Tuesday, January 29, 2013

From the archives | Shoes, belts and unmentionables

I've published nearly 600 posts on this blog in almost three years (eek), with some of my most prolific blogging days back near the beginning. Enjoy some of these oldies but goodies from the archives!

Underneath it all - A good fit starts with a good foundation, so check out these tips for picking the right daytime underoos.

How to accessorize with belts - From the fun to the frightful, a little walk through my discovery of belts.

How high is too high?  I love a good heel as much as the next gal, but there office appropriate heels and there are non-office appropriate heels. Do you know the difference?

Walking the halls, not the streets - How to wear knee-high boots without looking like a hooker.

How to wear jeans to the office - No elaboration needed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New job checklist

You've got the job.  You've transitioned smoothly out of your old position. Now what?

The whirlwind of starting a new job can be overwhelming. Time is a-ticking, though, so make sure you do a few things before the new job becomes old hat.

To help you out, here is a new job checklist (also a downloadable PDF). Some of these should be done immediately (like benefits enrollment) while others are just nice to do eventually (like updating your Facebook).

Update these
  • Resume. The best time to add in a new job to your resume is right at the beginning, when the job   description is handy. Though your initial entry may be a near cut-and-paste, it will be much easier to change it as your job evolves than trying to hunt it down later. 
  • Emergency contacts. If you have listed a daytime contact number anywhere (for example, kids' schools or childcare, condo associations, etc.), you'll have to swap out your old job's phone number. I usually put in my cell number for personal reasons, but if you're comfortable with it, you can put your new job number, too.
  • LinkedIn and other professional and/or social media sites. If you have any personal memberships to professional organizations, or just Facebook, don't forget to update those, too. LinkedIn is especially important to keep up to date – it lets your professional network know where you've moved on to.

Do these
  • Reevaluate your retirement plan. Whether you have a plan through your previous employer or a personal account you contribute to (or both!), now is the time to assess your retirement planning and saving. Take into account the benefits, if any, offered at your new job. Things you may consider - rolling over your 401k, increasing or decreasing your annual contributions, or the balance of investments in your portfolio.
  • Revisit your budget. Your new job probably comes with a new salary, so make sure you can meet your budget. Or just look at how much more savings you'll be able to squirrel away – that's always good, too.
  • Update your references. You've probably already thanked your references and let them know the outcome of the search, but it's always good to keep the lines of communication open. Now is also a great time to reach back out to any new references you approached at your most recent position (if they weren't references already).
  • Benefits enrollment. Most employers give about 30 days for initial enrollment in benefits programs, and many will give you a packet of information before you start to begin musing over. Take inventory of what's being offered and find the plans that work best for you.

    Once you're in the office
    • Get set up. Make sure you have (or will be getting) all the things you need for your new job, such as a computer, keyboard, phone, etc. 
    • Meet and greet. Who will you be working with and what will your priorities be? Sometimes your boss will have it all ready for you, but if not, it's a good idea to identify those you'll be working with closely and get to know them and what expectations they may have. 
    • Set a regular schedule. Your new job may have different hours than your old one, and though the difference may be small, it could throw a hitch into your regular routine. Try a few things during your first few weeks on the job and find your rhythm again. If your employer is flexible, it may mean customizing your work schedule to your other obligations.
    • Set goals. You probably know what you'll be doing, but now that you're there it's time to set some tangible goals. This is how you'll be evaluated at your first review. Be realistic but don't be afraid to aim high.
    • Jump on in! The best way to get acclimated to something new is to just jump on in. Your employer has already shown they're confident in your abilities, now shine!

    What do you think are must-dos when you get to your new job?

    Monday, January 14, 2013

    BYOL (Bring Your Own Lunch)

    Last fall, I took on a challenge, tracked on The Daily Muse. I brought my lunch for the entire month of October. Along the way, I learned a few things.

    1. My brought-from-home lunches averaged approximately $4.00 per meal. This gives me a good baseline when I go out to dinner, too: if I stick to an $8-10 dinner and save half for lunch, it's almost the same price as a homemade lunch.
    2. Large dinners (more than 4 servings) had the lowest per-serving cost. Making a box of pasta with meat and veggies was still around $4 a serving, but a large home-made lasagna (some passed out to friends and eaten over a few days) was closer to $2.50.
    3. Having the right equipment made planning – and packing – lunch a breeze.
    The equipment in this case falls into three categories:

    Storage: Glass containers are great for food that needs to be reheated in the microwave – it doesn't stain or warp as easily as plastic. If you don't need to heat things up, any ol' container will do.

    Transport: Depending on the length of your commute, an insulated lunchbag can make sure your food doesn't get into the "danger zone." If your work doesn't have a communal refrigerator, this is even more imperative. Since my work fridge fills up fast, I usually transport my lunch in a small cooler with one ice pack, and then take the container out and put just that in the fridge.

    Liquids: Make sure you don't confuse thirst for hunger by staying hydrated during the day. I like a screw-top water bottle for water, but if you prefer ice tea or sugary drinks, try a double-walled travel cup with straw (much easier to clean).

    Clockwise from top left: Pyrex 18-piece storage set, snack sacks, Klip-it sandwich box, Built NY BYO Rambler lunch bag, Nalgene Tritan wide-mouth water bottle, double-wall water bottle, Packit personal cooler lunch bag

    Are you a lunch toter or do you prefer to eat out? What do you use to bring your lunch?

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

    The busy excuse

    If you're like me, you have a running list of want-to-dos. My list runs the gamut from "make a dress" to "finish a 5,000 piece jigsaw puzzle." Often, these lists sit untouched for months and years. Why? Because we're busy. Haven't talked to your old friend in months? We're busy.

    The truth is, for most, busy is a glorified excuse, one that has been pervasive in American workplaces for decades. It makes one feel important, as if they're just in too much demand.

    The harder truth is...we're not that important. And acting busy, and saying we're busy, doesn't mean we're getting more work done. In fact, putting up a wall and pushing people away can actually stymie productivity.

    Yes, we can be genuinely, truly, too busy for some things. Things we should be saying no to. But overusing the busyness excuse, like overuse of most other things, dilutes its meaning, so here are a few things to think about before you pull out the busy excuse next time.

    Relationships matter.
    Sometimes an ask is small. And sometimes taking 2 minutes out of your day to help someone can strengthen a business relationship.

    Goal or goof?
    We all have a role to play in our workplaces and goals to meet for each review period. You should make time for those things that help you meet your goals, and perhaps edit out some of the things that don't.

    Be honest, but helpful.
    There will be times where you really can't help with what is being asked, whether by necessity (there really just isn't time) or by preference (it's not a priority). If you're truly busy, be sincere...no one likes to be brushed off. But if you can point someone in the right direction to find the help they need, do so.

    It's not about you.
    Like I said before, we're not all that important. Before you go all "how dare she ask me to help!" take a step off your high horse and think about whether you're helping or hindering the bigger cause.

    Being busy has been the de rigueur humble-brag in offices for far too long. Let's be honest with ourselves—and others—and we can get rid of it once and for all.

    What do you think about busy for busyness sake? Do you see this in your office, too?

    Monday, January 7, 2013

    The Shoe Grid [infographic]

    Not all shoes are created equal, and not all are appropriate for each outfit. Pants and skirts of varying cuts and volumes look different with pointy-toed shoes than with round-toed ones, so how do you pick a pair each morning?

    Have no fear, the Shoe Grid is here. Check out this handy guide to get the look you want.

    the new professional shoe grid pointy almond peep-toe round open
    Embed Code:

    I left off square-toed shoes, because they are rarely seen these days (though I am a fan of them in flats and boots). Those go much better with pants than with skirts.

    What toe-box is your favorite? How do you decide what shoe goes with what outfit?

    Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    Project: Discipline

    I've never been a fan of the word "discipline."

    It evokes the feeling of doing what I should be doing for my own good, but with a lot of reluctance. See: practicing piano, stopping myself before helping three of french fries and putting that buttery leather bag back on the rack.

    The key phrase: for my own good.

    Discipline – when self-inflicted with a goal in mind – can be good.

    So this year's project is discipline. I'm doing what's good for me, whether I like it or not.

    Good for my body.
    I want to put more good stuff in and be more active this year to get my energy up. Sure, it's always a goal, but now there's a plan and a partner in action. I'm going to drink more water, snack healthier (my weakness) and get reacquainted with the gym.

    Good for my mind.
    This blog is something I really enjoy, yet it's often the first thing that gets pushed off the post-work to-do list. Same with writing for pleasure. I'm going to write something every day, whether anyone sees it or not.

    Good for my heart.
    For some reason I have yet to pinpoint, our trip home this Christmas left me more homesick than ever. Spending time with those I care about is important, and I need more of it. I'm going to get over my phone-phobias and make an intentional effort to stay connected with friends and family near and far.

    What does that mean here? More posts. More professional and style advice. More presence. (Not necessarily more of these touchy feely personal posts.)

    What are you working on in your life right now?