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Preparing for Vacation: A Checklist for When You’re Away

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This is our favorite time of year. You can feel it in the air every morning when you walk outside. Pretty soon, school bus traffic will slow to a trickle after the kids are let out for summer vacation. Summertime is upon us. It’s time for a much needed vacation. Maybe a trip to the mountains this year or a cruise. You’re ready for one.

Planning for Your Absence

It’s been months since an official day off and nearly half a year since the holidays. You’ve made your reservations, coordinated pet care, shopped for the essentials. Now, it’s time to plan for your absence at work.

One of the best ways to have a great vacation is to feel reassured that everything back at the office has been taken care of, because you don’t want to be thinking about work while on vacation. You need some well-deserved rest and relaxation. That’s why we have compiled a checklist for you to follow, just to help you stay organized and ready for adventure.

Vacation Checklist

☐ Prioritize your workload. This may seem like a no brainer, but low priority projects have a way of creeping in and taking too much of your time. Plus, make sure to write it all down.

☐ Take a look ahead. Planning your return is as important as stepping away. Adjust your calendar and be strategic with your scheduling.

☐ Schedule a buffer. Try to leave a couple hours open before you leave and keep a couple open when you return.

☐ Let your colleagues know. If you give everyone notice far enough in advance, then they can adjust their calendar, too. This is even more helpful when working on teams or in committees.

☐ Contact high-priority clients a week before you leave. Reach out and let them know where you’ll be and who they can get in touch with if they need anything.

☐ Prepare a return agenda. Your head will be fuzzy, but in a good way. You’ll have vacation on your brain. We’ve all been there. Plan ahead and be ready or else you’ll get overwhelmed.

☐ Let everyone know your availability. Work continues even while you’re on vacation. Taking a work-related call can be a necessary, minor disruption. Make sure your colleagues have a number to reach you and let them know days and times when you’ll be available. Also, let them know when you’ll be disconnected.

☐ Set up your Backup. Who’s covering for you while you’re gone? Make sure they are aware of your projects, how to handle emergencies, and when they should contact you.

☐ A list of tips. Providing your backup with a list of tips can save them time and reduce frustration.

☐ Put in a little extra time. Adding an hour or two a day can tie up loose ends and save you a lot of headaches after your return.

☐ Clean up. A cluttered desk will make it harder for your backup to help you. Organize your files and tidy up around your office. Don’t forget to water the plants.

☐ Archive and back up files. Make sure all of your files and emails are backed up and available.

☐ Out of office. Set up your out of office messages. Customize your auto-reply and voicemail to reflect the dates you’ll be away and your backup’s name and contact information.

☐ Brain dump. You may want to quickly type out a list of notes before you leave. This will help you get back into the swing of things when you return.

☐ Say good-bye to everyone!

Planning to Have Fun

It’s always important to work with your colleagues prior to leaving the office. You may need to delegate tasks while you’re away. Also, having an emergency plan in place is needed most when you’re out of the country, sippin’ cocktails on that cruise of a lifetime, where there’s no internet or phone service. We hope you have a great vacation!

Pinstripe Book Shelf: Self-Made by Nely Galan

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Don’t Buy Shoes, Buy Buildings: Lessons from Self-Made by Nely Galan.  Back in October of 2017, the Pinstripe team attended the Women’s Conference of Florida (read the recap here.) One of the most memorable presentations of the conference was the very first one – Nely Galan. This vibrant, exciting woman gave us energy, confidence, and drive. We walked out of that room feeling empowered! She’s one of those people with an infectious energy – she makes you want to take your day by storm. Her parting gift to the entire audience – a copy of her book, “Self-Made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every Way.” Needless to say, after that presentation, we couldn’t wait to read it.

Self-Made – The Woman

Nely Galan, daughter of hard-working immigrant parents, built her career on engendered hard work, positivity, and by learning from her mistakes every step of the way. She gave herself solid role models and was goal-oriented; she was constantly setting her goals and asking herself the question, “will this get me closer to my goal?” about every move she made. Sometimes she took a step forward through her decisions, and sometimes a step backward, but she always kept her eye on the target. She also continued to update her goals to keep up with her own growth – here is one important lesson from Nely: check in with your goals often – you may find that they change over time and as you grow.

Self-Made – The Book

Her book is essentially an expanded version of her presentation – each chapter contains a lesson or a self-realization goal and a series of stories from her own life explaining how she achieved or learned the lesson. Many of the chapters also feature stories about other women succeeding using similar techniques or approaches. Overall, the book is just like Nely, energetic and full of positivity.

A few lessons:

  • Channel a role model (even if you’ve never met them) – in tough situations, ask yourself, “what would Michelle Obama do?”
  • Buy buildings, not shoes – Nely is all about being smart with your money, in particular investing in real estate
  • Failures are lessons – don’t be afraid to fail
  • No matter where you come from or what your background, you can become a powerful, self-made woman
  • Revisit your goals often
  • Don’t rely on a hero or Prince Charming to save you or support you – be self-made!
  • Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it can offer freedom

One problem with a book being like a person is that Nely has a certain presence that is charismatic, her voice is uplifting, and her energy is palpable and contagious. The book alone would not have had the same impact if we had not seen her in action. I am not usually a self-help book reader, but Galan’s presentation compelled me, irresistibly, to read this book. So powerful were her words and spirit that even a skeptic was led to spend precious reading time on a genre outside of my preference. I was not disappointed, but not astounded either.

To sum up this review – if you like self-help books and need a boost of positivity and energy, I recommend reading this book. If you can see Nely Galan presenting in person to supplement the book, even better. There are no Earth-shattering secrets, no profound lessons in this book. It is refreshing and fun to read, but it can get repetitive and reinforces many things we likely already apply to our daily lives – work hard, work smart, have confidence in yourself, and spend/invest wisely.

Some Tips to Get Organized during the Busy Holiday Season

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‘Tis the season to be busy—really busy! How can you make sure nothing gets forgotten or lost in the shuffle?
The amount of time it takes to do our job never seems to be enough. Then, the holidays hit. With everything going on, it’s amazing how we can ever keep up.

With all of the interruptions, we quickly lose track of time. You wake up and think your day is organized, then it quickly evaporates the minute you sit down to look at your email. Scheduled meetings get rescheduled, and rescheduled, again. Then, there are the emergencies, things we kind of plan for but never really can, because they are usually something that shouldn’t be happening. No matter how hard we try, there never seems to be enough time in the day.

The To-Do List

If you have one already, great! If not, then you need it. Why? Because years of research say it can improve your day.

No one wants every minute of their day to be dictated by a schedule. That feels too mechanical and boring. We aren’t machines. But, if you take the time to jot down the most important things for your day, it will eliminate any added stress and anxiety caused by the holidays.

A good To-Do List has to have realistic objectives, yet remain flexible. You will sabotage your list with unrealistic expectations. Remember, this isn’t the time of year to clean behind your refrigerator. Leave that for the spring. It also acts as a visual reminder of what you accomplished during the day or the week.

Use an App

Here is PC Mags top ten list of To-Do List apps. Some of these apps will synch with your computer or tablet. You can also share it with your coworkers or family. Best of all, they keep a record of your activities, so you can look back to see what you accomplished.

Order of Importance

Organize your objectives into order of importance. Then, check them off one-at-a-time. Having a deadline for each task can focus your efforts to get it done. Tasks without deadlines are put off to the next day. No deadline—no sense of urgency. You’ll feel more accomplished at the end of the day with a list that’s crossed off.

First Things, First

Do the things you don’t like to do, first. Highly successful people are successful for many reasons. One of them is that they do the things they don’t like doing. Why do they bother? Because, they know it’s necessary to be successful.

We avoid doing the things we don’t like to do. At the end of the day, you still need to do the thing you didn’t want to do. See how this adds to your stress?

Bring on the Holiday Cheer

Getting organized is how you can gain a few minutes during your day to enjoy the season. No matter how you keep your To-Do List, you’ll be able to do those extra things that make the holidays so special. What techniques do you use to keep holiday stress to a minimum?

Work-Life Balance: What is It and How Do You Achieve It?

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People use the phrase “work-life balance” often, and it’s even become a selling point for companies who want to attract new talent. In this way, the elusive “work-life balance” has in a sense become a benefit of employment, much in the same way that health insurance or vacation days are benefits. But how do you define this phrase, and more importantly, how do you REALLY achieve it?

From our perspective, work-life balance is a moving target, something that cannot be given one definition. We think that it looks different for every person – the difficult part is deciding what it looks like for yourself, and then implementing activities and habits to achieve your own personal balance. This is why it is difficult to quantify, and even more difficult to compare. There are so many variables at play, and below are just a few examples of work-life balance.

Example A: “The Work-IS-Life Balance”

These are often entrepreneurs who are energetic, full of ideas, and LOVE what they do. Perhaps they have grown a business to the point where it “runs itself.” Perhaps they have sold a business and are working on their next venture. Either way, they really like working, and sometimes, they have several businesses that they are working on (and in), and because they love what they do so much, they end up spending the majority of their time working. For them, however, a lot of this work is enjoyable and thus considered free-time activities.

Example B: “Work Hard, Play Hard”

This person works a lot, and is always on top of their work. They probably at least like what they do, if not love it, and so they don’t mind spending an above average amount of time at work. However, when they do take time for themselves, they make it count. They may go on adventurous vacations where they completely disconnect and immerse themselves in their activities or perhaps they prefer a more relaxing island getaway – either way, they achieve work-life balance by trying to fully immerse themselves in what they are doing, whether it is work or play.

Example C: “Treat Yourself”

When this person leaves work, they leave it completely. They do not believe in overworking and spend a good amount of time on self-care and family activities. They believe that there are more important things to life than working and making money, and they prefer to spend their time on those things. They will not be found in the office on the weekends or evenings, unless it’s required.

Example D: “Balancing Act”

This person works a lot and always seems frazzled. They try to make time for family and friends, but this ends up stressing them out even more because they feel like they’ve neglected their to-do list. They just can’t seem to catch up. One of the main problems this person faces is not balance, per-se, but time management. Perhaps if they could learn how to manage their schedule a bit better and use their time more wisely, their work-life balance would be more harmonious and they wouldn’t feel so frazzled.

These are just a few archetypes that we’ve noticed over the years. What does your work-life balance look like?