There are times in your careeer when you’d really like some advice. Or perhaps some #inspo. Probably not Sheryl Sandberg Lean In level (because that’s not really where most of us are in our professional life RN) or even Arianna Huffington’s Thrive. What you need is advice from someone you can relate to – and that’s where Otegha Uwagba’s Little Black Book comes in. The founder of Women Who – a platform and organisation for creative working women, Uwagba’s brand new book is a concise 100-page compendium of inspiring advice on everything from productivity to public speaking, business skills to branding.

It’s a must-read guide you’ll come back to again and again, teeming with tips, #inspo and career insights, as well as advice from female entrepreneurs, writers, creatives, consultants and journalists – there’ll be more than one name you recognise here. And – of course – there’s an inspiring quote or two to open each chapter, namechecking Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou and Simone de Beauvoir to name but a few. Little Black Book is an indispensable, genuinely relatable careers guide for women today, so we’re delighted to share some of Otegha Uwagba’s own tips for life and work…

Top productivity tip?

Remember that working non-stop doesn’t necessarily equate to you getting more done, because your brain (or at least my brain!) simply can’t function at peak performance for hours on end. Be sure to break up your days with frequent breaks to allow your brain to rest and recharge – try working for a 90 minute burst followed by a 30 minute break. I find that structure works really well for me, and the fact that my next break is never more than 90 minutes away keeps me really motivated.

The maxim you live by?

Work hard and be nice to people. It’s such a standard and frequently repeated piece of advice that it’s become something of a cliché, but following those two basic principles – whatever line of work you’re in– will always serve you well.

How to keep body and mind on track?

Learn to protect your time. Learn when to say no. Don’t stretch yourself too thin in an attempt to accommodate everyone else’s needs, at the expense of your own energy, happiness and sanity.

Personal branding – brilliant or BS?

Brilliant. Building a strong personal brand can really turbo-charge your career, but I think people tend to shy away from the term because it sounds so corporate and buzzword-y. Your personal brand is essentially a measure of how you’re perceived by others in a professional context, nothing more complicated than that.

Top networking tip?

Introduce yourself to people at events, and at work – don’t wait for people to approach you, because chances are you’ll be waiting forever!

How to get a work/life balance?

As much as possible, try to ignore emails during the evenings and at weekends. We live in an ‘always-on’ culture where people are expected to be available at all times of the day, and it’s incredibly unhealthy and detrimental to your sense of self. It’s a small step, but once you commit to it, you’ll soon realise how much more relaxed you feel in general.

The best piece of advice you’ve been given?

“Not everyone’s gonna clap for yo”. This one’s a quote from my mum: one of the wisest women I know. Whether it’s a failed job interview or a rejected pitch – if you do creative work, you’re going to hear ‘no’ a lot. Not everyone’s going to like, appreciate, or be into whatever it is you’re doing. And that’s okay – rejection or disinterest, in all of their frustrating and disappointing guises, are things all creative people have to deal with, no matter how successful they are. The important thing is not to dwell on that for too long (or to take it too personally), and to focus on reaching the people who are into what you’re doing. They’re out there.

Any advice on boosting skills/professional development?

I love listening to podcasts, I think they’re a fantastic way of picking up new knowledge and learning about the world around you. I feel like they keep me really plugged in culturally too.

Top freelance tip?

Get an accountant – it’s money well spent, will save you time, and generally just make your life a whole lot easier.

How to negotiate that pay rise?

Steer clear of emotional language such as ‘I need’ or ‘I want’ – instead, frame your request as a business case, presenting tangible successes and wins you’ve had over recent months, so that there’s no doubt as to whether or not you deserve that extra cash!

Little Black Book by Otegha Uwagba is published by 4th Estate.