How To: Appropriately Handle Work Stress

What is there to do when your workload is piling up and the requests keep coming in? Short of staying late and working extra hard to get it all done, how can you handle the stress level appropriately and graciously?

  1. Minimize the Distractions
    • Put your phone away. If you are someone who keeps your personal phone on your desk, hide it in a drawer or keep it in your bag to prevent yourself from getting distracted or checking that most recent text which becomes an in-depth conversation.
    • Stay away from your social media accounts while at work (at least your personal ones). Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc. can all be like a blackhole for losing free/spare time. What starts as a quick notification check easily turn into mindless scrolling.
    • Keep office chatter to a minimum. While it is always wonderful to be friendly with your colleagues, sometimes it is necessary to say, “I would love to chat, but I have a lot to tackle today. I am sorry to cut our conversation short.” Just remember, this refers to personal/social conversations, not professional meetings or talks with your supervisor. However, if a meeting or conference call is getting off topic and taking too long, do not be afraid to steer the conversation back to business so you can wrap up the meeting.
  2. Manage Your Time
    • Stay organized. Keep a running “To Do” list to track what needs to get done or what needs to be assigned. This is especially helpful if you are working on more than one project at a time. Not to mention, checking something off the list is an incredibly refreshing feeling! Additionally, keep your work space clean. Working in a cluttered environment produces additional anxiety for a lot of people.
    • Prioritize. Evaluate your workload and decide what needs to get done when. Keep timelines in mind and be sure you are working on the matters that take precedence. Working between multiple projects is doable, but sometimes you need to focus all your attention in one direction.
    • Make a timeline or schedule for yourself. Break down your work into smaller, more manageable tasks and have checkpoints along the way. Think of it as setting mini goals for yourself to stay on task!
  3. Delegate and Advocate
    • Delegate roles and responsibilities. If you have a large scale project, event, etc. you are working on and know you need assistance, ask your coworkers. Organize a team meeting and delegate roles and responsibilities to others. Just remember, do not pass off your work to others – they are there to help, not do your job for you.
    • Advocate for yourself. If your boss is continuously passing things to you and your pile is growing to be larger than you can handle, ask to meet with your boss. Explain to him/her that the quality of your work is important to you and while you appreciate his/her faith in you for asking you to do so much at once, you do not want to spread yourself too thin and compromise the quality of your work. When you express this, ensure your boss the work will get done by discussing an achievable way forward.
  4. Remember to Breathe!
    • Literally breathe. Inhale through your nose for the count of 4, hold it for a moment, and exhale the negative energy out for the count of 4.
    • Every so often it is good to take a break from the computer. Get up from your chair and stretch (aka Deskercise!).
    • If you have a few minutes to spare, take a walk outside for a change of scenery and a breath of fresh air!
  5. Take Time for Yourself
    • Take Your Lunch Break.
    • Use Your Vacation Days. After a long, high intensity period in the office, it is good to reward yourself with some “rest and relaxation.” Planning trips (long or short) and having something to look forward to can be a big motivator to keep pushing through the busy times.

Stay positive, work hard, and be well, y’all!

AB

Being Polite While Using Your Cell Phone

As a result of the tech-age we currently live in, a lot has changed when it comes to social interactions; however, some things should not change. Being polite during social interactions and being respectful to those around you should always be at the forefront of your mind. Seeing as we use technology, especially our cell phones, in all aspects of our lives, I am breaking down cell phone etiquette into the 3 most prominent settings – Work, Social, and General Public usage.

  1.  At Work
    • Put your phone away when you are arriving and leaving work so you interact and say hello/goodbye to those in your office.
    • Silence your cell phone when you are in the office, especially if you work in an open space or cubicles with other people. Hearing your phone ring or alerts go off can be distracting to those around you.
    • Refrain from using your cell during meetings and other people’s presentations unless you are adding things to your calendar or referring to it in order to review current events. Even with that, be cautious – it may still look like you are texting or not paying attention to the presenter.
    • Take notes with a pen and paper, not on your phone. If you do not have good handwriting, cannot write quickly, or need the information recorded to send-out immediately, use a tablet or laptop to take notes, but be sure not to have any other windows open.
    • If you work in an open space or in cubicles, excuse yourself to take a personal call on your cell phone. It allows you to keep your privacy and also prevents you from distracting your co-workers.
    • If you have a work/company cell phone, use it only for work purposes and never for personal use.
  2. In Social Settings (On a Date, Out with Friends, Visiting Family)
    • Put your phone away and give the people you are with your undivided attention. After all, you are out to be socializing with them and not with other people via your phone or social media.
    • Silence your cell phone. If your phone is continuously ringing and you keep checking it, you will likely offend the people you are with by making it seem like you are too busy to be there.
    • If you are driving with other people in your car and using Bluetooth throughout the car, make sure whoever you are speaking to knows they are on speaker phone. Unless it is an important call, let the caller know you are driving with other people and will call them back.
  3. In Public
    • If you are taking a call in public, use your “inside voice.” No one around you wants to hear your conversation.
    • Do not be on your phone when you are at the check-out counter or while someone in a store is assisting you.
    • If take a call that begins to get emotional, find a private place to use your phone or stay in your car until the call is over and you have collected yourself. This is especially true if you are “getting heated” about something over the phone. It makes people around you feel uncomfortable and quite frankly, you will embarrass yourself.
  4. All the Time
    • Do not text and drive!
    • If you are awaiting an important call and you need to have your phone with you during a meeting, appointment, meal, etc., simply let the people around you/who you are with know. When the calls comes, excuse yourself and take the call in private.
    • If you accidentally text the wrong person, simply send a follow-up text to saying, “I’m sorry, that text was not meant for you. Please ignore it.” Then, be thoughtful and add something like, “But how have you been?” if it is a friend or relative.
    • Lock your phone so you do not accidentally call someone while your phone is in your purse, pocket, etc.

I hope these tips help you to be more “Tech-Proper!”

Cheers, y’all!

AB

Polished Professional? Nail Polish that is…

Thanks to a wonderful friend and one of the most professional and proper gals I know, this week’s topic is hand and nail care in the workplace. The question I received was, “What are your thoughts on nail colors and what is appropriate for the workplace?”

This is such a great question! Although it may seem like a trivial detail, your hands truly do stand out in the workplace. While shaking hands during introductions, taking notes/typing at meetings, dining with other professionals, and especially talking with your hands, a lot of attention is drawn to your hands making them a focal point. As a result, keeping your nails manicured and your hands presentable is extremely important!

Now, I know what some of you are thinking… “Keep my hands manicured? I cannot afford a weekly/biweekly manicure.” I completely understand! If you are able to afford getting your nails professionally done, go for it, but for those readers who are not able to do so, it is perfectly OK! You can certainly have great hands and nails without the professional care.

  1. Moisturize Your Hands
    • Keep an unscented or very lightly scented hand cream in your desk. If you shake hands a lot or have a hands-on job, your hands have a tendency to dry out (especially during the dry, cold winter months). Dry, rough skin during a handshake is never a good thing. :/ Your hands also look much more presentable when you they are not dry, cracked, or red.
    • Put on cream after you shower or right before bed, it lets the cream set while you are having some down time.
    • Use cuticle oil or cuticle cream.
  2. File Your Nails and Keep Them Shaped
    • Always keep a nail file handy, you never know when you may break a nail.
    • Although pointed nails have been in fashion lately, avoid the “claw/talon” look unless you work in the fashion industry and need to follow all the trends.
    • Keep your nails at a reasonable length. Typically, your nail should be as long as your finger or just slightly longer (when you are looking at your nails from the palm side of your hand).
    • The graphic below shows the main nail shapes. For the office, I recommend the 3 shapes on the right (rounded, squarely rounded, and oval) or a short square shape.

      Photo Credit: Style Craze

      Photo Credit: Style Craze

  3. Nail Color and Design
    • I suggest a nude color, pale pink, or a French manicure.
      • I use a lot of Essie nail polishes. Here are a few of my favorites:

        All Colors from Essie

        All Colors from Essie

    • If you do choose to have colored nails (i.e. a darker shade in the fall/winter), be sure it is subtle and matches your professional wardrobe.
    • Stay away from overly long, bright, and decorated/bejeweled nails.
    • If it is a holiday and your office participates in celebrations, having colored or decorated nails is OK, but I would only keep them for the few days surrounding that holiday.
  4. Keep Your Nails Clean
    • When your nail polish begins to chip or fade, take it off! Having chipped nail polish is very unprofessional and it does not look appealing.
    • If you do not wear nail polish, keep your nails filed and shaped. You can also put a clear coat or nail strengthener on to add a simple shine to your nail!
    • Clean under your nails so dirt and grime do not show.

With all these tips in hand, go pamper yourself and make your nails look fabulous!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

One Piece of Advice for My Younger Self

This week, I am taking a bit of writer’s liberty and going an indirect route to get to my usual subject (etiquette and protocol), much like the one I took to find this career path. As part of The DC Ladies Blogtober, I am accepting today’s challenge and sharing “One Piece of Advice I Would Give My Younger Self.” What is that piece of advice you ask? It is pretty simple, “You do not need to pick a career right away or have a master plan. It is good to leave your options open and explore many of your interests.”

As a high school senior applying to college, I remember thinking, I need to decide what I wanted to be “when I grow up” and pick the perfect major to fit that career. So, I picked a career that interested me, I knew would be stable over the long term, and a school with a great program for that major. After a year of being “iffy” on my desire for that particular career and finding my supporting classes/electives from a different major fascinating, I had a revelation. On the third day of sophomore year, I woke up, walked to my advisor’s office, dropped all my original classes to completely change my schedule, returned all my books, and walked out of my adivising appointment as a new Human Development and Family Studies major. This decision often prompted people to ask, “What in the world is that and what are you going to do with it?” to which I replied, “It is a field in the social sciences that combines psychology, sociology, and human development to examine familial, couple, and interpersonal relationships. I am not sure which career I want to pursue, but I love the classes and know there are a lot of wonderful careers in this field.” That experience and being in classes I truly found interesting taught me the truth in the statement, “When you enjoy what you are doing, everything will fall into place.”

However, that was not the only big change I decided to make in the life I thought I had so well planned for myself. For some time, I realized I was not fully enjoying myself or happy at the university I was attending. Now I was faced with the decision of transferring or staying where I was. After racking my brain on how I could graduate early or study abroad and take a year-long, off-site internship so I did not have to be at school, I realized this is not what college is about. So, I started the college application process all over again, looking for schools with the major I had now fallen in love with and would not change for the world. Lucky for me, I found a wonderful program at the University of Maryland in the Family Science Department and even luckier for me, I got accepted!

Transferring schools and staying a Family Science major (with a Human Development minor!) were a couple of the best decisions of my life! I ended up in one of the best academic communities I could have dreamed of for myself and was presented with unmatched opportunities. I made great friends, joined the Honor Society for my major, and was presented with the opportunity to take various leadership roles. I hit the jackpot with an amazing staff and faculty who I still stay in touch with and who have given me several opportunities to volunteer in the academic setting as an alumna. One of my biggest accomplishments was helping to start a new internship initiative with Military Families. Without all of those things, I would not be where I am today.

Where am I post-grad? After two amazing internships working with Wounded Warriors and their families, I was offered a job upon graduation as an Event Coordinator for Wounded Warriors and their families. This was the job of a lifetime and I will forever be grateful to the Wounded Warriors and families who welcomed me into their lives, allowing me to give back to those who have given so much for our country. From my experience working in the hospital setting with Wounded Warriors and learning so much about medical care, I decided I wanted to give the medical field a try. For six months, I went back to school and worked as a Medical Assistant. Although I realized medicine was not for me, it was a worthwhile journey to explore an interest and also how I met some of my closest friends. Through my journey in medicine, I realized my passion still laid in protocol and event coordination with a focus on being connected to social service organizations. I took a job as a Protocol Specialist in Government and Military Affairs and six months later I started blogging!

It has been one crazy ride, but what I can tell you is it was all worth it. I have learned firsthand that your twenties are meant for exploration and it is OK to not have a master plan yet. This is something I often remind myself of when I start to question if I am “doing the right thing.”

Now, how does this indirect route of a career path lead to any type of etiquette advice for the day? To conclude this journey, I leave you with a few etiquette tips on success amidst transition.

  1. Keep as many connections alive as possible. Do not burn bridges.
    • When you keep positive relationships with those in the past, they are more likely to want to help you for and in your future.
    • Thank those who have helped you to be successful in the place you are leaving.
    • Always leave a place/location, job, or career/educational field after giving it the best possible effort you can and being humble.
    • Be honest about your aspirations, but do not discredit or bad-mouth the opportunity you are leaving. If you are polite and honest, people will admire you for pursuing something new.
    • Help people from your previous location, major, or job whenever possible.
  2. Introduce Yourself, Do Not Be Shy!
  3. “Good Manners and Kindness are Always in Fashion.”
    • Being polished and polite will take you far. Do not underestimate the power of a kind gesture, a smile, and being polite to everyone you meet. Remember:
      • “‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ are still magic words.”
      • “Good manners are not something to be put on and off like a coat.”
      • “I have never seen elegance go out of style.”

No matter what endeavor you are on, always put your best foot forward and you will be sure to succeed by leaving a positive impression. As I said in the beginning, you do not need to pick a career right away or have a master plan for your whole life. It is good to leave your options open and explore your interests. As Steve Jobs so brilliantly said:

Steve Jobs Quote

 

Sparkle On,

Alexandra