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LITTLE BLACK BOOK REVIEW: A TOOLKIT FOR WORKING WOMEN

July 16, 2018

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You’re working for yourself. Keeping up with all the projects you’re running. You’re working as your very own social media manager, sales person and PR person all at once. Ever wished there was a guide with tips how to handle everything you’re juggling? Than the ‘Little Black Book: A Toolkit For Working Women’* is exactly what you need!

About the ‘Little Black Book’

The ‘Little Black Book’ is a toolkit for working women with tips on productivity, staying on top of your creative game, building your brand, finances and selfcare. In the book it’s described as “the modern career guide every creative woman needs, whether you’re just starting out or already have years of experience.” — which is the perfect description for this book!

The writer behind this nifty little career guide is Otegha Uwagba, founder of WomenWho.com (a community for creative women). I have to admit, I didn’t know about this community before I read the book — like many things I try, I’ve seen it on peoples feed on Instagram — but the community has many great resources for creative women to meet online and offline.

The TLDR version of this post

The book is one of those resources. And a great one at that. For the TLDR-crowd, these are the four major things I love about this book:

  • The advice that Otegha gives is fuss-free and straight to the point which I love.
  •  It’s the perfect book, or toolkit, if you’re just starting out as an creative entrepreneur. If you’ve been in the business a little bit longer this book might have too much information that you’ve already known about — probably through trial and error.
  • The size is perfect if you want to take it with you. It even fits into my Gucci bag!
  • Although it sounds like it’s just for creative entrepreneurs, it’s also for women who work for a creative company or agency.

But these aren’t the only great things about the book. In this ‘Little Black Book’ review I’ve rounded up the 7 tips from the book that I found useful. I started with five but there was a lot more I picked up from the book. I don’t want to give too much away what’s inside exactly so I’ll just share what I’m going to incorporate into my daily working life.

Here are 7 takeaways from ‘Little Black Book’ by Otegha Uwagba that I’ll be incorporating into my creative entrepreneurial life:

LITTLE BLACK BOOK REVIEW: A TOOLKIT FOR WORKING WOMEN | THECHICITALIAN | The toolkit for the modern working women, written by Otegha Uwagba with many tips to navigate your work life
LITTLE BLACK BOOK REVIEW: A TOOLKIT FOR WORKING WOMEN | THECHICITALIAN | 10 things I've picked up from the toolkit for the modern working women, written by Otegha Uwagba

#1 // ROUTINE IS NECESSARY TO THRIVE

If there is one thing I struggle with the most, it’s probably having a normal routine as a freelance creative entrepreneur. Working from home is great — not always though, but I’ll get into that later — but it also means there aren’t any set rules when it comes to when you should be at work. So I don’t feel as much of a pressure to get to work on time. Because I’m basically sleeping in my office so technically I’m already at work.

Now to give a little of a backstory, I’ve ALWAYS struggled with getting out of bed in the morning. When I was younger I could live off just 4-5 hours of sleep but, as I got older, that drastically changed and I ended up skipping any class before 10am when I was getting my bachelor degree. Internships grew to accept that I would come in between 9.30am and 10am and later on I worked at an agency where I could decide for myself when I would come in (as long as I finished my work and hit my hours).

How I’m switching up my routine

Definitely not the best way to make an impression and definitely not the most productive I can be. So what I want to incorporate in my daily entrepreneurial life is to get up earlier and start work earlier. I love to spread out my work over the whole day so I can work hours here and there but I think I would benefit the most if I get the most important tasks out of the way in the morning. This way I’ll feel less stressed about work that I might not get to because I’ve rolled out of bed way too late.

Like it says in the book, consistency is key so I’m going to get out of bed at 8.30am and end my day at 10pm so I have time to read.

#2 // DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT

Having a routine is definitely important if you want to become a successful creative entrepreneur — that’s at least the goal for me — but also knowing when enough is good enough. Another thing I’ve struggled with all of my life is perfectionism. Which is fun to use as a weakness-but-also-strength when you go in for an interview. Fun to use but not so fun when you’re blocking your own potential with it. I’ve learned that the hard way.

Good enough is sometimes better than perfect. For starters, for your own mental health it’s amazing. But also to finish a project. I used always stay in the strategic phase and improved on improvement on improvement. And in the end I didn’t finish anything and didn’t move forward with my ideas. They just stayed ideas.

The way I know handle it is that I can always improve it in a later stage, as long as I put out a MVP: minimum viable product — a term most often used in the start-up world. It means a product or service that’ll do the job for now but that you can work on once you receive feedback or stumble upon problems. Having a MVP out there is better than being stuck in the idea phase. Let’s face it, you’ll not get out of it if you don’t try and, worst case scenario, someone else will swoop in with your idea. So go for done instead of perfection.

LITTLE BLACK BOOK REVIEW: A TOOLKIT FOR WORKING WOMEN | THECHICITALIAN | The 10 things you need to know about this book and what I’ve learned

#3 // WORKING IN A DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENT

Yes working from home sounds like a dream. No need to rush through your morning routine to get to work on time or needing to leave the house when it’s raining or snowing or being stuck in a overcrowded train in the middle of a summer heat wave (trust me, it’s terrible. Especially when — mostly men — decide not to take care of their personal hygiene).

But it can also be lonely and feel like you’re stuck in the same place all the time. My only colleague at the moment is Vinny. As adorable as he is, there isn’t much of a convo going on. I always enjoyed those little moments with colleagues between work. And I’ve made some great friends and acquaintances through work.

That’s why I love that this book not only voices these feelings, it also gives you a couple of recs in the UK and worldwide places to work from. And to spice it even up, ask someone else to join you when you work from your favorite coffee shop. Here are some of my recommended places to work from (which I’ll hopefully fill up with even more work friendly places).

#4 // HOW TO NAIL YOUR PERSONAL BRANDING

There is one whole chapter dedicated to personal branding and I can’t even begin to tell you how IMPORTANT that is in this day and age. And how important it is to finding out what makes you valuable.

Although I personally think my personal brand is pretty on point, the toolkit really had some handy advice on how to go about creating your personal brand. One of the things is being strategic about your personal branding. This means that the information that is out there about you need to represent the brand you want to showcase, the way you want to market yourself among your competition. It’s also about controlling the narrative about yourself instead of people doing that for you.

My personal branding in action

One of the things I’ve really looked at for TheChicItalian is how to re-use older content and looking at my social media and how it fits in the overal themes of what TheChicItalian is about. On Pinterest this meant that a lot of the boards I used have I archived or are now hidden because they didn’t work for TheChicItalian anymore.

It’s also all about finding your niche, which is one thing I’ve struggled with and still is hard to get a grip on for me. So I’ve been really thinking about what I have to offer. In the case of TheChicItalian I rebranded my personal brand from style & lifestyle blog to more curated blog with a focus on the creative entrepreneurial life, empowering women and sharing experiences.

…But keep your eyes on the bigger picture!

The best advice from the ‘Little Black Book’ writer Otegha Uwagba was definitely to self promote but spend more time on perfecting your skills. In the end, having a personal brand is key but you can’t really have that or grow it if you don’t focus on your unique talents which are your skills.

LITTLE BLACK BOOK REVIEW: A TOOLKIT FOR WORKING WOMEN | THECHICITALIAN | My personal Little Black Book review with 10 things I've picked up from the book
LITTLE BLACK BOOK REVIEW: A TOOLKIT FOR WORKING WOMEN | THECHICITALIAN | The toolkit for the modern working women, written by Otegha Uwagba with many tips to navigate your work life

#5 // NETWORK LIKE PRO {EVEN IF YOU ARE AN INTROVERT LIKE ME}

The importance of networking, another cliche but something you need to invest in. Even introverts like me have to give in. Honestly, until now all the projects I’ve worked on were through people I know. Even with this knowledge I’m still not the biggest fan of networking.

The book has a lot of great tips to turn you from a deer in the headlights to a semi pro. Two important tips I want to highlight: have interest in other people’s work — not just what they can do for you, also network with people on your own level and knowing what you want to talk about when you have an IRL meeting with someone.

#6 // THE IMPORTANCE OF GETTING YOUR FINANCES UNDER CONTROL

Another struggle point for me but definitely important to master in life: how to deal with finances.

If you’re not into numbers, this is seems like a total bore but it’s a basic skill you need to master. Myself included. Not just how to manage your money but also how to define your worth.

Especially in the creative industry where you get so many “we don’t have a budget/we have a small budget” (even big companies use these which is just crazy) or even worse “it’s perfect for building your portfolio”. The last one even gets used on people with the experience. Insane if you ask me!

In the book Otegha discusses all of the facets of knowing your worth which is perfect if you need that little nudge to say no when a returning client says they don’t have the budget at the moment but maybe in the future. The future is now and you need to pay bills. She also gives great tips on how to find out what normal rates are in your industry.

Tips to manage your finances

But like I said, she also goes into how to manage your money. Something that right now has been a struggle for me, especially with the fluctuation of work. I’m sure some of you reading this are in the same boat. Tips that I loved on the subject:

  • Budgeting with the 50/30/20 rule. 50% of you income should go to bills and necessities, you can spend 30% on fun stuff (like these items) and 20% to other financial obligations like saving up for when you don’t have enough projects coming in.
  • Having a backup that will make sure you’ll be financially secure for the next three to six months.
  • No brainer, but we all try to avoid it: checking in with your banking on the regular. This way you can see your expenses and which expenses you can eliminate so you can save up for more important things in your life.
LITTLE BLACK BOOK REVIEW: A TOOLKIT FOR WORKING WOMEN | THECHICITALIAN | 10 things I've picked up from the toolkit for the modern working women, written by Otegha Uwagba

#7 // SELF CARE IS KEY FOR SUCCESS

Last but definitely important: giving yourself much needed TLC. This means knowing your limits, knowing when to leave work behind and have downtime. You are the most important part of your job. Especially as a creative, having downtime will keep your creative juices flowing.

I’ve personally incorporated some small moments into my days to help me keep from getting overwhelmed:

  • Journalling. Great way to put your feelings out in the open, to reflect on your days and keep track of where your mind is at.
  • Yoga. I used to exercise at least twice a week and then all together stopped. The more time went by, the higher the threshold to go back to the gym. So to ease myself back into exercising I now go to yoga once a week.
  • Go for walks. Another way to keep moving and to clear my head. I try to listen to a podcast to get inspired. And after I always feel like I can take on the day.

BUY THE LOOK*

// VERDICT

It wouldn’t be a full Little Black Book review with a little reflecting on if this is the perfect book for you. If you’re a creative entrepreneur or in the creative field, read this book! It has so many tips and tricks you can work with that will make your work life much more productive and balanced. It’s pretty small so you’ll get through it quit fast but I’ll reckon that you’ll probably grab it from time to time to get a fresh perspective on things.

You can buy the book here* if you’re Dutch and international readers can go here*.

 

What’s the best tip you got for your fellow working women?

 

xo FG

Photo’s by Jillian

All affiliate links are marked with a *

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