Happy New Year!
One of my major goals for the new year is to be consistently productive and work on advancing my career as a youth worker, writing more for my blog, and creating more opportunities to grow professionally and personally. #CareerGoals!
Youth workers provide a vital service to young people and the communities that they serve, and studies show that one of the best indicators for job satisfaction is finding work that helps others.
However, precarious employment, including part-time contract work, seasonal positions, and low wages are all part of youth work. As such, it can be really difficult to stay motivated and fully committed to thriving in a field where you feel undervalued and overworked. It can be very demotivating when your job barely covers the bills and/or you are constantly dealing with the threats of unemployment due to grants ending or budget cuts.
Despite these challenges, it is important to stay productive and motivated so we are able to progress professionally, contribute to the field of youth work in a meaningful way, and increase our satisfaction with the work that we do.
Whether you are looking to get promoted at work, looking for a new job, or dabbling in a side-project for extra income, below are four tips that can help you be more productive and achieve your goals in 2019 (in no particular order of importance).
1. Invest in yourself first thing in the morning
When I was a Teaching Assistant in graduate school, I remember receiving an email from my Professor at 5:45AM (yes, I remember the exact time), and feeling utterly envious of such superhuman capabilities. Most of the successful individuals we admire credit waking up early as one of the key elements for their success. Waking up early helps us get a head start on the day before distractions and obligations arise, and investing in yourself first thing in the day can also give you a sense of control and be very empowering.
Waking up early to work on my professional goals is something I’m taking very seriously this year to increase my productivity and achieve my #CareerGoals. I have experimented with waking up between 5:00AM to 6:00AM to get work done, and it always sets the tone for the rest of my day. I feel motivated and energized, instead of groggy and overwhelmed, whenever I wake up early and have me-time before being swamped down with work and other commitments.
Unfortunately, the warmth of my bed at 6:00AM, especially when the sun won’t appear for another three hours in the dead of Canadian winter, can be very tempting to get up. Here are some tips I have found to work really well in cultivating the habit of waking up early, then getting to work-work-work-work-work-work (yes, turning up the music is very helpful, too, to stay awake and motivated!).
2. Get the Pomodoro app
In my last year of undergraduate studies, my roommate introduced me to the Pomodoro app, a productivity method used for focus and time management. It was a game changer for me! My GPA from that year is a good indication of the benefits of the Pomodoro technique.
In short, the Pomodoro technique works by cutting down big tasks into 25-minute sessions, with short 5-minute breaks in between sessions. This technique is very useful in beating procrastination to be more productive and focused on the tasks at hand. While there are many Pomodoro apps available, I use the Focus Keeper app on my iPhone.
3. Manage your emotional and physical health
As the saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Sometimes, it is easy to neglect our well-being because we are getting by. Especially, as youth workers, the work that we do can be emotionally demanding, thus, it is important that we take care of our mental, physical, and emotional health.
A Youth Worker’s Guide to Productivity has great tips to manage our health, including managing your energy, getting a good nights sleep, and cultivating a supportive social life.
4. Manage your social media/Internet use
Deleting my social media accounts, including LinkedIn, has been a tremendous step in helping me progress in my personal and professional life. Studies increasingly show how much the Internet and social media, by-design, undermines our productivity and focus. Facebook’s main objective is to keep its users hooked on scrolling so they can show them as many ads as possible.
However, with some research and commitment, we can be in control of managing our Internet use to avoid compromising our productivity. For starters, try these simple tips from Center for Humane Technology to live more intentionally with your devices right now.
In short, “By getting a hold of your productivity and managing your energy, you can serve better and stronger; your work will be joyful and your burden, actually light.”
Hope you found these tips useful!
Share in the comment section any tips or advice you have for staying productive as a youth worker, or otherwise. I’m always on the lookout for productivity tips to implement in my routine.
Cheers to a wonderfully productive 2019!