Working For the Weekends: How to Make the Most of Both

Let’s face it – the vast majority of us will work a job along the lines of a typical “9 to 5”. You know, the sit-and-stare-at-a-computer-for-eight-hours and then drive home kind of job. Eat, sleep, repeat – cubicle optional. But with eight full hours dedicated to work, in addition to, let’s say, an hour of total commute time, plus seven (ish) hours of sleep a night, that leaves a mere eight (ish) hours of free time in any given weekday. Keep in mind that those eight hours do not include time needed for eating and laundry and grocery shopping and exercising and everything else that also needs to get done M-F.

Depressed yet? Don’t be. As daunting as it may seem, making the most of those hours is the key to maintaining a healthy balance between work and home life. It can definitely be done- I promise! Here are a few simple things that you can start implementing into your daily routine that will help you avoid getting “burnt out”, stressed out, and just plain unhappy.

1) Streamline Your Work Routine
As young twenty-somethings, we are still pretty new on the job scene, which means that we’re probably still figuring out the most efficient way to get up, ready, and out the door in the morning. To avoid wasted time, do absolutely everything you can in advance. Set the coffee maker on a timer; lay out an outfit the night before (that includes shoes and accessories, too!); pack a lunch and have it waiting in the fridge; take your long shower the night before, if possible. It may not seem like much, but a few minutes here and there of saved time can really add up- to smoother, less stressful mornings.

2) Use Breaks Wisely
While it’s always good to step away from your desk and take a breather in the middle of the day, your coveted lunch hour is also a great opportunity. Remember all those other pesky responsibilities we talked about that would normally eat into your evening free time? Take your break at work to run to the store and pick up all the groceries you need for the week, go to the bank or drop off your dry cleaning. You don’t have to dedicate every lunch hour to taking care of errands, but it can definitely free up some precious time once you get home.

3) Optimize Weekends
It’s Thursday and you’re contemplating your agenda for the next few days: is it spending time doing the same things you always do? Going to the same places you always go? With all the same people you always see? Time for a change of pace. Though it’s tempting to stay with what you know, planning to visit a new town or bar or museum or getting to know someone new over dinner can really change your outlook. As “they” always say, ‘variety is the spice of life!’ By seeking out new experiences and new relationships, it will be much easier to avoid getting stuck in a ‘rut’ and going back to work feeling like your time off was wasted away.

4) Sleep.
Sleeping more will change your life. It may sound dramatic, but it’s true! Try going to bed twenty minutes, thirty minutes, or even an hour earlier than usual for a few nights and see how it will impact the rest of your day. Getting up becomes easier, you need fewer cups of coffee during the day (hopefully), and you have the energy to do more than simply sit and watch bad Kardashian re-runs when you get home from work. Your immune system (and puffy, tired eyes) will also see vast improvements. What have you got to lose?

With just a few small tweaks to your daily habits, you can make balancing your job responsibilities with your ones at home a lot simpler: plan ahead, branch out a little, and get some shut eye! We’ve all got to work, so make your time work for you.

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Resume Faux Pas You Can (And Should) Avoid

It’s about that time. Senior year has begun and before I know it, it will be time to polish up the resume and send it off in hopes of landing my first ‘big girl’ job. Stressful? Absolutely. But there is some comfort in the fact that a vast majority of my friends and peers will be launching into full-blown adulthood right along with me. So how do you make sure your resume stands out in the face of the competition? Taking cues from visits to the UI career centers, seminars, professors, and workshops, I have collected a few fool-proof tips that are must-haves for any resume worth a second glance.

1) CHECK YOUR SPELLING.

I have heard time and time again that people looking at resumes are pretty much guaranteed to throw yours out at the first sighting of a careless spelling error. I repeat: Spell-check isn’t enough. Get a fresh pair or eyes (or several!) to look your resume over before you even consider sending it off. Other mishaps to look out for? Make sure the spelling of the company, employee name, etc. that you are addressing each resume to is accurate!

2)  Watch your margins.

There are countless ways to organize the information on your resume, (check out this website for more resume tips and layouts) but be sure to keep your margins simple and consistent. For example: keep your job titles at a certain indentation, the descriptions of each job at another indentation, and another other information in its respective position on the page. And no double spacing!

3) Don’t go crazy with fillers.

Just starting out? Page looking a little empty? No worries. You can always make slight adjustments to the layout and font size, or add sections such as relevant course highlights, projects, or accomplishments to round out your resume. Just make sure not to go crazy adding details that are unnecessary. Putting a section of your interests or hobbies is just not valuable to a potential employer.

4) Listing your GPA is not mandatory.

Unless the application specifically asks for it (which is not very common), there is no need to include a GPA on any resume. Unless it’s something you are proud to display, it’s probably best to leave it off.

5) Pick your font wisely. VERY wisely.

My last, and perhaps most important tip is to choose the font you use on your resume with the utmost care. Times New Roman is always a safe bet, but if you’re itching to use something a little more unique, make sure you’re not giving off the wrong idea (hint: fonts like Comic Sans, Papyrus, and Curlz are probably not your best bet). Pick something that is simple, easy to read, and professional- just like you.

Happy job hunting! 🙂

Working Girl Wardrobe

If you’re like me, a young 20-something and just starting out, money is probably pretty tight. So how do you build a functional work wardrobe for that all important ‘real world’ job- without breaking your budget in the process? Having your wardrobe do double duty, of course. Here’s a list of career must-haves that will keep you looking stylish in and out of the workplace.

1) Colored Jeans

Be sure and check beforehand, but if your company’s dress code allows jeans, you’re in luck. The bright hues of this season’s color craze gives you almost unlimited style options. Pastel shades look soft and sophisticated, while bold hues are confident and bold. Chic and comfortable!

 2) Structured Blazer/Jacket

A fitted blazer or suit style jacket is one staple that every working girl’s closet needs. Throw this on over strapless dresses or tank tops, and your everyday look can be work appropriate in seconds. I like black for dressy occasions, and a tan/nude hued jacket for pairing with bright colors and patterns.

3) Everyday Heels

There’s no getting around it- heels look good, but can really get old after a long 8 hours of wear. To give your feet a break, choose wedges (which are much easier to walk in) or kitten heels. Still not ready to toss the sky high stillettos? Opt for gel inserts for some cushion and support. Many shoe stores offer inserts specifically for high heels (and often come in patters, too!) and are only a few dollars.

4) Hair Accessories

As I’ve mentioned before, hair accessories are one of the quickest and easiest ways to instantly look put together. Weather it’s a bold flower, demure headband, or colored bow, any accessory helps make a statement.

5) Bold Jewelry

Think all your solid colored T’s and tanks aren’t suitable for work? Think again. Paired with dress pants (or colored jeans…and/or a fitted blazer and heels…) and bold, eye catching accessories, and viola! Professional in a snap.

6) Flats

If heels aren’t your style, or you’re walking around a lot at work, flats are a no brainer. And with all the colors, styles, and decorative details on flats recently, it won’t be hard to find a pair (or several!) that works for you.

7) Sundresses

Strapless, backless, low-cut; sundresses of all styles can be made suitable for work. As long as they’re long enough, throwing on a short sleeve sweater or blazer changes the entire look. Now your dresses can go from BBQ to board room in a snap.

With just these few staple pieces, it’s easy to mix and match all of your everyday essentials into looks that are both polished and professional- without breaking the bank.