TIME career

5 Myths About Post-Grad Life

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“It’s almost impossible to find a job”

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of hearing about how much being a Millennial sucks. Yes, we graduated during the worst economy since the Great Depression, and yes, everyone seems to think we’re lazy, entitled narcissists. But friends, we are powerful. Graduates right now have the opportunity to shape the new workplace, innovate in every industry, and connect with highly successful professionals with an ease that has never before been possible.

Unfortunately, the media loves making unfair generalizations about Millennials so much that we’ve actually started to believe some of them ourselves. To all you college seniors who are currently being bombarded with disheartening half-truths about yourself, your classmates, your job prospects, your social life, and your financial stability, allow me to bust up some of those myths for you.

1. “Millennials are unprepared for the work environment.”

Wrong. Lazy, entitled narcissists are unprepared for the work environment, so don’t be one. Work harder than everyone, be respectful and accommodating, learn eagerly, and you’ll be just fine. Yes, adjusting to your first full-time job is difficult, and there may be times when you do feel unprepared or incapable. But there hasn’t been some magical downward shift in the education of our generation that makes us less qualified than our predecessors. If you’ve worked hard in college, you will graduate with a knowledge base in your field and communication skills, and with those you’ll learn the specifics of your job when you get there.

2. “It’s almost impossible to find a job.”

Almost 70 percent of Millennials believe this one, so let’s get really real right now. Things that are almost impossible: becoming the President of the United States, winning three Lead Actress Emmys in a row (all hail Julia Louis-Dreyfus), figuring out whether the shift key is pressed or not on an iPhone keyboard. Finding a job? Not “almost impossible,” in fact it’s nowhere near the realm of impossible. Class of 2015, employers are planning to hire 9.6 percent more college graduates this year than last.Overall, the unemployment rate for college graduates ages 21-24 is 8.5 percent. Yes, that’s too high. Yes, it’s tough. But don’t psych yourself out by thinking it’s “almost impossible.”

3. “It’s all downhill from here.”

Oh hey, ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy? Life after college is as good as you decide it will be, so why go around predicting misery for yourself? Sure, there are some people who say that college was the best four years of their lives, but do your best not to become one of those people. There are so many terrifying, exciting, challenging, rewarding things to look forward to in life—focus on those.

4. “You have to pay to meet the right people.”

A few of my fellow recent graduates—particularly in media, I will admit—have told me that this myth was personally handed down to them upon graduation. People told them that in order to meet the right people and network effectively, you have to pay to attend fancy networking events or join pricey industry groups. If you can afford to spend some money on networking every once in awhile that’s great, but it’s certainly not necessary to get ahead. Oftentimes the most fruitful networking happens among peers, colleagues, at a random graduation party, or hell, even on public transportation.

5. “Living at home is awful.”

I’ve been out of school for 11 months now and am lucky enough to be able to live at home. It’s far from awful. Yes, there are some struggles—which I wrote about here—but being able to save money at this point in my life is beyond worth it. Boo hoo, you can’t get hammered and stumble home at 4 a.m. You don’t have to pay rent. Get over it.

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

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TIME career

5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Deciding Between Two Jobs

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Thinking about your career path should stay priority

It’s something you never thought possible amidst all the job searching and résumé polishing you’ve been up to lately: You have not one, but two job offers. #Rockstar. Now, you’re no longer stressed about finding employment—on the contrary, you’re struggling over which opportunity is best for your career. These five questions should give you some serious clarity:

1. Which job most closely embodies your ideal career path?

This should be the main consideration when choosing between two job offers, says Maggie Mistal, a career coach based in New York City. After all, she says, long-term happiness doesn’t come from financial gains; it comes from following your passion. “You spend most of your waking hours at work, so what you do needs to be aligned with who you are,” she adds.

2. How do the benefits packages compare?

This includes everything from salary to health care to vacation days. When weighing two jobs, ask yourself how each benefits package fits your needs, given your life stage. If you’re planning to have a baby in the near future, what is the maternity leave policy? If you want to travel frequently, how many vacation days are available? (But if something is a deal-breaker for you, make sure you try negotiate for what you want before you make a decision one way or another, says Mistal.)

3. Which office culture is a better fit for your personality?

Are people communicating with each other in the office? Do they get up from their desks to collaborate, or do they mostly chat through a messaging service or email? If you’re the type who thrives on collaboration, a “keep to yourself” office culture may not be best for you. And vice versa—if you need a quiet space to focus or discuss confidential client matters, a loud, buzzy floor plan may not be to your advantage.

4. Is there opportunity for growth?

“Ask about the typical career track for this position,” Mistal says. “Is advancement all about management, or are there other ways for you to move forward, such as becoming an adviser or project manager?” Think about where each job may lead you, and how it aligns with your own goals.

5. After doing a quick “background check” on each company, do you see any red flags?

“This means talking to people who are at the company or in the industry,” says Mistal. (This is the fun part—where you get to ask questions!) Google the company to see if any big news has been reported lately, and research the CEO and other C-Suite execs on LinkedIn to gauge their interests and experience.

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

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MONEY consumer psychology

83 Questions Every Successful Person Asks

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"What am I really good at?"

One of the things that stood out from my Rich Habits Study was how important thinking was to self-made millionaires. I tracked 10 different types of thinking habits these millionaires engaged in frequently, if not daily. From my research, it was so evident that thinking was fundamental to their success that I decided it needed to become one of what I call the 10 Keystone Rich Habits.

When self-millionaires think, they do so in isolation, closed off from the world. Most engaged in their daily thinking habits in the morning, some during their commute in their car, others in the shower, and still others at night. Morning seemed to be the most dominant time frame, however. Typically, immediately upon waking, these self-made millionaires would find a quiet space and think for about 15 to 30 minutes.

What did they think about? Well, they thought about a lot of things and when they thought, they thought in a way that most would refer to as brainstorming. They spent time every day brainstorming with themselves about numerous things. I was able to boil down those brainstorming sessions into 10 core Rich Thinking Habit categories. Here they are, and the corresponding 83 questions the rich ask themselves.

1. Career

Some of the questions they asked themselves included:

  • What can I do to make more money?
  • How can I increase my value to my clients, customers or my employer?
  • What do I need to do in order to gain more expertise?
  • What additional skills do I need?
  • What things should I be reading more about?
  • Do I like what I do?
  • What do I love to do?
  • Can I make money doing what I love to do?
  • Should I change careers?
  • Should I work more – or fewer — hours?
  • Do I work hard enough?
  • Am I lazy?
  • What am I really good at?
  • What am I really bad at?
  • Does my job make me happy?

2. Finances

When it comes to their money, here are some of the questions they contemplated:

  • Do I spend too much money?
  • Am I saving enough money?
  • Will I have enough to retire on?
  • How much will I need to retire on?
  • Do I have enough set aside for college for my kids?
  • How much do I actually spend each month?
  • Should I create a budget?
  • Should I revise my budget?
  • Am I doing a good job investing our money?
  • Is my spouse doing a good job investing our money?
  • Am I paying too much in taxes?
  • Do I have enough life insurance?
  • Should I set up a trust for my kids?

3. Family

They also asked themselves:

  • Do I spend enough time with my family?
  • Can I work less and spend more time with my family?
  • Are we spoiling our kids?
  • Are we too hard on our kids?
  • Can I get away for a family vacation this year?
  • Are we doing enough to help our kids succeed?
  • How can I improve my relationship with my spouse, my kids?

4. Friends

Social life is also an important part of the equation, and among the things they considered:

  • Do I have as many friends as I should?
  • Do I spend enough time with the friends I have?
  • Why don’t I have many friends?
  • How can I make more friends?
  • Is my work interfering too much with my social life?
  • Do I call my friends enough?
  • How often should I stay in touch with my friends?
  • Who haven’t I spoken with in a while?
  • Do I have good friends?
  • How can I end my friendship with so-and-so?
  • Should I help my friends financially?

5. Business Relationships

Of course, business is also a prominent concern, and they continued to ask themselves the following:

  • What can I do to improve my business relationships?
  • Am I staying in touch enough with my key customers, clients?
  • How can I develop a business relationship with so-and-so?
  • Which business relationships should I spend more time on and which ones should I pull away from?
  • Do my customers/clients like me?
  • Do they think I do a good job?

6. Health

They also focused on health issues, asking:

  • Am I exercising enough?
  • Should I lose more weight?
  • Do I eat too much?
  • Am I eating healthfully?
  • Should I get a physical?
  • Should I take vitamins/supplements?
  • Should I schedule a colonoscopy?
  • Are my arteries clogged?
  • Do I get enough sleep?
  • Do I drink too much?
  • What can I do to stop smoking?
  • How can I cut back on junk food and eat more vegetables?

7. Dream-Setting & Goal-Setting

Most of the brainstorming involved their personal, financial, family and career dreams and goals, including dreams of retiring on a beach, buying a boat, expanding their business, buying vacation homes, etc.

  • What are my dreams and goals for the future?
  • What do I need to do to get there?

8. Problems

Here they brainstormed primarily about finding solutions to those problems that were causing them the most stress at the moment. Most were immediate problems related to their jobs and family. Some were longer-term and related to preempting future potential problems they were anticipating down the road most often related to their careers.

9. Charity

They also try to make sure they’re giving back to their community, so they asked themselves:

  • What other charities can I get involved in?
  • Am I doing enough for my church, business group, synagogue, etc.?
  • How can I best help my community?
  • What can I do to help my grammar school, high school, college, etc.?
  • Should I start a scholarship?
  • Should I contribute more money to my school or church?
  • Who can I help?

10. Happiness

Finally… the ever-important happiness factor. They checked in with these questions:

  • Am I happy?
  • What is causing me to be unhappy?
  • How can I eliminate those things that are making me unhappy?
  • Is my spouse happy?
  • Are my kids happy?
  • Are my employees or staff happy?
  • How can I make myself happier?
  • What is happiness?
  • Will I ever be happy?
  • What’s making me so happy?

That’s a lot of thinking, I know. There are a lot of days in the year, however, to brainstorm with yourself. You just need to make it a daily habit. Eventually, over time you will come up with solutions to your most pressing problems. You will gain insight into what makes you tick. Planned daily thinking will help you find some meaning to your life.

Making a daily habit of thinking is what self-made millionaires do. It’s an important piece of the success puzzle. Understanding why they do it is less important than understanding that they do do it. Every day.

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TIME Careers & Workplace

These Are the Best and Worst U.S. States for Working Moms

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New York state tops the list, while Indiana remains at the bottom

How does your state stack up when it comes to supporting working moms and dads?

A new report out Wednesday from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research rates the 50 states on a Work & Family Composite Index, which factors in access to paid leave, support for dependent and elder care, cost and quality of child care, and the gender gap in labor force participation for parents of young kids.

The best grade in the report went to New York State, with California coming in at No. 2 and Washington, D.C. at No. 3.

On the flip side, Indiana got the IWPR’s worst grade, followed by Utah and Montana.

You can find the full, sortable list of all the states, including grades, scores and rankings here.

Before residents in the high-scoring states get too excited, it’s worth nothing that even New York, the highest-ranked state, only scored a “B” from the IWPR. The group points out that 40 states scored a zero on the Paid Leave Index, meaning workers have no statutory rights to paid family leave, paid medical leave, or paid sick days.

Support of working moms has become increasingly important as their ranks have grown. Now, nearly half of children in the U.S. have a breadwinning mother who either brings in the money entirely on her own or, if she’s married, contributes at least 40% of family earnings, according to the IWPR.

Paid leave and child care are particularly hot-button issues. Not surprising when you consider this stat from the Department of Labor: 62% of mothers who gave birth within the last 12 months are in the workforce.

The work and family report is part of the IWPR’s larger series, Status of Women in the States: 2015.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

MONEY Best Places

These Are the 25 Best Cities for Finding a Job

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Visions of America—UIG via Getty Images Chamber of Commerce, Raleigh, NC

A new report shows the best places to find a new gig.

A new Glassdoor study ranked America’s 50 biggest cities and come up with the best 25 for workers.

The formula weights each city’s housing affordability, how employees rate their job satisfaction on Glassdoor’s site, and how easy it is to get a job (the ratio of openings to population).

Thanks in great part to its location in the university-heavy “Research Triangle,” Raleigh, N.C., is the top-rated metropolitan area for jobs. Like Austin and Seattle, which also rank in the top five, the city has benefitted from a tech boom in recent years, as companies and workers have left higher-cost areas like San Francisco and New York.

Scroll down for the top 25 cities—or check out the full ranking at Glassdoor, which has Riverside, Calif., and Las Vegas landing at the bottom of the list.

  1. Raleigh, NC – Glassdoor Job Score: 4.1
  • Number of Job Openings: 24,146
  • Population: 1,242,974
  • Median Base Salary: $50,950
  • Median Home Value: $198,400
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.3
  1. Kansas City, MO – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.9
  • Number of Job Openings: 28,786
  • Population: 2,071,133
  • Median Base Salary: $46,000
  • Median Home Value: $138,500
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.2
  1. Oklahoma City, OK – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.9
  • Number of Job Openings: 16,759
  • Population: 1,336,767
  • Median Base Salary: $38,100
  • Median Home Value: $129,400
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.3
  1. Austin, TX – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.9
  • Number of Job Openings: 33,198
  • Population: 1,943,299
  • Median Base Salary: $50,000
  • Median Home Value: $226,400
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.3
  1. Seattle, WA – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.9
  • Number of Job Openings: 69,423
  • Population: 3,671,478
  • Median Base Salary: $70,000
  • Median Home Value: $344,700
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.3
  1. Salt Lake City, UT – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.8
  • Number of Job Openings: 17,970
  • Population: 1,153,340
  • Median Base Salary: $44,000
  • Median Home Value: $224,000
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.4
  1. San Jose, CA – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.7
  • Number of Job Openings: 51,439
  • Population: 1,952,872
  • Median Base Salary: $99,000
  • Median Home Value: $863,800
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.5
  1. Louisville, KY – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.7
  • Number of Job Openings: 16,295
  • Population: 1,269,702
  • Median Base Salary: $40,000
  • Median Home Value: $131,100
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.2
  1. San Antonio, TX – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.7
  • Number of Job Openings: 29,980
  • Population: 2,328,652
  • Median Base Salary: $40,000
  • Median Home Value: $147,600
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.3
  1. Washington, D.C. – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.7
  • Number of Job Openings: 116,770
  • Population: 6,033,737
  • Median Base Salary: $61,000
  • Median Home Value: $361,200
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.4
  1. St. Louis, MO – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.7
  • Number of Job Openings: 31,365
  • Population: 2,806,207
  • Median Base Salary: $45,000
  • Median Home Value: $133,200
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.3
  1. San Francisco, CA – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.7
  • Number of Job Openings: 94,933
  • Population: 4,594,060
  • Median Base Salary: $70,000
  • Median Home Value: $728,000
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.5
  1. Columbus, OH – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.6
  • Number of Job Openings: 25,242
  • Population: 1,994,536
  • Median Base Salary: $43,000
  • Median Home Value: $146,700
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.2
  1. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.6
  • Number of Job Openings: 102,311
  • Population: 6,954,330
  • Median Base Salary: $50,000
  • Median Home Value: $157,900
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.2
  1. Boston, MA – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.6
  • Number of Job Openings: 86,565
  • Population: 4,732,161
  • Median Base Salary: $56,000
  • Median Home Value: $367,600
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.4
  1. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.6
  • Number of Job Openings: 48,231
  • Population: 3,495,176
  • Median Base Salary: $52,000
  • Median Home Value: $210,300
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.2
  1. Atlanta, GA – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.5
  • Number of Job Openings: 69,642
  • Population: 5,614,323
  • Median Base Salary: $49,180
  • Median Home Value: $155,200
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.2
  1. Memphis, TN – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.4
  • Number of Job Openings: 14,776
  • Population: 1,343,230
  • Median Base Salary: $42,000
  • Median Home Value: $107,000
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.2
  1. Indianapolis, IN – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.3
  • Number of Job Openings: 23,863
  • Population: 1,971,274
  • Median Base Salary: $44,000
  • Median Home Value: $130,100
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.2
  1. Chicago, IL – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.3
  • Number of Job Openings: 124,633
  • Population: 9,554,598
  • Median Base Salary: $50,000
  • Median Home Value: $186,900
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.2
  1. Houston, TX – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.3
  • Number of Job Openings: 74,442
  • Population: 6,490,180
  • Median Base Salary: $52,000
  • Median Home Value: $157,900
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.2
  1. Baltimore, MD – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.3
  • Number of Job Openings: 45,558
  • Population: 2,785,874
  • Median Base Salary: $46,000
  • Median Home Value: $244,100
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.2
  1. Richmond, VA – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.2
  • Number of Job Openings: 17,933
  • Population: 1,260,029
  • Median Base Salary: $45,000
  • Median Home Value: $186,300
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.2
  1. Pittsburgh, PA – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.1
  • Number of Job Openings: 29,456
  • Population: 2,355,968
  • Median Base Salary: $43,000
  • Median Home Value: $124,500
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.1
  1. Nashville, TN – Glassdoor Job Score: 3.1
  • Number of Job Openings: 27,850
  • Population: 1,792,649
  • Median Base Salary: $41,600
  • Median Home Value: $176,700
  • Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.2

 

TIME career

7 Ways to Make Yourself Look Older at Work

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Go for the 'power palette'

Sure, there are tons of articles out there that share tips for looking younger. But what about those of us baby-faced gals who actually want to add years to our look? How do you go about looking more experienced for your first job out of college, or during an important interview? Here, Gretta Monahan, New York-based president and CEO of GrettaStyle and author of Style and the Successful Girl, shares her best fashion and beauty tips for looking more experienced in the office.

What go-to work looks should young professionals have in their closets?

It’s all about a tailored, polished look, Monahan says. A blazer or cropped, structured jacket exudes a look of power. Pair it with a sophisticated pop of color such as plum (see next question) rather than a blouse in neutrals like black or white (and even blue).

Which pop of color is best for accent pieces?

Go for the “power palette,” which Monahan describes as jewel tones like lapis, plum, dark green, and red. Avoid “bubble gum” or “candy” colors, she says, as they can come across as young. Also, keep shimmery pieces to a minimum.

Which styles should be avoided?

Overly trendy looks can come across as juvenile. For example, even if relaxed, baggy pants are au courant, a shapeless outfit at work can give off the impression of low confidence and trying to hide in your clothing, Monahan says. Likewise, overly casual looks can also scream inexperienced. Even if the company dress code is sneakers and jeans, it’s always a good idea to be a step or two dressier—at least when interviewing, she says.

Are ponytails a bad idea?

Ponytails can make a woman look younger or older, depending on how they’re styled. A “younger” ponytail is worn high on the head (think: post-workout), while a low, sleek pony with a side or middle part can exude glamour and experience, Monahan says. Similarly, braids aren’t necessarily off-limits if pulled into a polished look like a braided chignon.

What about haircuts?

There’s a reason the “lob” is such a popular look. “If you want to go for a classic look, you can’t deny that a bob or a lob above the collarbone really gives women a crisp, professional feel—young women, especially,” Monahan says. A bob works with almost every face shape and can be worn straight or with a slight bend.

Is natural makeup the best way to go?

Yes—remember that people want to see you, not your makeup. “What you don’t want to do is look like you’re wearing nighttime makeup during the day,” Monahan says. You can add a little drama to either your lips or eyes, but not both. Avoid a lot of shimmer, which can also make you look younger.

Are there any accessories that can add a few years to your look?

“I think glasses are an amazing addition, accessory-wise,” Monahan says. “They deliver a smart message.”

Jewelry can also add to the power look, but don’t go overboard with endless bangles and a cocktail ring on every finger. Monahan adds, “Too much sparkle or too many stones can dominate someone’s attention, and you don’t want that.”

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

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TIME Business

Optimize These 3 Areas in Your Life for Highest Productivity

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Optimize your environment, mind, and process

Answer by Justin Rosenstein, co-founder of Asana, on Quora.

I’m a software developer, designer, and entrepreneur. I’m the co-founder of Asana, team productivity software that many great companies (e.g. Uber, Pinterest, Dropbox) use to run their companies. Back when I was an engineering manager at Facebook, I designed the internal team productivity tool that the company still relies on.

Suffice it to say, I’ve been obsessed with productivity for a long time.

Here are the tips that I’ve found essential to my creative output. Each tip relates to optimizing one of three areas: your environment, your mind, and your process.

Optimizing your environment

Turn off all distractions. The verdict is clear: “multitasking” makes people feel more productive, but research shows that it makes us less productive. The temptations of email are strong. But frequent interruptions make us dumber and it takes much longer than expected to get back on task. So when it’s time to focus,

  • Set your phone to Do Not Disturb. On iPhone: swipe up from the very bottom of the phone, and then hit the Moon icon.
  • Close all browser windows that aren’t directly related to the task at hand.
  • If part of your work is composing emails, get into a state where you can write them without seeing new ones come in. In Gmail, bookmark Gmail (filtered to show nothing)
  • Turn off email push notifications on your computer.
  • Log out of chat.

Find your flow time. If your day is constantly interrupted by meetings, it’s very difficult to get into flow, a state where you’re really jamming and go deep on complex tasks.

  • Add 3-hour “meetings” to your calendar where you’re the only attendee. Coworkers will schedule around these busy times, and you can get uninterrupted work done.
  • If you can, get your whole company to agree to a day per week where there shall be no meetings. At Asana, we have No-Meeting Wednesdays.
  • Track what times of the day work best for you for different activities. Do your hardest work during your “Superman time.” Here’s the process I used to determine that mine is from 10:00a-noon: Finding Your Superman Time.
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Justin Rosenstein

Master your tools. If you use a computer all day, every time you reach for your mouse, it slows you down a little, and you lose a little bit of flow. You want to interact with your computer at the speed at which you think. Doing so requires learning the keyboard shortcuts of the software you used most.

  • Every time you find yourself using your mouse, see if there’s a keyboard shortcut. Usually it will appear right next to the menu item, or on the little tip that shows up when you put your mouse cursor over a button. On a Mac: ⌘ means Command, ⌥ means Option, ⇧ means Shift, and ⌃ means Control.
  • Use SizeUp to quickly rearrange your windows without a mouse.

Optimize your mind

One of my favorite books on this topic is Tony Schwartz’s The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal. Even the book’s name is a powerful reminder.

Take regular breaks. Common sense tells us that the more time we spend working, the more work done we’ll get done. But that’s just not true. Humans are not robots. Our minds need time to recharge. Research suggests that a 15-minute break every 90 minutes is a good rule of thumb for accomplishing more by doing less.

Meditate. Here’s how I picked up a daily habit.

Take care of your body.

  • Hydrate. At the beginning of the day, I put 5 tall glasses of water on my desk. I drink them all by the end of the day. Seeing them sitting there is a good progress indicator.
  • Eat well. A carb-heavy lunch is often a disaster for afternoon energy.
  • Take supplements. According to the book Power Up Your Brain:

• Vegetarian DHA: 1000mg daily
• Olive oil: 1tbsp daily
• Alpha-lipoic acid: 600mg daily, 30minutes before meals
• Coconut oil: Virgin, organic; 1 tbsp in morning
• Pterostilbene: 50mg morning & evening
• Sulforaphane: 30mg morning & evening
• Curcumin: 200mg morning & evening
• Green tea extract: 200mg morning & evening

  • Fast. One day a month to one day a week.
  • In short, make sure you’re using your time outside of work to get nourished, so that you have the energy to give it your all when you’re at work.

Overcome procrastination by facing discomfort. I don’t procrastinate because I’m lazy; I procrastinate because my highest priority task makes me subtly (or not-so-subtly) uncomfortable. When this happens you should:

  • Be honest about what’s making it uncomfortable. Explicitly, compassionately write down (or share with a friend) the exact source of the discomfort. Why does this feel so dreadful?
  • Identify one easeful next step.
  • I’ve written more on this technique at How to Overcome Procrastination by Facing Discomfort.
  • If you don’t have the energy to face the fear right now, then at least do the second-highest-priority thing on your list, rather than switching to Facebook. Prolific Stanford professors John Perry calls this “Structured Procrastination,” and attributes most of his success to it at StructuredProcrastination.com.

Optimize your process

Get clarity of plan. A lot of un-productivity arises from a lack of prioritization. It being unclear what you actually need to do to achieve your goal, and what’s highest priority.

  • Don’t do any more work until the next steps are 100% crystal clear to you, and agreed upon by everyone on your team.
  • Start by grounding in: What is our goal? Why do we want to achieve it? What are all the steps required to achieve it? Who’s responsible for each step? What order must they be done in?
  • Here’s more on how to get clarity of plan.

Buddy up. Some people love working alone, but, for complex tasks, I generally find it painful and prone to distraction.

  • Find a teammate who would enjoy collaborating. Sometimes tasks that would have taken me 2 days can be completed in 2 hours with the right partner. “Pair programming” is common in software engineering, but it works for anything.
  • Alternately, you can have a conversation with yourself by buddying up with a text editor or journal: start asking yourself the big questions and write out your answers. I’ve had long, strategic, and productive dialogues with my computer by simply writing out questions and answering them in free-flow form.

Publicly commit to a deadline. Harness peer pressure to your advantage. If an important task doesn’t have a natural deadline, I’ll tell people confidently, “I will send you a copy by end of day Friday.” Now I don’t want to look ridiculous in front of my teammates, so I will naturally make damn sure it’s ready for them by Friday.

Use software to track your work. Unsurprisingly, I believe Asana is the best place for this. Not only does it keep track of your own to-do list; it also manages the flow of work among the entire team, so you don’t need endless meetings to stay on the same page. And it keeps the conversations alongside the work, so you’re not constantly wading through emails to get the information you need.

Take time to reflect. Budget just a few minutes at the end of each day, and consider what went well and what went less well. Are there improvements you could make in your workflow next time? If every day you could get 1% more efficient, then by the end of the year you’d be 15x as productive.

This question originally appeared on Quora: What are some little-known productivity tips from various professions?

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY Workplace

How to Know What Career Phase You’re In

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If you don't know, you really should read this

Your value to your employer changes following a pattern strikingly similar to how physicists describe the properties of energy. They refer to potential energy – energy at rest, and kinetic energy – energy in motion. Careers follow similar patterns.

As you prepare to enter the workforce you are building up your store of potential value – the value you will be able to add in the future based on exercising your intellectual and interpersonal energies, applying your education and academic achievements, bringing your enthusiasm, work ethic, and energy to an organization. As you land your first few jobs and begin to gain experience, this potential is translated into momentum, as you become increasingly more valuable based on your professional expertise, reputation, and track record. Picture a kid on a swing, kicking his legs and causing him to swing higher and higher. That is how your career takes off. You launch your career with the scale registering heavy on potential, and light on experience.

As you move through your career, the scales shift and the experience side eventually grows to outweigh the potential side. The trick is to add to the experience side of the equation without emptying the potential side. The more you can turn your potential value into valuable experiences, which can then be converted into greater potential, the more valuable you will become in the career market over time.

Now let’s turn to the first three phases that most careers follow.

Aspiration Phase

Time frame: 0-3 years

Characterized by: discovery and introspection, the process of learning, and the development of knowledge.

What you should aim to accomplish: In this phase, your value in the career market is based almost completely on your potential. So the most important objective is to discover your strengths and interests, and to begin learning marketable skills. Try out as many different kinds of tasks and jobs as possible. Get feedback from professors, peers, and mentors who can help you to identify what you are good at—and what you’re not good at.

If you use the Aspiration phase to gain exposure, build skills, work on your weaknesses, and fill in gaps in your knowledge, you will build your potential and strengthen your ability to provide value to current and future employers. So focus on acquiring life skills that are valued in every industry: writing, thinking critically, listening well, problem solving, and collaborating effectively with others.

And don’t forget to focus attention on your life outside of work. Take the time to build meaningful friendships, establish healthy living habits, and partake in activities you enjoy. These skills, coupled with the ones you’ll develop at work, are the foundation of any successful career and life. If you build them now, you’ll be poised for success as you develop more specialized skills later on, starting in the Promise phase.

Promise Phase

Time frame: 3-10 years

Characterized by: recognized by those who employ you through your compensation, promotions, access to the best assignments and mentors

What you should aim to accomplish: You will continue to explore your interests and talents, but you will also begin to develop specific professional skills, and make meaningful contributions to your organization. One goal in this phase is to show that the bet your superiors made on your potential was well placed. You will do that by becoming known as a can-do person who meets deadlines, does high quality work no matter the assignment, and asks good questions.

The second goal of the Promise Phase is to position yourself for the next stage of your career by testing out a diverse set of roles and work environments. First, are you inclined toward a position whose objective is to generate revenue, or do you prefer support functions? Second, are you skilled and interested in managing others, or do you prefer to be more of an individual contributor? Often, answers to these questions only emerge over time. You may need to switch departments, companies and even industries to answer them and you should reflect upon them carefully over the first decade of your career.

If you’ve built a strong foundation of work relationships and a reputation for excellent work, you may well be able to switch jobs within your existing organization to explore these key questions. It is incumbent on you to figure out the best environments and roles in the Promise Phase so you can dig into your chosen area and start becoming valued for your track record and experience. This is to say that there is one other key goal of the Promise Phase – to develop your skills in managing your own career.

Momentum Phase

Time frame: 10-20 years

Characterized by: your track record and reputation for which you will become known in the marketplace.

What you should aim to accomplish: The Momentum phase is when the value of your experience will overtake your potential value as you grow your professional standing by capitalizing on your experience, stature, skills and expertise. In doing this, you will become promotable in your company and more recruitable in your industry and across sectors.

Beyond leveraging your experience into new opportunities, success in the Momentum phase is also defined by the quality of the teams you build and manage. This is perhaps the first thing CEOs and HR officers consider when deciding whether you’re a fit for an executive role at the company. You want to become known as a “talent magnet,” someone who has built a positive culture inside your organization, attracted world-class talent from the outside, developed talent internally, and used all of these resources to create highly effective teams.

Build goodwill by supporting those around you and being a positive, responsive, and helpful colleague and leader. This is especially important when life inevitably gets in the way during this period of your career. The more goodwill that you have built up from having supported others around you and from being a positive, responsive, and helpful colleague and leader, the more assistance you will in turn benefit from when it comes to maintaining your momentum and balancing work with the major events in your personal life, such as marriage, parenthood, and health issues, to name a few.

Citrin runs the CEO Practice at Spencer Stuart, one of the world’s leading executive search and leadership consulting firms. He is the best-selling author of six books. This article was adapted from his latest, The Career Playbook: Essential Advice for Today’s Aspiring Young Professional, out now.

TIME Business

3 Ways Women Can Overcome the Sexist Contradictions of Dressing ‘Professionally’

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xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

Pinning down exactly what one should wear to work isn't a simple task for a woman

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I used to email my sister before I’d change my profile picture on Facebook. I sent her the latest photo I was considering, and she’d tell me if it was okay or talk me out of shots in which my “intellectual side-gaze” read more like a vacant zombie stare.

At that time (my early 20s), I just wanted to look pretty without seeming like I was trying too hard. (Read: as hard as I was actually trying.) That was back before my perception of how I looked was further complicated by the opinions of people who had power over my career.

I co-created PhotoFeeler, a website that crowdsources first impressions of people in photos, with the best of intentions in late 2013. While the site handles all kinds of prospective profile pics now, our original focus was on LinkedIn photos. It was and still is a much-needed tool for job seekers, whose livelihood depends on making a positive professional impression.

Unfortunately, most women already feel they need to live up to many contradictory standards. Be smart, but not so smart that men feel you don’t need them. Be sexy, but without seeming like you know you’re attractive or appearing attainable. Be confident, but not so confident as to appear challenging.

“Looking professional” is yet another one of these contradiction-laden assignments — albeit one that rarely registers as discriminatory because the sexist thought behind it isn’t overt.

This was so clear to me recently when I came across a story about a young programmer who got turned down for a job because she was told her interview outfit — a black tee, red skater skirt, and long sweater — was “unprofessional” and more suited to “clubbing” than the office. When you consider the company she was interviewing for was a dressed-down startup where suits are frowned upon, the outfit seemed innocuous. Or so I thought, but the Internet largely seemed to disagree with endless tweets and blog comments arguing, “This is just not professional dress. Common sense. Duh.”

It’s easy to label something as unprofessional, which is no doubt why so many were quick to pile on this girl. It’s harder to pinpoint what “professional” means exactly or why we see “professional” and “unprofessional” as we do.

At first blush, one conjures up pictures of women’s business suits. But haven’t we all seen the “sexy secretary” look as well? If wearing a business suit alone doesn’t do it, what more does one need to know? While following “common sense” would be the popular advice, I think we need to decode the definition of “professionally” dressed.

Since I happen to run a website that crowdsources first impressions of people in LinkedIn photos, I know better than anyone that there are complexities to hammer out in terms of looking respectable as a woman. As they stand, I would define the ambiguous rules of traditional professional dress for women this way:

A woman must wear a version of the popular menswear (1), and it must fit her in a way that is feminine (2), without being sexually appealing (3).

1. Wear a version of menswear.

The fact is, we collectively understand menswear to be the definition of “professional.” But a woman who dresses “like a man” is found off-putting by her superiors according to research, so…

2. Exude enough — but not too much — femininity.

Back in the day, elementary school taught us that the pronoun “he” is to be used by default, unless a person or thing is explicitly female. The idea is that “he” is neutral, whereas “she” carries feminine baggage. Clothing works this way too.

Menswear is neutral. “No-fail” work choices such as suit jackets, button-downs, and polo shirts all look and fit the same.

In womenswear, there’s no such thing as neutral. To make traditional men’s styles okay for a woman to wear, women’s clothing designers add feminine touches. Put just enough femininity into a piece and a woman appears “professional for a woman.” Get a smidge too feminine, and she risks veering into “ditzy” territory, or worse, becoming a sexy “distraction.”

So a woman can wear a pantsuit, but as Hillary Clinton can attest, she might be characterized as uptight or aggressive due to her masculine choice. Instead, she can swap in a pencil skirt, assuming she doesn’t look too attractive in it. If she does, she might be trivialized by her co-workers or called into an awkward talk with HR. If she wears a button-down blouse, she should be sure it’s not too boxy (as to look sloppy) but avoid it being too flattering to her figure.

Makeup is an additional burden in this area. Studies have shown that a woman who wears makeup is seen as more competent, but that effect is reversed if she wears “too much.”

Then there is the complication of heels. Wearing flats is often seen as sloppy and unprofessional for a woman, despite the fact that she is better able to physically function this way. At least a small heel is required to denote formality, but a too-high heel can become defamatory. Here, the balancing act is literal.

To add insult to injury, “just enough femininity” or “too much makeup” are standards that fluctuate according to every coworker and boss on earth, meaning a woman is open to scrutiny no matter what. This is not the case for a man, for whom the rules are incredibly clear-cut and obvious.

3. Don’t be sexually appealing.

Of course, women’s bodies are so varied in shape that an outfit deemed “appropriate” for one woman won’t be for another. A “busty” woman understands this better than anyone, because there is no item of clothing yet known that can make a large-chested, small-waisted woman look “put together” (or simply “not sloppy”) without reading as sexy at the same time. As it is, this woman may never get the respect she deserves at work.

Merely having a woman’s face and body to begin with means that the simple act of leaning on a table can also move the needle from “appropriate” to “sensual” in record speed. This is not the case for a man, whose features are not as readily translated this way, nor is he punished as severely when it happens.

All this to say, in doing my job, it’s disheartening to see the word “unprofessional” used like a get-out-of-jail-free card for discrimination. The reality is that pinning down exactly what one should wear to work isn’t a simple task for a woman.

Women seeking approval walk many precarious tightropes. Though looking professionally respectable is yet another one of these contradiction-laden assignments, I hope we can learn to exercise compassion for ourselves and sympathy for other women whose outfits don’t meet our precise ideals of professionalism.

If you judge a woman as “unprofessionally” dressed, remember that she’s doing the best she can in the face of ambiguous guidelines and the body she’s been given. Remember that she’s attempting to navigate the professional world while striving for the most honorable thing of all — staying true to herself.

Ann Pierce wrote this article for xoJane.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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