Category Archives: Career

Surviving Tax Season Like A Boss {A Guide}

surviving tax season like a boss, a guide to surviving tax season

It’s no secret that I work in an accounting, tax and financial planning firm.  I talk about it a lot.  Maybe it’s because I love what I do or maybe it’s because that’s where I spend a lot of my time.  I’m not sure, but either way it’s tax season.  Surviving tax season is a whole thing.  It starts in mid-January and continues until mid-April.  That’s 4 months… 4 months where your life is flipped around.  

I’m not an accountant or tax preparer… yet.  The plan is to become a Certified Public Accountant in the next two years, but first I need to get through becoming a Certified Financial Planner®.  You see, back in college I never dreamed that I would be returning to my hometown to help my Dad in his practice.  That wasn’t in the cards.  Then flash forward 4 years after graduating with my Bachelors and I feel the pull to come home.  

Naturally I didn’t study accounting in college, because why would that be fun?!  I studied Marketing.  Now to sit for the CPA exam I have to have a few more accounting classes.  The plan is for me to get through and pass the CFP exam.  I’ve already taken the courses to prepare for the exam so now it’s just all about passing it.  

Once I get through and earn my CFP designation then I will go back to school to finish those pesky accounting classes before sitting for the CPA exam.  Then when that happens my tax seasons will be even a bit more wild than they already are.

But right now my job during tax season is to review returns with clients, help with any financial planning needs during the next few months and continue rocking our marketing campaigns.  I work 6 days a week.  It’s hard.  I also am studying for the CFP exam and have night class two nights a week.  

I have a lot going on.  So does J.  Our schedules keep us pretty busy and when we have free time we prefer to be doing something as a family.  

Surviving tax season can be rough for those in the field or even connected to the field.  Here are my top 10 tips for surviving tax season like a boss:

  1. sleep when you can
  2. make it clear that you are unavailable starting the second week in January through mid-April to everyone you know
  3. Say goodbye to your Saturday social life
  4. Love what you do
  5. Take deep breaths
  6. Take time in early January to plan the next few months
  7. Learn to say no sometimes
  8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  9. Spend quality time with those you love
  10. Have a daily schedule

Small tips, but they really help.  I’m a huge planner so I need my calendar to be in order at all times.  It helps me from feeling overwhelmed.  At the first of January I sit down to really schedule out the next few months.  I ask myself are there any trips J and I need to plan for?  What days do I or J have classes on?  What about J’s bowling league, what does that schedule look like?  Plan for any doctor appointments for Baby Boy.  And so much more.  

Then I start filling in my calendar.  I’ve used the Purposeful Planner before and really liked it, but this year I’m going to try to stick with all digital.  I’ve setup our Google calendar so that it’s color coordinated.  It can be accessed from anywhere so I don’t always have to haul around a paper planner with me, which is nice.  About a year ago I wrote a post about what my day looks like.  It’s still somewhat similar, but I think it might be time for an update.  Baby Boy wasn’t here yet and our life sure has changed with him being in it.  

I remember that tax season is just the next few months so that means I may have to miss out on a few things, and that’s okay.  I don’t mind.  I really enjoy what I’m doing and love learning something new each year.  Tax season is all about sacrifices, but I still get amazing quality time with my family and the time I get with my friends and other family members is special.  

What are your busy times during the year?  I know when I worked retail that the busy season hit right before Thanksgiving and lasted through Christmas.  It’s all about phases and finding time to balance it all.  

Your Typical Day {A Day In The Life Post}

typical day for a mom who does it all, day in the life post

Not even a year ago I shared what my day was like. Man! Things have sure changed in such a quick time frame. I knew having our Baby Boy would ramp up our lives, but there is so much more going on these days. I’m working hard to study for the Certified Financial Planner exam this spring, which means night class two days a week, plus studying every day. Not to mention tax season calls for 6-day work weeks.

I wanted to do an update to our typical day. I’m a planner (I know, I’ve said it like a thousand times) so I like to have my days mapped out in my Google Calendar so I know where I need to be at all times. I also input J’s schedule. He can access the calendar from his phone so he always knows what’s going on.

I used to put our meal plan in the calendar, but that got to be too much. I tend to change my mind a lot, so it just became too much of a hassle.

Here’s a typical day for me.

6:30am – Wake up and shower.
6:45am – Prep bottles for the day and make protein smoothie for breakfast.
6:50am – Start doing makeup and do my hair.
7:05am – Finish getting Baby Boy’s diaper bag ready. Prep my lunch and snacks for the day.
7:15am – Baby Boy usually wakes up about this time (sometimes it’s a little earlier and some days he sleeps in). Get him dressed and ready to go.
7:20am – bottle time! I also get dressed last thing so that way if I spill or get dog hair on me it’s not on my work clothes.
7:40am – out the door and headed to the sitter.
7:55am – head to work
8:00-12:00 – work at the office, handling client calls, applications, etc.
12:00-1:00 – lunch, I either go home for lunch (if I didn’t have time to pack food or I go to the gym for a quick workout and then eat lunch at my desk later).
1:00-3:00 – finish up at work, plan any new marketing pieces, etc.
3:00-5:00 – study for the CFP
5:00-7:30 – J and I both have night class on Monday and Wednesday, so those nights he drops Baby Boy off at my parents around 5:30 and I usually have dinner in the slow cooker so we both can eat when we have time. If I don’t have class then I head home, cook dinner, do laundry and play with the baby.
7:30pm – put the baby to bed (usually it’s 7:00 on nights I don’t have class)
8:00pm – clean the family room, pick up toys, watch TV, clean the kitchen
9:00pm – bed

I am useless if I don’t go to bed early. Some nights I might make it to 10:00 before bed, but that’s rare. I also may go to bed at 8:30 some nights like I did last night. I know that I toss and turn a lot, I also check the baby monitor 1,000 times a night. So if I can get to bed at a decent time then I know somewhere in the night I will get a combined 7-8 hours of sleep.

This is my schedule about 6 days a week. On Sundays we take it easy. We sleep in, or try to if the baby will let us. We lounge around and try not to take on too many projects. We may work on laundry, but that’s about as productive as we get. I need Sundays to take it easy and reset myself to get ready for the week ahead.  I know that during the summer my typical day changes quite a bit.  Maybe I’ll do a post to share what those days look like….

Why I Chose To Go Back To Work After Baby

Why I Chose To Go Back to Work After Baby

Choosing to be a stay at home mom or returning to work after baby is a hot topic. I wanted to show why I chose to go back to work after baby.  It’s a emotional topic, but one I think is talked about enough.

I work for my family’s accounting and financial planning firm. The reason we moved to my hometown was for me to work with my Dad to learn the ropes. The thought of deciding to quit my job wasn’t possible. I am needed and I love what I do. 

I actually only took a six week maternity leave from work. I probably could have taken longer, but I also knew that I had work to do. Because I work for my family, I was able to bring Baby with me. It was a nice transition for me. I was able to get the balance of getting work done, but was still able to see him across my desk.

Even if I didn’t work my family’s firm, I’m positive I would have returned to work. It’s more than a financial choice, too. Sure the double income is nice, but honestly money isn’t a primary factor.

After four weeks of being home with just Baby and dogs during the day, I found myself irritable with J. I needed that outlet of talking to someone, working on a bigger project and just feeling needed. Don’t get me wrong, every few hours when Baby woke up hungry I felt very much needed, but it’s different.

working mom

 

Why I Chose To Go Back to Work After Baby

 

I loved my time at home and know when he goes into a daycare in a few weeks I will be a complete mess. I will miss being home with my little boy. It’s crazy – I never saw myself as a mother when I was younger, but the moment I heard his cries and saw him for the first time I knew this is why I was put on this Earth. To be his mom.

And one thing that goes along with being a good mom is providing for him. I want to give him the moon.

My parents wanted to give my sister and I more than they were given as kids, and I want to give our son more than I was given.  Which is a pretty tall order.  I know I want our son to travel (mainly because J and I want to travel!), to accomplish his goals, go to college and not have to worry about the expense of school, and have fun while he’s young.  To do all of these things, both J and I need to work.  

We need to be saving our money, paying down debt and dreaming of places to travel as a family.  With eliminating one of our incomes, we could still accomplish these goals, but we would have to sacrifice a lot right now and it would take longer to get there.

Another reason I went back to work was to save my marriage.

J and I were talking the other night and came to a conclusion. If I wanted to be a stay at home mom then that would probably be the end to our marriage. I know it’s crazy to say that and probably a little hard. But I don’t know how to do that successfully.

I found myself in my short maternity leave depending on J too much. He was my source for socializing, my relief when I needed a break from sleepless nights, and my punching bag when I got frustrated. Not a literal punching bag, but I just became very short with him over the weeks and I know that wasn’t good.

It wasn’t fair to him and deep down I knew that.  I like to think that I’m a pretty logical person so I could see myself acting crazy, knew it was too much, but couldn’t stop myself.  I realize I was a hormonal mess, but I feel like it was more than that.  I needed an outlet and I couldn’t depend on my husband to provide that.  I needed to find my own.

Work is my outlet.  I get up, get dressed, put on make up and head out the door.  I sit at desk and work on projects for our clients.  I like answering questions and helping our clients solve their problems.  Before having a baby, I really felt my career was what I was supposed to do with my life – crazy, I know!

Why I Chose To Go Back to Work After Baby

Now it’s all about finding a balance.  A balance between putting J first, providing for our son by giving him the foundation he needs and having a fulfilling career.  I will reach that balance at some point and I know I will struggle along the way, but I know I am setting a good example for our son and will be able to do so much with him as he gets older.  

 

How to Plan for Maternity Leave at Your Work

How to Plan for Maternity Leave at Work

Maternity leave is an important topic to talk about.

Your employer may offer something completely different than your friend’s employer.  Yet, what is the right way to prepare for it?  You want to make sure your job is being done correctly while you’re gone (no matter how long that might be) and your boss wants to make sure there is a chaotic mess left for when you’re gone.

In my job I wear many different hats. One moment I’m the Marketing Director, deciding on emails, facebook campaigns, letters, planning client appreciation events, calling prospective clients, and reaching out to new clients.  The next moment I’m the financial planning assistant, completing paperwork, handling maintenance on clients’ accounts, meeting with new clients, and answering questions. Then  my final hat for the day could be the Sales Director, managing contact with current clients, preparing client touches about any focus we are working on, and so on.

My day can be all over the place and it can be overwhelming at times. But I love it. I love not knowing where my day is going to take me and to know that I can be doing a variety of different tasks. However, it doesn’t make it so easy for when I’m going to be gone. It can be tricky trying to explain to a fellow co-worker how they can help me out. I decided my maternity leave will be easy to follow and nothing would get overlooked. Summers might seem slow in an accounting office, but it’s not for me. That’s when I work on all of my marketing pieces for the entire year, start sending out touches and kick start marketing campaigns. It’s a busy season for me.

One of the best decisions I was to plan for maternity leave at work. I can’t tell you how much of a stress reliever it is to know your work will be taken care of and you won’t have a huge pile when you return.

I wanted to share some helpful tips so you can be ready to leave your work to take care of you and baby. No matter how long your maternity leave is or how short, these tips will work for you.

It’s important to have a plan in place well before the baby is due. You never know if your little one will be making their debut early or not. It’s best to be prepared for the unexpected.

Know Who Will Be Wearing Your Hats.

The first thing you want to do is know who will be covering you. Is it one person or are multiple people going to be splitting your duties? Either way you need to know. I think it’s easier if one person covers because then all of your to-dos and instructions and thoughts are just passed to one individual. However, that may not be feasible. At most offices your cover will already have a full-time job with their own work that needs to get done.

If you have multiple people covering for you then you need to talk to your supervisor or office manager to determine who is going to take care of what. Which parts of your job is person A and person B going to cover.

For me I had two people covering for me. One covered all of my marketing duties while the other covered my financial planning and sales director tasks. I wasn’t too worried about the financial planning side, mainly because she’s been doing it for years and is the person who trained me. So I knew she had it! She could do that job in her sleep!

The marketing pieces were a bit more worrisome for me. I have created a few strategies, mailings, and so on over the past year that all need to be kicked off while I would be gone. So I wanted to make sure they went out without any problems.

Here’s what you do after you figure out how your job will be split:

Write down everything that will need to be done 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after your scheduled maternity leave (just to be safe, remember?). I used an Excel spreadsheet to write down all of my tasks so I could update it as things changed.

Write it all out.

Next, create any procedures that aren’t already made. For me, scheduling our company’s blog posts was something only I have ever done. So I had to create written procedures with clear directions so my replacement could handle. I had to be very, very specific. But that’s okay. You need to be with procedures.

Treat a procedure as if someone off the street was coming in to handle that specific task. You want them to be easy to follow, clear and to the point.

Be specific.

Give specific deadlines. If someone is trying to do their job and yours then you need to give them specific deadlines so they can get it done. Also, you need to give them an idea of how long the task will take them. Keep in mind they don’t do this every day so it may take them longer.

“Mail newsletters on May 27th.” That is a specific deadline.
“Mail newsletters by end of May.” That is not.

The reason you want to give a specific deadline and an idea of how long each task will take is so they can plan the appropriate amount of time to get it done. For me I have marketing letters, emails and touches going out constantly. If something is off a week then I can become annoying to clients and prospects because they are getting touched too often. So I’m very picky about the dates anything goes out. I want to make sure we don’t send anything too close together causing someone to opt-out because they think we send too much information.

Go over everything with your replacement. Schedule an hour or so to go over all of your tasks. Make sure they understand what is expected of them and how to get help if they need it.

Make a copy to give to their supervisor so they will help make sure things are running smoothly.

The next step is very optional, but I am a Type A person so it’s what worked best for me. I took all of the tasks, mailings, blog posts, appointments to be scheduled, etc. and put a note in my Google calendar. That way I could make sure things were getting done at the end of the week with a simple email.

Make it accessible.

Finally, make a folder of all the notes, procedures and daily to-do list that you will be given. That way if you need to add to it, it’s easily accessible. I also liked the idea of having it ready to go just in case I went into labor prematurely and wasn’t going to be there as late as I wanted or thought.

If it’s okay to call you or email you while you’re gone, then let them know. I don’t mind a text, call or email. If I’m busy with baby then I simply won’t answer. However, I would much rather be asked a question before something is done then to learn it wasn’t done the way I wanted.

What did you do to plan for maternity leave?

How I Plan My Day (full-time employee, blogger, wife and more)

How I Plan My Day (full-time employee, blogger, wife and more)

I like to keep myself busy. Ever since I was a little girl, I always wanted to be doing something. I can still hear my Dad’s voice in my head telling me, “You better be careful. You’re burning the candle at both ends.”

It use to annoy me so much when he said that. Mainly because I knew he was right.

I used to spread myself too thin. Nowadays I do a lot better prioritizing everything I want and need to get done. I’m better with my time management. No more wasting precious time on things that don’t matter.

My life’s pretty hectic most days, especially during tax season. I wanted to share with you how I plan my day as a full-time career woman, blogger, soon-to-be-mom, student, friend and wife so I can get it all done.

The first thing on my list every morning is to see what I actually having going on. I don’t want to waste my time on things that aren’t important, so I schedule out everything. I mean everything. Thank goodness for Google Calendar and my Purposeful Planner. It helps keep me in check. I’ve shared my tricks with how I stay organized with Google Calendar before, so check it out.

How I use Google Calendar

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become very aware of what’s on my plate. In college I would say yes to everything. So I found myself spending a lot of long nights in the library studying because it was the only time I had left. I never wanted to miss out, so I always said yes to everything.

The fear of missing out still gets to me some days, but I have to be careful. I have finally realized that it’s okay to miss out on what’s not really important. And I have realized that I can’t push myself into exhaustion if something is just not possible.

Alright, here’s how I plan my day:

6:30 am – wake up and get started. J sets the alarm for 6:30 so he can get ready for work. I am not a morning person, but I have started getting up with him. I like to make his lunch and get his breakfast ready – that way I know he’s eating something decent.

I also let the dogs out and feed them. Then I take care of myself. I like to give myself time to wake up in the mornings. So I make myself breakfast and turn on the local news for about 30 minutes.

7:00 am – get ready for work. Living in a small town is so great. I don’t have to leave my house until about 10 til to get to work in plenty of time. I give myself almost an hour to shower, put on makeup and get dressed.

8:00 am – 12:00 pm – work at the local accounting and financial planning firm. I work on client paperwork, calls, etc.

12:00 – 1:00 pm – lunch. I typically grab lunch with my Mom and Dad most days. It’s another perk of living in my hometown. I really love getting to see them as much as I do. I work with my Dad so I get to see him everyday, but something about grabbing lunch with both parents is really nice.

1:00 – 5:00 pm – I do a variety of tasks in the afternoon. Most days I like to study for the CFP® exam. But if I’m not working on the Certified Financial Planner® designation then I can be found working on marketing pieces, the office’s blog and social media platforms or finishing client paperwork.

5:00 – 6:00 pm – dinner with J. We joke that we’re old folks because we like to have dinner so early. But J starts his day an hour before me so by the time he gets home, he’s usually starving. So we just plan to eat by 5:30 and have some time together.

habits to better your life

6:00 – 8:00 pm – downtime with J and working on the blog. I like to spend my evenings at home. We usually catch up on our favorite shows while I’m working on the laptop. I schedule out social media posts, write out blog posts and work on fixing up the blog. I usually take this time to plan out a few more posts to keep me going too.

8:00 pm – I turn everything off and just relax the rest of the night. Again, we’re like old folks here too. We like to be in bed well before 9:00 each night. I know once the baby is here that will change. But for now I will get my sleep while I can.

I do this Monday through Friday without fail. During Tax Season I also follow this schedule on Saturdays.

Sundays are our days to be at home. We like to work on projects around the house. We’ve been busy updating a back bedroom and transforming it into the nursery. I also like to meal prep on Sundays and do my grocery shopping for the next two weeks. I’ve found grocery shopping every 2 weeks really helps us save serious money.

Maybe I should do an updated posts on how we meal plan??? I’ll work on that!

On Sundays I like to take photos for the blog. That’s when I see what posts I have coming up and what images are needed. Then I work on staging those and editing them for the site. It’s hard to take good photos during the week. By the time dinner is done it’s usually dark or getting dark out. Sundays are the best days for me to fit it in.

Most weekends that aren’t in Tax Season are filled with visiting family and friends. Also, we like to travel to the lake to go boating so that takes up quite a bit of time each summer. I try not to fill my weekends with too many work or blog commitments so I can keep my free-time to spend with people I’m crazy about.

That’s it. That’s my day-to-day life. I know at some point I will need to commit more time to the blog since I want to see it grow. During the summer months it’s easier because I work four 10-hour days and have three day weekends. So I can devote Fridays to the blog, but for now this is the time I allow myself. I don’t want to spread myself too thin. Those days of pulling all-nighters are in the past!

My Favorite Maternity Work Wear On a Budget

maternity work wear on a budget

I don’t know how pregnant women do it… I just don’t get it.  How do they look so put together when they’re 6 months + pregnant.  That’s a lie, I started looking like a hot mess around month 4 – thank you headaches and being nauseated all the time!  How do they not live in stretchy pants and over sized t-shirts?  I know I do.  Well… when I’m not in the office I do.

I have found a few work pieces that I have rocked the majority of this pregnancy.  Thanks to working in an accounting office and it being tax season, I’ve had to pull myself together a bit so I don’t look a homeless person.  Thanks to my college days, I have the homeless, disheveled looked down pretty good!  Over sized t-shirts, big cardigans, leggings as outerwear, big messy bun on top and my Ugg boots.  That was my go-to look for most of college.  Nowadays, the closer I get to 30 the more I realize I can’t walk around my small town like that.  At least not unless it’s a weekend with really bad weather.

Here’s my go-to favorite places to shop for maternity work wear:
Destination Maternity
Kohl’s
Amazon

Destination Maternity is where I have purchased all of my work pants.  The petite size fits me perfectly to where I can where comfy flats with every look.  Plus, they usually have killer sales that I can hit to save some serious money.  Because, maternity clothes aren’t cheap!  At all!  And I like to be frugal, so I watch for sales and make my pants work hard for me.

destination maternity work clothes

I bought this style in black, khaki, brown, and gray.  I looked at the price, and I bought when it was on sale and buy one get one… so I saved some serious money.  While I really like the pants, I would not have paid full price for them – that wasn’t possible for the financial prepping we’re doing for the baby.  Now I have something to wear with just about any top and any pair of shoes in my closet.

Budget Tip: Sign up to receive their emails.  They will send a few each week, but always offer a Buy 1 Get 1 50% off sale or a final clearance sale.  

kohls maternity work wear

Kohl’s has my favorite tops – they are by Oh Baby by Motherhood.  I really like this sweater.  The pricing just seems to be more budget friendly coming from Kohl’s then from most other places I’ve found.  Plus, I like to time their sales with Kohl’s cash to make an extra budget friendly.  I like my tops to do double duty for me.  Meaning I can wear them to work for a client meeting, but can also throw them on while I’m running errands during the weekend.  I like to stick to light weight sweaters and cotton tops since this baby has added some serious heat to my body.

Budget Tip: shop on kohls.com and search out for promo codes.  You can usually search for some or sign up to receive their promo emails.  If you time this with their Kohl’s Cash offering then you’re sure to save some money!  I like to pair promo codes with Kohl’s Cash then turn around to spend my Kohl’s Cash at a later date.

Believe it or not Amazon has some great maternity work wear pieces to choose from. Most come with free shipping if you have an order of $35 or more, which can’t be beat!  Plus, returns aren’t usually too difficult if you need to exchange something that does not fit.

Living in a small town, there are simply no maternity clothes to choose from.  I’m not kidding.  Not one single store in my town sells maternity clothes.  I’ve looked at all of them, I’ve called all of them and I’ve scoured for anything.  So I’m having to do most of my shopping online or when we’re in St. Louis.  I’m used to shopping online and taking the risk of it not working out, but I haven’t had that happen yet.  I’ve been lucky I guess.

I couple all of my online shopping with ebates.com.  I’ve talked about how amazing ebates is so check out my post!

I would recommend checking the reviews or comments on anything before you purchase.

You can get a good idea of how a piece will fit based upon someone else’s review.  I love when women will share their pre-pregnancy size too.  It makes it so much easier to know if something will fit me if it fit someone who wears a similar size as me.

What are your go-to favorite pieces or stores for maternity work wear?

How to have a Productive Week

how to have a productive week

Ever have a case of the Mondays?

Nothing is going your way. You just can’t seem to catch up and the thought of getting ahead is probably not going to happen until Friday. Let’s be real – this is not our week.

Well that was me most Monday mornings. I was struggling bad. I would always have these great hopes of kicking the week off with a bang, but then it wouldn’t happen.

Until I changed one thing… one simple thing.

I plan on Sunday nights.  

That’s how to have a productive week.

That’s it. Simple huh?

I take a look at my calendar on Sunday evening while J and I are relaxing in front of the TV. I keep J and I’s calendar on Google – one for my personal events and one for the family and/or J’s events.

I like to take a quick glance at the week ahead to know what I’ll be up against. If it’s a quiet week then I don’t need to do much planning, but if it’s going to be a hectic one then I typically start laying out how it’s all going to go.

Especially with it being tax season, I’m working 6 days a week and it’s really easy to get behind on stuff around the house. I like to plan out when we’re going to go to the grocery store, work on the nursery, meal planning, and what appointments I have at the office.

Meal planning has been such a huge help for J and I lately. I wrote about how we meal plan awhile back (I even have a freebie planner to download), and it’s such a great tool to have. Especially on the nights I have to work late. I can typically plan something easy to make that night and J will have it ready for when I get home.

It’s awesome!

What do you do to get ready for a busy week? I swear by planning ahead on Sunday nights and would recommend it to anyone and everyone!  This is how to plan for a productive week.

How to Rock Your Job Like a Boss

how to rock your job like a boss

With over 10 years of experience, I’ve learned how to rock your job and help you stick around for the long haul.

Between high school, college and now I’ve had a number of jobs.  Now, don’t start thinking that I’ve job hopped over the years.  That’s not true.  I typically stick at a job for well over a year, but I sometimes add 1 or 2 jobs on top of my main one.  You see, I don’t like to sit still and I like to make money.  So I’m willing to bust my butt to reach my goals, which I have to say, are mighty big!  

Over the years I’ve seen co-workers come and go.  I’ve seen bosses get agitated with some characteristics of my fellow co-workers. I’ve created a list and I want to share it below with you.  There are certain things that we all know we shouldn’t do on our job – steal, lie to our boss, procrastinate, etc.  But do we know what we should be doing?  What qualities do we need to possess to be a standout employee?  Well, I’m here to help.

I’ve always tried to put my work first.  Now, don’t get me wrong – if my family or friends really need me then I’ll be there in a heartbeat.  But I like to think that my strong work ethic at the office has helped my bosses to be more understanding when I do need to take off.  I also try to not make a habit of it.

A few years ago I was working in a small attorney’s office.  At the time, it was just the attorney and me.  Now, years later, the attorney has expanded well beyond the two-man operation from when I first started.  That has nothing to do with me, other than the fact that I was willing to help out and was honest when I couldn’t take on more.  Anyways… back to my story…

A few years ago, one of my closest friends lost someone very important to them.  Now they never asked me to attend the funeral.  They knew I was working and had school, they also knew the 6 hour round-trip car ride wasn’t going to be easy with everything else going on.  But I knew in my heart that I needed to be there.  This girl meant the world to me and she still does. So I asked my boss if I could have 1 ½ days off.  He asked why and I could tell he was thinking – this isn’t even a family member why should I give it to you.  But I said one thing that really helped – I understand this is short notice, I will work late the next few days to get caught up and I do not expect to be paid for vacation time.  He looked at me and said if it’s that important then you need to be there.  I can manage for a day without you, but be prepared to work when you get back.  So I left.  I drove 3 hours home, went to the funeral, sat by my best friend and was just present.  

At the end of the day, I drove back and showed up to work on time the next day.  I worked my tail off getting caught up and none of my work slacked in the least.  I proved that I was worth having.  But what I never admitted and was hoping that I wouldn’t have to is that I knew in that moment how valuable I was.  I knew that I was replaceable, but I also knew my friend wasn’t.  So I was willing to take that risk, but by being granted a little freedom and understanding, I was willing to prove him that I was worth keeping.  That’s what you have to do.  You have to be willing to give more than you take.

Let’s face it – employers are looking for key characteristics of a good employee.  

If you have a few qualities that’s good, majority then that’s great, but if you have all of them then you are going to be in a golden position to work your way up.  

Here’s what I’ve noticed over the past ten years as the qualities employers are craving for in their employees:

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SHOW UP EARLY – I understand rare mornings happen and your alarm doesn’t go off or the baby was sick and you just couldn’t get there on time, but the majority of your mornings you need to show up early.  I’m not talking an hour early, but a few minutes or so.  I know when I get to the office, I have to turn my computer on, get some water and set my purse down.  By getting there a few minutes early, I can take care of all of that without rushing around.  That way when 8:00 am hits you’re already at your desk ready to work.

STAY LATE – If the work isn’t done then be willing to stay a few minutes late.  It won’t happen every day and it will really show your employer you’re committed.  

I had a job once I loved.  It was hard and challenging, but I loved it.  My boss was great, my co-workers were wonderful and I went to work everyday loving what I was doing.  So on the rare occasion a client’s documents weren’t completed or a client needed a late appointment, I was willing to stick around.  I didn’t do it because I was hourly and liked the extra 30 minutes of pay – that wouldn’t be worth it.  I did it because I thoroughly enjoyed what I did and liked helping.  That’s how it should be.  

BE POSITIVE – No one likes Negative Nancy.  Don’t be a naysayer.  There is nothing worse than someone who complains all. the. time.  Stay upbeat and you will notice how easy it is to hit your goals or how much more willing your co-workers will be to help you out.  You never know – you’re day may actually go by faster, too!

Ask for more work – Once you’ve completed your daily, weekly or monthly tasks don’t just sit around on Facebook.  Reach out to get more.  Try to learn as much as you can because you never know when it’ll come in handy.  Plus, if you’re willing to take on more work to help out then that might cut back the nights you have to stay late.  Just a thought…

TAKE THE INITIATIVE – This quality goes with the one above it – asking for more work.  If you see something that needs to be done then do it, even if it’s not your assigned task.  It’ll keep you busy, help the office and you might just prove yourself a bit, too.  Plus, taking the initiative means not putting something off until the last minute.  There is nothing more frustrating than watching a co-worker be assigned a task to complete by the end of the month.  Here we are on the last day of the month and they are just starting the task.  Then you find out that they can’t complete their assignment because they don’t have all the pieces.  If they would have started 3 weeks ago when it was first assigned, then they would have noticed what all they needed and it could have been ordered.  

Here’s another example of taking the initiative.  I had a job once where the receptionist was suppose to clean while she had free time.  If we were extra busy one week then the cleaning would slack because she would have less free time.  So if I went to the bathroom, I would just grab the cleaner and wipe everything down when I was done.  It took less than 2 minutes and the bathroom was clean for the next person.  Plus, it really helped out the girl at the front desk who was swamped with calls and appointments.  She was instantly my best friend because I was willing to help her.  

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GO ABOVE AND BEYOND – again, show them you’re worth it.  I am a huge believer in NOT doing the bare minimum.  If I want my job to last and I want to prove that I’m irreplaceable then I am willing to take on more work, work harder than anyone else and commit to the company.  

In one job I had worked my way up to be the office manager, which meant I was writing everyone’s paycheck, balancing books, paying our payroll taxes, ordering supplies, managing and training the staff.  However, the office needed more.  The staff was behind and we needed help with drafting documents.  So instead of saying, “sorry, that’s not my job anymore.”  I figured out a way to help.  I took the smaller cases aways from the paralegals so they could spend more time on the bigger, more complicated ones.  It was hard and I was stressed some days, but being able to help out was so much more important to me.

BE WILLING TO LEARN – The first thing you have to realize in any job that you take on is that you don’t know everything.  With that in mind, you have to be open.  You have to be willing to try new ways of getting the job done and finding better solutions.

BE WILLING TO TAKE CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM – I used to be the first one to become defensive when I just felt like I was going to be criticized.  It’s a hard pill to swallow to find out that the work you did isn’t good enough or right.  It’s rough.  But to grow as a person you have to be willing to take criticism.  Now, I am NOT talking about destructive, down-right mean criticism.  I’m talking about listening and learning from someone that is willing to help you grow.  

One really standout way to take constructive criticism is by taking notes.  In the moment, I may not be thinking clear because I’m trying to still defend why I completed those actions.  So by taking notes then I can process everything on my terms.  Plus, it’ll help me the next the situation comes up because I can refer back to what was suggested to me.  It shows the boss (wo)man that you’re really invested in getting better and are willing to learn.

BE OKAY WITH GRUNT WORK – Let’s go back to the time I cleaned the bathroom to help out.  Now, it wasn’t the only time I helped clean that office nor was it the only job I had that I cleaned at.  I remember working at Office Depot my first few years in college.  I liked it for the most part, but my least favorite task was cleaning the bathrooms.  Disgusting.  But it was a task that rotated between staff members so when it was my turn, I would roll up my sleeves and do the best job I could.  

I knew that job and that task wasn’t forever.  And I also knew that I wasn’t too good to scrub a toilet.  I was not raised to think that something was beneath me, so I gave it my all.  You have to be will to scrub a few toilets (figuratively or literally speaking) to get ahead.  What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.

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BE A TEAM PLAYER – you have to be willing to put the company’s well-being above your own.  Now I’m not suggesting you lie, cheat or steal to help the company, but what I am saying is pitching in to help out.  At my current career (I say career and not job here, because this is what I will be doing for the rest of my life) we have quotas to hit. So, as a team we help each other reach our individual quota. If I’ve hit mine then I ask who needs help and vice versa.  That’s they way it’s suppose to be.  If we each hit our quota then we win individually (a nice little bonus!), but if we help the office reach the overall goal then the office does better, which we will see a benefit from in the long-run.

Like I said earlier, you have to have some of these qualities to be successful at any job.  I used a lot of office-type jobs in my example, but I’ve done most types of jobs.  The only one I haven’t done is food.  Well, I worked at an ice cream shop and snow cone stand one summer, but that’s the closest I’ve come to food.  I’ve worked at several different types of retail stores and office jobs, but they all have one thing in common to be successful.

You can check out my other career tips here

You have to be willing to work hard, show up and get the job done.  This is how your rock your job like a boss!

My Fiverr Experiment

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Fiverr. Here we go!

Ever wonder how those blogs make so much income every month?  Well I do.  I am trying hard to figure how they make affiliate income, how they are able to get guest posts opportunity and so much more!  So I am going to work really hard this year to make this blog profitable.  Now I don’t want to sell my soul and I don’t want to create so much work for myself that I end up hating blogging, but I am curious how it all works.  I’ve been spending the last month researching and reading so I can learn how it’s done.  I know I need to take baby steps and that’s my plan.

The first experiment I am going to try to start making a little more income is with Fiverr.com.  I have setup my first gig and have started promoting it across my social media.  I also have been reading other blogs about their Fiverr experience and think I am ready to see what I can get from it.

Here is what I plan to do on Fiverr:

Here’s what I can’t do (at least right now):

  • I don’t have a fancy, high-dollar budget to actually spend on promoting my gig either on Fiverr or Facebook, so I will have to wait until some income comes in before that’s a possibility
  • Be too cheesy.  I know a lot of bloggers recommend reaching out to people in your network or social media that could benefit from this, but I just can’t get myself to do that yet.

What ways are you making extra income on the side? I’d love to know!  Write a comment and share!

Talking To Your Boss About Leaving Your Job :: My Experience

leaving your job If you read my last post about knowing when it was time to leave a job then you know what decision I made.  I have been with this company for over 5 years and have worked my way up from a part-time receptionist to full-time office manager and bookkeeper and then came full circle to a full-time paralegal.  I had signs that showed me this job wasn’t the one for me, but when I realized that then I also knew it was time to talk to my boss.

It’s hard to sit down with someone that you’ve gotten to know over the past few years to have a hard discussion with.  Luckily for me, I can have a pretty open conversation with my boss and walk away feeling that it was productive.  Here’s how I went about talking to my boss about wanting to leave:

1) start the dialogue and letting him know that you want to talk.
2) be honest with how you are currently feeling.  Some may say that the workplace is not the place for feelings, but when you know someone for over 5 years and he’s seen a lot from you then it’s okay.
3) do not back down from what you want.
4) tell him the issues you are having – some may be personal and some may be the office procedures.
5) be flexible about leaving.

For me, there were some cases that we needed to finish up.  Yes, I could have left him without any help, but that wouldn’t have been very nice.  Plus, he’s been there for me in the past and the least I could do was be there.  I sat down and had this conversation about a month before wanting to leave.  That way we both had a specific date in mind and the chance to wind up some cases.

It’s never easy to start a new chapter in your life, but sometimes it’s a necessity.  Do not let being miserable at your job make you an unhappy person.  Life is too short to be angry and sad.  Only you have the ability to make change happen.

If you dream of having a different life or a different career then realize that you might be standing in our own way.  I had so many supportive people around me telling me it was okay to make a switch, but I had to finally believe it to make it happen.