GSD // CARLY A. HEITLINGER OF COLLEGE PREPSTER

#GSDgetshitdone interview with College Prepster

 

CARLY A. HEITLINGER // THE COLLEGE PREPSTER

Carly started The College Prepster as a freshman at Georgetown University. She currently lives in NYC and blogs full time.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Every day is pretty different schedule wise. I work from home, but I tend to have a two or three external meetings a day. I try to be strategic about meetings to cut down on how long the commute takes and how long I’m away from my apartment. When I’m at my desk, I’m generally catching up on emails (minimum of three hours), writing blog posts, or managing my social channels.
I always have to schedule one day on my calendar where I don’t have any external meetings so I can sit down and focus on my work uninterrupted all day. This is one of my keys for staying on top of things and really getting through my weekly to-dos. It also keeps me sane and is my “lazy day” in terms of not having to wear makeup or put on “real” clothes. On the other end of the spectrum, I only shoot outfits with a photographer once a week. I squeeze in three looks into an hour and only have to be in full hair/makeup once a week.
What parts of your work do you love?
I love so much of what I do…I don’t think I could get through the bad parts without loving it! Building a brand on my own is one of the best parts, but I also love hearing from and meeting readers. I spend an incredible amount of time alone with my computer. Reading sweet emails/comments/tweets reminds me that there are people out there reading what I do and appreciating it. And meeting readers puts faces to names and makes it feel much more real to me. (Since I’m a number-oriented person, it’s so important to me to recognize that actual people are reading.)
What parts of your work/business do you dislike?
Being my own boss does come with some hardships. While I’m a blogger, at the end of the day, I’m a business owner and there are serious responsibilities with that. I’ve learned over the years to hire and work with people who do things better and more efficiently than I do. In my case, that was first an accounting firm to take over my taxes. I manage my own books, but they handle all the legal filings. I also work with (amazing) lawyers to review the more complicated contracts I receive and recently signed with a manager who will help grow The College Prepster.
Yes, having these amazing people has definitely helped, but delegating is one of my greatest weaknesses, so it’s been a learning process for me!

#GSDgetshitdone interview with College Prepster

What things do you have to do that you didn’t realize going into The College Prepster?

Well, when I started, I never imagined that it would become my career. I didn’t set out, in 2008, to make money or even build my resume for that matter. Other than the actual writing of the posts, I pretty much didn’t realize I would have to do anything. Incorporate, file taxes, manage the books, work with photographers, sign contracts…etc! I’m glad my 19-year-old self didn’t know this because I think she would be overwhelmed and might not have started in the first place. Over the years, I’ve slowly built up to where I am. Making mistakes and learning along the way.
What are some interesting things people probably don’t know behind the scenes of TCP?
There is a lot of strategy behind blogging. When blogging becomes a business, as it has for me, you have to treat it like a business. Strategy is a vital component of success. Diving into numbers, mapping out and tracking goals, and using data to make decisions.
There’s an element of using data to make decisions for the future and also using past data to better your decisions today.
What type of calendar do you keep?
In school, I was always a paper person, but now I primarily use Google Calendar. I like that it’s connected to Gmail and I can access it on the go with my phone. There’s no way I could function or remember everything without it.
My biggest tip is to utilize the “description” box to keep you the most organized. I include details about the meeting or task in the description box so I can review before. As an example for a meeting, I might include bits of the email, reminders about how to access the building, details about the person whom I meeting like the last time we met, and anything else I think is relevant about the meeting. I’ll review the description as I’m on the subway down to the meeting and arrive extra prepared.
How do you plan out your calendar? 
I keep my Google calendar opened in the tab next to Gmail. As I’m going through emails, I “pencil” in meetings and then confirm them as I receive responses (color coding is great for this). I mentioned earlier that I try to keep one day clear. My intentions every week is for that day to be a Friday, but if something comes up that can’t be moved on Friday I might have to rearrange another day.
I typically keep my calendar in “week mode” so I can see how meetings are distributed. I know there are people who like to have every minute scheduled, but in my opinion, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for actual work. Clear parts on my calendar are my personal, nose-to-the-ground working hours.
If I need to be somewhere, it’s on my calendar, even a movie date with my boyfriend!
How do you organize and tackle your to-do list?
I make a to-do list for the week and individual to-do lists for the week. The week list has all the things that I need to do that don’t necessarily have a specific time. Maybe I need to ask my lawyer a question that’s not time sensitive or pick up a clothing delivery for an upcoming blog post from the post office. I’ll sprinkle those into my daily to-dos as I can.
My daily to-do list has everything and I really mean everything. If I’m having photos done that day, I’ll even put “paint nails” on the list so I don’t forget. If it’s not on the list, there’s a risk I will forget! As I go through the day, I cross things off and then at the end of the night see what didn’t get accomplished and pull it out to the weekly list.
How do you attack your never-ending email? Do you have a certain strategy you use?
Yes, yes, yes! I am CRAZY about my inbox. It’s something I really pride myself in. I’ve detailed it more here, but in short…I keep my inbox at ZERO. I read everything, checking every hour or so on my phone. If it’s an email I don’t want to receive, I unsubscribe. If it’s an email I either need to refer back to (like to confirm on my calendar) or needs a response of any kind, I “star” the email. My starred emails essentially become a to-do list for me. My goal is to keep my starred emails under fifty… which means I spend a LOT of time emailing every day.
By starring emails, it ensures that I don’t forget to respond to someone. Being a fast and consistent responder has seriously helped my career. I try to make it as easy to work with as possible.
What is your process and/or work strategy? Anything that you have found that works for you?
I like to break tasks down into smaller, bite-sized tasks. It makes my to-do list look scary because there’s so many things, but it actually makes my work flow extremely manageable.
#GSDgetshitdone interview with College Prepster
Do you have any rituals or routines you do?

My personality is to not take a break. I’ve been known to not leave my desk for fourteen hours without even realizing it. Having a dog has helped as I have to take breaks for him! Walking is the best break for me as it clears my head and keeps my brain active without exerting myself too much.
I also try to read every night, even if it’s only a few pages. I’m a total bookworm and find that reading lets me fall asleep easier. Otherwise, I find myself stressing about something on my phone or staring at the ceiling making to-do lists in my head.
How do you GSD at home?
I schedule everything. If it’s not on my calendar or to-do list, it’s not going to happen.
What books, websites, posts and other resources have you found helpful or have changed your life?
The Art of Happiness was a life-changing book for me! It’s not necessarily about “working” but the advice in the book changed how I respond to situations. There’s always something going wrong as a business owner and without the right attitude it can be too overwhelming.
If you’re not hooked on OneNote yet, you HAVE to download it. (There’s a free app for Apple/iPhones if you’re a Mac person.) It’s such a game changer. Here’s how I use it. You can organize your entire life with it — digitally!
Nuggets of advice you’ve been given that have stuck?
The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time!
Any other information about how you GSD, please share?
Prioritize your life. If you’re finding yourself not having time for something that you want (relationships, working out, reading, starting a company on the side, traveling), it’s not because you don’t have time, it’s because you’re not prioritizing it. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you can’t prioritize everything! But maybe you can de-prioritize binge-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix and re-prioritize working out.
Would love to know what Apps, Websites, Programs, Gadgets etc. you use.
Everyday Organization:
Gmail
Google Calendar
Business:
Quickbooks
Finances:
Mint.com
Bank of America App
Paypal App
Blog/Social:
Photoshop
Lightroom
Snapseed
Vsco
Fun:
Goodreads, Starbucks, Seamless, Find Friends, LYNE, Sudoku, Pandora/Spotify
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Photos by Cynthia Chung
GSD (get shit done): A weekly column featuring busy business owners, entrepreneurs, bloggers, and CEOs and how they get shit done. Meg also writes articles with helpful ways to get shit done. Tell us how you GSD on twitter by tagging #GSDgetshitdone and @megbiram.