What to Do When Your Office Temperature is Never Right

Office temperature controlIs there a single solution to making an office’s temperature more comfortable if big windows make it too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer? Reader A wonders…

I just started as an associate attorney and it’s my first time with my very own office! It’s so great to have my own four walls. My issue is that one of those walls is actually windows leading to outside, which is great except it makes temperature control a nightmare. Right now, it lets in tons of sun, which makes my office far too hot. I’ve been told by the person who previously occupied my office that in the winter, she froze because of the massive windows. I’m considering looking into an air conditioner for now, but when winter hits, I’ll need a heater. Any idea of a combo unit that I can just switch over when the weather changes? I’d really like to just have one unit, preferably not one that’s massive or noisy.

First, congrats on your own office, Reader A! I’m curious to hear what the readers say. We’ve talked about cold offices and hot offices and how to dress professionally in hot weather and cold weather, but not for dealing with wide temperature discrepancies within a private office like this. Here are my thoughts:

[Read more…]

Do Multiple Devices Boost Your Productivity — or Your Overwhelm?

multiple-devices-boost-productivityHow many devices do you have? Does having multiple devices boost your productivity — or just add to the feeling of being overwhelmed? Reader A has an interesting question:

So I was wondering, how many pieces of technology do you and your readers have? I am increasingly getting overwhelmed by it all. I have a desktop both at home and at work of course, then an iPad, then a MacBook Air, then my personal iPhone, and my work iPhone!! Too much I am thinking. So, if you had to ditch one (or more than one), what would it be? I would think the home desktop; yet, it is a pain to connect remotely to my desktop at work from my laptop or others. What then?

Interrrrrresting question — I’ve talked about my being overwhelmed by information, but not about device overwhelm. I’m curious to hear what readers say here, but I may have some solutions for you to help prevent device overwhelm… (That said, if possible I would ditch one of your two iPhones if at all possible — but if you’ve maintained two for so long I’m guessing it’s because there is a valid reason for it, and of course work/life separation is important.)

There’s a lot of interesting reading about how having different devices can actually boost your productivity; as this Wired article describes, it helps you focus by associating certain tasks with certain screens. (Question for the hive: does anyone have a multiple-monitor setup? How do you like it?) Here’s how I use this method:

  • I use my desktop almost exclusively for daily blog stuff.
  • I use my laptop (which doesn’t do well without a power cord) as a standing workstation (I just set it on top of our credenza), usually when I’m opening a zillion bookmarks and shopping for TPS reports or the like.
  • I use my iPad for work email as well as for focused writing with my Bluetooth keyboard. (OK, I also use my iPad for fun web surfing while watching television.)
  • I still use my netbook for work whenever I travel. (It’s very clunky but gives me a PC experience.)
  • I’m pondering getting a Kindle because I’ve learned that I simply do not read books and other long-form things on my iPad but would like something to bring to my bedside table. (Although really, if I could find the cord for the Orbo my son hates I could use that as a Kindle!)

That said, I do depend on a few different services to keep everything aligned among my devices, and I highly recommend them if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

[Read more…]

When Personal Problems Affect Your Job Performance

When Personal Problems Affect Your Job Performance | CorporetteWhen your work suffers because of personal problems you’ve been struggling with — and your supervisor has noticed — how can you turn things around? Reader J wonders…

I am a mid-level associate in Big Law. I switched firms in December of 2014. Today, I had my first review and it went very poorly — in Big Law words, “needs improvement across the board.” How do I get out from under my first review having been so terrible? Back story: When I joined this firm, my mom was approaching the one year mark after being diagnosed with stage IV cancer and was doing well. Within about 8 weeks, she got very sick, and over the course of the following 12 weeks, died a slow, painful death. My dad has become too depressed to take care of himself. My boyfriend of over a year left me. I have no real family support. My personal life has been atrocious, and while I tried my best in the office, I knew that I was falling short due to non-work demands/crises. Recently, I’ve felt back on my feet. I know that I can meet expectations and that my work product is, under normal conditions, solid and consistent and I love my job. How do I overcome this bad first impression?

Ouch, Reader J — I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve had such a rough year, and that it’s affected your work in such a negative way. I think you have a few options for recovering from a career setback like the one you’ve experienced:

[Read more…]

Jewelry Organization

how-to-organize-jewelryHow do you organize your jewelry at home? Reader L wondered:

You recently posted about traveling with jewelry, which is really helpful as I’m traveling more for business. However, storing my jewelry at home is another beast altogether. Jewelry boxes don’t do it for me (too many funky/chunky costume bracelets and cuffs to fit), and I hate the formal, old fashioned look of jewelry armoires. My jewelry collection is comprised mostly of cheaper costume pieces, though I have some legit antiques and also quite a few mid-price (for me) bracelets/earrings/watches from Kate Spade/Tory Burch and the like, so I don’t want to throw everything haphazardly into a drawer just to get tangled/scuffed/scratched/lost/forgotten. Please help? Thank you!

I’ve been rethinking my own jewelry organization, so this is a great time to discuss. As Reader L notes, the easiest solution here is the jewelry armoire, and you can find freestanding pieces of furniture as well as mirror armoires (both freestanding and over-the-door). These look like they would be great for someone who is starting totally from scratch… but I kind of like some of my older solutions better, and I don’t necessarily have the space/need for another piece of furniture or another mirror, so fortunately for Reader L, I have some other ideas… Some of my older solutions have been working for me, and some of them haven’t, so I can’t wait to hear what readers say. (Pictured at top: the Acme 16000 Teresa Jewelry Armoire, Java Finish, for $122 at Amazon.)

[Read more…]

Is a Vintage Movie Poster Acceptable Office Decor?

Is a Vintage Movie Poster Acceptable Office Decor? Is a vintage movie poster professional enough to hang on your office wall at a new job? Reader E wonders…

I just changed jobs and now have a ton of wall space. My mom graciously had a vintage Wizard of Oz poster professionally framed for me. I haven’t found a place for it in my house — is it too “cutesy” for work? (Pictured: Reader E’s poster.)

I work in state politics. As far as mirroring my boss — she has pictures of her family on the walls, some awards, etc. Alternatively, I have some D.C. pictures, etc., that would be more professional, but I wonder how I would match my accessories to those pictures — the pictures are more office-hallway professional-ish. Thoughts?

Interesting question, Reader E! We’ve talked about office decor before, but not in a really long time. As I’ve noted before, I think a lot of this comes down to a few factors:

[Read more…]

Where to Find Fair Trade and Ethically-Sourced Clothing

Ethical Shopping | CorporetteIn our first post in our ethical shopping series, we rounded up several clothing brands made in the United States, mostly startups and small and/or independent labels. In part two, we shared a list of mainstream, more widely available workwear brands that sell clothing made in North America or Europe. Today we’re looking at clothing that’s fair trade certified, as well as clothing not officially considered fair trade but produced more responsibly or ethically than the average brand.

Of course, when a brand makes admirable claims like those, we as shoppers must simply take their word for it — but I would rather give my business to a company that explicitly details their (supposed) commitment to ethical labor practices and fair trade than to one who doesn’t say a word about its products’ origins or production. (Pictured: Brooks Brothers Wool Stretch Small Windowpane Circle Skirt, $168.)

Fair trade certification is more complicated than you might think; there’s more than one certifying organization, and each has a slightly different definition of the term “fair trade.” It’s also possible that we may not be doing as much good as we think by buying these products. Ndongo Sylla, a former Fairtrade International employee (who has a PhD in developmental economics), wrote a book last year called The Fair Trade Scandal: Marketing Poverty to Benefit the Rich (excerpt here in The Guardian). In The Economist’s book review, the reviewer called it “an arduous read” but wrote, “It is hard to dispute [Sylla’s] conclusion that, so far, the fair-trade labelling movement has been more about easing consciences in rich countries than making serious inroads into poverty in the developing world.” (Sigh.)

That said, here are several brands that engage in fair trade:

[Read more…]