Music at the Office

can you listen to music at the officeReader B has a question about music at the office — specifically, whether headphones are ok.

I have a question about my upcoming legal internship this summer. I’m working at the Chief Counsel’s office for a branch of the government starting in May. I am also the only summer intern at this particular location, and I will have my own office. I was wondering whether or not it is appropriate to listen to music on headphones while I am working. I usually listen to music when I need to power through some serious work in law school, but I’m just not sure if it is appropriate in an office setting. For what it’s worth, I will be working in a very casual city, and my (very much older) boss has a visible tattoo.

I’m curious to hear what the readers say. My gut tells me this is one of those “know your office” type situations — and when you try it first, be aware if and how your colleagues react. For example, some bosses have a habit of sticking their head in their office and begin firing off ideas/barking orders immediately, and the extra 5-10 seconds that it may take you to realize “Hey, boss is talking, so I should turn off my music now” may be something that annoys that particular boss. I’ve seen that kind of personality in creative fields as well as conservative fields, so I really think it comes down to personalities rather than professions, but that’s just me.  (Pictured:  UrbanEars Plattan Headphones, available in 18 colors at for $59.99.)  The one thing I would advise, though, is to keep your door open if you’re going to otherwise tune out (particularly if that’s the office culture). [Read more…]

Fitting a Social Calendar Into a Busy Life

how to fit a social calendar into a busy life2016 Update: We still stand by this advice below about fitting a social calendar into a busy life, but do check out our latest discussion about ways to make time for friends when you work a lot

I don’t think we’ve talked about this yet, and I’m curious what readers say. Your job is important, and a little bit of “me” time is necessary for everyone — but how do you fit a social life into your already-packed calendar? So let’s look at the options.  (Pictured:  Busy schedule ;), originally uploaded to Flickr by lewro.)

I’ll say at the outset that I’m an introvert, of which a few things flow which may be unique to introverts:

a) “me” time comes way before “social” time — typically mornings are the only time I can get any exercise, reading, or writing done, and I need that time to myself to recharge and be productive elsewhere.

b) I’m more of a one-on-one person than a “group date” person — I was always a bit jealous of Carrie’s crew in Sex in the City, but it’s just not who I am

Still, I love my friends and family, and I think it’s important to stay updated in their lives. [Read more…]

Looking for the 25th Hour? Our Top Time-Saving Strategies

time saving tipsDays at the office can be incredibly long — made only longer by the fact that there are still chores, errands, and other life issues to be dealt with. We thought we’d start an open thread by listing some of the things that we do to save time on life tasks, and then see what your thoughts are.  (Pictured:  Hungry Mouse Timer, available at for $8.)

Plan ahead. Lately, we’ve been trying to save time cooking by only doing one order from Fresh Direct for the entire month.  We figure out what recipes we want to make/try, what ingredients we need, and order everything at once.  Then, we print the recipes (we tend to copy recipes into our Palm Pilot), staple them together, and keep that printout in the kitchen for the month.  (It helps to highlight any “fresh” ingredients that should be used sooner rather than later.)  When the FD delivery comes, we put almost everything into the freezer until we’re ready to use it.   (We’ve been enjoying crockpot recipes from Kalyn’s Kitchen, lately.)
– Have a snack mentality through the day — yogurt, cheese, nuts, fruit, so forth.  Our point isn’t that you should eat low-calorie foods (to each their own), but that you can save time by finding foods that are relatively healthy for you and easy to grab and go without a lot of prep work.  Focus on calcium content, fiber, and protein — make your snacks work for you.  Other times, we’ll bring “components” to the office — for example, a blue cheese that was not a hit a party (too strong) gets added to the plain spinach and tomato salad we pick up with the deli.  We save money, get the satisfaction of using a food we bought, and don’t have to slave over “lunch” in the morning. [Read more…]

Tool of the Trade: PDF Factory

pdf factoryWe don’t know about you, but for the past few years we’ve shared a printer with a group of people. We frequently prefer to read things on paper rather than online — especially if we’re marking something up or comparing documents — and so it’s annoying when we get to the printer to discover that someone has taken part of our printout, or we thought we printed seven or eight documents and can only find some of them. Did we forget to print the other docs? Did someone take them unwittingly? Who knows.  (Pictured:  hacked printer, originally uploaded to Flickr by jez.) [Read more…]

Poll: Have you ever napped at your desk?

Sometimes, being overachieving and fabulous means you get a bit stretched too thin.  Like, if, say, you’re working 250 hours, running a blog, planning a wedding 300 miles away, and trying to diet/exercise well in the meantime.  (This, of course, relates to NO ONE we know.)  Anyway, sometimes push comes to shove and exhaustion overwhelms you — and it’s only 3 PM and you’ve got hours to go before you can even THINK of heading home.

Thus, our poll today:

should you ever nap at work

We don’t know of anyone who regularly schedules these things, but plenty of our friends — including us — have taken a cat nap or two at the office.  The only rule we’ve really heard of is to make sure your desk is free of paper clips — those suckers stick to your forehead like nobody’s business — but otherwise, we’ve found that everyone’s got their own system.  What’s your routine?  Do you make up some excuse for your secretary or just turn the ringer off the phone, lock the door, and put your head down?  Do you stretch out on the floor or keep your head on the desk?  Have you brought supplies in — blankets, couches, sleepytime mask — to make naptime go more smoothly?  Also, what’s your average snoozefest at the office? (We like to stick to the 20 minute “power nap.”)

Comment away!

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