Doostang News May 17: Wake Up! Tips for Staying Alert at the Office

staying-alert-at-workEquity Research Associate, Washington, DC
Associate Consultant, Chicago, IL
Hedge Fund Analyst, New York, NY
Sales & Marketing Manager, San Francisco, CA
Analyst, Boston, MA

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If you’re the type of person who starts their day off by hitting the Snooze button ten times, then you’re liable to be the person nodding off before lunchtime.  It’s difficult to stay awake at work in the first place – sitting in the same spot for hours on end, staring at a computer screen, and perhaps engaging in mundane work all day.  But at the end of the day (at all times of the day, really) it’s important to stay alert and on top of things, if only to appease the man (or woman) in charge.  If you can stay awake long enough, read on for a list of tips on remaining lively at work:

Eat a Good Breakfast

You probably know this one, but it bears repeating: start your day off right by eating a good, hearty breakfast full of carbohydrates and protein for energy and endurance.  You may have sacrificed your Wheaties for a couple of added Snooze buttons or some extra time in the shower, but it’s really worth it to make the effort here, especially as it will get your metabolism going early on and give you the jumpstart you need.  No need to spend superfluous amounts of time cooking up a meal worthy of Mom – go for something quick and simple; a bagel or fruit with peanut butter or a breakfast shake you can grab and go.

Get Some Sunshine

Exposing yourself to bright light is a great way to jolt yourself into consciousness, especially if this light is natural.  So take ten or fifteen minutes to wander outside and take a quick walk.  An added benefit to the sunshine is the opportunity to get your muscles moving and blood pumping as you take a spin around the block.  This will also give you a much needed respite from all of the stuff tiring you out back at your desk.

Take a Power Nap

Just twenty minutes of sleep during the day can do wonders for your energy level if you’re feeling exhausted.  So if you have a place you can go during the day – a break room or even your car – use your break time as an opportunity to get some shut eye before you return refreshed to the daily grind.

Don’t Sit Still

Going against everything that your grandmother told you when in the presence of polite company, remember this: do not sit still.  The more you can get up from your desk throughout the day, the more alert you’ll remain.  This does not mean that you should give yourself free reign to wander around the office and slack off.  But if you need to talk to a coworker, get up and walk to their desk instead of sending an email.  Or walk to get a glass of water, which is especially helpful, as staying hydrated will keep you more awake.  In addition to giving small boosts to your energy level, these short trips will also provide the small breaks from your work that may prove vital to your sanity throughout the day.

Maybe in Fairytale-land we could all get twelve hours of sleep, spend a full day at work, and still have room for lives at the end of it all, but unfortunately that’s just not the case.  In the midst of our ever-busier schedules, sleep is often the first thing to go.  But follow these words of advice, and you can thwart your Circadian rhythms yet again!

Good morning and have a pleasant day,

The Doostang Team

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Good Employees Avoid Bad Habits – A List of Common Workplace Faux Pas (Part 2)

bad-workplace-behavior

Investment Banking Analyst, New York, NY
Principal Consultant, Nationwide
Associate – Private Equity Firm, Bay Area, CA
Business Analyst, Los Angeles, CA
Equity Trader, Washington, DC

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Hey you! Nail-biter! Stop talking with your mouth full of food! It’s time for Doostang’s second installment of bad workplace habits to avoid. That’s right – last time we conquered potty mouths, online game addictions, Negative Nancies, and fashion disasters. Confused? Check it out and go for a little refresher read if you’re already spewing obscenities or showing up to work in scrubs (except for you, Doc). And, if we didn’t give you enough to focus on last go-around, we’re slapping your wrist just a few more times with the following career-saving precautions. Onward!

The Early Bird Catches the Worm; The Late Bird…Gets Fired

Ok, maybe it doesn’t go quite like that. But it’s safe to assume that if you’re chronically late, you may find yourself packing your work life into a cardboard box before you hit the road for the very last time. Whether you work on the clock or have a more informal standing date with the office, it’s imperative to show up to work on time. Failure to do so implies laziness. Employers will feel hesitant to rely on you if you are inconsistent or don’t seem to care. It’s ok if you get held up from time to time – just be sure to make the proper phone calls to the individuals whose schedules you will affect, so that they can plan accordingly. Your start time is a commitment, one you should hold yourself to if you want to excel in a company.

procrastinationThere’s No Time Like The Present!

Got a big project to work on? Work on it now! Don’t let it loom over you like a dark cloud. Ever notice how sometimes the mere notion of a certain task can be just as bad – or worse – than the task itself? The longer you continue putting it off, the more you draw it out. Since anticipation intensifies the pain, cut it out of the equation. Turn that assignment in early and get it off your hands (and score bonus points with the boss). Another drawback to waiting it out is that you may miscalculate and run into unforeseen obstacles that you failed to work into your timeline – and then you’re really hosed, because then you’re submitting late work…and we all know what happens to that late bird…

“When I Want Your Opinion I’ll Give it to You”

…A wise man once said. We hearken back to individuality here: in the same manner that a dress code eclipses uniqueness, so too does the unspoken rule that sometimes you just need to sit down and shut up. This plays itself out in multiple ways.

1. You find yourself at a company meeting. Unless this happens to be an open discussion forum, it’s advisable not to chime in every other PowerPoint slide.

2. Your boss decides to do something one way. Your wisdom and expertise establishes you the authority on matters, inspiring you to inform him of a better way. But unless your superior is at risk of putting the company in peril, unsolicited advice can very often spell out insubordination.

3. Even the largest corporations are receptive to employee feedback, but if you disagree with a company policy on principle rather than effectiveness, no one wants to hear about it. Your employer’s mission statement is your mantra from nine to five. Remember if you’re not the Big Guy in the office, you don’t run the show.

trophy2On Your Superhuman Abilities:

While you may rightly deserve praise for every glorious feat you perform in the office, the simple truth is that no one is going to give it to you every single time. That said, when you actively claim credit for everything you do, you may aggravate your coworkers or your boss. Performing well is your job, and no one is going to give you a gold star for every small personal victory. Be content to quietly accept praise when it is given, and your employer will appreciate you all the more. Equally as important, remember to share credit with others when it is due, and your coworkers will be gracious. When you try to one up the people working around you (or appear to do so by drawing unnecessary attention to your good deeds) you sow the seeds for resentment in the minds and hearts of your office buddies.

Our devotion of two blog entries to bad workplace habits may convey a certain pessimism in humankind of the career ilk. But of course here at Doostang we know that avoiding common workplace slipups boils down to common sense. As long as you’re a hard worker and pleasant to be around, you’ve got most of it down. Just remember not to interrupt when someone’s talking!

Much love,

The Doostang Team

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Good Employees Avoid Bad Habits – A List of Common Workplace Faux Pas (Part 1)

Investment Banking Analyst – Technology, San Francisco, CA
Marketing Analyst, Boston, MA
Principal – Private Equity, Los Angeles, CA
Copywriter/Proofreader, New York, NY
Junior Consultant, London, UK

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A habit can be difficult to break; and, depending on the context, can make or break you. While some habits are assets in certain situations – such as always having an opinion or sticking out from the crowd – they can sometimes play to your detriment. Thus, equally important as changing some behavioral patterns is knowing when to tweak them just a little bit. And because people in the workforce tend to be an unruly bunch, Doostang is making this one a “two-parter” to ensure we cover all the bases. Read on for a list of our first installment of common bad workplace habits to avoid.

swearingWash that Mouth out with Soap!

When in doubt: keep it clean. And even when not in doubt:…keep it clean. (This one tends to resonate strongest with the recent grad crowd.) Swearing in the workplace is unprofessional, and you never know whom you’re going to offend. Your best bet is to speak in a manner that would befit your grandmother. If the old lady’s got a sailor mouth on her, find some other cute little granny to do right by. Try to avoid speech tics such as “like”, “um”, or “ya know”. Colloquialisms like “what up”, “yo”, or “later” shouldn’t be used right out of the gate. Finally, Kathy at reception isn’t “dude”, and your boss isn’t your “bro”.

Game Over

Hopefully we can all agree that your job is more important than a new high score. So please, for your own sake, log off of “Mafia Wars”, close the Minesweeper window, turn off whatever game it is that tickles your fancy and eats up your time. It’s ok to play a quick game to de-stress from time to time, but if all you can think about is racking up points on your online Bejeweled account, you have bigger problems…because your online activity probably isn’t going to fly with your boss. On a similar note, avoid excessive online chatting or checking your personal email account every five minutes. All these distractions will still be there when your shift ends. But during your working hours, your priority should be work.

Stay Positive!

Even if your job leaves you wanting to punch a wall, try not to complain about it all the time. People have a low tolerance for whiners in the office, so keep it to yourself or find someone else to vent to. If you see a problem, come up with a way to fix it instead of grumbling about it or pawning it off on someone else to boot. Others will admire, feed off of, and promote your positive energy. And, at the end of the day, they’ll be more likely to want to keep you around.

Dress to the Nines

The dress code: perhaps you feel that this doesn’t apply to you because you are an individual.

But dress codes exist for a reason – to uphold professionalism in the workplace. Stepping outside of the bounds may feel cool or liberating, but it can convey to your coworkers that you don’t care, or that you’re simply a slob. Companies vary on their policies regarding work attire, so it’s generally a good idea to dress more conservatively until you have a good idea of what the expectations are.

Habits don’t disappear overnight. It takes time and dedication to change a pattern of behavior, so be patient! And stay tuned for yet another list of faux pas to conquer.

Until next time,
The Doostang Team

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