Personal development never stops. We always have room to improve ourselves, learn from others, pick up new life skills, and achieve everything we can.
To help you along that journey, we’ve put together this free bundle of cheat sheets themed around self-improvement.
Having a phone interview? Need to spice up your resume? Just want to be more creative? Whether you’re trying to land a job, save some money, or unlock creativity, we’ve got you covered with this article. Read this article today to get 2021 off to a great start!
This article contains:
- Bullet journal basics and ideas
- Money-saving tips
- Phone interview tips
- Resume tips
- Unlocking creativity
Table of contents
Bullet journal basics and ideas
Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal method is a quick way to record every aspect your life. If you’re new to bullet journaling or just need a refresher from time to time, this article is sure to come in handy.
|Rapid Logging||Adding journal entries as bulleted lists|
|Collection||Basic journal module to organize related information|
|Index||Content locator (Sample entry: Collection_Name: 1-2. 608, 15)|
|The Future Log||For dated entries outside current month|
|The Monthly Log|
|The Daily Log||For capturing tasks, events, and notes daily with Rapid Logging|
|Topic||Descriptive title for journal page|
|Bullet||Short sentence paired with symbol for Rapid Logging|
|Signifier||Special symbol to add extra context to journal entries|
|Stack||Set of active Collections|
|Tags||Hashtags for sharing Stacks in social media posts|
|Subcollections||Subsets of Collection created for easier management of large projects|
|Dedicated Index||Index dedicated to one subject only|
|Treading||Stitching Collection together by connecting its page numbers|
|Migration||Moving entries between Logs to update journal|
|· Task_Name||To-do list item/task incomplete|
|× Task_Name||Task complete|
|> Task_Name||Task migrated to collection|
|< Task_Name||Task scheduled in Future Log|
|· ||Task irrelevant|
|– Note_Name||Item to be remembered|
|∘ Event_Name||Noteworthy moment|
– Note 1
– Note 2
– Note 3
|¡||Special information: coupon code, flight number, receipt number, etc.|
|@||Name, email address, or social media handle|
|❐||Wishlist item (Check box after purchase)|
Steps to Log Information
- Set up Index.
- Set up Future Log after Index.
- Update Monthly Log.
- Set up Monthly Log at start of month.
- Add list of dates to Calendar page.
- Migrate tasks from previous month or Future Log.
- Schedule/record events and tasks on Calendar page.
- Record notes and extra information on Task Page.
- Create Daily Log for next day.
- Add Topic at top of page and page number at bottom.
- Use Daily Log for rapid logging day’s tasks,events, and notes.
- Add Topic and corresponding page number(s) to Index.
Exam prep tracker
Career goals tracker
Job search tracker
Medical information tracker
Home improvement tracker
Recurring tasks tracker
Self-care ideas list
Healthy foods list
Bill payment tracker
Money goals tracker
Money to-do list
Life goals tracker
Quotes and affirmations list
Gift ideas tracker
Banking, Bills, and Payments
- Set up an automatic transfer of money from every paycheck to a savings account.
- Avoid ATM withdrawals that will cost you fees.
- Pay your bills on time to avoid late fees.
- Stash away money from windfalls and refunds instead of spending it.
- Declutter subscriptions and memberships often.
- Cancel automatic subscriptions and memberships.
- Round up purchases to the nearest dollar and add the difference to your savings.
- Shop around for better deals on broadband, credit cards, insurance, phone plans, and streaming subscriptions.
- Refinance your mortgage and auto loan.
- Switch to a high-yield savings account.
- Pay your credit card dues in full every month to avoid paying interest.
- Switch from monthly to half-yearly or yearly insurance payments to avoid unnecessary fees.
- Look for hidden fees on every purchase.
- Pay attention to incorrect charges on bills so you can dispute said bills.
- Get multiple quotes for services to get cheaper deals.
- Find ways to save tax on your earnings.
- Sign up for customer rewards programs.
- Get overdraft fees waived if possible.
- Opt-out of overdraft protection (and keep a close eye on your account balance.)
- Get an energy audit of your home.
- Switch to energy-efficient lighting and appliances.
- Develop energy-efficient habits, such as switching off the lights while leaving a room.
- Unplug inactive appliances or plug them into a power strip so you can turn everything on and off with the press of a button.
- Switch to solar-powered gadgets where feasible.
- Keep your automobiles and electronics in top shape.
- Avoid electronic and automobile upgrades for novelty value.
- While buying a phone, buy a model or two older than the latest one.
- Ditch your landline.
- Lower the temperature on your thermostat.
- Switch to a programmable thermostat.
- Don’t heat unused rooms.
- Insulate your home well.
- Use fans instead of air conditioning.
- Install faucet aerators to reduce water costs.
- Fix leaky faucets and other broken items around the house.
- Pick up housewares from yard sales.
- Move furniture around to give your home a simple makeover.
- Cook meals at home. (But skip recipes that require buying ingredients you probably won’t use again.)
- Carry water and coffee from home.
- Eat seasonal foods.
- Eat local foods.
- Buy staples in bulk and during sales.
- Cut down on one supermarket trip every month and shop from your pantry instead.
- Don’t shop when you’re hungry.
- Get creative with leftovers.
- When possible, choose potluck meals over catered ones for events.
- Make meal-planning a habit to avoid ordering takeout.
- Buy a crockpot for filling yet inexpensive meals.
- Make your own cleaning supplies.
- Declutter your stuff and stop paying for a storage unit.
- Switch to cold water for doing laundry.
- Switch from a dryer to a clothesline for drying clothes.
- Adopt a pet instead of shopping for one.
- Groom your pet yourself.
- Buy locally made pet food.
- Swap pet-watching duties with another pet owner.
Entertainment and Lifestyle
- Cancel costly packages and add-ons from your cable TV subscription. OR
- Switch from cable TV to streaming services.
- Lower your cell phone bill by getting rid of extras.
- Borrow books and DVDs from public libraries.
- Play board games instead of going to the mall.
- Swap clothes, books, games, music, sports equipment, and other supplies with friends and family.
- Make your next holiday a staycation.
- Choose AirBnbs over hotels when you travel.
- House swap with friends and family for a vacation.
- Time a vacation to coincide with the end of a work trip and in the same location.
- Travel hack.
- Build a minimalist wardrobe.
- Avoid buying clothes that need to be dry cleaned.
- Cut your own hair.
- Volunteer as a model at a beauty school for free/discounted haircuts and other beauty treatments.
- Use up toiletries and cosmetics before buying new products.
- Switch to inexpensive/drugstore brands for toiletries and cosmetics.
- Make your own shampoo.
- Shop from duty-free stores when you travel internationally.
- Pay in cash whenever possible.
- Pick free online tutorials over paid classes when you can.
- Find free/inexpensive hobbies and activities for yourself and for your kids.
- Keep an eye out for free local events, classes, and workshops.
- Create a shopping list and stick to it.
- Buy with reward points.
- Run the household on one person’s paycheck and save the rest.
- Walk where you can. It gives you a free workout and saves on transportation costs.
- Reduce the number of cars you own.
- Wash your car yourself.
- Stick to the speed limit to avoid fines as well as inefficient gas usage.
- Ride a bike instead of driving a car.
- Take public transport more often.
- Carpool more often.
- Work from home more often.
- Move closer to work.
- Move to a cheaper neighborhood.
- Move to a smaller home.
- Cut down on smoking and alcohol.
- Reduce meat consumption.
- Split restaurant meals.
- Ask for a doggy bag to take leftovers home.
- Empty coins into a piggy bank.
- Buy used, refurbished, or open-box electronics.
- Use free and open-source software.
- Watch free movies online instead of going to the theater.
- Buy thoughtful, yet inexpensive gifts.
- Replace disposables with reusables.
- Sell items you don’t use.
- Rent instead of buying, when possible.
- Buy multipurpose items.
- To save money in the long run, don’t skimp on quality.
- Buy used items when you can.
- Choose generic brands over name brands.
- Shop around for deals, discounts, and coupons.
- Use cashback cards, apps, and sites.
- Clip coupons.
- Avoid impulse buys.
- Downgrade your subscriptions.
- Downsize your orders.
- Consider going without.
- Learn DIY skills using free online resources.
- Trade goods and services with friends and family.
- Join local freecycling groups to donate/request useful items.
- Look for free solutions (if feasible) to replace items and services you’re paying for.
Phone interview tips
Such interviews are often trial runs to shortlisting and face-to-face interviews. They are quite convenient for both the interviewer and the candidate as time and distance are no longer issues.
Both voice and video interviews bring a unique set of challenges. But with the right preparation, you can make the best of them and even take surprise calls in your stride.
Advantages of a Phone Interview
- You can participate from the comfort of your home or from anywhere else in the world.
- You can schedule the interview in advance and this flexibility can win you extra points.
- You can give more descriptive answers.
- You can cover up gaps in your resume by explaining the reasons behind them.
- You can showcase your verbal communication skills if body language is an issue.
- You can have relevant facts and figures handy and refer to them while giving the interview.
Pre-Interview Prep: Do Your Research
- Record a professional voicemail message as soon as you submit your resumes as calls can come at the worst possible times.
- Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses.
- Review the job advertisement and match your skills to the requirements asked for.
- Research key facts about the company and the projects they are involved in. For e.g., place in the industry, future outlook, news/press, product, culture.
- List examples and projects you can use to demonstrate how you fit the profile.
- Print and organize this information alphabetically for each position you have applied for.
- Prepare answers to common questions the interviewer may ask.
- Write your elevator pitch: what you have done in the past, what you are doing now, and what you would like to be doing in the future.
- Keep your CV and an alphabetized dossier of companies you have applied to next to your phone or computer.
- Learn more about your interviewer so you can put a face and personality behind the voice.
- Prepare your answers to commonly asked interview questions and visualize your response in detail. (Refer to the last section of this PDF for a few interview questions you can expect.)
Pre-Interview Prep: Set Your Environment
- Find a quiet room that allows you to give an interview without any disturbances.
- Optimize the room temperature and light so you can be comfortable during the interview.
- Find a comfortable chair and desk to use.
- Inform your family ahead of time about the interview to ensure no one interrupts you.
- Drink plenty of water and keep more close by.
- Switch off all push notifications on your phone.
- Charge your phone and keep your charger handy.
- Use a good set of noise-cancelling headphones.
- Have a pen and paper available to take notes and a calendar to schedule any follow-up interviews.
- Dress professionally for the interview.
- Visualize any obstacles or interruptions (for e.g., call drops) and your ideal response to manage them.
- Rehearse a simulated interview with someone and practice answers.
- Mind your posture and avoid slouching.
- Do not eat, drink, or smoke during the interview.
- Beware of sounding overfamiliar. Refer to the other person by their surname unless told to do otherwise.
- Do not interrupt the interviewer.
- Let the interviewer do most of the talking.
- When it is your turn, be brief and factual.
- Avoid “Yes” and “No” answers. Elaborate on your skill sets and experiences.
- Do not hem and haw while answering as it indicates indecisiveness.
- Sound enthusiastic with your answers.
- Pause, think, and give your answers clearly.
- Avoid clichéd responses.
- Be honest about any unexpected distractions.
- Take quick notes or record the conversation so you can refer to it later for the face-to-face interview, if there’s one.
- Once the interview concludes, ask what the next step will be in the process.
- Seek permission to follow up for information or queries.
- Ensure that you have the right contact details and the correct spelling and pronunciation of the interviewer’s name.
- Ask when and how you can follow up.
- When you don’t hear back, it’s ideal to send an email a week after the phone interview.
- Send a thank-you email.
Common Questions to Prep For
- Can you tell me a little about yourself?
- Can you walk me through your life?
- Why do you want this job?
- Why do you want to work at this company?
- What do you know about our company/and the position you are applying for?
- Why did you leave (or are leaving) your last position?
- Tell us about your current job role.
- Are you willing to relocate or travel?
- What applicable experiences or skills do you have?
- Why do you think you are the best person for the job?
- Why is there a work gap in your resume? (If there is…)
- What is your greatest weakness?
- What are some of your greatest strengths?
- What are your career goals?
- Tell me about a successful project you have completed.
- How do you handle difficult situations? Give us an example.
- What are your salary expectations?
- When can you start with us?
- Do you have any questions for us?
- Read the job ad carefully.
- Always tailor your resume to the job in question.
- Use an online resume builder instead of a text editor, or start out with a resume template.
- Use verifiable metrics wherever possible because hard numbers catch the eye of recruiters.
- Focus only on the most important content. Try to fit everything on two pages or fewer.
- Pick the right resume format: A Functional resume, a Chronological resume, or a Combination resume (if you have experience across different industries).
- The reverse-chronological resume, where the latest work experience is listed first, is the most popular format.
Design and Layout
- To make a good first impression, ensure that the layout is pleasing and the content is scannable and easy to read.
- Balance text with whitespace.
- Use classic fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana, Calibri, Cambria, Helvetica, and Georgia.
- Don’t choose anything less than 10.5 for the font size. A font size of 12 is ideal.
- Use font sizes 14-16 for section headers.
- Pick a font that reads well on all screens. Legibility and cleanliness are important.
- If you can, choose sans serif fonts like Arial over serif fonts like Times New Roman. The former are more legible on screens.
- Avoid big blocks of text and excessive bullet points.
- Ensure that sections flow from the most significant to the less important.
- Place your name and contact information at the top of the document.
- The font for the name should be larger than the font used in the body, but not so large as to overpower the other elements on the page.
- Don’t place contact information in the header/footer.
- Use a home address rather than a PO box or an office address.
- List one phone number. A mobile phone number is ideal.
- Use an email address that sounds professional.
- Place social media icons and URL links to relevant social media pages.
- Include a link to your LinkedIn profile (if you have one) and ensure that the profile is up to date.
- Include the URL of a personal website that highlights your expertise.
- To avoid possible age discrimination at the onset of hiring, avoid mentioning your date of birth unless that information is mandatory.
- Don’t include a profile photo.
- This section is ideal if you have years of relevant job experience. Skip this section if you have less experience or applying for a job in another field.
- Highlight your current professional title with a larger font at the top of the section.
- Write an objective statement that describes a future goal. This is not mandatory.
- Outline your skills and accomplishments to demonstrate what:
- Distinguishes you from other applicants
- Makes you the ideal candidate for the role
- Highlight skills that are relevant to the role offered.
- Use the Adjective + Skill + Value formula to frame achievements in bulleted sentences.
- This section focuses on the skills you’ve gained based on the job roles you’ve performed in the past.
- Some job roles like programming demand hard technical skills while some like teaching ask for a mix of both hard and soft skills.
- Exploit the keywords in the target job descriptions and correlate them to your skillsets.
- Use topical nouns instead of vague verbs to highlight skills and boost recognition by ²ATS.
- Cover both hard skills and soft skills. For example, a Project Manager can list “Conflict resolution” as a soft skill.
- List hard skills with experience levels (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert.)
- If you’re going by the most common resume format, arrange entries by date, with the latest job at the top.
- For each entry, mention the relevant job title, employer name, location, and job tenure (with start and end dates.)
- Use the mm/yyyy format while listing dates. It’s the standard format expected by recruiters and applicant tracking systems.
- Expand on the most critical jobs with a bulleted list of roles and accomplishments.
- Mention key metrics for every experience.
- Example 1: Generated over $25,000 in sales in one month (instead of Managed sales through self-generated leads.)
- Example 2: Developed and executed marketing strategy for three new national projects. Increased market penetration by an average of 35%.
- Some roles may not be quantifiable. In such cases, it’s okay to mention only responsibilities.
- Don’t duplicate the information from the Summary and Core Skills sections. Use unique phrasing.
- This section can follow the Summary section for new graduates or for jobs with highly relevant educational requirements.
- Include educational qualifications, complete with the school/university name, location, degree earned, and the course dates.
- Mention extra qualifications, certifications, and training under relevant sub-sections if necessary.
- Include GPA/Class Rank if among the top-half of the class. This information is not mandatory.
- Awards: List awards in the Education section under a sub-heading.
- Hobbies: These are not necessary in most applications, but they’re also not a dealbreaker. Include them if other details are sparse. Don’t include inappropriate and commonplace hobbies like reading.
- References: Don’t mention these unless specifically asked for.
Tips for Compatibility With ATS
- Keep the resume structure simple.
- Avoid fancy/creatively designed resumes and resume templates.
- Use an ATS-friendly resume template when you don’t want to design from scratch.
- Use simple headers and consistent formatting across all sections.
- For entries with dates, preface dates with descriptions, such as work experience or academic qualifications.
- The ATS is programmed to read specific keywords, so scan the job ad for potential keywords you can use.
- Use concise bullet points instead of full paragraphs.
- Spell out any abbreviations so the ATS can understand them.
- Submit the file in the format specified. (ATS reads Word formats better than PDF.)
- Use Jobscan to enhance your resume for ATS.
Final Round of Editing
- Always proofread for spellings and other errors.
- Double-check your contact information.
- Remove all fluff and keep the resume concise.
- Print the resume and check for design issues.
- Save a copy of the resume as a PDF for future use. (Word can mess up the formatting across different computer systems.)
- Back up a copy of the resume to the cloud so you can access it from anywhere.
|Explore a subject you know nothing about.|
|Build on an area of expertise.|
|Use a historical time period as inspiration.|
|Find beauty in the ordinary.|
|Discover hidden secrets.|
|Explore an urban environment.|
|Explore a rural environment.|
|Go on a road trip.|
|Discover an unfamiliar part of the world.|
|Find inspiration in nature.|
|Just have fun!|
|Make creativity a habit.|
|Look for novelty and variety.|
|Watch classic movies.|
|Watch movies from a genre that inspires you.|
|Watch TV shows to learn how to craft a story.|
|Find an innovative way to solve a problem.|
|Listen to other innovative thinkers.|
|Break down a problem into smaller parts.|
|Celebrate your success in simple ways.|