Ask Dana: How to push your career ahead when your current job takes all your time


How do I stay focused on managing my career?

I know I’m supposed to make time for my career management — for networking, updating my resume, seeking other opportunities, and more. However, I continue falling back into work projects or losing focus, so I’m struggling to sustain my career upkeep. Any advice?

Answer from Dana:

Here are five actions that you can implement immediately:

1. Schedule your important work as an appointment with yourself

If you’re falling behind on your professional upkeep, open your calendar, block off a large chunk of time, and label it “My Career Time.” Put the details in the body of the invitation to yourself — e.g. update résumé, sign up for two evening networking events, etc.

2. Turn off e-mail and your phone

Well, turn them off while you are working on your most important professional project: Your career. This will help you avoid distractions while you get the heavy lifting done.

3. Work on the hardest stuff when you’re at your best

If you’re sharpest in the morning, use that time to work on your most important career-related projects. Remember, the majority of the career-building activities — like signing up for networking activities (, sending networking emails, or updating your résumé — can be done any day of the week.

4. Learn how to say NO

I know from experience that people will ask for favors, meetings, and guidance constantly. Before saying yes, ask yourself: How will this further my career or help me grow professionally? If it doesn’t, politely say “No.” Then, replace that time with an appointment from the first recommendation above!

5. Remove yourself from distractions at home

If you work full-time, then you can only cultivate your personal career goals at night or on weekends. Make the most of that time by going where you can focus and avoid unnecessary distractions. Your family will understand if you say, “I’m going to spend a few hours at the library to work on my career plan.”

You can do this! Make yourself Job No. 1 for a change.



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