Browsing Category:

Guest Posts

In Guest Posts on
May 17, 2017

Why Side Hustles Are Good for Your Soul

I’ve always believed that side hustles are good for the soul, and nobody proves that more than my friend Carleanne O’Donoghue. Through her involvement with the super inspiring Books on the Underground project (yes, the one with Emma Watson!), she has turned her pain into something positive. Here’s her story…


 

I’m so interested in your side hustle, Books on the Underground. How did it all begin, and how has it felt to see the project grow and get global attention?! Particularly while juggling a day job?

I’d been looking to push myself into doing more of the stuff that interests me, and to meet new people. I loved the Books on the Underground movement and saw they had a book club, so I tweeted them to see if they needed an extra pair of hands. It turns out they did, and I met Cordelia, manager of Books on the Underground, and was given my book fairy wing there and then along with two other girls!

As time went on, the movement got bigger and more book fairies appeared, each of us distributing up to 200 books between us a day on the Tube.

Then, we managed to partner up with Our Shared Shelf and Emma Watson to drop copies of Mom & Me & Mom on the Underground over a couple of days and it was a HUGE success. Our following on Instagram and Twitter grew massively and the story was hugely reported in the media.

We also started receiving a lot of requests from other people around the world who wanted to set up a similar scheme, but maybe didn’t have as much public transport so Cordelia came up with this idea of The Book Fairies and sharing books with people in any location, anywhere in the world. Emma Watson got involved in the launch and on International Women’s Day 2017, we launched.

That day, we distributed 1200 books in 26 countries, and gained 50k Instagram followers in only 2 and a half months. We gave away 40,000 stickers for free to people in over 100 across the globe (today, we’ve sent stickers to 195 countries). Getting global attention was crazy!  I honestly can’t explain how crazy and weird it was to watch these books we’d spent hours packing, being distributed and found in places as far as America and Australia.

We are lucky that people tend to understand we all have full-time jobs, but we make the effort to get out onto the tube before and after work and at lunch if we can. I work right by a tube station so it’s not much effort for me to pop out on my way to Pret with a tote bag full of books, jump on the northern line for a stop, sprinkle some fairy dust and then circle back to the office.

My bosses love the fact I do it, so they’re very understanding and don’t mind that I stack the place up with boxes and boxes full of books from publishers. Right now, I can’t fit my legs under my desk!


That is such an incredible story! You are quite literally putting good out there into the world, sprinkling creativity wherever you go.

Yes, I love it! I try to remain as anonymous as I can when I do it, but I’ve had a few people chase me down tube trains and platforms to tell me how amazing the scheme is, or that I had just made their day, which is always very lovely to hear.


How have your side hustles, particularly your work with Books on the Underground, contributed to your overall wellbeing and even your mental health?

This is probably the most open I have been about this, but right now I am having a bit of a struggle with my mental health. In November, I lost somebody who was very dear to me and I can quite honestly say that I haven’t felt the same since. It was like, all of a sudden, the lights had been turned off. I had no idea where I was going, but I was expected to just keep on going.

At first, it was fine and I carried on just doing the same things I’d usually do, dropping books and updating the BOTU website. The other Fairies were all so lovely and supportive.

Since this has all happened, we have become this amazing family and being a part of something that brings joy to so many people is a great reminder that there is good out there, even when life can seem so cruel at times.

It sounds like a cliche, but it’s true.

The smallest things can really make all the difference, which is also why I’ve recently joined the volunteering team at the MediCinema at Guys Hospital in London Bridge. I basically spent my Thursday evening wheeling people up and down from the wards to the cinema so they could watch a film in a comfy chair and it made such a huge difference to both my day and theirs. I like feeling like I have contributed to somebody’s day, even just a little bit.

A lot of the time you can’t tell whether somebody’s had a great one, or a terrible one, but you can bet that after finding a Book from the Book Fairies or if they have had a couple of hours off of the ward down at the MediCinema, you’ve made an impression and given somebody at least one thing to smile about that day.

I should add that I went back to work a couple of days after this huge loss, and I lost all enthusiasm.

Doing the Book Fairies and Books on the Underground stuff were the only things I felt that contributed to improving my mood and making me feel a little less gloomy.


What you’ve just shared is so honest and important. Thank you. Having suffered with depression, I know how hard it can be. This topic reminds me of that fantastic Maya Angelou quote, “you can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have”. And I think the same applies to kindness. What advice can you give to anyone who feels stuck in a rut? How can a side hustle help?

Just do something that makes you happy, even if it’s for five minutes. There are so many things you can do that don’t have to take up a lot of time, on your own terms.

For example, Postcrossing is another thing that has really helped. Basically, you register on the site, press a button and it generates an address and an ID you write a postcard to this person, include the ID, they register it when they receive it and then you get a postcard back from somebody else somewhere in the world.

Sometimes I will just send a bunch of postcards off and forget about them and then come home to a load of postcards on the map from amazing places like India, Taiwan, across Europe and America.

Side hustles don’t have to take up a lot of time, or make you any money – they just have to make you happy. For me, making other people happy makes me happy. It’s just all about finding what works for you and what you enjoy doing.

Not all of us are lucky enough to have a job we LOVE and want to live and breathe. You may not be able to necessarily control what goes on 9-5, but you can spend those remaining 16 hours doing what does truly make you happy.

My life is by no means a big happy fairytale, but getting involved in these projects really helps me see the beauty in things when I’m feeling low.

In Guest Posts on
May 8, 2017

How to Recognise and *Recover* From Burnout and Depression

Exactly one year ago, I sat alone in the stairwell at my office, and cried.

While that period of my life is a bit of a blur, I remember that moment clearly. It was the moment I knew something was deeply wrong. I had no motivation left for my work, and things were out of control. I felt like a failure and had no clue how to fix it.

It’s taken me a year to recover from burnout and to be ready to write this article. I’ve learned a lot over the last year about myself, my values, and building a balanced life and I hope some of those lessons might benefit others in the same situation.

So, sit back! This post is a long one.


Read more

In Guest Posts on
May 5, 2017

5 Resume Tricks to Help You Impress Any Employer

Do you rarely hear back from recruiters even though you’re a great match for the job? Maybe your resume isn’t doing your skills justice. In this post, guest blogger and resume pro Laura Slingo reveals five tricks that will help you impress any employer.

 

1. Always include a standout career summary

If you really want to impress an employer with your resume, you should replace your career objective with a career summary.

Career objectives might give a potential employer a good idea of where you’d like to head in your career, but that’s not going to land you the job. Instead, you need to develop a career summary and craft your elevator pitch.

In your career summary, include a quick round-up of what you’re great at, what you’re passionate about, and why you’re qualified. That way you’ll show your prospective employer exactly what you can bring to the table, and why hiring you will bring the company success.

 

2. Customize your resume to every job

If you’re including a generic resume with your job application, you’re not going to impress anyone. Even if you have all the skills required for the job, unless you customize your resume to highlight your relevant abilities, you aren’t going to stand out.

Therefore, with every application, skim the job description and ensure your resume mirrors words and phrases from the “skills required” section. This makes it obvious to the employer that you’re a match for the role.

Don’t forget about your soft skills, such as communication, time management, and teamwork, either. Mentioning these skills will work in your favor as they can be transferred to every job and so chances are your prospective employer will value them, too. Again, be sure to mention them in the same context as the job description to really stand out.

 

3. Bullet points are your best friend

It’s not just the content of your resume that’s important when applying for a job; it’s the look of it, too. If your resume is stuffed with dense paragraphs, a recruiter may not have the time and patience to muddle through to see if you’re a good match vacancy. Therefore, in order to impress a potential employer and increase your chances of an interview, you need to include bullet points. It’s all about the formatting!

Bullet points break your resume down into digestible sections, making it easier for employers to identify key abilities. In your employment history section, feel free to include a summary sentence to explain each position, but your skills, responsibilities and achievements should be bulleted. The same goes for your education section, honors and achievements, and hobbies and interests sections.

 

4. Showcase what you have achieved

When bullet pointing your abilities, don’t just list your duties and the skills you’ve developed; showcase your results and achievements, too. Don’t just tell the employer you’re a motivated person, tell them why.

Ways to showcase your achievements include referencing specifics in your performance, targets you’ve met or exceeded, and perhaps sales you’ve made or contributed to. And don’t forget to include specific numbers where possible. Therefore, by adding some explanation and proof to the qualifications and competencies you’ve listed, your claims become much more credible.

 

5. Make it flawless

In order to seriously impress a potential employer, you need to ensure your resume is flawless: Kardashian style. Not only does this mean that your resume must look the part, but it must read as a polished piece, and you must be confident that you’ve completed it to the best of your ability and be proud to submit it.

So, in order to ensure your resume is flawless, use a clean font, such as Calibri or Ariel, and ensure it has clearly divided sections and bold headings throughout. Also, ensure that you proofread it at least three times over. Top tip: read your resume aloud; you’ll be able to spot errors your eyes may have missed.

With these five tricks, you’ll be sure to create an outstanding resume guaranteed to impress any employer. Above anything, remember to highlight your relevant skills and achievements, and you’re onto a winner. You’ve got this!

 


About the author: Laura Slingo is Digital Copywriter for the fastest-growing US job board, Resume Library. For more expert advice on job searches, careers, and the workplace, visit their Career Advice pages.

In Guest Posts on
April 18, 2017

How Consuming Less is Making Me More Content

By Sasha from one of my favourite blogs, The Life Notes.


“It’s nice, but not necessary.” These are the words that have kept me on track with money lately.

That top? Nice, but not necessary.

That thing you spotted in M&S when you were in there buying stuff for the office? Put it back. That’s not what you came in here for.

Last-minute invite to go out when it wasn’t in the budget? Guys, I’ll have to catch up with you another time.

Boring it may be, but right now, boring is necessary. It’s what is going to get me where I want to be, so I can truly enjoy the wants, while feeling assured that I’m meeting the needs.

And this month, more than any other, I’ve felt so in control of my finances and it feels gooooood. There’s clearly a substantial link for me between spending and the knock on effect it has on my sleep and anxious thoughts. It has a deep emotional stronghold.

But the unexpected by-product of applying this mantra to my money life, has also proved to be invaluable life advice overall.

When you strip back the fluff and the things that we actually fill our time with, how much of that is necessary, and how much of it is nice, but not really getting us anywhere. Or worse, distracting and delaying progress in other areas?

It made me contemplate how well I was using my time:

Forty five minutes on a Tuesday at my favourite gym class, away from a screen, getting them endorphins in and stresses out? Necessary.

Forty five minutes repeatedly entering and exiting the same four social media apps, because it feels like my thumb has been subconsciously trained to do so whenever I pick up my phone? Certainly not necessary. And sometimes, mood dependent, not even nice.

My main question is this: With your time, your money, your attention, your work, are you spending enough on the necessary and getting the things you need to do, done?

I think the trouble is, is that often what is necessary takes time and effort. And largely, the nice things, the things that can derail us from what we really want, we can have instantly. It takes time to draft and edit a piece of writing or get through a chunky work task, but I know that I can effortlessly procrastinate with various feeds or the lesser important tasks on a to-do list.

It takes an age to build up savings, but the way that mobile app and 1-click shopping is set up, I can spend my money five times faster than I make it.

Remember when your mum used to tell you to do your homework before you went out to play? Apply that to adult life. Pay off your debts, create before you consume, put priority before pleasure.

And it’s not that I always need to be constantly on the go, pushing and striving. Sometimes when life gets overwhelming, what’s necessary is stripped back to the absolute basics of getting up, getting dressed and eating. In part, what can get us to that state of overwhelm in the first place, is trying to do everything without order, balance or priority. Applying the nice or necessary filter to parts of my life has proved to be an excellent editing tool, promoting focus, even if only to get me through the day.

So if that means a day without social media, so be it. If the TV needs to stay off so I can actually concentrate on something else, well that’s just how it is. If I need to hit the sack at 9pm and lie in silence or say no to the event, then that’s what I’m gonna do.

Whatever is necessary, and can’t be lived without: focus on that. Make those things larger. Those things, whatever they may be, matter in your life. Everything else is nice, but not necessary.


Check out Sasha’s brilliant blog, thelifenotes.co.uk, and follow her on Instagram @thelifenotes_

In Guest Posts on
April 5, 2017

How to Overcome Perfectionism in 4 Steps

By Wendy de Jong

Confession time: I quadruple-checked each and every single word in this blog post before declaring it finished. It’s a habit that’s difficult to break. You see, even as a recovering perfectionist, I still feel plagued by my perfectionism from time to time.

 

I’m not alone in my struggle with perfectionism. I know many of you face the same struggle every day. A difficult conversation with a loved one. An impending deadline for a passion project you’ve poured your heart and soul into. Receiving criticism from your boss about a report you’ve written. Cue perfectionism.

 

There are things you can do, though, when you’re stuck in perfectionism and feel the urge to perfect, perform, and please. I’ll share these four things in a little bit.

 

But first, let’s clear up a few misunderstandings and get clear about what perfectionism actually is.

 

The truth about perfectionism

 

You might think that being a perfectionist means you’re pursuing excellence, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Perfectionism is not the same as striving for excellence.

 

When you’re striving for excellence your focus is on personal growth and healthy achievement: ‘How can I improve?’ or ‘What are my goals?’.

 

Instead, being a perfectionist means you’re focused on the other and trying to win their approval: ‘What will they think? Will they like me? Will they think my effort is good enough?’

 

Healthy striving is internally motivated and perfectionism is externally motivated.

 

Another common misunderstanding is that perfectionism is a collection of personality traits, like being type A, having a keen eye for detail, and being very organized. This is how perfectionism is portrayed in popular culture (Monica Geller, anyone?), but again, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

 

Let’s do a little thought experiment: do you suddenly turn into a perfectionist once you start focusing on details or show your type A personality? The answer is no. Those things happen as a RESPONSE to your perfectionism.

 

Perfectionism is a dangerous and harmful way of thinking and behaving. Perfectionism is a coping mechanism that we use when we feel scared, insecure, uncertain, and/or not good enough.

 

Those moments when you feel insecure or uncertain, like when you meet your in-laws for the first time, trigger a fearful thought pattern within you that goes like this:

 

‘If I do this perfectly or have a perfect life or look perfect, I am in control and therefore people can’t hurt me or see me for who I really am.’

 

Sound familiar? This myth of perfectionism as a collection of personality traits is very pervasive. So many women think that to let go of perfectionism means having to let go of being type A or being organized and that causes anxiety.

 

The only way to overcome perfectionism is to slowly break down the coping mechanism you’ve been using for so long. And that’s difficult. It takes time, dedication, and a lot of soul searching. But it’s possible. Here’s how to get started.

Read more

In Guest Posts on
February 4, 2017

Why Being A “Mature Student” Might Be The Best Decision You’ll Ever Make

As Rebecca Hunter becomes a “mature student” at 30, she wonders: is being a lifelong learner the key to fulfilment?

 

I’m sitting in a classroom, next to a guy who’s ten years my junior. We’re discussing the merits of two film reviews we’ve been asked to analyse – comparing their stylistic components and their content. We’re reflecting on what we’ve learnt in previous weeks about sub-editing and crafting the most engaging of headlines and standfirsts.

Conversation turns to why we’re both here, on this Tuesday night, learning about the world of journalism. He has no A-levels so he’s here on an alternative path to university. “History and politics” are what he tells me he’ll be studying. “Boring, I know.”

I beg to differ. If I could, I’d be a professional student fo’ life, of politics and all.

Tonight though, I’m here to satiate more than an unquenchable curiosity and a peculiar love of writing essays.

I want to switch career paths, you see. When I tell the guy this, as well as the fact that I’m turning 30 this year, his reaction is one of mild shock. (*congratulates self on not visibly aging since 2005*)

I’m breaking one of the golden rules of storytelling here and definitely not starting at the beginning, so let’s rewind three weeks. I’m sitting on my bed, savouring the last of Sunday and eating the best fish and chips in London (I’m from Yorkshire, so I dare you to challenge me on this). I’m fresh from a conversation over wine and cake – AKA the very best kind of conversation – with a friend who’s one of my biggest cheerleaders. I always feel fired up following a chat with her, and tonight was no exception. I’m licking the grease from the fingers of one hand as I use the other to Google ‘part-time journalism courses in London.’ I land on one that looks decent and affordable and takes place weekly at a time that suits my schedule. And it kicks off just two days from now. Perfect.

That’s how I end up sitting next to a teenager on a Tuesday night in Lambeth, discussing the merits of being a film reviewer, playing critic myself (“‘I, Daniel Blake’ is a scathing attack on systemic injustice and a gut-punching MUST-SEE,” FYI) and taking the role of student for the first time in nine years.
Read more

In Guest Posts on
January 18, 2017

How to Grow Your Social Media Following Without Selling Your Soul

Social media | Marketing | Blogging | Blogging tips | Success | Business | Girl boss | Entrepreneurship | Twitter | Instagram | Social

 

By Michelle Rick

 

“If you get bored with social media, it’s because you’re trying to get more value than you create.” Fast Company

Have you seen that episode of Silicon Valley where Jared, out of good intent and desperation, hires a click farm to spike his company’s user numbers? Click farms are real, and they’re a good example of how far people will go to boost their follower count. And then there are the robots that automatically like posts with certain hashtags, people who follow you just so you’ll follow them back before they unfollow you, et cetera.

But you don’t have to swipe a credit card or sell your soul to build a following on social media…

The first time I really saw a post of mine resonate with an audience was at my first social media job, when I wrote about harmful thoughts and how they block creativity.

I was stunned at number of comments I received. People all over the world were pouring their hearts out to me about the inner critics they wanted to defeat so they could keep doing what they loved.

That’s when I realized that authenticity and speaking honestly about what matters most is key to getting shared and seen. If it mattered to me, it had to matter to someone else out there.

Boosted posts and audience targeting have their place, but there’s no real substitute for human interaction in social sharing.

Jordan Dansky said it best:  “In some way or another, your story will resonate with others. Sharing our collective human experiences is the most wonderful benefit of social media in my mind.”

Plenty of people use social media get attention and collect likes, but if you’re missing the puzzle piece of authenticity, it can end up feeling like the world’s most difficult video game. Teenage Instagram star Essena O’Neill addressed this when she quit social media in 2015, and rewrote the captions on all her photos with honest but imperfect truths. This move got her more attention than her Instagram stardom ever had.

What are we really looking for when we instinctively scroll through our Instagram feeds as we wait for our morning latte? Are we really trying to see how great someone else’s life is, or do we crave the authenticity that made Socality Barbie an overnight success?

Read more

In Guest Posts on
January 12, 2017

Why I’m Proud to Be A Job-Hopping Millennial

By Emily Rodgers

 

“Wow, you’ve done a lot since graduating!” a colleague exclaimed, after I explained how I’d spent the last few years. 

 

7 jobs in 3 years. 

 

At a recent interview, (aka applying for my 8th), I was asked why I’d changed jobs so often. Like a rehearsed answer at a call centre, I reeled off my logical reasons for leaving each one. They nodded understandingly, but seemed uncertain. Of course, I see how it could look bad to a potential employer. Or could it?

 

In a survey conducted by Future Workplace, 91% of millennials expected to stay in their jobs for less than 3 years. I’ve already surpassed that… seven-foldBut my mentality matches that of many millennials, and that is this: 

 

If I ever lose passion, or motivation behind a job, or if I stop caring, I’ll question it. And if those questions only have negative answers, I’ll start to look for a change. 

 

Our attention spans, need for instant gratification and craving to make a difference are starting to become more and more apparent in our working life – and I am a living, breathing testament to this.

 

My mantra has changed from ‘it’s just a job’ to ‘I will not be underappreciated; I will never be a cog in the machine.’

 

I’m confronted with people every day who have no idea what they’re doing in work or in life

 

I may be none the wiser, but at least I’m trying to figure it out instead of staying hidden behind a good salary and a free gym membership. I’m exploring what I like and don’t like, and I’m happy to take a pay cut if it means my mental health is in check and I’m staying true to my principles.

 
Read more

In Guest Posts on
January 3, 2017

What Really Happened When I Quit My Job to Travel Alone

 

By Lexie Mullins

 

A few months back, I went through a break up that I can only describe as one of the most painful experiences of my life so far.

 

After weeks of feeling helpless, I decided to take a massive risk and do something I’d been dreaming of for years:

 

I quit my job and booked a one-way ticket to Australia, with stops in Bali and Malaysia.

 

The dream, right?

 

24 sleepless hours of travelling later, and I’d arrived in Bali. But what I’d given up didn’t hit me until I got to my hotel room. All the adrenaline had vanished, and there I was… alone. Alone in a country where I knew no one and had no one. I FaceTimed my family and cried for hours. The reality of what I’d done hit me, hard.

 

After a few days, I made a few friends and tried to find my feet. But when it got to the end of the day and my head hit the pillow, my thoughts would haunt me.

 

Each day, the uncertainty of what I would do, where I would go and who I would meet didn’t always excite me. Instead, it gave me an anxiety that I had never experienced before. Where was the mention of this in textbook guide to travelling alone?

 

Some days I’d deliberately sleep in until the afternoon just so most of the day was over. Others, I would find myself having experiences that words nor pictures can describe.

 

When you think of travelling, the first thing that comes to mind is those crystal clear waters and white beaches that are plastered all over your Instagram feed. Don’t worry they exist, they’re real and there really is #nofilter necessary. But travelling, especially solo, is so much more than beautiful landscapes and sunset cocktails alone. It’s not easy. 

 

Solo travelling, inevitably, forces you to spend a lot of time alone. And even when meeting people, the only person you can really trust and rely on is yourself. You’re constantly in your own thoughts and some days you don’t have a full conversation in English. The lack of communication is almost unnatural.

 

I hate to sound like one of those annoying Brits that spends their summers in English-run resorts in Spain, but arriving in Australia and hearing English-speaking people was a relief. I was finally able to hold a conversation that flowed. I was finally understood.

 

Don’t get me wrong, experiencing other cultures is something I’m extremely grateful for. But not having a real conversation affects you. It’s isolating.

 

I’ve learnt so many things about myself that I would never have learnt had I stayed in the U.K. Mainly that I am stronger than I ever thought I was. That I would rather be alone than around people who don’t help me to grow emotionally, mentally and spiritually. That I can only beat my anxiety by forcing it out the door. That there is a whole world out there that is waiting to be explored. That there are so many like-minded people, a tribe of people that are just like me, and just like you, waiting to join their tribe too.

 

In the last few months, there have been so many times where I’ve wanted to give up, book a flight home and go back to my day-to-day existence. There are times where I’m sick of my own company and so engrossed in my own thoughts that I just want to scream.

 

Looking back, would I have booked that flight? I’m not sure, but I’m here now, I’ve got two jobs, a house and some amazing friends. I’ve built a temporary life 10,000 miles away, and I’m proud of that.

 

Who knows what else I’ll discover not only about the world, but myself?

 


Follow Lexie’s story on her website, LexieMullins.com, or via Twitter.

In Guest Posts on
December 22, 2016

Why I Quit My Six-Figure Job to Be an Artist


So many of us dream of having a six-figure salary. Lots of money is #goals, right? But what happens when you get there, and it’s still not enough? That’s exactly what happened to Laura McGuigan.

Here’s the story of how (and why!) she quit her six-figure job to follow her lifelong passion for art.

 

Hi, Laura! I am seriously inspired by your story. Can you tell us a bit more about your background and what made you originally get into design?

Hey Bianca, sure thing! I’ve been a designer for the last ten years professionally, starting in graphic design and moving into interactive design and user experience. I worked in house and at small design agencies helping clients communicate their messages digitally, before taking the leap into the startup world. I was the first designer and fourth employee at my last company and built out the design practice, philosophy and the team there.

 

By the time I left, I held the position of VP, Design, sitting on the executive team of a 90 person company. I have always been a creative and hands out individual; spent all my life drawing, painting, creating. I enjoyed and excelled at classes in school that allowed me that opportunity. While painting and sculpture in high school were super fun, it was a Graphic Design class and a vocational technology school program in Design and Press Production that led me to pursue design over art; I thought I’d be able to still create art in an abstract sense and make better money than being an artist.

 

After 10 years of building a career on design and never really feeling satisfied, I determined my happiness was more important than the money and left to focus on being my own boss, and pursuing my art.

 

Your career trajectory is impressive – you worked your way up to hold senior, six- figure positions in design. What is some of the best career advice you ever received?

While there was no specific quote, what became increasingly clear as I worked up in my career was that listening to your gut is underrated. You form opinions around situations based on past experiences, and to me, following that instinct is critical. Unfortunately, in the ‘business world’ you see that not followed as much, and I found myself drawn towards opportunities and experiences that allowed for that instinctual reaction to take precedence.

Read more