Build a Better Business Wardrobe

One of my friends literally had a job opportunity fall into her lap last week that was an improvement over her previous position in so many ways: better work environment, more responsibility, and a pay raise. (Cha-ching!)

Talking over drinks she confided she was worried more than anything about what she was going to wear to her new workplace. It’s a struggle to find clothes that suit her body-type already; trying to add more professional pieces to her wardrobe while on a budget made it an even bigger challenge than usual. “I don’t want to buy a bunch of new stuff just to wear to work,” she complained.

It made me think about my own wardrobe journey, from the time when I had an overflowing closet (working at a clothing store didn’t help), to the time where I learned to let go of things I was holding onto just because I didn’t love myself. Even now I’m not totally satisfied with my clothing collection, so we ended up having a lot to commiserate about.

The capsule wardrobe is a concept that I’ve been contemplating for sometime now ever since I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The idea is to pair down your wardrobe down to 33 key pieces (minus things like underwear, socks, workout clothes, etc.) that can mix and match with ease. (Although according to this article, most of us are doing it wrong.) The term was originally coined by London fashion boutique owner Susie Faux and has now become popularized through sites such as Project 333, which has a detailed explanation of the whole concept and a step-by-step guide on how to implement it into your own life. There’s even a psychological theory behind it- decision fatigue– which brought more attention to public figures such as Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg for their “uniform dressing”.

Unless you want to spend hours down the Google rabbit hole, I suggest not searching capsule wardrobe examples. (Besides, I did most of the work for you here on Pinterest.)  A lot of it is in the strategy- this breakdown really helped me to visualize how it might look if I tried to design one of my own.

After ransacking some ideas from here and here, my friend and I came up with a few work outfits using the clothes already in her closet- we just stuck to a neutral palette, incorporated some subtle patterns and shots of color, and brainstormed ways to layer pieces for the chillier months to come.

Honestly, most of us just want to get up and go to work with as little hassle as possible. Cutting down on her clothing choices, and leaving her only with outfits that were coordinated and classy is making her leave for work a more confident woman every morning. Creating a capsule wardrobe isn’t really for the faint of heart- it does take time and effort- but for someone looking to create a better business wardrobe it seemed totally worth the effort.

And as for me? Well, I might have gotten a little inspired too. Let’s just say that we all know what I’m going to be doing this weekend, and it’s probably going to have something to do with my closet.

Have you experimented with a capsule wardrobe in your life? Did it make a difference on how you dressed for work? Let us know what worked for you (or if it didn’t!) or email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com. I could use your advice too!

Or, hey- maybe you’re totally not into this capsule wardrobe thing anyway. This article makes a good argument for how our obsession to minimize our closets is taking away our personality and sense of style. Is she right? You be the judge!

 

 

Operation Crisis Management: How to Work When You’re Sick

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Before you read this post, please note that I am not a medical professional of any kind. You should always check with your healthcare provider before taking any medical advice!

No matter where we come from, what we do for a living and how much money we make, we are all bound to get sick at one point in time or another. I see it often enough where I work- no one is impervious to germs, and if you are, well this post is not for you. (But please let us in on your secret.)

For those of who do get sick from time to time we know what a drag it can be, not just because you’re not feeling physically well, but also because of the havoc it can wreak in your life. The kids still need feeding, the laundry still needs doing and unfortunately the bills still need to get paid so many of us find ourselves still working- in a personal or professional capacity- even through we’re still ill.

It can be tempting to jump right back into things at the thought of all the backlog that awaits your return, but if you’re able to do it, try to take as much time off as you need. Remember that asymptomatic people can sometimes still be contagious, so it’s always a good idea to consult with a doctor about returning to work safely.

If you do get time off, treat it as a gift- an opportunity to pamper yourself and recover. Workaholics take note: taking care of yourself is more about getting rest and plenty of fluids, not catching up on your paperwork. The body needs time to recuperate.

Of course it’s not always possible to take a lot of downtime for yourself when you’re feeling under the weather. If your employer is flexible, you might be able to negotiate a slower return to work, or make up extra hours from home. Even if you have to face reality a little sooner than you’d like, it’s a wise idea to take things slow and be kind to yourself– you’re not going to be the most alert, clever or productive employee when you’re not feeling your best. That’s ok.

If you’re lucky you have caring and supportive friends, family and co-workers that can come to your rescue during your time of need. They may not be able to wave a magic wand to make you feel better, but you’d be surprised how much a helping hand can boost your spirits, even if those helping hands are only doing a load of dishes.

Help people to help you by letting them know about what’s going on with you. Keep the lines of communication open and let everyone know when you expect to be back at work, and how they can help facilitate your transition back at the office. Remember that you’re not the only one that could be inconvenienced by your illness so make sure the appropriate people have the necessary information to cover for you, or continue a project in your absence.

It’s no fun being sick, but there’s no reason it should turn into a complete crisis. If you’re prepared, and you make sure you’re covered at work, the only thing you have to focus on is getting better.

And I really hope you do feel better soon.

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Are you feeling run down or sick all the time? It could be experiencing burnout. Click here for more solutions on how to achieve a healthier work/life balance here.

Operation: Crisis Management

KBB_elastic_bandsOnce in awhile, you will find yourself in a tangle.

If you are reading this, then maybe you’re in the middle of one right now. Or maybe you’re reading this because you’re hoping to have the information in case you run into trouble one day.

Either way, you are not alone. We are together in this. I am here for you.

I got the idea of “Operation: Crisis Management” from an English teacher I had way back as a senior in high school. She was incredibly sensitive to the overwhelming pressure we faced before graduating and she’d watch as even the best of students (including myself) would crumble under the enormous workload. Every once in awhile, she’d take one of us aside after class, sit us down and declare, “You need crisis management!” Looking back on it, I’m amazed how often she took the time out of her own busy life to go over our assignments with us and decided what we needed to prioritize in order to get the most important things done. It’s something for which I now I am incredibly grateful.

All of us will eventually need to evoke “crisis management”- whether we’re catching up on work after an unexpected illness, coping with a family emergency, or experiencing personal problems. These are all crises, and you can work through them.

The most important thing is that you find your helpers first: a team of friends, family members, colleagues or members of the community who are willing and able to provide the resources that you need in order to manage whatever you are going through. If you do not have access to these resources, find someone you trust and ask them to help you. At the very least, you owe to the people who care about you to let them know that you’re working through something difficult. They want to be allowed the opportunity to help.

Professionally speaking, it’s important that you maintain honest, direct and appropriate communication with your superiors and your colleagues about your capacity to perform at work. Maintaining boundaries is important and healthy, but a few quick words with your boss about your break-up, or the death of a grandparent is better than taking time off without warning, or spending the majority of your shift crying in the bathroom.

Now more than ever, it’s important to be mindful of your own needs. People are over-scheduled and over-worked as it is, and dealing with a crisis lowers your mood, zaps your energy, and in some cases makes you sick. You are allowed to take a break, which means learning to say no to anything that’s not an immediate priority during this time. Delay and delegate tasks whenever possible– it will allow you the breathing room you need to complete whatever needs to be done, and hopefully give you time to recharge. Eating right, drinking water, exercising, fresh air, meditation and getting enough sleeping all help with burnout. (For more tips on how to deal with burnout, read this post. I’ll also convince you to sleep more here.)

Sometimes crises will come up and they will be unexpected, or inevitable. Personal crises such as deaths, physical and mental illnesses, break-ups or other emergencies will, unfortunately, happen to all of us.

Once in a while, we come across people who always seem to be in crisis whether it’s because they’re overwhelmed by their dysfunctional family, burdened with continuous relationship problems, or constantly take on too many projects at work. You may be one of these people yourself.

Bad things happen to everyone. It’s how we cope with them that counts.

As difficult as it may seem, each challenge we face comes with a learning opportunity that ultimately helps us understand and grow as human beings. Sometimes there will be things that happen that are circumstantial, or out of our control. Sometimes they are sad and unfair. But we have a choice as to how we handle them.

If you begin to notice the same patterns occurring, and the crises you seem to face over and over again are similar, it may be time to revisit your own behaviors and choices. Be honest with yourself and ask what you may be contributing to your own crises. Do you avoid making decisions? Are you saying yes to more things than you can handle? Instead of beating yourself up about past actions that you can’t control, figure out how you can use this information in the future. Maybe it means learning how to set better boundaries, or learning when to say no. You have the power and the self-insight to develop your own coping mechanisms in the best way you see fit, as long as it doesn’t inflict any harm on yourself or others.

J.D. Salinger once said, “On particularly rough days when I’m sure I can’t possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100%, and that’s pretty good.” I’ve survived 100% of the bad days as well.

You can too.

KBwB-BFlower-50Sending lots of love and good feels out over the interwebs to anyone that’s going through anything. I hope this post helps you in some small way.

Even though I write a blog with the word “busy” in the title, I still feel like we do way too much stuff. Part of keeping busy is finding a balance, so sometimes I blog about that here. I hope you take the time to find balance, too.