Sunday Prep!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Greetings Divas and Gents!

It's Sunday! And for a good number of us, Sunday is the day before our work week begins. If you're anything like me, Sunday is the day you get things situated so that your week runs smoothly. While I have developed and refined my own Sunday routine over the years, I am always on the lookout for time-saving ideas and planning tips. So, over the past few months I have reached out to some of my professional diva and gent friends to get the low down on their Sunday routines. After checking out the responses, I was able to group them into 4 categories: (1) Planning for the Office, (2) Planning Meals, (3) Planning for the Gym, and (4) Planning for Life. Check out some of the tips below, and feel free to share some of your own tips in the comments...I want to hear from you!

Planning for the Office

"My daily to-do list is highly driven by items that come through my email. After the kiddies are tucked away on Sunday night, I sit on my couch with a glass of wine and I go through my emails. As I'm going through my emails, I start to populate my to-do list. Naturally, I add to the list throughout the week, but starting it on Sunday night helps me to get a jump start on Monday."

- Jennifer  G.

"Once my work week starts, it's a complete rat race until Friday. When I get home at night, I am completely exhausted. Too exhausted to worry about what I'm going to wear the next day. To save myself some time in the morning, I pick out all of my outfits for the week on Sunday night. I pick out everything from underwear to shoes, and I hang them in my closet. I wake up in the morning and shower, and then throw on my clothes and head out the door. This routine makes my mornings bearable!"

- Lauren B.

"I look at my work calendar each Sunday, and I schedule all meetings and lunch on my Outlook calendar and send around invites to my colleagues. It gives me an idea of what my work week will look like so I can plan my life accordingly."

- Robert C.

Planning Meals

"I do my grocery shopping for the week each Sunday. Before I head to the supermarket, I sit down and plan my meals for the week using a food planner app on my iPad. I plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for me, my 3 kids, my husband, and my sister-in-law. As I'm planning, I make note of those things that I can prep ahead of time. I head to BJ's and get all of the food I need for the week. I come home and prep throughout the day. I separate and season my proteins and place them in the refrigerator or freezer. I chop up my veggies and put them in plastic bags so I can grab them throughout the week to cook. I even started making those mason jar salads that I saw on Pinterest and bringing them to work with me. Prepping this way on Sundays makes the week go by so smoothly, especially when work gets busy."

- Lisa C.

"I read your post a few months back on preparing smoothie packs (see it here!). One of the the biggest time savers ever! I also have been making my salads in mason jars, an idea I got from Pinterest."

- Alyssa  T.

"I have been practicing Paleo, so on Sunday night I have been making egg scrambles in muffin pans. I store the batch, and take two "muffins" out each morning for breakfast. I grab them and go, and warn them up when I get to the office."

- Autumn  J.

Planning for the Gym

"Every Sunday, I decide which days I intend to go to the gym and/or my spin classes. I make sure that all of my workout clothes are washed, and I keep them in a separate drawer for easy grabbing (my choice of clothes varies depending on whether I'm going to the gym or going spinning). Each night I packed my gym bag and leave it by the front door so that I don't forget it in the morning."

                                                                                                                                               - Jessica F.

"When I really started getting into working out on a regular basis, I went to TJMaxx and purchased a variety of workout pants and tops because they are super cheap there. On Sunday, I wash my workout clothes and throw 5 pairs of pants, 5 tops, and my gym stuff in a bag with my sneakers. I bring my bag to work with me on Mondays, and I leave it there. I change into my workout clothes in my office and head directly to the gym after work (a new set each day). On Friday, I grab my empty gym bag and bring it home, and I repeat on Sunday. Not only does this save me time, but it ensures that I do not leave my work out clothes at home."

- Danni K.

Planning for Life (Not Just Sunday!)

"I set my coffee maker the night before, and I have my travel mug sitting nearby so I can get my caffeine and go!"

"I curl and wrap my hair before bed, so all I have to do in the morning is brush my hair down and go."

"My car does not have auto start. In the winter, I sit in my car and do my makeup while it warms up. Saves me time!"

"I pack me and my son's lunch bag and work/school bag the night before so that I don't have to in the morning. I also lay out our clothes and I give him a bath the night before."

"I do all of my primping on Sunday nights. Hair gets washed. Nails and toes are done. All is done so that I don't have to do it during the week."

"I run every morning, so I sleep in running clothes (sans sneakers). In the morning I wake up, brush my teeth, put on my sneakers, and go."

"I usually get to bed late and wake up early so I take my morning shower before I go to bed."

"I clean my entire house every Sunday so I have a clean start to the week. It's a mess by Saturday. LOL!"

What are some of you Sunday prep tips?

5 Steps To Receiving Criticism At Work Like a Champ!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Receiving criticism at work is one of the hardest things for professionals. As a professional, you strive to do an excellent job at any task. You work hard to be thorough, accurate, and timely when performing your job duties, and you take pride in your work product. All of these qualities is the primary reason why receiving and accepting criticism is so difficult. You are a perfectionist, so it stings pretty bad when someone tells you that you're...not perfect. Believe me, I get it. I've been there, done that, and starred in the made-for-T.V. movie! But over the course of my career, I have actively worked to be a gracious receptor of direct feedback and constructive criticism...even when I do not agree. It's a skill that I believe every professional should work at mastering. Now, I always acknowledge that I am a work in progress, but I have taken the liberty to share with you 5 Steps to Receiving Criticism at Work Like a Champ. Let me know what you think!

Step 1. Listen Carefully - I know this is easier said than done, but listening carefully to criticism is the most important step. You have to be an active listener so that you are completely clear on that in which you are being criticized. One thing I tend to do is try to formulate my rebuttal while I'm listening, which would result in me missing something being said. Don't do this! Just sit back and listen attentively...don't miss anything while you're disagreeing in your head. My suggestion is that you take notes during the critique (or shortly thereafter), and ask questions where appropriate if you need clarity on a particular point. Remember, this question-asking opportunity is not the time to argue; your job here is to listen!

Step 2. Don't Be Defensive...Be Receptive - Once you have listened to and received criticism, you may feel inclined to issue an immediate rebuttal. Not a great idea! Why? It is perfectly natural to feel dejected, upset, misunderstood, picked on, or even angry immediately after receiving a critique. If you are a "react first, think later" type of person, you may react yourself right out of job by addressing a critique while in a not-so-great emotional place. My suggestion is that you suppress the urge to go on the defense. Instead, receive the criticism (even if you disagree), thank the critic(s), and request and opportunity to discuss further if necessary. For those of you wondering how to do this, here's how! In your non-defensive, non-angry voice, hit your critic with this:

"Thank you for taking the time to provide me with this feedback. I definitely have some things that I need to think about and work on. May I schedule a meeting with you later this week to discuss further?"

That's it! Reserving your thoughts for a later conversation gives you a chance to digest the critique and apply suggestions as appropriate. It also gives you the opportunity to respond in a non-emotional way. Further, thanking your critic(s) demonstrates that you are open to feedback, and that you are approachable.

Step 3. Take Time To Digest - Here's where taking notes comes in handy. After your critique, take your time to digest what you were just told. Go over each point and objectively decide whether they have merit. Is there a reason why team members think that you are not responsive? Is there a reason why you had a few grammatical errors in your report...were you rushing when you were proofreading? Were you truly a team player? This is the time to look back at your behavior to ascertain your contribution to a project, or a team, or an event. Again, your job here is to decide whether the criticisms have merit. It is extremely important to be honest with yourself here...none of that "I did everything right" stuff! This is a time for self-reflection and self-improvement. Where can you make adjustments in your behavior? Where can you make changes to your management style? What personality changes can you make so that you are not perceived in a certain way.

Now, after doing some soul searching, there still may be some points on which you completely disagree. How do you handle these? Well, you will have a chance to address some of these in the follow-up meeting you scheduled with your critic! Be sure to think about these items and come up with specific discussion points for your follow up. (See Step 5)

Step 4. Apply - Now that you have had a chance to digest your criticisms, it's time to make some changes. Start with the thing that you have complete control of...yourself! Apply those behavioral changes that you identified in Step 3. Actively work on answering emails quicker. Make an effort to be more responsive. Identify ways to better work with your team. In sum, take charge of your actions!

Step 5. Follow Up - During your follow-up meeting with your critic(s), be sure to once again thank him/her for providing you with direct feedback. Then, inform him/her that you have put certain things in place to address some of the concerns discussed in the initial meeting. Your critic will be happy to know that you have taken his/her criticism seriously, and are actively working to better yourself. As for those items on which you disagree, here is the time to have a dialogue with your critic(s). Notice that I used the word "dialogue" and not "argument." This is a time for you to obtain some additional understanding on the specific criticism, and also to give your thoughts on the matter. Maybe the critic(s) did not have all of the information necessary to make a may use this time to provide additional insight. Perhaps you were initially unclear on what was expected of you while performing a certain task...this is the time to discuss expectations on both sides. The purpose of this follow up meeting is to ensure that you have all of the tools necessary to be a better professional. You've already dealt with the things that are directly reflective of your behavior. The follow up meeting is intended to give you clarity on the remaining a non-emotional way!

For those items in which you absolutely do not agree and which you and your critic have not resolved, you may have to just agree to disagree and move on. Receive the information, put it in your back pocket, and keep it in mind when performing your next task or assignment.

So...that's my spiel! Any thoughts? How do you receive criticism at work?

I Have A Dream!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Good Morning! With all of the disrespectful and ignorant uses of Dr. King's image on club flyers and such, I thought it only right to put a more appropriate image on display. Maybe it will inspire someone today...maybe. Enjoy!

Winter Makeup Inventory!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Greetings Divas! Let's talk makeup! A few weeks ago, I executed a complete overhaul of my makeup case. I threw out products that were old and expired, and I purchased new items to replace them. I even purchased a new set of makeup brushes...mine were getting a little old. So what prompted this makeup purge? Well, I like to take inventory of my makeup twice each year: once in the Spring, and once in the fall. Guess what...I forget to take inventory both times last year (gasp!). But wait...let me explain! Last year was super busy for me both at work and at home, and I just...forgot! Now, I don't want you all to think that I was using old makeup all year; I just purchased new items when the old ones ran out. But I still had a bunch of expired products that were still hanging around past their shelf life. 

If you are a veteran Chronicles reader, you know that I am a true believer in maintaining a fresh and clean makeup bag. I like to take good care of my skin, and using old and expired makeup can adversely affect the health of our skin and eyes (the worst offender by far is old mascara). As such, I needed to right my wrong and get rid of my old makeup. And that's what I did!

In the spirit of maintaining our health and youth, we should all take regular inventory and toss out old makeup that may be damaging to our skin and eyes. Here are a few tips to ensure that your makeup case is fresh:

1. Commit to taking inventory of your makeup in alternating seasons (i.e. Summer and Winter, or Fall and Spring).

2. Once you toss out your old makeup, make a list of the replacement products you need and head out to your favorite department store and/or pharmacy to snag them.

3. Make a note of when you purchased the new product and give it an expiration date based on its shelf life. Using stickers or a marker to make expiration labels are easy options.

And now for the shelf life list! Here are the shelf lives of the most common types of makeup

Foundation (Oil Free) – 1 Year
Foundation (Cream or Compact) – 1½ Years
Concealer – 1 Year
Powder – 1½ to 2 Years
Blush – 1½ to 2 Years
Eye Shadow – 1½ to 2 Years
Mascara – 3 Months
Eyeliner – 1½ to 2 Years
Lipstick – 1½ to 2 Years
Lip Liner – 1½ to 2 Years
Lip Gloss – 1½ Years

Be well Divas!

21-Day Challenges...Kind of!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Well...we are already 4 days into 2015...which likely means you are on Day 4 of that 30-day challenge (or 60 or 90) that you signed up for at the end of 2014. You know the challenges I'm talking about right? The 30-Day Squat Challenges...the 60-Day Clean Eating Challenge...the 30-Day Workout Challenge...there are a bunch of them out there with accompanying social media hashtags. To be honest with you, I really like these challenges; they're all really motivating, and encourage you to do something beneficial for you mind and/or body. The one thing about these challenges, however, is that they often have an expiration date. As I accepted a few invites for challenges, I decided that I would do my best to incorporate the challenges' objectives into my daily life extending past the stated time limit. And then I started thinking that I could take other every day occurrences and turn them into a challenge that would inevitably become a habit. Since science has taught us that it generally takes 21 days to formulate a habit, I have put together a list of seven 21-day challenges that you may be interested in completing. The goal is to do the challenge for 21 days so that it becomes a habit going forward. As an extra bonus, I have included a suggested hashtag...just in case you need it for the social mediaverse! ;)

My skin savior!!!
1. The Wash Your Makeup Off Every Night Challenge - This is something that I've been working on for a while, and I've been getting better at it. Even when I am completely exhausted, I make the effort to wash my makeup off before going to bed, and you ladies should do the same. Not doing so can lead to a variety of skin problems, including breakouts and rashes. Believe me when I tell you it is quite anti-sexy to walk into a business meeting with a huge zit on your nose due to clogged pores...don't be that girl! Take the "Wash Your Makeup Off Every Night for 14 Days Challenge," and give yourself, and your skin, a healthy boost in the new year. #WashYourFace

2. The Create a To-Do-List at the Start of Your Day Challenge - In my experience, creating a to-do list at the beginning of each day has helped me to be more productive and efficient at work and at home. Maybe it's a psychological thing, but making these lists give me focus for the day and allows me to get more things accomplished. Without it, I tend to lose time trying to figure out what I am going to do next. Plus, I'm one of those folks who revel in crossing things off their list. But in all seriousness, creating a daily to do list is a great way to maximize your day, which may give you more time to do those other things that you never get to. That being said, during the work week take a moment before starting work to jot down (on a notepad, phone, computer, etc.) the tasks you plan to complete each day...and then execute! On the days when you are not working, do the same thing. Make it a habit! #MaximizeYourDay

3. The Drink 8 Glasses a Day Challenge - How many of you resolved in 2015 to lose weight? To eat clean? To get healthier? Well, drinking at least 8 glasses of water each day is one of those things that can help you accomplish each of these goals. I won't go into the statistics and all the scientific reasons why you should drink more water, but I don't think I need've heard them all before and know you need to hydrate. So drink up! #8GlassesADay

4. The Make Your Own Meals Challenge - One of the things that I intend to do this year is save more money. One way to save money is to minimize the amount of money you spend consuming food and drinks outside of your home. For 21 days, make all of your meals at home...breakfast, lunch, and dinner (coffee, too!). You'd be amazed at how much you will save. Don't believe me? Take my personal story as an example. I went to the supermarket and spent $80 on groceries for a 1-week period (for my entire household). I made my meals for the week...even my coffee. The following week, I consumed more than half of my meals outside of my home (mostly breakfast, lunch, and coffee). I spent about $100 for that week...and I probably gained 5 pounds...I was shocked! Need more convincing? If you purchase Starbucks coffee and a pastry each day during a 5-day work week, you've spent about $40 for the week. A $5 deli sandwich each day for lunch will run you $25. Convinced? Do yourself a favor and try this challenge. Plan your meals at the beginning of each week, hit the supermarket for the things you need, and start saving. And as a welcomed side-effect, you may lose some weight by making your own meals if you choose healthy options. Try it!  #MakeYourMeals

5. The Walk 10,000 Steps Per Day Challenge - By now we pretty much know that 10,000 daily steps is the number to reach. We also know that there are many ways to get to this goal: parking in the spot furthest away from your destination...taking the stairs instead of the elevator...taking random walks around the office...running or've got choices! Over the next 21 days, grab your pedometer or step tracker of choice, and make an effort to take 210,000 steps. #210Kin21

6. The Do Something Nice For Someone Else Challenge - As of late, there has been a lot of discord in various parts of the country. In the midst of all of it, I hold on to the belief that there is still good in the world. In an effort to keep my hope in humanity alive, I like to initiate random acts of kindness. In fact, I try to do it every day...buying coffee for the person standing behind me in line at the Starbucks...putting change in someone else's parking meter if it is about to expire...holding the door open for the FedEx man who comes to the office and always has a ton of packages...sending a random text to a friend who may be having a difficult day...there are plenty of "be nice" options everywhere. For the next 21 days, make an effort to do something nice for someone else each day. Contribute to the #TheresGoodInTheWorld challenge...and then keep it going! Need some inspiration? Check out this post from BuzzFeed...or this one!

7. The 5 Minute Meditation Challenge - Last year, Russell Simmons released a book entitled  "Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple." One of my colleagues purchased the book, and I had a chance to check it out. In his book, Russell discusses the role meditation and stillness has played in his success. I haven't had a chance to finish the book, but I've started doing a bit of meditation in the mornings before I start my work day. Most times I only have 5 minutes to spare, but in that time I sit very still and quietly, my door and my eyes closed, and I meditate. It calms me, and gets me ready to start my work day. When my alarm sounds, I open my eyes and my door, and I get to work on my to-do list. Over the next 21 days, I encourage you to spend at least 5 minutes each day for meditation, not just the work day. Find a nice quiet place, set your alarm, and go! I also encourage you to read Russell's book! #BeStill

So, what do you think? While I am half joking about these challenges, I think that these are all things that we should incorporate into our daily lives. If making them a challenge increases the likelihood of you doing them, then why not! Remember, it takes 3-weeks to form a habit, so 21 days is the key. Maybe on day 22, it will become a regular part of your day. Have a fantastic work week!

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