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Using Free Time to Advance Your Career

Posted by Sarah Davis on March 15, 2016

Digital marketing careerHe must be Superman - you know the one, the person who's so amazingly productive that you can't even imagine how he fits it all in. Does he sleep? Does he ever socialize? Chances are he does all of these things, but your super productive acquaintance likely plans his leisure time differently than most people. If you'd like to move up in your digital marketing career or achieve a personal goal, here's how you can find the time.

How Do We Spend Our Free Time?

While today's adults still socialize during their free time, the other ways in which adults spend their free time have shifted a lot in the last 50 years. According to 2014 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics study, the average American adult has between 5 to 6 hours of leisure time every day. Half of this time is spent watching television. According to a 2015 Global Web Index study, Americans also spend 1.72 hours a day on social media sites. Personal and work-related email is also time consuming, both during our free time and our work time. An online survey of 400 white-collar workers discovered that they spent "6.3 hours a day checking emails, with 3.2 hours devoted to work emails and 3.1 hours to personal messages."

Why Be a Turnoff?

What would happen if you shifted your focus to a career-boosting activity instead? It takes guts to turn off your inbox notifications or block your Facebook for a few hours. Those constant pings of your email, text messages, and social media sites call you to an interesting new task, and they're addictive. However, there are definite benefits to unplugging from some of the web some of the time.

A Guardian article talks about the "cognitive costs of task-switching." Simply put, your brain works better if it doesn't need to flit from task to task. When you reduce how often you check your texts or visit your inbox, you'll have better access to a flow state, maximizing your ability to focus on your work.

Focused work is also faster and more in-depth work. When you're not constantly interrupted, you'll be able to dig deep into that paper or concentrate on that webinar. You'll come out of it with far deeper understanding than if you'd skimmed it while checking your phone.

Have an Hour or Two? Here's What You Can Do

What would happen if you took just a few hours a week of that television, social media, and email time and turned it into something that could transform your digital marketing career? What could you do with a few extra hours a week?

  • With 2 hours you could:
    • Create a draft of your new digital portfolio on Pathbrite or
    • Look up potential contacts on LinkedIn and Twitter and plan how to draw them into your network.
  • With 4 hours you could:
    • Start a weekly micro-blog in your area, spending 2 hours researching and 2 hours writing, editing, sourcing photos, and promoting your content every week. Within a year, you'll have over 50 blog posts, a solid grounding in your discipline, and a unique voice to share with potential employers.
  • With 6 hours you could:
    • Take the Hubspot inbound certification course with 4.5 hours of video content, and designate some time to study as well. Understand the basics of inbound marketing, such as how SEO and blogging work together to draw customers to your business.
  • With 8 hours you could:
  • With 10 hours you could:
    • Learn the basics of Photoshop on Lynda.

Old-School Social Networking

You coFree timeuld also turn some of your social time into old-school social networking. Make an effort to ask questions of people you meet and introduce them to others, becoming a connector as you socialize. Broaden your social circle as well, making an effort to meet new people in your free time. Go out for a coffee once a month with someone in your field and ask that person questions about your industry. You'll get more clarity about how you should spend those extra free hours to make a bigger impact on your digital marketing career.

 When you're starting out in your field, it can be difficult to find the time to build all of the skills you need to be a digital marketing master. By freeing up just a few hours every week, you can learn more about your field, extend your network, and develop your skills.

Do you have a few hours today? Download the ebook "Breaking Into Digital Marketing" and  plan how you'll take your career to a new level this year.

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Topics: For Recent Grads