The atmosphere at my last few jobs was pretty lax. There was no dress code, which meant it wasn’t weird to see people dressed in jeans and a T-Shirt, and the overall attitude at each place was pretty laissez-faire.
So when I recently switched to a job at a college — complete with business casual attire and a team of peers I was worried about impressing — I got a little stressed out. Suddenly my comic book dress and brightly-colored “Treat Yo Self” banner made me feel a little juvenile. And those feelings, I knew, would make me feel inadequate in the workplace, even if I was pumping out great work.
As much as I want to stay true to my aesthetic and personality, I also knew that at this job, I wanted to prove to my colleagues (who I already admire and respect) that I’m a valuable addition to the team. I decided to change just a few small things in hopes of helping me feel a little more sophisticated.
For starters, I…
Invested in a planner. There’s something about using a planner that feels so adult to me. I always felt like the most powerful women lived by their planner to help keep their life in order. Regardless, I think it’s important to find some kind of organizational system that works for you, whether it’s a physical agenda or the meticulous use of apps on your phone. For me, I went with a Lilly Pulitzer agenda and I love it.
Got a real lunch bag. Tossing my lunch in a leftover grocery bag might’ve been okay for college, but since I was going to regularly bring my lunch to work, a lunch bag was a great investment.
Upgraded my wardrobe. Although I’m not going to get rid of my quirky dresses, I will be saving them for the weekend rather than wearing them into the office. Instead, I’ve been trying to step up my fashion game by choosing to create outfits that help me feel more grown-up.
Elevated my office decor. Although I left my “Treat Yo Self” sign and my tiny Thor figurine at home, I did decorate my office. In my new space, I decorated using framed photos and artwork, books, a couple of practical tchotchkes (like my elephant ring holder and a high heel-shaped tape dispenser), lamps, and a fantastic new gold polka-dotted notebook (pictured above). I also added some personality to my office by investing in standard office supplies in a fun color or print! (Try See Jane Work for inspiration.)
Sat up straight. I’m guilty of slouching, especially when I’m at my desk for long periods of time. But by demonstrating good posture, you can help build your own confidence. I feel better about myself when co-workers walk by my office and I’m not slumped over my desk.
Nixed the urge to start my sentences with a qualifier. No more, “Sorry, but…” or “This might be a bad idea, but…” or anything along those lines. It’s time to own my statements! I’m doing my best to work on this, so I know from experience that it’s hard, but I think it helps when speaking with others if you sound confident in your ideas (even if you may not feel it!).
Stopped using smiley faces in emails. For real. I am Team Emojis all the way, but there is a time and a place for them. With so much communication happening via email (or even text) these days, it’s important that you present yourself properly. As much as it kills me not to add a smiley face to the end of emails (something I did all the time at my last job), I’m opting not to unless that person uses a smiley face with me first.
What little things have helped you feel more “grown up” in the office?