4 Steps to Achieving a Productive Lunch Hour!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Yes...you are super busy at work, and the thought of stepping away from your computer to grab some lunch is giving you anxiety. This is typically how I feel on a daily basis. I know that I have to eat, and the rumbling in my stomach usually reiterates this fact. But what about this report that's due tomorrow? Can I really afford to take an hour for lunch? 

The answer is "Yes!" And the reason is simply "because you should!" Now, I know this is not sitting well with some of you, so may I offer a compromise? How about taking lunch and getting some work done at the same time? Perhaps this would alleviate some of your lunch hour guilt. My suggestion is that you take at least 2 days per week and treat yourself to a working lunch outside of the office. A lunch where you still manage to leave the office and get some air, but still get some work done so you won't suffer from lunch hour guilt. Sounds nice, right?! Well, here are 4 Steps to Achieving a Productive Lunch Hour. The goal here is to get some necessary work done while taking a breather from the office environment. Sounds like a great compromise to me!

I left the office yesterday and headed over to my favorite Japanese restaurant to do some work!

Step 1. Go At It Alone - The first step to having a productive lunch is to go alone. Your goal is not to chit chat with your office mates...you are looking to get some work done. As such, you need to go at it alone. Simply get up, grab your purse, and head out...you only have an hour!

Step 2. Call In Your Order Ahead Of Time - Prior to heading out for lunch, scope out the restaurant's menu and call in your order. Give yourself a 5 minute window if you are going somewhere close to your work place. When you arrive your meal should almost be ready, and your will have given yourself some additional time to sit and work. If calling in your order is not an option, choose a place where you are familiar with the menu. When you arrive, you won't have to spend much time reviewing the menu.

Step 3. Review and Respond to Emails - While you're waiting for your meal to arrive, get to work reviewing and responding to emails. A while back, I figured out that I spend approximately 60 to 90 minutes per day reviewing and responding to emails. Since checking email is something that you can easily do this from your phone, the lunch hour is a perfect time to catch up. It is also a great way to plan for the tasks you need to attack in the future.

Step 4. Look Back On Your Morning and Plot Your Afternoon - By this time, your meal should be on the table. While eating, take some time to reflect on what you accomplished since coming into the office. How many items have you checked off of your to-do list? How many have you added? While you are looking back on your morning (and eating!), pick out a few tasks that you want to focus on for the afternoon. What do you absolutely need to get done before leaving the office today? Jot those things down (or type it to yourself in an email)...this is now your "hit list" for the afternoon.

My sashimi platter was delicious! I devoured the entire thing...while checking my email!

While these steps may seem arduous to the working professional, they are merely an attempt to get you up and out of the office for a little while...and lift your spirits. I fully understand that some days you just can't leave the office, as work sometimes requires you to stay put. But taking advantage of the productive lunch hour compromise can get you away from the office environment (which can be stressful) and allow you to get a little work done. A pretty good compromise...what do you think?

The One Thing I Did To Reduce My Stress At Work!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Work can be stressful...it is what it is! And since work stress is inevitable, I am always looking for ways to de-stress. Those of you who have followed the Chronicles for a while know of the various ways I have attempted to relieve stress, including running, shopping, hot yoga, and of course...blogging! Well, during one of my major stressed out moments last week, I realized that I had abandoned one of the most effective stress relievers...music! 

There was once a point in time when I would sit in my office while working and listen to music. It kept me calm and, on many occasions, had put me in a good mood. Somewhere down the line I stopped listening to music while I worked. I realized last week that I started experiencing a higher level of stress right around the time I stopped listening to music at work. There has to be a correlation, right? 

Of course I thought that I was on to something, so I threw on my bootleg scientist hat and decided to test my theory. I started listening to music again while working, and guess what...your girl (Me!) was right! Listening to music really did make me feel more calm and less anxious. And strangely, I found my mind also wandered less and I was more productive. 

Now, I'm not saying that listening to music will work for everyone, but for someone like me whose life has always revolved around music, it was a success! That being said, I have started creating little playlists on my iPod with music that I can listen to while working; music that is not too distracting. Check out this sample list of some of my favorite tracks. And yes, I still have an iPod...don't judge me!

1. Window Seat - Erykah Badu
2. Share My World - Mary J. Blige
3. Come Over - Aaliyah
4. Slow Down - Bobby Valentino
5. Pretty Brown Eyes - Mint Condition
6. She's Playing Hard To Get - Hi-Five
7. You - Raheem DeVaughn
8. The One - Tamar Braxton
9. Hold On We're Coming Home - Drake
10. Close To You - Maxi Priest

And may I throw in a few honorable mentions: anything by Jill Scott, Roy Ayers, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Earth, Wind and Fire (The Elements!), and Robert Glasper will set your mind right and help you to forget all of the extra foolishness going on in the office...I promise!

What are some of your favorite "chill out" tracks?

Why Are Women Reluctant To Ask For What They Want In Business?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A little while back, a good friend and colleague of mine gave me some advice that I have carried with me since hearing it. She told me that women in business do themselves a disservice by not asking for what they want, and I should not be one of those women. Before I move on, let me give you a little context. 

My friend/colleague and I were discussing the actions of another colleague who was offered a lateral position at prestigious law firm. Although the position and accompanying salary were both fantastic, our colleague decided that she wanted more. She believed that her experience and expertise warranted a higher base salary than that which was offered. As such, she negotiated a higher salary, and a few additional perks. I was highly impressed! Mainly because at that point in my career, I could not imagine asking for higher salary or any perks from my employer.

As my friend/colleague and I discussed this woman with great admiration, she told me that our colleague did something that many women in business would not dare to do, and something that men do all the time; she evaluated her worth, and asked for commanded what she thought she deserved. She also told me that I should periodically review my expertise and value to ensure that I am being adequately compensated for my work. I remember thinking about my friend/colleague's statement and advice, and wholeheartedly agreeing. At that time, however, I was not completely comfortable commanding a salary and/or additional professional perks that I believe is commensurate with my experience and value, but I was determined to make strides to build up my comfort level. How did I do this? I started out by asking if I could attend certain professional conferences. I asked if I could be reimbursed for attending seminars to educate myself. Baby steps! The point here is that I, too, believe that us women do not always ask for what we want in business, and I was determined to do better. I am happy to report that I have made strides, but I am still a work in progress.

So why is it that women have a difficult time commanding what they want? Whether it be a promotion, or a pay raise, or reimbursement for a professional expense, I do not see many of my female colleagues commanding the things that they feel they deserve. I can, however, quickly think of at least 5 of my male colleagues who have done so...some on more than one occasion. So, what is it? Is it because we are afraid of rejection? Do we think that doing so would be out of line? Why are we so hesitant?

Here's where I need you ladies to chime in. Have any of you ever commanded something from your employer? If so, what was it, and what was your employer's response? What approach did you use? Please share! 

Summer Workwear: Dressing for the Outside Heat and the Chilly Office!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Greetings Divas! Like many of you, I am really excited to bask in the summer weather; especially with the terrible winter we had in the northeast. The summer also gives us an opportunity to switch up our wardrobe. My wooly pants, skirts, and suits and long-sleeved dresses take a back seat to thinner fabrics and sleeveless sheaths. There are a few cold-weather items, however, that tend to creep their way into my warm-weather wardrobe. Why? Well...like many offices, the warm weather outside is a stark contrast to the cold, air-conditioned office environment. How many of you can attest to the arctic tundra that your office becomes during the summer months? I realized this was a problem several years ago. Once I recognized that there was nothing I could do about it, I adapted! This was a much better option than wrapping myself in a Snuggie and rocking back and forth at my desk praying that I won't get frost bite. That being said, I've come up with a few warm weather/cold weather combos that will help you dress for the heat outside, and survive the cold inside. Check it out!

Dresses and Blazers

The Warm Weather Problem: We've already established that dresses are a fantastic alternative to the classic suit, especially if you are spending the day in the office. Dresses are chic and feminine, and are easy to slip on in the mornings with a cute pair of heels. While long-sleeved dresses are popular in the winter and fall, you may find yourself a little uncomfortable when standing outdoors with all of that extra fabric. In the warm weather, short-sleeved or sleeveless dresses are great..that is until you step into the AC.

The Warm Weather Fix: Pair your short-sleeved or sleeveless dress with a fitted blazer. Try to snag some fashion-forward blazers with bright colors; they will look great with a solid-colored dress. If you're really feeling ambitious, try to snag a few blazers with elaborate patterns. This is a great way to jazz up your outfit. When you're done for the day and are ready to head outside, remove the blazer and go! 

*Tip: I usually keep one or two blazers in my office, just in case I forget to grab one when I leave the house.

Slacks and Blouses and Cardigans (Oh My!)

The Warm Weather Problem: Dress slacks and blouses are an office staple; especially in a business-casual work environment. In the summer, it is not unusual for us girls to trade in our long-sleeved blouses for those of the short-sleeved or sleeveless variety. After all, short sleeves are germane to the warmer weather. But when you walk in to the A.C.-filled office, all bets are off and you start longing for something to cover up your arms.

The Warm Weather Fix: The cardigan is the perfect fix for your dilemma. And with all of the different variety of cardigans on the market, you are sure to find some that suit your particular style. Pair your cardigan with dress slack and a blouse (or dress shirt, or peplum, or wrap shirt), and keep yourself warm in the office...while still looking stylish! When you head back out to the heat, take off the cardigan show off those arms!

Skirts, Tanks, and Cardigans

The Warm Weather Problem...and a Natural Fix: Now, ordinarily I would not advocate wearing a skirt and a tank top in the office without some sought of cover up. As luck would have it, pairing a cardigan with a skirt works perfectly when transitioning from the warm outdoor weather to a cool office. Here's how you do it: (1) Pair a flared skirt with a matching tank and a cropped cardigan, or (2) Pair a pencil skirt with a tank and a buttoned-down cardigan. Both options present a  clean and polished look that works well in the office. When work is done and you are headed back outside into the heat, ditch the cardigan!

These are just a few combos to help you transition between the outdoor heat and the indoor chill. Please be mindful, however, of your office dress code when taking advantage of these options, as they are not appropriate for every workplace. Use your discretion to ensure that you are appropriately dressed...and perpetually stylish! Have a great week Divas!

My Brief Thoughts on Caitlyn Jenner...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Let me first start by saying that I am an extremely open-minded person. I honestly believe in the philosophies of "live and let live," and "live your own truth." In my life, I have been blessed to have formed meaningful relationships with individuals of different races, sexes, creeds, national origins, sexual orientations, religions, and lifestyles. While these individuals have played different roles in my life, two things remain the same about each of them: (1) not one of them is exactly like me, and (2) their individual differences and uniqueness have enriched my understanding and acceptance of that which is not exactly like me. In other words, all of these folks are individuals living their own lives however they choose, and I am still able to be a friend, celebrate in their accomplishments, and mourn in their sorrows. I am an equal-opportunity friend/acquaintance. My evaluation as to whether I choose to acquaint myself with an individual starts with a question of whether or not you are a good person...not whether your race, sex, creed, national origin, sexual orientation, religious belief, and/or lifestyle is just like mine.

Now that I've shared my position on people, I want to briefly (well...as briefly as possible) give my thoughts on Caitlyn Jenner. For those of you who are not aware, Bruce Jenner has recently been in the public eye expressing that for all intents and purposes, he is woman. Millions of viewers watched Bruce's interview with Diane Sawyer where he bravely shared his life-long, internal battle being a transgender. At the age of 65, he decided to live his truth. Yesterday, Caitlyn Jenner made her debut on the cover of Vanity Fair and to the general public. If you were anywhere near a television or a social media site, you saw the pictures from Caitlyn's photoshoot. Unfortunately, you also saw all of the backlash that resulted from the images. Now, I will not waste time or this space rehashing some of the ignorant comments that were free-floating across the Internet...many of them were in poor taste. Instead, I'll briefly share my thoughts...

First, congratulations to Caitlyn for being brave enough to live her truth. Many of us are too afraid to be honest, and Caitlyn should be proud of her choice to move forward in a world full of judgment and uncertainty. Second, Caitlyn absolutely and positively SLAYED in her photoshoot! I'll be the first to admit that I did not know what to expect when Caitlyn made her debut, but I was pleasantly surprised. She looks amazing! Third, I was born a woman, and I feel like a woman every day. As such, I cannot personally speak to how Caitlyn has felt over the past 65 years. My inability to personally relate to or understand  Caitlyn's feelings and her choices does not mean I that I cannot be supportive and compassionate. Man or woman, Caitlyn is a human, and so long as she is not doing something that is hurtful to others, I'm not judging! Honestly, there are a lot of people in this world who do evil-spirited things. I choose to dislike and judge those folks...not Caitlyn.

And finally, for those individuals who are so afraid of the message that the acceptance of Caitlyn sends to our children (an argument I heard a lot yesterday), please allow me to list 10 socially-acceptable things that are way more damaging than Caitlyn could ever be: (1) Mediocre School Systems, (2) Waist Trainers, (3) Incompetence, (4) High Fructose Corn Syrup, (5) Fast Food, (6) "Celebrity" Sex Tapes, (7) Love & Hip-Hop (any of them!), (8) Ignorance, (9) Skinny Tea, and (10) Butt Injections. I'm sure there are others!

To Caitlyn: Congratulations! You should be proud of your courageousness. My hope is that the world extends to you the gift of tolerance and acceptance. Good luck on your future endeavors! 

To members of the public: I completely understand being skeptical, unsure, and judgmental about things in which you do not understand or agree, but there are appropriate ways to express your opinions, thoughts, feelings, and frustrations without being mean and hurtful.

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