This year will mark the 10th year of my working life. I dived in head first at 20, freshly graduated in Communication. I’ve been a freelancer and an employee. I wrote, interviewed, translated, recorded voiceovers, edited, strategized, promoted. I honed my skills, developed new ones and I learned. A lot.
While I’m definitely not done learning (what’s the fun if you know everything?), here are already 6 big lessons that are truly engraved in me and that I would love to pass on to any new professionals or whoever in need of a reminder:
1. Never reply to an email angry
I am not gonna lie: I can be quite impulsive, which might be a counter-effect of trying to not not bottle up my emotions anymore. And many times, I would receive an email with a simple question which I would turn into a complaint or accusation in my head. Now, if you’re anything like me (with a layer of lack of confidence on top), don’t take things personally. And if you still do, I found it incredibly efficient for me to sleep on that email instead of replying in the heat of the moment, especially on the go, and jumping to conclusions or failing to express your thoughts clearly. 4 times out of 5, I realize that, indeed, I just got all worked up for nothing. And 1 time out of 5, my gut feeling is right but at least I can formulate my answer well rested and calm.
2. When it’s too much, just say it
I hate to disappoint or outperform. So I can tend to saying yes to everything, even when I know it will make my stress levels jump off the roof inside. Again, a big con that comes with the art of bottling up. But this is a habit from the past! Obviously, I can only speak for people with a unique role in their team or company but if that’s the case, remind yourself that you’ve been hired because you’re good at what you do and you could fill a void in a field they didn’t have the expertise for. If you keep pretending that you can handle it all, your boss will keep on throwing new tasks at you. Have a talk with your schedule at hand, explain how much time you usually need to deliver the expected results. You’d be surprised of how comprehensive people can be sometimes…
3. Learn to find your focus
Have you heard of Scandinavian countries looking at implementing a four-day week with six-hour workday? It’s been proven scientifically that when we work harder over shorter periods, we can do optimal work with surges in productivity. Personally, I’m not about working hard but about working smart (which, I believe, is what this study actually supports too). I’ve been working from home for most of my career and friends and family are often shocked to find out that I’m REALLY working. That my alarm rings every morning and that I cross tasks off my to-do lists instead videos off my YouTube ‘watch later’ playlist (I do this for breakfast & lunch time though!). Know yourself. Identify the periods during which you’re the most productive and do the biggest chunk of your work at that time. Over the years, I learned that my motivation was at its best in the morning until lunch time so I usually dedicate afternoons to research, admin, calls and meetings. Creative writing can only be done when I’m alone (I wish I was that type of person who write in the train and cafés like novelists!). I actually have many other tips to increase your productivity and work efficiently so I might just prepare another post on this topic…
4. Set your boundaries
Again, this is a big one, especially for people-pleasers. I went through a long period of stress, which remained even after my work load was gone. I realized that my mailbox was just sucking all the energy out of me. If you can afford it (in my case, I could never do this around the launch of a new release or if an artist has a show/press day), turn off all email notifications when the weekend is here. If you’re feeling too overwhelmed, go ahead and even do it when you leave the office. All that useless anxiety will be gone in no time! Another important rule for me is to not befriend new clients. While I love joking around and sharing life stories with the artists I’ve been working with for a while, I implement a policy for any new collaborations: I don’t accept friend requests from clients on Facebook and ignore all professional conversations sliding in my DM’s or Whatsapp. Why? 1. It’s easier to collect all the info in one place. 2. I feel like social media makes you believe that everyone is reachable 24/7 and I’m not.
5. You’ll never get it if you don’t ask for it
I got some nice placements during my campaigns, on websites like Refinery29 or ELLE, magazines like Marie Claire, radios like BBC 1Xtra and even a shout out from Elton John. Every time, people asked me how I did it. My answer: I just tried. Just ask for what you want. At worst, your request will just be ignored and at best, your wish will come true. Yes, it’s that easy and I promise you won’t die either way.
6. Honesty is the best policy
I know, it would have looked so much neater if I had stopped at 5. But I wanted to share one last lesson: be honest. Be true to yourself and impeccable with your word. Expressing how you really feel, being transparent about your process and your skills, and delivering what you promised will make all the difference. Honesty is the reason I convinced many of my clients to work with me in the first place and trust is what made them come back. Say no if you need to, listen to your gut. As long as you’re polite, most people tend to enjoy sincerity (is it that shocking?).
No matter what is your job, I would love to learn about your own experiences and lessons learned: share your thoughts in a comment below!
And if all of this didn’t scare you and actually even made you want to work with me, click HERE to book a PR campaign for your next release :).