The Handiness of Unitasking.

My husband laughs at me when I say I’m a multitasker.  “I hope it doesn’t say ‘multitasker’ on your resume” is a common household expression at our place.  And lately I feel like I’ve been multitasking like crazy but also feel that I’m getting much less done.  So I decided to try out unitasking and see if I fair any better.

First, I examined my typical workday:  Continue reading “The Handiness of Unitasking.”

Music at Work Relaxes and Motivates

I was sitting at my desk today when my computer suddenly started playing music.  A little Simon and Garfunkel, then some classical, and a dash of Vince Guaraldi (of Charlie Brown fame).  Funny enough, it was just what I needed at the end of a long, fast paced week (the first week back to school since winter break). 

Of course, I had pressed a random succession of keys that had accidentally opened my music player, but it got me thinking- what effect does music have on people at work, and how can we harness its powers for good?  Here’s what the pros have to say(from Elizabeth Scott, MS, of About.com)

Depending on the type of music you listen to, it can actually have a very positive mental AND physical effect on you:

  • Brain Waves: Research has shown that music with a strong beat can stimulate brainwaves to resonate in sync with the beat, with faster beats bringing sharper concentration and more alert thinking, and a slower tempo promoting a calm, meditative state.
  • Breathing and Heart Rate: With alterations in brainwaves comes changes in other bodily functions. Those governed by the autonomic nervous system, such as breathing and heart rate can also be altered by the changes music can bring. This can mean slower breathing, slower heart rate, and an activation of the relaxation response, among other things.
  • State of Mind: Music can also be used to bring a more positive state of mind, helping to keep depression and anxiety at bay. This can help prevent the stress response from wreaking havoc on the body, and can help keep creativity and optimism levels higher, bringing many other benefits.

How you can use music to relax and de-stress:

  • Music can promote relaxation of tense muscles, enabling you to easily release some of the tension you carry from a stressful day (or week).
  • Music, especially upbeat tunes, can take your mind off what stresses you, and help you feel more optimistic and positive.

And some recommendations for relaxing music?  I think this is too hard a question to answer for the masses, but these are on my playlist anytime I need to mellow out at work.  I find the fewer lyrics, the better while I’m at work, so I get less distracted. 

  • Simon & Garfunkel, 59th street bridge, or pretty much anything else they did
  • Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Count Basie, or any other 1940’s era big band
  • Vince Guaraldi, A Charlie Brown Christmas Album (yes, anytime of year)
  • Miles Davis anything
  • Fleet Foxes (newish accoustic/harmonic band from Seattle)
  • Beach Boys, Pet Sounds album
  • Debussey for Daydreamers (classical)
  • Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds
  • I Am Sam soundtrack
  • Paul Simon, Graceland

Politically Related Careers for Politics Addicts

I happen to be a political junkie, as US News and World Report phrases it, and I’ve always pondered other ways to get involved in the hobby I love so much without actually having to work in politics.  Behold, the “7 Best Nonpolitical Jobs for Political Junkies” as determined by Liz Wolgemuth of US News.

And if you’re not sure if you’re a political junkie, you can take their quiz– and let it be known that this could also pass as a history junkie quiz!  I scored a 6 out of 10, maybe I’m not the junkie I fancy myself?  Ah, but if you look at my mp3 player, you’ll see the current week’s Meet the Press, This Week, and Face the Nation.  Junkie status confirmed.

7 Best Nonpolitical Jobs for Political Junkies

If you want to sate your political appetite with a full-time job, here are some cool ideas

Posted October 23, 2008

Ah, election season. There’s nothing like a good battle between the Democrats and the Republicans (and Ralph Nader and Ron Paul) to whet the appetite of a political junkie. But if you’re looking for something less temporal—the kind of work that will let you feed your addiction year-round—you don’t have to become a legislator. Consider one of these (mostly) nonpolitical jobs where you may find a way to keep the spirit of the election alive every day.

Librarian: Not just any librarian—a special librarian. Special librarians work for companies, government agencies, nonprofits, universities, or museums, rather than for the general public. There are plenty of opportunities for people to focus on specialties. Janice Lachance, chief executive of the Special Libraries Association, says “it’s absolutely a perfect fit” for people who are politically inclined, as leaders at nongovernmental organizations, think tanks, or government agencies rely on well-sourced, “top level information.” Librarians can follow specific passions for policy or politics into jobs at places like AARP, which employs 13 association members. Most have a master’s in library or information science, but the jobs pay: A 2008 association survey found the average salary of its members was $71,812.

Continue reading “Politically Related Careers for Politics Addicts”

A Luddite’s Guide to LinkedIn (I couldn’t resist)

When I saw this article by Michelle Goodman of ABCNews.com, I couldn’t resist posting it.  I was visiting my mother this weekend, a fellow resource hound and semi-techie, and somehow the subject of the “luddite” came up in conversation. 

Pardon my ignorance, but I was unfamiliar with the phrase (moms are the best audience for an “I don’t get it” moment).  A luddite, as she explained, is a common phrase for someone who rejects or fails to accept technological advances, to their own detriment of course.  Even more interesting, the origin of the term can be found in 19th century Leicestershire, England, when workman Ned Ludd destroyed a knitting frame.  The folks who followed Ludd’s lead were known as Luddites, for their rejection of labor saving (and hence job-eliminating) technological advances.  (Merriam Webster dictionary entry found here).  LinkedIn, however, is meant to be the complete opposite of a job-eliminating tech advance, so luddites get on board!

Anyway, as soon as I saw Michelle’s article on the Luddite’s guide to using LinkedIn, I knew it was just too coincidental to NOT post on it.  Here are Michelle’s tips to using LinkedIN to your advantage:

  1. Boost your profile’s SEO
  2. Broadcast your news
  3. Join a group
  4. Ask and answer questions
  5. Find companies to work for and rising stars to emulate
  6. Give and get recommendations
  7. Make contacts judiciously
  8. Don’t wait until you lose your job

For the complete article and further descriptions of each point on the list, click here.

Amid Job Losses, Obama Launches Gov Jobs Website

The US Department of Labor announced last week that October job losses hit an enormous number- 240,000 jobs lost in one month, bringing the year’s job loss totals to 1.2 million.  The unemployment rate now stands at 6.5%, with the state of Rhode Island topping 8%.  Amid the bad economic news and deepending recession, President-Elect Barack Obama has announced his new website- www.Change.gov.

If Obama is serious about his renewal of public service and infrastructure reinvestment, there ought to be a LOT of jobs coming in his administration.  www.Change.gov allows you to sign up to receive information about Obama Administration jobs as they begin opening up.  It’s very easy to sign up for information, and the rest of the website includes information about Obama’s top agenda items and his cabinet choices as they’re made.  I’m sure the odds of landing a job in the administration aren’t great, but it’s worth a shot!

Voting is like a Job Search

HAPPY ELECTION DAY EVERYONE!  In honor of our country’s greatest tradition, here is a post comparing the act of voting to the act of job searching…

The process of selecting a candidate and voting for them is a lot like the job search process.  No, I don’t mean from the employer’s perspective, where they are literally “selecting a candidate” for a job.  I mean from the job seekers perspective and from the voter’s perspective, similarities abound.  Here are a few…

1. Research is key.  When you go to the polls, you often know the basics- who you’re voting for for president, senator, and perhaps representative.  But if you forget about the smaller, but still important offices, you may cast your ballot without all the information you need.  The same goes for job searching.  If you don’t research potential employers thoroughly, you could wind up throwing your hat in the ring with an employer who turns out to be a bad fit with your skills, personality, values, etc.  OR you could get to the job interview and look like a fool when the employer quickly realizes you don’t know your stuff.  So research, research, research!  Learn about how to conduct research for a job interview here.

2. A little faith plays a large role in each.  Whether voting or job searching, you can’t possibly know everything that the future holds.  Once your candidate starts their position, they could turn out to be just what you expected, or a total dud.  The same goes for a job.  No matter how great an opportunity looks on the outside, you can never totally prepare for what happens once you start the position.  Research can help make you more certain of outcomes, but you’ve also got to have a little faith and listen to your intution when it comes to both voting and job searching.  Learn about developing your intuition to find your ideal career from Quint Careers here.

3. Your location determines your competition.  When you go to the polls, you might find incredibly long lines or no line at all, it all depends on your location.  Swing states and urban polling places are typically packed with other voters (aka “competition” for time standing in line).  The same is true for job searching.  There are certain areas of the country where there are more job candidates than jobs available.  And on the flipside of that, several areas where there are more jobs than candidates.  Texas has the top 3 hottest job markets in the country right now (Houston, Austin, and Dallas-Fort Worth).  Check out the hottest job markets in the country right now here.

Job Action Day, Better Late than Never!

Job Action Day logoQuintessential Careers declared November 3rd as Job Action Day.  But even if, like me, you missed this great event, turn any day in the future into Job Action Day for yourself!

What is Job Action Day? “Quintessential Careers has declared Nov. 3 Job Action Day 2008 worldwide — a day for job-seekers and workers to confront the current economic crisis head-on and take action steps to improve their careers.  Quintessential Careers will mark Job Action Day 2008 with service-oriented articles and blog entries to provide workers and job-seekers with information, ideas, and concrete steps that they can take to secure their futures — both in the short-term and the long-term. The articles, to be introduced in a special Job Action Day edition of Quintessential Careers’ newsletter, QuintZine, include:”

Also, check out all the bloggers who participated in Job Action Day, they’e got some excellent useful and clever tips, tools, and techniques to help anyone in any stage of their career:

In addition, the Quintessential Careers family of blogs, including the Quintessential Careers Blog, Career Doctor Blog, Quintessential Resume and Cover Letter Tips Blog, and A Storied Career, will feature Job Action Day entries.