Archive | September, 2016

How to Work Smarter, Not Harder

September 29, 2016

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2104981032_f832e8842c_z“Working smarter, not harder” sounds great. But how do you do it? First thing’s first: you have to recognize the truth behind it. Just because you’re physically at work doesn’t mean you’re actually working. Think about how much time you likely waste in a day: gossiping to coworkers, getting caught up on your Facebook feed, taking a long walk to grab a coffee, watching some funny videos, or more. If you’re going to be at work, you might as well be working and working smart. That means productively, efficiently, and with purpose. Here are some tips that will help you get there.

  1. Take breaks.
    It may sound counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to get work done is to stop working. Even small breaks can help. Here are some ideas:

    • Take a lunch break away from your desk.
    • Go for a 15 minute walk outside.
    • Stand up and stretch once per hour.
    • Take a 5-minute break every 55 minutes.
    • Do a work “sprint” for a certain amount of time then reward yourself with a break.
  2. Make a to-do list.
    To-do lists are all about prioritizing and starting your day or week on the right foot. To do lists can also help you celebrate small successes–and help you feel less guilty if you leave work early during an especially productive day. (Hey, you deserve it!) Here are some ways to incorporate to-do lists into your life:

    • Write down your 3 most important tasks every morning.
    • On Friday afternoon, make a to-do list for the following week.
    • At the end of each day, write down a plan of attack for the following day.
  3. Know your goals.
    If you know what you’re working toward, you may be more motivated to get there. When there’s a purpose behind your work day, you’ll be less likely to waste your precious time. Here are some ways to incorporate goals into your work life:

    • Write down your “big picture” career goals: 1, 3, and 5 years down the line.
    • Think small: what is the best way to spend my time this week?
    • Create baby steps: how can I break down an important task or goal into achievable steps?

Image via Jennifer Strauss/Flickr.

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The Best Career Quotes About Chasing After Your Dreams

September 27, 2016


Having the courage to pursue our career ambitions is no easy feat. Here are some of our favorite quotes about chasing after your dreams. Feel free to pin them, print them, or share them so you can inspire yourself and others.













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50 of The Biggest Career Mistakes You Can Make

September 22, 2016



  1. Never saying yes.
  2. Being afraid to quit and move on.
  3. Shooting for ‘perfect’ instead of ‘done.’
  4. Working harder, not smarter.
  5. Not promoting yourself.
  6. Dreaming not doing.
  7. Taking work home constantly.
  8. Not using your vacation time.
  9. Forgoing networking.
  10. Gossiping.
  11. Being arrogant.
  12. Showing up late.
  13. Taking it personally.
  14. Not making any friends at work.
  15. Dressing unprofessionally.
  16. Eating lunch alone.
  17. Being afraid to fail.
  18. Being too hard on yourself.
  19. Not learning from your mistakes.
  20. Not being able to take feedback.
  21. Doing everything on your own.
  22. Complaining.
  23. Aiming for comfort not growth.
  24. Micromanaging.
  25. Sending emails with typos.
  26. Not listening.
  27. Doing the bare minimum.
  28. Not being passionate.
  29. Having no online presence.
  30. Not helping others.
  31. Feeling sorry for yourself.
  32. Waiting too long for a promotion.
  33. Not continuously learning.
  34. Leaving a job on a bad note.
  35. Not staying in touch with past coworkers and bosses.
  36. Thinking your position is secure.
  37. Not investing in yourself.
  38. Blaming others.
  39. Not negotiating for a higher salary.
  40. Feeling like the world owes you something.
  41. Not updating your resume.
  42. Having an ego problem.
  43. Not having any goals.
  44. Taking a position just for the money.
  45. Being too proud to apologize.
  46. Bragging.
  47. Making a bad first impression.
  48. Passing on a great opportunity.
  49. Not knowing what you want.
  50. Giving up.

Image via Flickr/Hometown Beauty.

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Why “Done” Is Better than “Perfect”

September 20, 2016


11964336525_cceb042100_zGood for you! You want to do your best work. No one can blame you for that. But whether it’s writing the perfect cover letter, finding the perfect interview attire, or going above and beyond on your first assignment in your new job… being done is better than being perfect. Here’s why:

  1. You need to be more productive.
    Working hard is respectable, but not all hard work is smart work. If your plight for perfection is causing you to miss deadlines or stress yourself out, then something is wrong. You need to find the most efficient way to get the job done. Try some of these creative productivity hacks.
  2. You need to learn how to prioritize.
    Have you ever thought your time may be better spent doing something else? Instead of perfecting the Power Point deck design for an extra hour, that last hour may have been better spent practicing your presentation. Think about what will give you the biggest results — a pretty looking slide or a rock solid speech?
  3. You can always go back and revise.
    In the writing world, some novelists spend months outlining a story from beginning to end. They won’t write the first sentence until every problem is figured out…but that day may never come. The “crappy first draft” mantra encourages writers to put pen to paper and get started. Once a draft is made, you can always go back and revise. This can apply to a cover letter, a big project, or a speech. We learn best by doing. So start doing!

Image via Sean MacEntee/Flickr.

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50 Pieces of Career Advice

September 15, 2016

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  1. Push yourself.
  2. Say yes.
  3. Identify your strengths.
  4. Identify your weaknesses.
  5. Never miss a deadline.
  6. Try something new.
  7. Toot your own horn.
  8. Introduce yourself.
  9. Don’t complain.
  10. Listen.
  11. Face your fear.
  12. Ask for help.
  13. Help others.
  14. Find a mentor.
  15. Speak up.
  16. Stay positive.
  17. Make friends.
  18. Smile.
  19. Be consistent.
  20. Be productive.
  21. Say hi.
  22. Be reliable.
  23. Take risks.
  24. Fail.
  25. Dream bigger.
  26. Invest in yourself.
  27. Meet your deadlines.
  28. Don’t be afraid to quit.
  29. Don’t be late.
  30. Believe in yourself.
  31. Know your career goals.
  32. Address people by name.
  33. Take a break.
  34. Pick up the phone.
  35. Don’t apologize.
  36. Be confident, not arrogant.
  37. Write an elevator pitch.
  38. Update your LinkedIn profile.
  39. Volunteer.
  40. Ask for a raise.
  41. Iron and tailor your clothing.
  42. Accept rejection.
  43. Ask for feedback.
  44. Be persistent.
  45. Make a to-do list.
  46. Be passionate.
  47. Be compassionate.
  48. Be yourself.
  49. Work smarter, not harder.
  50. Know your worth.
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How to Be a Superstar Intern

September 13, 2016


internship-coffee-mugLanding the internship was the hard part…right? But now that you’re on the job, you don’t want to let this great opportunity pass you by. While internships are mostly viewed as learning opportunities, other companies view them as the perfect training for future employees. (Spectrum Brands is one of those companies! Learn about our internship opportunities.) Here are some simple tips that will help you become a superstar intern.

  1. Show up.
    Really! Arrive on time (or a little bit early) each morning, and be sure to stick to the commitment you’ve made. College schedules are tough to balance, but those who can find a way to make it work will make an impression. One of the most important qualities in a successful employee is reliability. Prove that you’re the kind of person who can be counted on.
  2. Look presentable.
    You might not be able to fully invest in a corporate-level wardrobe just yet but you can dress for success. Simple things like ironing and tailoring can make any outfit look ten times more professional. Spend 15 minutes the night before your internship picking out something that makes you feel confident and career focused.
  3. Meet your deadlines.
    Meeting a deadline might seem like the bare minimum you can do at work, but many people just aren’t motivated or organized enough to get a project done on time. Prove that you’re step ahead of the rest by hitting all your deadlines…maybe even a day early. It all comes back to reliability. If your boss can trust you early on, he or she will continue to give you larger projects. Who knows? Maybe they’ll bring you back next year–as a full-time employee!
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How to Get Over the Sunday Night Blues

September 12, 2016


5423990881_e6a54fd159_zWhy do we all dread Mondays so much? Even if you love your job, you most likely get a little bummed as the weekend comes to an end. Maybe the upcoming week’s workload is overwhelming. Or you’re not looking forward to your commute. Regardless of what is bringing you down, here are a few strategies that will help alleviate the Sunday night blues.

Make Sunday a Fun Day.
Saturdays are usually reserved for fun while Sundays are reserved for chores. Why not change it up? Or at least find a healthy mix. Don’t save all the boring things for the end of the weekend and don’t save all the exciting things for the start of the weekend. A little rearranging could make a big difference.

Prepare for Monday on Friday.
Before you leave work on Friday, prepare for the start of the next week. Glancing at your schedule Sunday night — only to be blindsided by all the tasks that lay ahead — is no fun. Get your to-do list in order before you step out of the office. You’ll feel relieved and will actually be able to enjoy your time off.

Create a new tradition.
Sunday nights are really no different than any other work night. Why not go to the gym or to the movies or out to dinner with friends like you would any other day of the week? Instead of staying home filled with dread, remind yourself that Sunday nights are still your time–so do something you enjoy!

Image via Jun/Flickr.

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How to Make Friends at Work

September 7, 2016

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3350899881_8d6282822c_zStarting a new job can be tough — new position, new rules, new environment, new acronyms, and more. But one of the toughest parts of being the new kid is making friends. Sure, you’ll get introduced to a plethora of people on day one. But who are you actually going to chat up while grabbing coffee? Who will make you laugh over your lunch break? And who will you turn to for advice? Here are some tips for helping you find friends at work.

  1. Alway search for commonality.
    As you meet each and every person, pay attention to any details that you glean and be sure to inform them if you share something in common. Perhaps you live near each other or you both have a dog or you graduated from the same college. Sharing those details helps them get to know you on a deeper lever.
  2. Talk about more than just work.
    The easiest way to go beyond the typical work conversation is to simply ask, “What are you doing this weekend?” It’s a revealing question but an approachable one. You may learn about an interesting hobby this person has or a cool event going on in your city. And you may discover something else you have in common.
  3. Stay positive.
    Happy, positive people attract others. Save the negativity for after hours. It’s easy to whine about the weather or complain about the commute, especially when you’re new and are looking for easy conversation. But don’t get lazy. You’re better than that. Find something else to talk about. By the way, it’s ok to bond over a common struggle, like a tough deadline, but try to focus on how you can overcome the obstacle together.
  4. Take initiative.
    You can’t always rely on someone else to take you under their wing. Instead of feeling sad or awkward, organize a happy hour or a lunch where you can get to know others in a more informal setting. Making friends takes time but small gestures like this go a long way.

Image via 皓平 陳/Flickr.

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