Increased Productivity = More Money in My Pocket

Bust a MoveThis Thursday marks my 3 week anniversary of quitting my full-time job. While I’m still somewhat adjusting to the new schedule (and freedom!) this choice has brought, I’m also navigating the waters of being semi-self-employed. This means figuring out how to maximize my time, learning to turn down opportunities that might not be the best strategic fit for my overall efforts, defining times of the day where it’s all work and no play and getting my network on.

Given the increased flexibility of my new professional life, I’ve also found myself more motivated than ever to tackle various projects around the house. Given my status as a bona fide HGTV junkie, it’s been difficult for me to set clear hours for the DIY disasters projects I attempt while also making sure I keep up with all of the extras that will help my online efforts (I’ve got the assignment/deadline part down, but I’m sorely lacking in the commenting and social media departments).

After some careful contemplation, I realized one very obvious, smack-myself-in-the-face correlation:

Increased productivity = more money in my pocket.  Duh.

Those extra hours spent DIYing, running or catching up with friends are fun and are doing wonders for my quest to have a better sense of work-life balance, but they aren’t going to pay the bills. I’m a natural planner, so it’s time I define some rules around how I want to maximize my time, productivity and income generation.

If You Hustle, They Will Come

One of the easiest reminders of how hard work pays off is the influx of opportunities I’ve been presented with since testing the waters back in November (it was a calculated, carefully planned choice to make this transition). It’s really a quite simple formula, but for so many of us including me, it’s easy to forget the power of simply working your tail off.

I need to step up my game to ensure that I’ll still have future opportunities, and I need to make sure I’m doing so in a sustainable manner that will allow me to capitalize on the best options I’m presented with.

Stay Organized

I’ll admit that I waver in between a Stepford Wives-ish organized neat freak and a hot mess that needs ten reminders to keep her head on straight (attractive description/range, yes?). But the key to navigating my sometimes scatter-brained existence is to know this about myself; to know that I need an iron-clad organization system that will keep me on the straight & narrow.

My solution is an old-school approach: I love me some Post-Its. And while you might wonder how I can keep them all straight, I’d say that I’m not sure how but it just works for me. If something goes on “the” Post-It for the day, it will eventually be crossed off even if it means staying up until 1AM to do so.

I also love Excel and my iPhone calendar, but I prefer a gigantic wall calendar. I’m still toying with the idea of painting a huge rectangle on the wall with white board paint and creating a life-sized calendar to map out my projects. While I love the idea of this, I’m not so sure the BF would love a 12-inch reminder in bold, red letters for me to “COMMENT ON THE BLOGS, DAMNIT!”  (these are the most effective reminders for me)  :)

Turn Off Distractions

One of the best ways I’ve found to increase my productivity is to turn off distractions when I need to get my work done. Such is the case right now as I have the FB and Twitter off, my Gmail minimized and the office door closed. By reducing the amount of outside noise that competes with my attention, I’m more easily able to slay my to-do list and stay focused while crossing things off of it.

If you ever need to get some work done and have a tight turnaround time, shut off the email and cell phone–you’ll be amazed at how much you can bang out in a short period of time (five, 600+ word posts that aren’t garbage in 2.5 hours, check!).

Get Up and Dance

Seriously. Whatever you’re doing right now, even if there are witnesses, get up and bust out, at the very least, a little shimmy. Revel in the silliness of doing so long enough to forget the task you were working on (yep, forget it entirely–especially if you were stuck).

Now sit back down and be amazed at what that 20 second timeout just did for your focus. I find that when I randomly take breaks, whether it’s to dance, sing (horribly) or just daydream out the window for a minute or two, I have a renewed sense of focus and my productivity soars.

At the very least, I get a good laugh out of how ridiculous I am when I think nobody is watching…that is until I hear a random snort of laughter because my BF caught me (again) in the act.  :)

I chose the photo above because it best depicts what would happen in this scenario–I’m attempting to dance (more like just thrashing around wildly because I have no rhythm to save my life) while my BF just stands there, covering his face & shaking his head….

What are your tips for increasing your productivity?

 

Photo credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis

Is Getting a Second or Third Job Really Worth it?

If you want HappinessIt’s no secret that I have a deep love of side gigs and part-time jobs. I’ve highlighted my tips for how to manage multiple jobs, talked about how I’ve turned my passions into income sources and have endless monthly goals posts that are centered around bringing in more to meet aggressive savings targets.

Currently, I bring in more than enough with my full-time and part-time jobs to pay my bills, fund retirement accounts, beef up my long-term savings and take (frugal) vacations. This is certainly not a bad way to live, especially considering what a mess my financial past is.

But when does it become too much?

When is that second, third or fourth job just not worth it anymore? Does working extra jobs truly mean a loss of freedom or a decline in quality of life?

The short answer is, Yes.

Yes, working too much can cause you to lose sight of what your priorities are. It can cause you to damage personal (and sometimes professional) relationships. It can also cause your stress levels to increase, your sleep to deteriorate and your waistline to expand. That extra money isn’t so sexy now, is it?

I’m the girl whose mother negotiated to get me a job picking strawberries on a farm at the age of 11 when the legal farmhand age was 12. On my 16th birthday, I got a work permit instead of one for driving. I’m also the person who worked six jobs to climb out of credit card debt. Needless to say, working overtime and then some seems to be in my blood..

But it’s not worth the price of my relationships, health, vacations and overall well-being.

So as I move into this next phase of personal and professional development (more details on the way in a future post!), I’m making sure to only take on what I can handle.

Gone are the days of a frenetic, crazed workaholic. At least I know that if I do happen to stumble upon rough days, I can easily bust out the Go-Go-Gadget in me and work my booty off to keep my finances in tact.

Until then, the extra money and time required to make said money isn’t worth it to me.

At what point is extra work just not worth it? Could you put a price on your happiness?

 

**Don’t forget to enter my free cash giveaway!!

 

Photo credit: ernohannink

Making Extra Money is as Easy as 1, 2, 3

How to Make Exra Money

A quick Google search of “how to make extra money” will yield over 423,000,000 results. While this is obviously a wealth of information, the problem I’ve found is that most of the links take you to sites/posts that list a certain number of ways to bring in extra cash. They’re detailed and creative, yes. But are they a general mold to help bolster your motivation to jump on the make extra cash bandwagon? Not necessarily.

From my personal experience with bringing in extra cash, it really boils down to the three ideas listed below. Once you put these in place, you’ll be well prepared to set course on your own bottom line-boosting adventure. As someone who’s had a particularly interesting financial past, I honed the skill of bringing in extra cash first as a necessity and now as a passion.

How to Make Extra Money

Set realistic expectations

The premise of this post is making extra money–it’s not about your full-time work/responsibilities. Therefore, be realistic about your ability to devote the extra time to bringing in more cash. Know your priorities; if they don’t align with your wish to boost the bottom line, you may be doomed to fail before you even get started. Once you take the plunge, know your limits. Bringing in extra cash is fantastic but not if it’s detrimental to your day job, relationships, and/or sanity.

Think outside the box

The sky is the limit for ways to make extra money. Once you figure out the logistical issues and have a clear vision for your needs, desires, and talents, you can literally find hundreds of ways to make money. Harness your passion and set sail; when you make the commitment to do this, you are the champion of your own success. Knock down those barriers and set yourself up for future financial success. Believe in yourself and don’t stop improving your efforts.

Suck it up, Princess

As I mentioned in my post about what running the Boston Marathon taught me about personal finance, this is all about doing it. Making a true effort to make more money requires an intense work ethic. It also requires sacrifice, excellent time management, and a keen sense of self. However, at the end of the day, it’s almost always worth it to increase your overall enjoyment (by reducing stress related to money) and your financial security. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there an boost that bottom line today!

What do you do to make extra money? How long have you been doing this?
    

‘I Have No Food’ and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves

Nothing to Wear

How many times have you looked in your fully-stocked refrigerator and proclaimed, “I have no food,” then followed up with, “Let’s go out to eat!” Or what about looking at your over-stuffed closet and deciding that you have nothing to wear?

Have you ever perused your list of 2,000 iTunes songs only to decide that you ‘have no music’ and then subsequently spend money on another album?

Mindless spending at it’s best

The truth is, these are all lies we tell ourselves to rationalize erroneous spending. What’s worse is that we may be so conditioned by these habits that we don’t even realize when we’re acting this way!

Last night was a prime example of this for me. When I arrived at my friend’s house after my 11-mile bike commute from work, I announced that I was starving and asked him what we should cook for dinner (after all, that was the original plan). His response was that he had no food so we should go out.

Being the good little budgeter and financial communicator I like to be, I quickly reminded him that my finances are tight this month so I couldn’t spend $$ to go out. He said it was his treat and off we went (I can’t turn down a free meal no matter how hard I try!).

When we arrived back at his house after dinner, I naturally wanted something sweet for dessert, so I opened up his freezer. Inside was a veritable smorgasbord of food–most of which would have made a quite tasty dinner! Since it’s not my place to question his choice to go out when it was a treat for me, I know he can afford it, and it’s not my money, I didn’t say anything to him.

But I certainly wondered why he said he ‘had no food’ when it was clear there was plenty in the house. Then I began to think that he’s not the only one who does this from time to time. I also wondered what impact this has on budgets, especially for those who truly can’t afford this kind of indulgence. Consider the following (numbers based on the cost of living in a larger city; adjust accordingly for your location):

Meals out:

What if you routinely proclaimed a lack of food and went out to eat once per week? With each meal, you’re spending at least $20 for your portion. Throw in a few drinks and we’re easily looking at $30-35. $30 x 4 = $120/month or $1,440/year!!!

Clothing:

Let’s give a conservative estimate of shopping once per month for a new outfit when you ‘have nothing to wear.’ Let’s go one step further and say you’re a savvy discount shopper who can score a great outfit for less than $100. $75 x 12 = $900/year!!

Extras:

Those iTunes songs? That sweet new bag? Your daily latte habit? Say you’re spending $40/week on these things. $40 x 4 = $160/month or $1,920/year!!!

 

That’s $4,260 per year that could help you max out your Roth IRA, build your emergency fund, or save for a vacation.  Over $4K simply because we’re conditioned so well when it comes to lying to ourselves.

For me personally, I know I need to keep a keen eye on not only what I’m doing, but what I’m saying when it comes to making decisions that ultimately impact my finances. I will indeed be looking for ways that I fall into this trap as well as identifying various solutions for breaking these habits.

 

What kinds of financially-rooted lies do you tell yourself?

 

 

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