Last week was A WEEK. I can’t remember the last time I was so stressed. I have two immediate reactions to stress: I’m extra emotional aka anything small can bring on tears and my appetite goes away.
In times of high stress it’s very important to still keep up taking care of yourself. The #1 thing is sleep; if you don’t sleep well overnight plan a nap into your day. Eat well even if, like me, you’re not hungry. If you know a stressful time is upcoming, make and freeze healthy meals you can eat when you don’t or can’t make time to cook. Finally, keep moving. Do not reason “oh I’m busy. It’s ok I can’t workout.” NOPE. Sure you don’t have time for a full blown workout, but you can take a walk or take 10 minutes to stretch.
I’m not writing this as a way to brag but more-so to show “i’m super busy” can still equal being productive. This week I:
-Worked 11.5 hours which included 4 hours of live meetings
-2 1 hour sessions with my personal trainer
-A 1 hour session with my therapist
-A Pilates session
-Going into Hallmark
-A bike workout
-My annual gynecologist appointment
-My weekly 4 hours at my friend’s house
-Starting a blogging self study course
-Watching my 7 (yes 7) weekly shows
-Writing my blog posts for this week
What really helped me, especially with work is taking the approach of what must get done now and what can wait. I also started the week by writing a note on my phone of goals for the week that I could delete things as I accomplished them.
I could not love this book more. While I did not learn many new things I found this to be an essential read full of information I wish everyone showed they knew. Unfortunately in my 7+ years in the professional world I saw loads of poor behavior from both genders and every age.
I’m going to highlight two of the tons of gems of information in this book and relate them to my own personal experience but it’s important to know etiquette is not stuffy. It’s many things including putting the best version of you on display! You are being kind to others by not behaving in a way that makes them cringe.
The first is on doggy bags. The book says absolutely no taking leftovers in business. Well…it’s situational. I present two lunches, same location and same person.
As part of my interview process my boss took me to lunch. I would have NEVER taken leftovers in that situation. However, contrast that to 4 months later. I was a staff and he took me and another staff to lunch. We both took leftovers; it was an internal group so it was different than my interview lunch. This lesson is important that depending on the circumstance different behaviors are appropriate!
The second is an example of what the book saying being 100% true; it talks about the importance of thank yous. After one of my in-person office interviews in which three people interviewed me, I went around the corner to a Subway and wrote thank yous to those three plus the office manager who greeted me, then I dropped them off before I left the city. That was in 2011 and it’s still brought up as a very kind gesture. It wasn’t me brown nosing, it was simply me being polite yet look at the career I was able to develop because I got hired. While I’m sure it wasn’t just the thank yous I know it didn’t hurt.
A TBI is very much like dealing with a loss. There are many things you grieve, and a huge one for me is my career. I’m FINALLY ready to return to work, I’ll hopefully be doing so in November, but it’s going to look very different than it did pre-surgery. I’m going back very part time at first, like 8 hours a week, working 100% from home and doing very different tasks based on my current capabilities.
I started my career as an auditor. Within my first few months at Mazars I got my CPA license and, other than dealing with this recovery, it’s what I’m most proud of.
Probably because of the nature of life as an auditor but my co-workers are definitely my work family. I mean, of course you’ll be close to people you travel and eat with regularly, not to mention get drunk with. Someone said it best early on in my career after one night of all working late then going for drinks: “the fact that we’re choosing to spend more time together says a lot.”
It’s common for people to get to go on a work abroad, or secondment. It’s easy because we’re a global firm. It works because some countries have different busy seasons. Well I wanted to work in the U.K. The problem? They have the same busy season as us and normally people go for 3-4 months; they’d only take me for 6. My boss said”If you wait a year (this was 2014) I’ll make it happen.” He did. And it changed my life. I have great friends in London who I’ve visited since and they’ve come here. I studied abroad in London when I was 19 and I promised myself I’d work there one day.
While I was in London my boss emailed me to say I was being promoted to Manager in the fall. I was surprised and not expecting it.
In the fall of 2017 I went to my boss and said I didn’t want to continue as an auditor, but I loved our company and would work one more busy season as an auditor. My boss said “let me see what I can do.”
In May 2018 I moved into a Project Manager role, reporting to our COO and a Partner in our New York office. I was involved in an international program so I spent 4 weeks in Dublin in the summer of 2018 and went to the Netherlands a few weeks before my surgery.
I’m so beyond thankful that three, THREE years later, my company is still open to taking me back and are so accommodating to me including finding a role that fits my current capabilities.
I’ve been reminded this is temporary, and choosing to view this as a chance to build a role I love in a company I love. I’m extremely lucky to be with a company I can grow with and define my own path.
I’m many things but above all else I’m a working woman who does not shy away from hard work to define myself professionally. I believe in the importance of making my own success. And I look forward to getting back to that.
I HATE networking. I had to do it for work; it’s awkward and everyone’s trying to get something out of it.
However, it’s so important to know people. No one can be an expert at everything and should never be ashamed to ask for help. An example? I recently uncovered a potential professional opportunity with social media. Other than a personal love I know nothing about it as a job. But I know people. I happen to be on great terms with the former Director of Social Media at our 800+ employee firm, who now works at the US Embassy in Vietnam. We have a call next week so I can pick her brain.
I share this not to brag but to stress the importance of staying connected.
I’ve tried and failed to write blog content about work. I chalk this up to the fact that everyone’s job is extremely different; how can I give advice when I don’t know whether or not your work environment operates the same way?
For today’s post even though the subject line is about work, it’s really not about work. It’s about tips for wellness!
My week last week was manic. I was out in the suburbs working on a new audit client of ours this year, staying in a hotel out there and working with a January 18th deadline. I’ve known about this week, affectionately called ‘Hell Week’ by yours truly, for months. This gave me time to process, prepare, dread and accept what life was going to be like for those 7 days.
Going into the week I prepped the best I could. I packed early on and made a list for myself of what to stash in my bag right before the week. I cooked ALL of my meals (thanks, Whole 30!) and packed them; yep, I was that girl with three bags full of tupperware. I even planned my hair washing schedule (I know), taking extra care to blow dry it Sunday night.
I finished off the week not by feeling tired or burnt out, but actually energized and positive. How did I do it? Here are my top 5 tips:
1. Sleep is your number one priority.
ABSOLUTELY no exceptions. When I get busy, my health order of importance is sleep, then food, then movement. This works the best for me because it’s the order in which I can control my days. I might be too busy to squeeze in a workout, but I dang sure can try to get my eight hours.
It’s pretty simple. There are 24 hours in a day. Subtract the number you have to spend at work, then the number of hours of sleep. That’s what you have left for everything else: your downtime, morning and evening routines, etc.
Now sometimes this isn’t so fun. It can be pretty soul crushing to walk out of work and realize you have an hour before you should go to bed. But you do. It. Anyways. A good night of sleep is the foundation for feeling your best. In my opinion it sets up all your other healthy habits. Most people kid themselves about the number of hours of sleep they need. Do yourself a favor and make sleep a priority this week. Your body, mind and soul will thank you!
2. Say no to technology.
I’m going to ask you to put on your big kid pants and agree to something. Outside of your work day, commit to no technology.
Say whaaaa? I know. I KNOW. But let’s think about it. You are spending 12+ hours of your day staring at a computer screen. Logging onto social media and reading the news during quick breaks from your Excel sheets. Responding to your texts and changing your music station on Spotify. Do you really need more screen time during your off hours?
I’m not telling you this is a hard and fast rule. I use my phone as my alarm when I travel; I have to set it before I go to bed. But there is no reason to turn on the tv, no reason to surf the web or check your Instagram feed when you aren’t at work. I promise, you will not die from failing to see the latest tweet.
I even challenged myself last week to not put the music on in my car during my 5 minute commute from the hotel to the client and back at night. We spend our days surrounded by noise. Commit to letting in the quiet and just be.
I’ll be honest; this no technology thing can be tough. We are so conditioned to reach for our phones. I am on auto pilot to start up my car and switch on the radio. But it is such a gift to give yourself that for the few hours you have to yourself when you aren’t sleeping or working, to power down and enjoy what’s around you.
3. Sugar is the devil.
When you are stressed and worn out from a full day of work, all you want to reach for is a chocolate bar or a sugary coffee or a cookie. But what does that do? The sugar amps up your energy, then you sugar crash, then you crave more. It’s a horrible cycle, one easy to get into and extremely hard to get out of.
Food is a tricky thing. There is so much research out there on what you should and shouldn’t eat. But really regardless of what article you are reading, the best rule to follow bar-none is to avoid sugar. It’s an easy one and will really help you maintain your health during a busy time.
Plan ahead for when the sugar craving strikes. Pack snacks (even fruit, with it’s natural sugars, is a good alternative to processed sugar): raw veggies, nuts, healthy snack bars, etc. Stash some tea bags in your backpack and brew a cuppa when a craving comes along. Make it your mission to drink ALL THE WATER during your day. Having a plan of attack will keep you sane and keep you healthy.
Side note: as mentioned, I’m doing Whole 30 and prepared all of my food ahead of time. Meaning I heated up my breakfast in the hotel each morning, and warmed up my lunches and dinners in the kitchen at the client and ate at the conference room table. This is a pretty extreme approach but for me, it was a priceless decision in my wellness for the week. Even if you aren’t following a particular food plan, I highly suggest transforming even one meal a day from eating out to making yourself. The nutrition that comes from home prepared food is remarkable versus what you get at a restaurant.
4. Do what you can.
Going into a busy time it’s important to recognize you won’t be completing any personal bests when it comes to movement. I used to beat myself up all the time when traveling for work, thinking that a week out of town meant a completely wasted week for fitness. Shifting the mindset to “what can I do?” is a trans-formative way to approach life. Last week I meditated a few times. I did some yoga stretches when I got back to my hotel. I completed a few quick circuits in the morning. I found the stairs at the client (they are on the third floor) and made it a rule to not use the elevator. And I went on 30 minute walks during my lunch. These were all little things, but they were within reach for me and added to my personal wellness.
5. Be kind to yourself.
Busy weeks are the time to get selfish. Say no to drinks after work to blow off steam from a stressful day. Turn down the muffins your staff made for the team (nicely, of course). Resist the call of the tv when you get home and read a book. Light your favorite candle before bed and take five deep breaths.
We can’t avoid stressful weeks at work, but we can approach them in the best way possible to stay sane and healthy.
When I set out to re-focus my blog content, it was brought to my attention by a great friend that an area I could offer insight into was being a young professional in the city. Henceforth the “Work Life” series was born!
I am an auditor at a mid-sized accounting firm in the Loop; my company has several offices throughout the east coast and then ours in the Midwest. While my job entails many elements, overall as an auditor I work on a team to issue audit reports on the financial statements of companies in a variety of industries. My office itself is small (12 individuals), though I experience many similar experiences and issues that someone working for a larger company would go through.
I have been at my job since the fall of 2011 and have learned A LOT about the business world. As I have grown in my role from new staff to experienced senior, I feel that I have acquired many insights and tips to share: everything from networking to fashion to tons of dos and don’ts. Every week I’ll broach a new topic-if there is something you’d like to see covered in this area let me know below!
Note: this series will be driven by what my personal experiences have been as a part of the business workforce. While I strive to write in a neutral way, many topics I plan to cover are opinionated by nature. I anticipate from time to time my posts will contain opinions that readers may disagree with or feel differently towards, and I encourage comments on what other young professionals have experienced.