Managing Multiple Hustles

I've recently taken on a few new projects and have had to yank at my very rusty balancing skills to manage projects across many focuses (namely, inside and outside of multiple work-things). I've honed in on a few productivity tools that are helping keep me aligned: 

Toggl

So, one of my things is contract and part-time, but the needs come at me throughout the day (time-boxing is hard). Tracking time is a priority, both for billing purposes but also to make sure I'm managing my time well and focusing on knocking out the day-to-day needs, as well as spending time on some bigger projects. 

Toggl gives you 30 days free and it's magic ... I'm definitely going to continue into the paid period. It allows you to create buckets of project categories for logging time, and has super awesome Chrome extension so you can toggle that time (see what I did there?) from anywhere. The fast switching between projects, and click of a button to either start the timer or start the timer on a new project. I'd recommend it for anyone doing consulting work, developers tracking time to tickets, etc., because it makes it so easy to turn it on and off, and categorize your time buckets. 

Outlook mobile app

Okay so I generally cringe when it comes to Microsoft products (call me a snob, go for it), but the Outlook app is all the email and calendar magic anyone needs. My main thing? It makes it extremely easy to manage multiple email accounts (I now have 3 email accounts I have to monitor daily, as well as 3 calendars) and it houses the calendar function within the same app. I can toggle all three calendars easily and check for conflicts in one place. The funny part? All three of my accounts are Gmail hosted, but this app does what the Gmail app can't: manage calendars in the same place as email.

Extra fun:

  • It lets me pull/search from my contacts across all three places in one tab.
  • It has a file view to show me all the files shared in one spot, upcoming itineraries ... it's productivity heaven

Some apps are annoying combined, but the way Outlook lumps files, email, and calendar in one makes it seamless. I love it so much. Can you tell? 

Trello

This one's an old standby for me, but I feel the need to mention it. I always make sure I set my Trello up as a productivity flow (its intended use) rather than lists (I've seen folks mess it up this way), so I'm actually taking action and remembering what needs to be done on different tasks. I leave this for larger, 90 day type projects I'm working on and leave my daily tasks to pen and paper. This allows me to focus in on the big projects when I'm headed in that direction, and leave the little stuff to analog so my productivity isn't over-engineered. 

Four Days of Escape

I've never had a gap between employment in my life, not since I started "official" employment, beyond the neighborhood babysitting gigs, at the ripe age of 15 1/2 where I started as an eager ice-cream scooper at Haagen Dazs. I knew I was destined for great things, strapping on that apron and setting up the very very analog cash register, a dedicated smile plastered to my face. Work feels important, necessary, and like an accomplishment that's hard to achieve elsewhere, and I've always clung to it. 

I'm four days into my work escape, focusing on studying for my next career move, readying myself to start a new consulting endeavor tomorrow and continue my job search. It's been a weird four days, and here's what I've learned: 

  1. Time off should be productive. Okay, yeah, no shit; but seriously, it needs to be, and it should have diligent purpose. Day one for me was vegging and inhaling that Spring air very deeply. It felt weird and sad. Assessing my last couple of years' accomplishments and failures, opportunities won and lost. Days 2-4? I've been: 
    • Re-engaging my online presence. I used to pride myself in my personal brand, and even coach others on it. I need to practice what I preach and it's a fun exercise in self-discovery remembering or learning what your brand's purpose is. What are you interested in these days, and what do you care about? How do you want that activity and purpose to exemplify who you are, as witnessed by others? 
    • Talking to people I respect. Talking to people when you have a free mind, not intending to partner with them or work them into your current role needs, is liberating and inspiring. 
    • Investing in Tech Ladies. I've signed on this week as the Regional Events Organizer for the City Organizer program, and it's been fun just ramping up my learning on all the things these amazing women are doing in their cities. Passion projects are so so valuable and reinvigorating. 
    • Snuggling pupsicles, a lot. My furry friends have never gotten so much love, and I seriously wish there were a job of stay at home dog mom. Someone tell me there is. 
  2. Reading is fun. Say what?! I never have time to read (or, at the very least, never have the luxury of putting things out of my mind so I can focus on reading), and I've been reading a ton these few days. Mostly to ready myself for my next endeavor, and brush up on industry standards I have less time to explore when I'm working. I want this to be a practice that continues during my work life, I need to spend more time researching. There's something in me that always felt like reading and doing research on best practices felt like stealing time away from productivity, but I'm finding that sufficient "down time" to keep me invested in action when I'm not reading. Reading might be a better addition to my Pomodoro practices than online shopping. Just maybe. 
  3. I am valuable and good at what I do. A lot of people have reached out with some really humbling words about my value on teams, folks I've worked with in the past and am currently(-ish) working with. I think everyone should re-work their resume annually, just so they can sit and meditate on the things they've accomplished. Relish in the victories, recognize the unfinished projects, and set some goals for this year's additions. That's really encouraging and helpful when I'm searching through roles, exploring opportunities where Imposter Syndrome could seep in. Conversations with trusted professionals has curbed those feelings I had day 1, and has helped me hone in on what I really want to be doing next, and what value I can bring to a team so I can knock it out of the park. 
  4. Mad Men is really a great show. It's surprisingly helpful when thinking through how to treat people, design organizations, and empower leadership (aka a lot of not-to-dos in Mad Men). Binge watch it, it's on Netflix. 

This whole exercise has made me realize I think we all need to inject time off like this in our regular career cadence. Retreat quarterly and do a deep dive on your intentions, motivations, accomplishments, and goals. Detach yourself from the day to day to focus on innovating on yourself. I think I'll be much better as a teammate and leader if I keep this up, so I'm going to work on it.

These few days might have been a bit too ambitious, I bought four new digital books today ... so time to get to werk! 

Tech Ladies

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Do you ever find yourself describing things you love to do, only to realize you actually haven't done those things in, like, ... a while? Sometimes I get so wrapped up in life, I forget to engage in the things that I love to do, the things that got me where I am in my career.

Last Fall, I decided to turn that ship around and join Tech Ladies as a City Organizer on the recommendation of a great friend and former colleague, Sam Kapila, thinking it would be a great way for me to remember that just because my job isn't all about hustling in the community, it doesn't mean that can't still be my side hustle. I've spent the last two years at SOLTECH doing really great work with my incredible team internally, but haven't spent much time looking out and up, and I wanted to make sure I changed a bit of my isolation mode.

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So, I decided to merge my two worlds and host our first Tech Ladies event last week at SOLTECH, and my amazing team was there to mentor, help set up, and show our guests an awesome time. We had so much fun, it left me wondering why the heck I don't do things like that every week. Okay, once a week might be a bit too ambitious, but we threw together an event in a relatively short amount of time, and it turned out so amazingly well, it has left me buzzing ever since. Here are the deets:

#Goals

I wanted to make sure the event left the amazing Tech Ladies that attended feeling they received real, actionable value from this. We have a lot going on, and many of the events offered in our community are knowledge-sharing from a story perspective: anecdotes on career trajectories, and success stories. I love those, they're inspiring for sure, but sometimes you need a little more meat to take actual action. I'm kind of at the point where if I'm investing 2 hours of my down time in an event, I really need it to leave me thinking about what I learned/gained for a while. Or at least put me in front of some awesome women - and I think a lot of us feel that way.

What We Did

We kicked it off with some fun networking, with a name tag game that taught the ladies some history on influential women in tech, and allowed us to get to know each other over some very generous servings of wine. Wine not?

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The event was Career Speed Networking, an idea I've always wanted to execute on because I meet so many people that need just a few pointers to be amazing (and, hell, I can use it too!). We set up three stations with 10 minute rounds, and a few mentors at each station to guide the discussions:

  • Resume review
  • Mock interview
  • Career advice

I kind of went into it thinking folks would want to hang in one area and that we'd have a bunch of women fresh out of college (which is great!), but was delighted that women from many stages of their careers came, and all wanted to participate in every "station". This meant a lot more diverse conversations, and lot of sharing perspectives. Magic was happening.

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I prepped Resume Cheat Sheets, Mock Interview Questions, and brainstorming worksheets for people to fill out to get to the root of their career needs. It meant they got some good takeaways they can use in the future. Who doesn't miss getting handouts from school?!

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I got to talk to a lot of women that left feeling they got a ton of value, met some other incredible ladies in tech, and can't wait for the next event. I was exhausted, my team of mentors and volunteers was exhausted, but we were buzzing off the adrenaline of getting so many passionate women together to workshop their careers.

 

What's Next

I'm not sure yet, but I know I'm not going to wait another 6 months to throw another event. Atlanta women need this, and I love that Tech Ladies is all about helping women in tech from all areas of concentration, not just in programming. We had professors, designers, marketing professionals, and developers, and it was so great to have such a diverse group of women helping each other. My goal is for the next event to be in June, so send me your ideas if there's something you'd like to see happen!

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Pivot

When I graduated from college with a degree in Anthropology and unbelievable burnout (working almost-full-time during school was no joke), I knew I'd be putting my grad school goals on hold for a bit to figure out my direction. I quickly pivoted into a creative passion career, digging my roots into Atlanta's craft community and spreading the gospel of craft through my writing with Handmade Charlotte. The tech industry entered my sights after a few years, with roles focused on team development which as been unbelievably rewarding. Thinking of next steps always brought my mind to heading to an organization fully embedded in tech, as my current role still sits within an education company first.

I'm filled with excitement, anxiety, all the things as I embark on a slight pivot into a tech company in two weeks to lead their internal culture development, brand awareness, and team retention. It's a dream role created for me, an opportunity for me to stretch my creativity muscle in a new environment with really exciting challenges.

During an interview with the CEO of this new team (I'll share details soon once the transition is over!), he asked in reference to my goals on this team, "what if it's hard?". I felt like a glutton for punishment admitting there was instant excitement at the thought of that. Every time I've thought about future-goals, I struggle to pinpoint what feels like the right role title/path for me to follow. All that ever comes to mind is: I want to be creative, I want the opportunity to be my weird self, and I want to be solving serious problems, constantly. I can't do auto-pilot, we'll call it an attention deficit, maybe. Or maybe it's ambition, but that ambition needs to be grounded in passion for what I'm doing. I always say people are my jam, and I credit my studies in Anthropology for fueling that. I feel like I need to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming that I get to do this professionally, that people are willing to recognize what I bring to the table and give me the runway to do great things.

It's funny how I'm always looking for a new challenge, but change is particularly draining for me. Leaving The Iron Yard is a deeply emotional change for me, because joining a team that grew from 8 when I arrived to 150+ team members as I depart, I've grown so much over the last two and a half years. I've had a couple of incredible mentors here, that pushed me to challenge myself and explore what it meant to be a leader and challenge-seeker. The Iron Yard will be fine without me because it's an incredibly passionate team that is doing amazing work for the community(ies) but there will be some transition time for me to sift through my mixed emotions leaving this team. I'm not one to make decisions lightly so I know this is right, but change is challenging. Luckily I love a good challenge ;-)

This Year

Every year on my birthday I wake up with a special kind of spunk. It's my favorite day of the year, and although it seems selfish, I think it's fair for all of us to spend a day appreciating ourselves and thinking about the accomplishments of the past year, set some goals for the next year. Get all excited about birthday cake, why not?

I give my mom credit for making this such a special day, because without fail, each year, she made me feel like the most special person in the world on that day. From the moment I woke up, everything was extra special, with regular check-ins throughout the day to make sure I was having the best day ever. Throughout the day, she would share different stories from my childhood that make her smile when I lived at home, and to this day as an adult she still texts me throughout the day and sends me photos to build it up. She's generally so excited about life, and I think she gets pretty amped to think about the crazy lives she's brought into this world in myself and my siblings :) My mom is unlimited love, hugs, and kisses, and she goes blowout on my birthday, always has.

As time goes on I try to reverse the recognition, because my birthday's also the day my mom did something pretty amazing; she began on a journey of discovering unconditional love for a new creature (hey, that's me!). It's important to remind those with impact in our lives that we're grateful; we let positive reinforcement go by the wayside too often, I think.