Digital Marketing, SEO and My Life as a 20-Something

Category: 20-Something Life

How I’m Preparing For a Socially Distanced Summer Without Air Conditioning

No matter where you are in the world right now, summer 2020 is going to look a bit different for all of us. It’s also pretty safe to say there’s a lot on everyone’s minds from keeping ourselves and our communities healthy to navigating physical distancing guidelines and the rapidly changing economy.

One of the biggest changes in my life right now is that I am working from home full-time. It’s a strange existence given that I also live alone. Fortunately, I’m not a social butterfly so it’s not the worst thing in the world, but I am sorely missing the activities that make living alone bearable like sailing, soccer and orchestra.

Maybe I won’t be working from home all summer, but I certainly am for the foreseeable future and I’m planning as if I’m in this for the very long haul. That being said, I am getting really concerned about how I’m going to deal with working from home in an apartment without air conditioning, as well as the health and well being of others without air conditioning.

When heatwaves strike, we’re reminded to check on the elderly and other people vulnerable to the heat. How will we do that when we’re supposed to keep our distance for their safety? And how will we help them, and everyone else without air conditioning at home, survive the sweltering temperatures that are fast approaching?

I don’t have the answer to all of those questions, but as someone with no air conditioning, no backyard and no pool, here’s what I’m personally doing to prepare:

1. Hooking Up the Portable Air Conditioner

THANKS MOM! My portable air conditioner will forever be one of the best gifts my mother has ever bought for me. It will never replace central air conditioning, but I like to say that it at least takes the edge off of the heat and humidity.

Fans and open windows are alright for coping with dry heat, but when that Southern Ontario humidity arrives? With the way it sucks the energy out of you, good luck getting anything done during the day.

I have an 8,000 BTU Arctic King portable AC. It’s actually a 3-in-1 model, so I can run it as a regular old fan and it also has a dehumidifier. I keep it in the living room, as that’s where I spend the most time, but it can be easily moved as needed. Through a lot of trial and error, I have learned that if I position the AC and my two fans juuuust right, I can direct enough air into my bedroom to make it bearable for the night.

Unfortunately, between my neighbourhood and having a ground-level apartment, leaving my windows open at night just isn’t an option. It makes for some uncomfortable nights, but being able to direct some cool air from the living room really does help.

I really enjoy my portable air conditioner, but let’s face it, they’re not cheap. They’re certainly out of the reach of many lower-income people, who are more likely to live in housing without air conditioning or struggle to pay the electrical bills for it. I’m personally worried about finding the balance between keeping my apartment cool enough to be productive, without having to have the unit running all day and jacking up my electricity bills. I suspect this will take some trial and error, but I can only experiment so much without hurting my productivity.

2. Replenishing the Smoothie Cube Stash

I’m no vegan hipster, but I do like smoothies as a morning boost and to force myself to get some healthy stuff down. I made a big batch of smoothie cubes that have served me well throughout the pandemic so far, but it’s getting dangerously low. It’s definitely time to make another batch of them so I always have some on hand for a cool, refreshing and healthy breakfast or snack.

If you’re looking to give smoothie cubes a try, this article explains it well. In a nutshell, all you need to do is make a smoothie as you usually would, but add just enough liquid for it to blend properly. Divide the smoothie up into an ice cube tray, and freeze in your freezer. From there, I like to divide them into small plastic bags so I can simply take a bag from the freezer and toss them into my blender.

Once you’ve added the smoothie cubes to your blender, simply add liquid (I also like to add a banana, I love my smoothies extra frothy and banana-y!) and blend. It tastes just a tiny bit different from making it fresh, but trust me, it’s still delicious. With the added pandemic bonus of limiting your trips to the grocery store because smoothie cubes last far longer than fresh fruit.

Fun tip: If you want to switch up flavours, make single-flavour smoothie cubes so you can mix and match as you please! I personally have strawberry, mango and mixed berry ones and I mix them accordingly based on my mood.

3. Stocking Up On Popsicles

No, popsicles are not just for kids. There’s no better way to get through a hot and sticky afternoon than the refreshing cold and sugar boost that a popsicle brings.

If you’re concerned about sugar and chemicals, have no fear, there are a lot of great healthy popsicles out there both in the grocery store and recipes you can make online.

4. Fixing Up My Little Porch Into An Outdoor Space

While I don’t have a backyard, I do have a little porch that serves as the entrance to my apartment. I’ve never measured it, but it’s probably about 6′ x 6′. This is my second summer in this apartment and I’ve never used that space for anything more than storing my garbage can and recycling bin, but this year that’s got to change.

I’ve seriously thought about rigging up a hammock but uh, let’s just say the railing is definitely not strong enough for that. I’m currently trying to track down a chair I can sit in (it doesn’t need to be fancy but it needs to be somewhat comfy and apparently those are expensive!) as well as a few planters and possibly an outdoor rug and some sort of shade as it gets direct sunlight for quite a lot of the day.

Part of the reason I’ve never sat out there is that the porch is right next to the heavily trafficked sidewalk. I might have to put up with some overly friendly strangers striking up conversation, but I guess I’ll have to take that over being stuck inside a sweltering apartment.

If I can set it up well and the internet connection is strong enough, maybe I’ll be able to work outside sometimes. At the very least, might as well take advantage of the breeze outside of work hours!

5. Considering Asking For Some Flexibility In My Working Hours

If my boss is reading this…we might need to chat! This is not an option I want to consider given we all traditionally work set office hours, but it may be necessary.

Thinking back to last summer, there were summer days where it’s just impossible to get anything done during the hottest hours of the day. I am really worried about the same thing happening during the week now that I don’t have the nice air conditioned office to escape to (oh, I will never complain about it being too cold again!).

This is a last resort, but worst-case scenario, I might have to shift my working time to earlier in the morning and evenings. We’ll see how it goes. I don’t want to do this, but it might be necessary and could be a good option for those of you out there facing a similar situation.

6. Writing to My Elected Officials to Raise My Concerns

The more I think about this, the more concerned I get. Not so much for myself, but for the people with less financial resources than I have or who have health conditions that can be exacerbated by the heat. As debates rage about balancing access to public space with the need to maintain physical distancing, I worry how those of us who don’t have a cool house to retreat to will survive this summer.

I am especially worried about this because let’s face it, most politicians and public servants in decision-making roles probably aren’t concerned about this on a personal level. That means it’s up to us to encourage them to take action on it, so in the coming days I will be writing to my local representatives about this to ensure this is on their radar and being addressed.

What needs to be done? Ontario needs to continue its pause on Time of Use electricity pricing, so those of us staying home aren’t forced to pay for on-peak pricing through no fault of our own. We absolutely need to continue to find ways for people to safely access and enjoy public space, instead of threatening to shut it down because too many people are there, because we simply need a retreat from the confinement and heat of our homes.

We also need to explore ways of creating safe cooling centres for people to go to when needed, especially since places like malls and pools probably won’t be opening again for a while. Perhaps we can even get creative and make outdoor ones, anybody remember the “chill zone” at Canada’s Wonderland on hot days? What a relief that cool mist was!

We also need to make sure that seniors aren’t left out of this conversation. We need them to stay home for their safety, but we also need to help them keep cool. This could mean providing them with fans and portable or window air conditioning units, establishing formal systems of wellbeing check-ins and offering subsidies for higher home cooling costs.

This issue has been on my mind for the last week or so, I sent out a tweet about it and I decided I needed to expand. This is not the most polished or organized piece I’ve ever written, but I needed to get it out there because this conversation simply isn’t being had.

If you’re in the same situation as myself – no air conditioning, no backyard and no pool – then hopefully these tips can help you to prepare for the unique summer ahead. If not, please share with someone who may find them helpful or use your voice to help advocate for those of us who need it.

Hang in there everyone, this is going to be the summer we’ll never forget (and not in the good kind of way) but if we all do our parts, we’ll get through this together. Ça va bien aller mes amis. Ça va bien aller.

7 Things I Learned in My First Year Working in Marketing

One day you’re setting up your new e-mail at your new desk, and the next thing you know a year has flown by. As the saying goes, time sure does fly.

2019 was once again, a year. It was supposed to be a relaxing, boring one. Boy, was it anything but. It brought different challenges than 2018, but challenges nonetheless.

The exact date when I started in marketing is somewhat debatable, is it when I started my blog years ago? Is it when I started doing volunteer communications work? Is it when I started my co-op placement? For the sake of clarity and a more appealing title, we’re going to work with the date that I started working full-time in the marketing industry right after finishing my post-graduate degree.

Specific dates and technicalities aside, I’ve come a long way in the past 365 days. Here are some of the top lessons I’ve learned in my first year working full-time at a marketing agency.

1. Fasten Your Seatbelt, Agency Life is Fast Paced

Enjoy the quiet times while they last, because they never last for long. Agency life can be tough for a lot of people, but I personally love it. My life in an agency is easier than most given that most of my work doesn’t revolve around strict deadlines, but it doesn’t mean my job is any less busy.

One of the favourite parts about my job, and marketing agency life in general, is the wide variety of clients I get to work on. Big and small, new and old, a wide variety of industries and at various stages of their campaigns, local campaigns and across North America…it’s never a dull moment.

Sometimes I do miss being able to immerse myself in everything about one company while working client-side. But overall, I love the diversity, range of topics and challenges that agency life brings.

My personal and professional life before I entered marketing helped me form the time management and organizational skills that are key to succeeding in an agency. In the job itself, two things that help me stay on track are scheduling out my time for each client per month (it’s not always realistic to follow this plan but it definitely helps!) and listing out my priorities for the next day before I leave the office in the evening.

2. WordPress Was One of the Best Skills I Ever Taught Myself

I was asked the other day when I first started using WordPress…it’s probably been 6 or 7 years now? I taught myself HTML about a decade before that as well. Now, I use it every single day.

I had the chance to go back to the college where I did my post-graduate program to talk to current students on two separate occasions this year. On both occasions I encouraged them to learn some basic web skills, specifically WordPress since it’s so widely used. I’m not sure I’d be where I am now without my largely self-taught web skills.

3. Never Stop Learning

Digital marketing is a fast-changing landscape, especially the search marketing world I specialize in. I may have walked across the convocation stage, but that was only the beginning.

It’s so important to stay up with marketing industry news and developments. The last thing you need is to fall behind on an algorithm update or not know about a new feature on one of your platforms and fall behind your competitors as a result.

4. You’ll Doubt Yourself

Did I choose the right career path? Should I have specialized so soon? Is this the right strategy? Is this the right working environment for me? Am I targeting the right keywords? Should the budget be higher? Should the budget be lower? Is this the right way to pitch this? Is my head still attached?

It’s okay. You’re doing great. You wouldn’t be where you are if people didn’t trust you and believe in you. Keep going. Don’t confuse confidence with arrogance, but keep kicking ass, because trust me, you are!

5. The Coursework You Never Thought You’d Use? Oh, You’ll Use It.

That lecture about the history of the internet and how the internet, domains and website hosting work? Mindblowing at the time, now I use it on a weekly basis.

That course where we learned how to build a database? Well, guess who’s building a database?

Pay attention, because sometimes the most surprising skills and bits of knowledge are the ones that can really come in handy in a moment of need.

6. Find What Works Best for You

This will come with time, and you’ll have to work within the restraints of your environment which can be a challenge. Little things can make a world of difference, but figuring out what you need to be productive and produce your best work is important.

Noise can be a challenge for me in the office, so headphones have become important. I don’t like wearing them, but the reality is that they’re key to me being able to focus. I’ve also become more in tune with the days when I need to remove myself from the main office space to get work done, especially for large chunks of writing, and what days/moods I can tolerate (or even enjoy!) the background noise.

This will surprise a lot of people, but managing my energy can be a challenge. I may come across as being quiet, but sitting still can be a difficult at times! On these days, I break out the balance cushion (which doubles as a great core workout), listen to music to help channel my energy, or work in the other room and sit in one of the chairs where I can make it bounce up and down without disturbing anybody else.

Writing out my list of priorities for the next day has also become important. Some days it’s not necessary, but as my workload increased and I took on more responsibility just a few months after starting, this became more important. Listing out my priorities the day before helps make sure I don’t let anything slip and means I’m not planning out my day first thing in the morning while I’m still waking up!

7. This is Only the Beginning

There are still times where I’m just in awe at everything that’s happened since I made the decision to pursue marketing professionally. It was a lot of hard work, made much more difficult by family health challenges that emerged at the same time I went back to school, but boy was the hard work worth it because I couldn’t be happier with how things have turned out.

For as much as I’ve learned in year one, I know I still have so much to learn and so much ahead of me. I have confidence in what I’ve learned and what I’m capable of, but know to stay humble and never stop learning and reflecting.


It was hard to sum up everything I’ve learned this past year into just seven points, but for anybody who’s getting ready to jump into marketing full-time or currently navigating the early months and years of your career, this post is for you. I’m so grateful to be where I am, and if you’re not feeling that way yet, have confidence in your abilities and hang in there because I know you’ll find your marketing bliss soon too.

From professors and co-workers to clients and of course, my family, it took a village to get me to where I am today. Here’s to year two, and beyond!

Have any questions about my experiences? Did you relate to this post? Leave a comment or tweet at me and let me know what you think!

5 Quotes To Sum Up My Thoughts on 2018

 

Ohh 2018, what a year you were. I’ve been thinking for a while about whether or not I should do a more in-depth analysis of the year, but there’s a lot that happened that doesn’t belong on the internet. To be honest, if at the start of the year someone had told me everything that would happen? I would have told them to stop taking whatever drugs they’re on. Yeah, it’s been one of those years. So, sparing the personal details, here are some quotes that sum up this past year for me, what I’ve learned, and how I’ve changed and grown.

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my own ship.”

-Louisa May Alcott

“There is no progress or accomplishment without sacrifice.”

-Idowu Koyenikan

“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”

-Anonymous

“Cancer opens many doors. One of the most important is your heart.”

-Greg Anderson

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”

-Cayla Mills

“I think you need to go through some stuff to really appreciate life and understand what it means to persevere, overcome and have faith. I think those tough times make you a stronger person.”

-Judith Hill

“You can do anything, but not everything.”

-David Allen

“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.”

-Michael J. Fox

“When someone has cancer, the whole family and everyone who loves them does, too.”

-Terri Clark

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”

-Albert Einstein

“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.”

-Audrey Hepburn

“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction can be the biggest step of your life.”

-Naeem Callaway

See ya later 2018, onwards to 2019! Do any of these quotes apply to your own 2018? Anything you’d like to share about your year? Let me know in the comments or tweet at me!