Friday, May 24, 2019

Friday Feature: Being Yourself

Although it was two decades ago, I still vividly remember going shopping for work clothes before starting a new job in a new district. Even though the move was a lateral one, I suddenly felt as though the clothes I'd been wearing needed an upgrade. I wanted to make a good impression at my new workplace and I wanted to look more professional as well. The clothing I purchased wasn't out of character for me, nor was it out of my budget, but I was consciously aware of dressing to create an impression.

Fast forward almost two decades and I was all-in any time anyone even mentioned  the phrase "casual day." My colleagues were among my closest friends (many still are) and I was pretty much an open book. Sure, I could haul out the primo professional attire if I felt like it (and some days I did), but I worried much less about how I looked and much more about what I actually did at work.

As women, we're taught from a young age to dress and behave "appropriately." It's a loaded word, and one whose meaning varies widely from culture to culture, whether that culture is ethnic-, religious-, gender- or workplace-specific.

But what happens when cultures collide?

In her article for O, The Oprah Magazine, Sara Gaynes Levy explores precisely this question.

Can you really be yourself at work?

Back in college, I had a boyfriend who told me he'd argued with me more than with any other girl he'd dated, but that with me, he always knew where he stood. Whether that's my personality, my upbringing or the fact that I'm a Jersey Girl (most likely a little of each), that is who I am.

And yet, I struggle, because it raises the question at the heart of Levy's article. Is being a straight-shooter an asset or a liability?

As an author, I read a lot about the business/promotion side of the craft, and articles that boil down to "don't offend your audience" abound. While I'd never intentionally do so, what does that mean when what I stand for is different from what they stand for?

Levy points out in her article that trying to fit in with work culture, especially when work culture and personal culture diverge, can not only be exhausting, but it can also take an emotional toll. It's hard sidestepping one's true self on a regular basis and it causes an ongoing internal struggle that can have psychological side effects.

So, is being oneself everywhere an asset or a liability? I suppose it depends on who you ask. But if you want more insight into this question, whether as a manager or an employee, I'd recommend reading Levy's article.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Taking a Risk

Tumisu via Pixabay
Tomorrow, I'm stepping outside my comfort zone and doing a webcast. Shortly before 2 p.m. EST, I will sit down at my laptop and, through the magic of technology, the lovely Tracy at OSV will ask me questions about Know Thyself: The Imperfectionist's Guide to Sorting Your Stuff. For my part, I will try to sound intelligent and not talk with my hands too much.

I am not a fan of video -- I don't really even like having my picture taken -- but this seemed like a good way to share the book. Plus, I scheduled this in February when May seemed eons away and, therefore, less intimidating.

Why, you may wonder, am I doing this? Am I being paid? (No). Is someone forcing me to do this? (No). Am I too embarrassed to back out now that I've said yes? (No).

In part, I want to share my book, but, in addition, I think there's something to be said for trying new things. One of the characters on The Big Bang Theory had a line about trying to do more things that scared her and I think that's a pretty good idea. It's easy to get stuck in our comfort zones, especially as we get older. If trying new things keeps me from getting old before my time, I'm all for it.

So, tomorrow, I'll pick up the conversation where Tracy and I left off at our tech check today. I'm nervous, but excited, especially because I enjoyed talking with her today. I'm also proud of myself for taking a risk and compounding it by telling you about it here, increasing the possibility that more than just Tracy will be listening to my responses.

When's the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone? Is it time to take another baby step?

If you'd like to listen to the webcast, click here. You can hear me live, or listen later.

Monday, May 20, 2019

It's HERE!

Kindle edition now available :-)
Grades are in. The semester is officially over, which means I transitioned into writer mode late last week and my shift in responsibilities became official once I put that final grade in. I spent a chunk of my weekend creating promotional posts for my new book, Know Thyself: The Imperfectionist's Guide to Sorting Your Stuff and, this morning, I was sitting at my desk, contemplating my priorities (and this post) when the perfect topic presented itself via email.

The Kindle edition of Know Thyself is available. As in now. The paperback releases next month but, as of today, you can buy my new book! I'm celebrating a little sooner than I planned to, but I am celebrating nevertheless!!

If you're wondering if the release of a new book gets any less exciting each time, I'm here to tell you that it doesn't. Maybe it will when I hit double digits (this book is #7 if you count collaborations/anthologies) or work with a publisher that's less fabulous than the team at OSV, but when you love the project and the people, well, that's about as good as it gets.

Releases don't get any less exhausting either. Luckily, I'm one of those rare writers who loves the promo piece (it helps to be an ambivert), so it recharges me. Still, for a global, big picture person, all the details involved can be overwhelming.

But please don't confuse overwhelmed with unhappy. I have no complaints (just lists -- lots of them!) I am profoundly aware of how very lucky I am to be a writer who gets to see her work in print.

But enough gushing for one day :-) For updates, contests, samples, tips, celebrations and more information, follow me on Facebook, or check out my Organizing by STYLE blog where I tend to post more updates. You can also find me on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

And, as always, thanks for reading.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Friday Feature: Why Hobbies Matter

I love to read and I love to write.

And I constantly struggle to find time to do both.

It's not as though I'm all work and no play. I find plenty of ways of wasting time, and simply by stopping that, I could probably solve my problem.

An article in the Harvard Business Review reassured me that I'm not alone. Author Gaetano Dinardi confessed to being guilty of falling into the same trap, but asserted that, by spending more time on his creative hobby, he boosted not only creativity but also confidence and perspective.

And those were tools that fed not just his leisure time but his work life as well.

As humans, we are meant to be complex -- to have depth and to be more than simply the sum of our parts. One of the ways we accomplish this is by integrating all the aspects of our lives, but we can't do that if we shut out the fun stuff in favor of 24/7 productivity.

And maybe turning off the television and rediscovering our passions is a good place to start.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

To Delegate is Divine

My chicken did not look like this. But it was good anyway.
(Photo via Pixabay)
Tonight, I did something I don't do often enough.

I delegated.

A crack had begun to form in the foundation of my best-laid plans for the week and I found myself unexpectedly in crunch time. After sticking some chicken in the oven for dinner, I sat down to grade some papers while keeping my eye on the clock and my nose pointed in the direction of the kitchen (figuratively, anyway), monitoring the progress of our dinner-to-be.

After grading a few papers, I headed out to the kitchen to check the meat and put on the sides. And then it occurred to me.

I'm not the only one in this house who knows how to make pasta and vegetables.

So, I calmly headed into the family room where my daughter and my husband were relaxing before dinner and told them I needed some help, putting them in charge of setting the table and making the sides.

Whaddaya know? It worked.

Let me be clear -- my family isn't lazy. In fact, my husband often offers to help and my daughter readily pitches in as well.

It's just that I don't ask.

Instead, I let myself get frazzled and then I feel like a martyr because they're relaxing and I'm working. Tonight, I decided to break that cycle.

And let me tell you, it felt great.

I think this might be the start of something grand.

(P.S. Don't tell my family).

Monday, May 13, 2019

An Oops, a Monday and a Sort-of-a Leprechaun

bremervoerderjung via Pixabay
It's 11pm and I'm just now sitting down to watch the news and write this post. I could tell you that I was busy celebrating International Hummus Day or Frog Jumping Day (yes, those are real things), but neither of those is true. A closer excuse (but one that's still not true) is that I'm celebrating National Leprechaun Day.

The truth is, I forgot it was Monday. My daughter, who spent the last semester in Ireland, is home. (Thus the potential connection to a day honoring leprechauns). It was a gray, rainy day, but, with her home, it felt like the first day of summer vacation. We slept late, binge-watched TV shows and got a few things done -- but not very many. By the time dinner time rolled around, guilt began to set in and I escalated my efforts, but this post got pushed off until after my evening appointments.

It's a little embarrassing to forget about a deadline of my own creation, but between classes being finished for the semester and my favorite kid making herself at home under my roof, that's exactly what happened. I teased her for being a bad influence but, all things (including a very late blog post) considered, one thing is true.

I am glad she is home.

And, if I had today to do all over again, I wouldn't change a thing.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Friday Feature: Why Can't You Just Sit Still?

When was the last time you sat and did nothing?

Believe it or not, idleness can improve not only our state of mind, but our productivity as well. And daydreaming, a side effect (so to speak) of idleness can also spur creativity.

Admittedly, it's a tough sell in our productivity-driven society because when we look like we're doing nothing, it's tough to convince ourselves -- let alone anyone else -- that we're making good use of our time.

But doesn't it sound lovely?

Personally, I think this weekend is a perfect time to give it a try. So, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to grab my calendar and pencil in some time to do nothing.