn close.

“Most days, my email inbox has fewer than 25 messages in it. This is intentional. I want to be able to open my inbox and immediately see what is most urgent and requiring a response,” says Leigh Ann Newman, a senior program manager at an international government consulting firm. “This habit pushes me to take action on items in an extremely timely manner.”

2. Create a “Waiting Folder” for Action-Pending Emails

So, where do emails go if not your inbox? Create a “waiting folder” for emails that require action from someone else before you can respond. “This is a huge time-saver,” says Darcy Miller, a workplace expert and founder of Pin and Pivot, who for many years was barraged with more than 150 emails a day. “That way those emails aren’t junking up your inbox, and it’s a great place to look each day or week to remind you of what projects are still pending.”

She learned this trick the hard way when, during the first year of her first job, she couldn’t find an email attachment she needed. “I spent half of a day looking for that email, among the thousands of emails that were in my inbox at the time,” she says. “I vowed from that moment on, I would take control of my inbox!”

3. Make Subfolders or Labels Your New BFF

Across the board, inbox mavens recommend creating an easy-to-decode subfolder or label system. Nate Masterson, CEO of Maple Holistics, estimates he gets upwards of 250 emails some days, so organization is paramount. “Email labels are your friend,” he advises. “Use them to group together important email chains, so when you need to look at something for reference, you can do so easily.”

4. Don’t Let Junk Mail Languish in Your Inbox

Feel like you’re playing whack-a-mole with promotional emails? Be swift with the unsubscribe button. Davis Siksnans, CEO and Founder of Printful, uses a three-strike rule for promotional emails and newsletters. The third time he deletes a newsletter or promo email from a specific sender, he unsubscribes from the list.

5. Set Aside Time Blocks for Checking Email

You probably wouldn’t leave your schedule open for meetings of unspecified times and lengths around the clock, so why give email free rein to intrude on your day?

“I don’t leave my email open all day long; I set specific times during the day to go through each email and thoughtfully respond, archive, or save for later. This way I don’t multitask, and I can get through all my emails more quickly because I am actually focused on the task at hand,” says David Mitroff, a business consultant. “I recommend that people start out with three different half-hour blocks a day to read through and respond to their emails and keep their inbox closed the rest of the day and adjust as necessary from there.”

6. Squeeze in Mindless Email Tasks During Downtime

Ensure email accounts are effectively synced to your phone and use idle moments to do quick inbox clean-up. “Lots of the messages I receive don’t require direct action,” says Ben Taylor, founder of HomeworkingClub.com. “Spam can be deleted, other things can be filed, and you can deal with plenty of these just while you’re in a two-minute supermarket queue.”

Wanting to know other organization tips to keep your inbox in optimal shape? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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4 Ways to Find The Answer to “What Should I Do With My Life?”

What should I do with my life?

Unlike so many other questions you have about your career, this one’s not quite as easy to Google.

The good news is, you’re not alone—in fact, we guarantee that everyone has pondered their career path, finding their passion, or what they’re meant to be doing at some point. And luckily, many of them are willing to share their advice. If you’re at a loss for what steps to take next, read on for the best pieces of advice from a Quora thread on this topic.

1. Talk to People

“Meet or call at least 50 people. They can be your friends, relatives, friends of friends/references. Call them up, schedule a meeting, go see them and interact with them on what they are doing. Don’t expect anything, don’t ask them to find you a job, don’t ask them to give you a job. Just talk and meet and have a normal conversation.” – Gaurav Munjal

You’d be surprised at how much you can learn just listening to other people talk. If you take the time to really listen, you’ll get insight into people’s motivations, hopes, dreams, and ambitions. And when you piece all that together, you can learn how others got to where they are today—and if that’s a path you want to be on, too.

2. Get Started

“My suggestion is to do something. Even if it isn’t quite the right thing, it is nevertheless a movement that can give you an opportunity to experience. You can spend a lot of time taking tests and getting evaluations for what you might be suited for; ideas always sound good on paper. But words don’t match experience, so acting on something is your best choice.” – Kathleen Grace

Regardless of what you generally want to do, it never hurts to start building something. Start creating a portfolio, launch a career newsletter, or learn how content creating works. There are so many things you can do for your career—even if you don’t know what you want to do.

3. Gather Inspiration From Others

“Walk into your local bookshop and go straight to the autobiography section. Buy three books from across different industries, societies, and cultures. Focus on biographies that document great and successful people’s early lives, before they were great. Read them before bed. Wake up in the morning and write down 10 things you could do differently that day. Do some of them. Do this the next day. And then do it again.” – David Ball

What better way to get started than by learning how others reached their goals? Keep in mind as you’re reading that these people weren’t born knowing what they wanted to do either.

7. Enjoy Not Knowing

“Enjoy the meanderings, the soul-searching, the loves lost, the time wasted. All of it will add up to a complex and very unique ‘you.’ The more you appreciate right now, the more the future will become a fantastic reality. Don’t pressure yourself to be in the future.” -James Altucher

You know how math problems always seem impossible when you first look at them, but then, after taking a break, the answer feels so obvious? Figuring out what you want to do with your life is kind of like that.

By focusing on other less-pressing matters, the obvious answer will come to you when you’re least expecting it.

Just remember that you don’t have to have it all figured out. And that even when you do, you might change the course a few times. So don’t worry about having all the answers—just thinking about it is a good start.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you answer the age-old question, “What should I do with my life?”. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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