Being Productive When You Are Sick

It can come out of nowhere. One minute you’re reaching the height of your potential at school or work, and the next minute you’re feeling like you need to be 3 feet deep under a pile of blankets running a cold so bad you’re questioning where you went wrong!

But, as a hardworking, high-achieving individual, you know that you can’t let a roadblock like sickness get in the way of reaching your goals. Or as a parent, you can’t afford to take sick days!

How can you continue to be productive when you’re feeling under the weather? Here’s some strategies:

  1. Take care of yourself first

Whatever is going on in your life, you need to take the right steps in taking care of your health first. Whether it’s visiting a doctor’s office, a pharmacy, or reaching out to your parents, it’s important to make sure you’re doing what’s necessary to recover 100%.

If you’re like me, the doctor’s office is reserved as a last resort. For the money conscious individual or if your insurance isn’t the best in the world, the price of a doctor’s visit plus any added prescriptions can really add up as unexpected costs in a budget.

Tip: Visit your local pharmacy and ask the pharmacist for their opinion on anything that would help you without the need for a prescription.

Whenever I feel ill, I visit the pharmacy in my local grocery store and tell them how I’m feeling and ask them if there’s anything available to purchase that would help relieve my symptoms.

Doing this can save you time and money by not visiting a medical doctor. However, please note that you may require more attention or something a bit stronger than what you can get without a prescription, so don’t be afraid to call your local clinic or doctor’s office if what you’re going through gets worse or if the pharmacist also suggests it. This goes doubly if you think you may be contagious.

Take care of yourself first before trying to tackle your other commitments.

2. Prioritize your commitments to determine which ones you can accomplish

Determine how you’re feeling. If you’re not feeling all that bad, you could still continue working on your commitments and be productive throughout the day. However, if you’re feeling like you can’t get out of bed and the world is on the verge of ending, it can feel so much harder to be productive.

Prioritize your commitments for the day and see what you can accomplish in your current state.

From our previous point above, your number one commitment when you’re feeling under the weather should be to take care of yourself. From there, you should have things in an order of importance or things that have to get done.

Once you figure out what’s important, determine what you’re able to do, take steps to do those things, and you’ll be on your way to productivity!

3. Notify school or work

Some things on your list may require giving a notice to someone. When you give your school or work notice that you’re not feeling well, you put yourself in a position where you can prevent work buildup and stress. The right people will know you’re under the weather and they will most likely not want you to come in if you’re sick or contagious.

If you feel that you’re contagious based on your current state and symptoms, it would be best to avoid any commitments that require interacting with others. Visit your local doctor’s office and take the right steps towards recovery.

From a school angle, if your teachers or professors are responsive, you can get the material that you’ll miss from not being in class from them. You’ll be able to keep up with the rest of the class and not have the extra stress to worry about when you return.

On the work side, letting your boss know you won’t be in with advance notice gives them an opportunity to find ways to pick up the slack, if necessary. It also shows you communicate well if anything comes up.

One thing to note is that some schools and workplaces require a doctor’s note if you’re going to be out. Without it, you may miss out on the opportunity to complete any makeup work at a later date. Or you may receive a no call, no show from your work, which is something that can be avoided.

4. Enlist the help of friends and family

When you’re not feeling well, who better to help you in your time of need than your friends and family? Reach out to those people who can help you with tasks that need completing.

If you know anyone from your classes, ask them to send you their notes and any updates so you don’t fall behind.

Having someone take even the smallest items off your list of things to do can make a world of difference in your level of stress. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you could really use it.

This holds true for parenting as well! As much as parenting requires us to be superheros, when we’re not at 100%, it can be difficult to get through the day. If you have help available, utilize it!

Summary

It can be the worst feeling in the world when you’re not feeling well, and you still have a mountain of tasks to get done! To help yourself be more productive during these times, we talked about the following strategies:

  1. Take care of yourself first
  2. Prioritize your commitments to determine which ones you can accomplish
  3. Notify school or work
  4. Enlist the help of friends and family

Make sure you put yourself on the right path to feeling better, and notify others that would be affected by you being ill. This can save you from added stress down the road.

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How To Secure A Job Before Graduation

Securing a job before graduating college can feel like being on top of the world! It’s an amazing feeling knowing that you have a new career waiting for you when you graduate. You don’t have to stress about job searching and interviewing on top of making sure you pass your classes. But how do you actually land a job before graduating from college?

In the summer before the last year of my computer science B.S. program, I was offered a full-time software developer position for a major company in the finance industry. They offered a great starting salary, benefits, and a sign-on bonus! Here’s how I got the offer.

  1. Network, network, network!

Networking is incredibly important when you’re searching for jobs. It can be the difference maker that takes you from applying to 100 different jobs online with no callback to not having to apply to a job because you know someone who works for a company you’re interested in, and they can connect you with someone in the hiring department.

Every opportunity I had to meet with representatives from different companies I treated as a chance to show my value to them. When you’re networking with companies, there’s a few key things you want to demonstrate:

  • You’re personable
  • You’re interested in the company
  • You’re eager to learn and develop
  • You have experiences in what they’re looking for

Give them a reason to remember you by expressing your interest in them, and showcase some of the experiences you have up to that point. A lot of companies look for leadership experiences through clubs and other extracurricular activities.

In the computer science field, many companies wanted to see that I had an interest in programming outside of the classroom. They would want to see any code that I’ve written and what languages I was comfortable with.

When I was networking with the company I’m currently with, I connected with an alumni from my school. They would reach out to the school a few times a year and gauge the interest of students wanting to participate in activities sponsored by the company. And you better believe I took part in every single one!

Tip: Don’t underestimate the power of alumni networks! Reach out to alumni from your school to see if they would be able to connect you to the right people. LinkedIn is a great resource.

2. Cast a wide net

It’s important to be open to different career possibilities. You don’t want to bottle neck yourself so much where you’re only interested in one role with one company. Although ambitious and admirable, to put yourself in the best position to be successful in your job hunt, you should be open to the many possibilities related to your degree.

Cast a wide net when you’re applying for positions with different companies. Take a chance on a company you may not have thought about interviewing with. The more opportunities you take in reaching out to companies and expressing interest in them, the better chance you’ll have at landing an interview that leads to a job, or even better, getting to choose between multiple job offers.

3. Follow up with your connections

After you’ve networked and expressed interest in a company, and you received their contact information, always make sure to follow up with them. Representatives go to many different colleges, so you want to keep the memory of meeting you fresh on their minds while they’re deciding who to push to their hiring teams.

Within the first few days of meeting with someone from a company you’re interested in, send them an email expressing appreciation and excitement for opportunities with the company. Mention something specific from the meeting, and be sincere. Here’s an example of what a follow up could look like the following:

Hello Jan,

It was great connecting with you this past week at Tennessee State! I am excited to learn more about the opportunities the company has for future graduates, and I hope you’ll keep me in consideration for any upcoming openings. I believe I would be a amazing fit based on our conversation about the company and the things I am looking for in a career! I loved the career training that the company has!

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Tom

Making sure you follow up with the companies you network with can go a long way in getting opportunities to interview with them and securing a job.

4. Secure an internship with the company

Securing an internship with a company is a fantastic way to land a job before graduation. Many companies make an effort to hire from their internship pool.

My company, for example, hires over 50% of all new hires for the year from the intern pool. On top of that, most of the interns who satisfactorily complete their tasks, demonstrate a willingness to learn, and fit well with the company receive a job offer at the end of the internship.

Those are some pretty good odds. So, if you can secure an internship, you’ll be one step closer to landing a job before graduation!

If you’re interested in how to obtain an internship, read this article on how I received multiple internship offers as a computer science major, How I Got Multiple Internship Offers While In School. There are many strategies in that article to help you get the internship that leads to your career!

5. Continually find ways to show interest in the company

When a company has shown interest in you through networking events, follow ups, and interviews, be sure to continue to show interest in them. Here are a few ways you can show a company you’re interested in them:

  • Attend and participate in the events they have at your school
  • Wear their swag around campus
  • Keep the networking connections strong through email
  • Continue to work on the skills they’re looking for in a new hire

When a company is going through their hiring process, they’re more likely to give you consideration for a job if they know you’re interested, and you check off the boxes they’re looking for in a candidate.

Continue to participate in company sponsored events, maintain connections with the company, and work on the skills that they highlight as important for new hires to possess, and you should be a solid candidate for them to want to hire.

Summary

Securing a job before graduating is a great way to set the tone for the beginning of a wonderful career. Over the course of the article we dove into 5 strategies for landing a job while in school:

  1. Network, network, network!
  2. Cast a wide net
  3. Follow up with your connections
  4. Secure an internship with the company
  5. Continually find ways to show interest in the company

Even if you’ve already graduated college, these tips can still be incredibly useful in your job search. And don’t get discouraged if the job hunt hasn’t produced your dream job yet! Stay positive, and be open to the possibilities that come your way.

How’s your job search going? Reach out!

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Feeling Down At Work During The Holidays? Try These 3 Tips To Lift Your Spirits

There are many holidays that provide opportunities to celebrate throughout the year. No matter what time of year it is, there’s usually some holiday right around the corner.

For many people, however, the holidays can be a sad, depressing time of year. Whether it’s a specific holiday or the general celebration of all holidays, it can be difficult for many people to get into the spirit of celebration.

In the workplace, where there are many other people sharing their experiences and being fully committed to the holidays, it can be difficult for others to get through. The reasons can vary from person to person, but no matter the reason, there are ways that you can take back the feelings of wanting to celebrate a holiday and make it something that you will want to remember for the rest of your life.

  1. Create your own traditions

When you’re in the office listening to others share their wonderful past holidays, and you’re steeping in your own past experiences wishing you could forget them and move on, it can difficult to make it through the workday.

I used to despise celebrating my own birthday because I’ve had so many bad experiences around it. Although not a national holiday per se, everyone has a birthday. A lot of the bad experiences were relationship related, but before I met my wife, and she helped me create amazing, lasting memories surrounding my birthday, I wouldn’t celebrate it.

I would take my birthday off work just so I wouldn’t have to be subjected to happy birthday wishes from others. I took my birthday off social media so others wouldn’t know it was my birthday.

But, by doing all this, I was isolating myself from everyone else and creating more sad birthdays for myself. By not celebrating, it became one more birthday to add to my list of birthdays that didn’t go well.

The year I completed my graduate degree and started teaching, I decided to make a change. Instead of taking the day off from work on my birthday and being sad in my apartment all day, I decided to take a trip to see pandas and eat barbecue. On my day off, I drove 3 hours to a zoo that had pandas, and afterwards I enjoyed barbecue.

Although I was by myself on my birthday, I started a tradition that I enjoyed telling others.

  • Coworker: “Happy late birthday! So, did you do anything fun?”
  • Me: “Yes! I went to the zoo to see pandas, and I got some pretty good barbecue!”
  • Coworker: “That sounds like fun! I’m glad you enjoyed it!”

The following year on my birthday, I traveled out of the city again to enjoy my day. When I started dating my wife, we kept up my tradition of doing something fun on my birthday, although it took some time to fully embrace my birthday as a day to celebrate.

When a holiday has a dark cloud looming over it for a reason specific to you, one thing you can do is start your own tradition filled with fun things that you 100% enjoy doing. Whether you’re by yourself or with friends or family, start growing fond memories to associate with that holiday. Venture out, try new things, and fill your memories with great experiences.

I love pandas, and I love food. I enjoyed visiting a new city, and I did something similar the next year as well. It definitely beat staying in my apartment sulking all day on my birthday.

2. Get involved in the holiday spirit at work

This one can be difficult, especially if you’re not a fan of the holiday being celebrated, however, think of it like a volunteering give-back situation.

If decorations are being put up or potlucks are being assembled, volunteer your services! Giving back is always an inspirational way of building holiday cheer. If you help others in celebrating the holiday, you’re building a connection with them, and you can learn about their experiences in the holiday. Building friendships and being connected is a great way to steer clear of going down the path of isolation and depression. It’s also a great way to get inspired for what you can do for the holidays.

As an example, let’s say your work has its annual potluck. You bring in a wonderfully fudgy brownie, and it’s a big hit. Over food, you hear a coworker talk about a town close by that really gets into the holiday spirit with decorations and festivals. You enjoy festivals, so you talk to them about their experiences with it. From there, you make your own plans to visit and create happy memories.

Getting involved in workplace festivities may go against your immediate feelings, but in return for doing this, you have an opportunity to develop connections, make friends, and get inspired to create happy, lasting memories.

3. Tell someone you trust how you feel

Talking about your feelings can be tough. However, during the holidays, it is so easy to isolate yourself from the world and fall into a depressed state. It’s important that you talk to someone you trust about how you feel. It may not be easy, but having someone provide support can make a world of difference in how you continue to perceive the holidays.

Whether it’s friends, family, or concerned coworkers, being able to talk about your feelings surrounding the holiday in question is a huge step in the right direction.

But, how do you bring up these feelings in a conversation? It can be as natural as the following:

  • Friend: “I am ready for this 3-day break! It’s going to be so much fun!” Do you have any big plans?”
  • Me: “No, I don’t really like to celebrate this holiday. I’ve had some bad experiences. I’ll probably just stay home.”
  • Friend: “What happened? You know, you’re welcome to hang out with me if you want. It’ll be great!”

Look for an invitation in conversations to share your feelings and see how they respond. It should be clear if they want to be supportive or if they don’t.

What’s important here is that you’re sharing your feelings. You wouldn’t want to keep in any negative feelings to let it brew and build up. I’ve used the balloon analogy previously, and it also applies here. You don’t want to be like a balloon with too much air and pop.

Instead, find someone you trust to share your feelings with, and you will start to feel better. They will look out for ways to support you and make the holidays a more positive experience for you.

Recap

The holidays are a time for celebration, but for many people, it brings up old, painful memories. It can be difficult to manage these feelings, especially in a workplace environment where you’re there for a bulk of the day. Here, we discussed 3 things you can do to keep your spirits up during the holiday times:

  1. Create your own traditions
  2. Get involved in the holiday spirit at work
  3. Tell someone you trust how you feel

Reach out to someone if you or someone you know start showing signs of depression or something worse during the holidays as well as any time of year. You’re not alone, and it’s important that you know that.

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel like it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for more ways to feel empowered and confident in your career and education goals!

What Is Burnout And How To Identify It At Work Before It’s Too Late

Have you ever felt exhausted from work on a regular basis? Does it take a serious pep talk with yourself to get out of bed to continue with the commitments in your life? If so, you may very well be burning out.

Burnout is a term used to describe someone that is feeling tired and mentally exhausted brought about by a buildup of stress. This can come from several different commitments, such as school, work, and parenting. Although the specific reasons for burning out may differ from person to person, there is a simple pattern we can identify to help us better manage it.

Here’s my story:

When I first started teaching, I was so excited to be a positive influence in every single one of my students’ lives. I created great lesson plans, executed them well in class, tutored, held parent meetings, graded papers in a timely manner, and I coached sports.

It was great seeing my students succeed with everything I was a part of. All of these commitments, however, began to take its toll on me. I would come home late after work and coaching, and I would still have to grade papers. I would’ve graded papers during the day, but I left all of my available time open for my students just in case they needed help with something we covered in class.

During the weeks where we have assessments, my students would take advantage of my open hours to meet with me for tutoring. So, I had to put off grading papers until I had other time available, which happened to be either late at night or on the weekends.

At this point, I would spend the week teaching, coaching, and attending meetings, and on the weekends, I would grade papers and plan lessons.

I didn’t really have time for much else after I added in errands that had to get completed over the weekend. A couple weeks of this schedule, and I was exhausted!

I would arrive at school tired, and my energy level teaching wouldn’t be in a place for my students to get excited about the material. If I couldn’t sell what we were learning about as being exciting and interesting, my students would have a hard time getting excited about it.

Once school was over for the day, I would still have my coaching commitments in the evenings. After that, I would be so tired that I would only want to go to bed. The next day I would have to do it all over again until the weekend came along, where I would spend the greater part of both days grading papers and planning lessons.

The stress got so bad for me that I would have to take personal days off work just so I wouldn’t fall too far behind grading papers. Eventually, I lost the motivation to do my best work, and instead opted for ways that I could just get the work done.

From a psychology standpoint, there are 12 accepted steps that lead to burnout. However, within my experience teaching and many others who have experienced feeling burned out, there is a simpler pattern we can identify that makes it easier to remember.

  • New task
  • Stress buildup
  • Continual stress
  • burnout
  1. New Task

When you’re presented with a new task, such as a new job, project, or promotion, the prospects are exciting. You want to do your best, so you take on the challenges associated with the task headfirst and put all of your hard work and effort into it. This is an exciting time. You really want to show that you can do well.

2. Stress buildup

Over time, the stress from that task can build up. This can result from your need to work harder in the task as your responsibilities increase. It can also come from neglecting your own needs in the process.

As an example, if you’re in the middle of a semester and all your professors have exams happening on the same week, this would be an event that builds stress for you.

You have to figure out how you’re going to do well in all your classes that week, so you decide to dedicate your free time to studying leading up to the exam week. And that’s all you do. You don’t dedicate any time for yourself or doing anything you enjoy, which can build up your stress levels.

So, at this point, stress will show itself here and there in different forms, but it’s manageable. You may also neglect some things that give you a sense of recharging. An example of something that I find recharging is spending time outside on a nice day. This is an important thing to do if you’re looking for a way to manage stress.

3. Continual stress

Continual stress happens when you find yourself stuck in your task. It may not feel like there’s anything wrong with how you’re feeling because it’s all part of your task. You may feel that if you continue to work hard, maybe there will be light at the end of the tunnel, and the stress will die down.

Even with all these feelings, the one constant is the stress that continues to grow from your task. At this point it may feel like you’re carrying the stress around with you even after you leave your task for the day.

You may also withdraw yourself from other commitments, like spending time with friends and family, so that you can dedicate more time to tackling your task, or the continual stress from your task makes it to where you’re unable to enjoy some of the things you used to do. From your withdrawal, you may start to feel depressed about where you are with your task.

4. Burnout

If we equate the stress buildup to blowing air in a balloon, the burnout stage is where the balloon pops.

This is where you feel exhausted and mentally drained constantly. You question yourself often on whether you should have taken on the task, and you really have to build yourself up to continue doing it. You may even dread having to go back to your task to continue with it.

Burnout can affect your performance in the task, and it can leave you feeling unsatisfied with where you are in life as well as feeling empty inside. It can be a difficult feeling to overcome, especially if you’re committed to the task that caused it.

I loved teaching. It was a rewarding career, but I didn’t manage my commitments or take care of myself well enough to prevent feeling burned out. And once I hit that stage, it took a serious action plan to build myself back up again.

Whether it’s school, work, or parenting, you’ll want to do what it takes to avoid burning out for your social, physical, and emotional well-being, not just for you, but for your friends and family around you as well.

Conclusion

Through this article, my hope is that you have a better understanding of burnout and how to identify the progression to burnout before it’s too late. If you see anyone else going down this path, it would be important to provide support for them as they may not realize it. Because once you’re feeling burned out, it can be difficult to pull yourself out of it.

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel like it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for more ways to feel empowered and confident in your career and education goals!