Wednesday, October 19, 2016

5 Secrets to Giving the Perfect Gift

There's a book out there somewhere all about love languages.  One of those love languages is receiving gifts.  Well, no offense to the love language book, but I think you forgot one:  Giving gifts.

I absolutely love to give gifts.  But not just any gift.  I like to really put some thought behind the things I give people.  For example, one year for Christmas, I gave my sister the beginnings of a scrap book that we could work on together and add more of our memories.  Another year, I made my mom Christmas ornaments out of things like paper plates, pipe cleaners, and old photos of my sisters and me.  It was sentimental and exactly my kind of gift.  

And lets be honest, who doesn't love that moment when your sister opens your gift on her birthday and tears instantly come to her eyes?  To me, that's the best feeling in the world. 

Today I'm going to share 5 secrets to giving the perfect gift (even if you are never that person who brings the emotion to the birthday party. 

1//  Remember that you are giving this gift, not receiving it. 

One of the biggest mistakes people make when shopping for a gift, is they shop for themselves when looking for a gift. When you think "Well I would like to get that..." You're not shopping for your boyfriend or your husband, or your mother-in-law, you're shopping for yourself.  

2//  Shop in the right place. 

If your shopping for your friend who is all about sustainability and "green" business practices, you may want to shop at a place like Uncommon Goods rather than a large franchise.  You're more likely to find that unique gift that your friend can truly appreciate.  

3//  Know what occasion you're shopping for. 

One of the best things about Uncommon Goods, is that they break down their products by occasion.  For example, I'm looking for a gift for Corey's and my first anniversary.  I can go here and find all kind of creative ideas.

4//  Think outside the box.

One of the best ways to do this is to purchase a personalized gift. Why buy newlyweds a blender, when you can get them a personalized piece of art that they can hang in their family home for the rest of their married lives?  This one is my personal favorite.  You can check out more personalized gifts here

5//  Show them that you know them.

Picking up a shot glass in the gift shop for someone who doesn't drink probably wouldn't go over so well.  Really look for that perfect birthday gift.  Something personal like this fillable book could be the best possible gift for someone who is more sentimental that material.  (hint hint Corey ;)

I promise, if you use these 5 tips when you're searching or the perfect gift, you will not fail.  You can thank me later when on Christmas day, mom is crying over the gift you gave her being exactly what she never knew she wanted.  ;)

A few things worth noting:  I like to support businesses where I believe in their mission.  I chose to work with Uncommon Goods because of they cultivate a community of artists and quality products. Buying from a place you truly want to support could make your gift the perfect one all by its self. 

*This post was sponsored by Uncommon Goods. All opinions are my own.*

Thursday, October 6, 2016

5 Tips for the Working Mom

On Monday I went back to work.  For those of you who may not know, I work as a manager at a call center.  I am over the training department.  The company I work for is a start up.  That means that we are growing very quickly and constantly.  Things change every day.  That means that I am a workaholic.  The last few months of not worrying about work have been complete heaven, but going back to work has been somewhat refreshing. 

The last week of my maternity leave I did a few things to prepare to head back to work.  I cleaned my house, sent a few emails and started working on my plans for how I'm going to survive being a working mom. So far things are going really well. 

Here's a few tips for making that tough transition to full time mom and full time employee. 

1//  Get your clothes in order
One of my biggest worries for going back to work was getting there on time.  To try to ease this worry I took a few steps during my last week of leave.

I washed all my clothes and organized my closet and dresser.   This way when I go to dress myself, I know where my work pants and shirts are at.  No more digging through everything I own and taking 45 minutes just to FIND my clothes that are appropriate for work.

2//  Do parts of your morning routine at night
As much as I like to have a shower in the morning, I haven't had a lot of time for them in the AM.  Sometimes I get one in the morning, but I have more time to get us ready.  
I also used to make Corey lunch in the morning.  Now I pack most of it at night and save myself about 10 minutes every morning. 

3//  Don't get back in bed.
You WILL fall back to sleep.  You WILL be late.  Your make up WILL be all smudged.  And you will not start that day out right. 

 4// Have a back up plan for childcare
I use a private baby sitter for childcare.  That being said, she will occasionally need days off.  I've made sure my employer is okay with me working from home if necessary to take care of Clara if the sitter is unable.  I also have a back up for my back up.  Knowing I'm covered when I'm back at work is a huge relief. 

5// Meal plan
I am the cook at home. Corey's specialties are microwave dinners, ramen noodles, and frozen pizza.  While there is nothing wrong with that, I don't want him microwaving dinner every night  To keep that from happening, I meal plan.  The hardest part of cooking every night is deciding what to make with the stuff I've got at home, and that causes me a lot of stress.  Having a meal plan saves time and ensures that I have everything I need to make what we're having.  

Monday, October 3, 2016

8 Things You Should Be Doing to Earn Your Next Promotion

Today was my first day back at work!  Leaving my baby at home for 8 hours was possibly the hardest thing I've had to do as a parent so far, but I know it will be nice to be back in the office. 
I haven't shared a whole lot about what I do here on the blog, and I always say there is no time like the present!

I started working for a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company in June of 2015.  I had just moved back from Las Vegas and I was wanting a summer job to keep me busy and put some money in my pocket.  I never expected I would still be there over a year later, but I ended up working really hard and getting promoted very quickly. Within a few weeks I was placed on a tier 2 team and training other representatives.  Shortly after that, I became the trainer and as the company has grown, so has my position.  I owe each promotion I've gotten to each of these secrets to success below.

8 Things you should be doing to earn your next promotion

1// Dressing to impress.

My grandma told me when I was younger that you should always dress for the job you want, not for the job you have.  I really don't even know why she told me that.  I didn't get my first job till after she passed away.  But let me tell you, she was right.  Dressing professionally even when you don't HAVE to will get you noticed.  I know of employees who were promoted based on the fact that they always looked the part. 
 Dress one grade fancier than you're required.  If you wear a uniform make sure every hair is in place, you're clean shaven, and you don't look like you just rolled out of bed.  Use an iron and for the love of all that is working, brush your teeth.  

2// Showing your worth

Employers want to see that you're valuable.  They want to be able to put you in a position and see that you can excel no matter where they place you.  When you're given the opportunity to give input, do so.  If you have a chance to make a suggestion or affect change, don't wait to be asked! Showing that you're valuable is extremely important to earning your next promotion.

 Always do your best work.  Even if you're doing something extremely easy and below your skill level.  If you're given a task that requires a more efficient process, implement it and share your results when you're finished.  The proof will be in the work you produce. 

3// Going the extra mile

Doing the bare minimum is never going to get you noticed.  In fact, it will make you invisible. Aiming for exceptional is what will get you noticed.  Set yourself apart from other employees by impressing a client or customer with your customer care skills, your knowledge, or your efficiency. 
Take any and all chances to participate in work activities.  This shows a sense of community in the work place which is important for supervising and management.  If you're working with a client or a customer, do your very best to ensure they have the best possible experience.  Who knows, they may even leave you a positive review!

4//  Showing up

Showing up to work is half the battle.  It's important that you're there when you're scheduled.  If your attendance is poor or you frequently request time off, you'll look as if work is not a priority and you won't be there to handle more responsibility.

5// Showing your willingness to learn

Being teachable is very important.  You may think you know everything there is to know about your job, but there is always more you can learn.  

6// Being kind and sociable

Being in management or supervising a team is very different than being a team member.  Of course you still need to able to do the tasks you ask of your team, but there is more to it than that.  You should be a trusted resource for your colleagues.  Employers like to see that you can interact with other well and build rapport. 

7// Following the rules

This is a no brainer, however, if you're an overachiever, this may be harder than you think.  For example, if you're policy is that each department handles different aspects of a customer's experience then you should only provide them with what you are permitted to provide.  If they need something another department should do, allow them to do so.  Breaking rules, even if it's to help a customer, is not going to be received well. 

8//  Being a team player 

This can have a lot of different meanings.  To me, being a team player is mostly about being observant and listening to others.  Recognizing that team work makes the dream work is an important part of being a valuable employee.  
I'll leave you with a bonus tip for earning your next promotion: 
Always take a chance.  If your employer posts a listing that you're interested in, apply.  They can't promote you if they don't know who you are!  I work for a smaller company where everyone knows everyone.  I didn't need an interview to get my job, but you probably will! And if at first you don't succeed, keep on trying! It's so important not to give up.  The more your boss sees you in the interview chair, the more likely you are to earn a promotion.  
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