Wednesday’s TPS Report: Surplice Knotted Wrap Dress

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

dkny surplice knotted wrap dressI am loving this simple dress from DKNY today — nice high neckline, ladylike length, made from natural fibers (wool) — it’s just kind of perfect.  Add to all that the fact that it is on sale and still available in sizes S, M, and L — lovely!  Was $195, now $136.65 at Bloomingdale’s (where the sale has now hit 60% off).  DKNY Surplice Knotted Wrap Dress

Seen a great piece you’d like to recommend? Please e-mail [email protected] with “TPS” in the subject line.



  1. Dress-up hijack:

    I’m a recent grad currently on school-sponsored fellowship (= unemployed) in NYC. Tomorrow, I have a first-time meeting with a headhunter with whom I’ve been in e-contact for months. I know I should be treating this as an interview. However, (1) it is snowy, slushy, windy, and cold, and (2) I am undergoing some medical tests in the early morning, soon before the meeting, for which I will be lying down in my clothing, will have to remove any metal, will be pricked with likely many needles, etc.

    So: Can I get away (with a suit but) no jewelry, yes Hunter boots, yes puffy coat, yes curly (not-straightened) hair, etc.? In other words, not as professional as I would look at a job interview?

    (I really don’t want to lug around extra shoes, jewelry, etc., all day, since after the interview I go to my fellowship and then to my second job. And I think that if I straighten my hair, the snow/hood/humidity/lying down at the hospital will unstraighten it for me. And sadly there is no way I can take cabs to all these things.)

    • surrounded by lawyers :

      I understand that this is a pain in the ___, but I think you should probably take the trouble to look as polished as possible. When I have an interview or a meeting of this kind, I always think “if nothing comes of it, I don’t want to have any regrets.” I.e. I don’t want to wonder whether I should have done something more to make it a success. Looking professional is something straightforward that is more or less in your control, so I say you try your best.

      Can you wear your hair up/back to minimize texture problems or messiness from the appointment and weather? You can re-do it in the bathroom on your way out of the doctor’s office. Jewelry is light and small, so bringing some along in your bag shouldn’t be too burdensome. Stud earrings will stay put no matter what you do. If you do a pantsuit, you can wear boots with it, but otherwise I think it’s worth it to bring a pair of pumps with you. The puffy coat might be ok if it’s well-fitted and a neutral color, but otherwise I’d say go with something dressier.

      Good luck!

      • surrounded by lawyers :

        clarification: I agree, curly hair is great and there’s no problem leaving it that way for an interview. I was suggesting ways she could manage it because it sounded like she felt hers would look messy on this day. My own texture is naturally curly, and without intervention is a total mess, but I see (and envy) many women with gorgeous, totally put-together curly looks.

    • There’s nothing unprofessional about curly hair.

      I think it’s fine not to wear jewelry and to wear a puffy coat, but I’d suggest bringing a pair of dress shoes or dress boots to change into for the meeting with the headhunter.

    • I think you can certainly have curly hair & a puffy coat. I don’t think jewelry is a must, but I think it could make you feel more put together so I would say throwing a string of pearls or whatever into your coat pocket/bag can’t hurt and is easy enough to put on mid-mute later.
      As to the Hunter boots — I would say no unless they are black, you are wearing pants, and you really have nothing else remotely appropriate. And, even then I would say wear at your peril. I’m in NY and it’s really not that bad out; I think you could easily navigate the streetsin plain black boots (I don’t think pumps are necessary). Just keep in mind, this guy is a headhunter so he will, presumably, be sending you out to meet with potential employers. Whereas a potential employer might not even notice/care about your rainboots, this person will be evaluating the kind of impression you make on others — meaning, lots of extra scrutiny. It sounds like it will be a busy, crappy day but those are my 2 cents. Good luck :)

      • Even if they’re black, I say no to the rainboots.

        • I’m so surprised to see ladies posting from NYC asking about appropriate footwear. I went to college in an NYC suburb, and it seemed like my friends “from the city” ALL had black leather boots with heels that they’d wear under pants. For some of them, that’s all they wore. All year. Even in summer. Aren’t those still part of the NYC uniform?

          • Hm, no. I’d say that’s not a NYC thing. I mean, I’ve seen people wearing black leather boots with heels, but I wouldn’t call them especially ubiquitous.

          • I live in NYC and included this in my question earlier this week, but I have calves that are too big to fit in boots (even the extra wide calf boots) and bad bunions so finding comfortable shoes is extremely difficult and it is impossible to find boots. Other people might have similar issues.

          • Black boots are part of my winter uniform in D.C. However, there is a world of difference between black leather boots and Hunters.

    • Agree that you should look as polished as possible. Looking disheveled when you meet her is going to make her think that you look disheveled all the time, and headhunters don’t want to send disheveled people on interviews with employers that they have a relationship with.

      Hunter boots are a definite no. You can wear boots if it’s under pants, but no Hunters and no Uggs.

    • Thanks, all. Your advice is much appreciated. For what it’s worth, Hunters are the only boots I own (a recent splurge following the 12/26 snowstorm), and I also only own two pairs of heels. (Not a shoe person + don’t have much spending money.) In any case, I will do my best to look my best tomorrow.

      • Can I ask you a question: I’m in a similar situation (school-sponsored internship in NYC=unemployed). How did you go about getting in touch with a headhunter and deciding which ones might be helpful, etc?

        • One of my lawyer-friends (who works in the area I’m interested in) forwarded me an email from a recruiter looking for midlevel associates. I emailed the recruiter and explained my situation (competitive school, decent grades, bad 2L summer firm). He has taken some pity on me, but I think I’m basically a charity case for him.

          I’ve also heard that it can be a liability to have your resume submitted through recruiters because they demand a fee when there are thousands of applications directly submitted by recent grads (who obviously don’t expect a fee). But at the same time, it’s heartening to have a professional tell me that I look very marketable, at least on paper; it gets tough not to take all the rejections personally.

      • I wish you the best in your medical testing. May you get the results you are hoping for.

        • Thanks, Louise. Thankfully, it’s just a check-up. This hasn’t been a real issue since back in elementary school, so any bad news would be extremely surprising at this point.

    • Ballerina girl :

      Could you wear the boots but then change out of them and stick them in a professional looking tote when you get to the interview? I think everyone in NY understands that you’re walking in a foot of snow. I would just change into professional shoes when you get there. And I say no way to a puffy coat–not professional enough for an interview, sorry. I won’t even wear those to the office on regular days.

      • i know a lot of corporetters look down on ppl who wear puffy coats, but i see plenty of businesswomen on the subways these days in puffy coats, and imho it doesn’t make them look unprofessional, esp. if they’re not ginormous. i think they’re standard at this pt, at least on coldest & snowiest days. also, at an interview, a receptionist usu. takes your coat first thing, so it’s not like the op would be wearing it during the actual mtg, right?

      • I do not understand the extreme aversion to a puffy coat when the weather is extreme. People get it. It is very likely that the first 5 minutes of small talk in your interview will be about how mucky it is outside from the snowstorm! Wear a coat that is smart, wear boots for the commute and change into heels in the lobby.
        I overheard two conversations today about people seeing women wandering the streets of NYC today in heels. Those ladies are the ones looked down on for having no sense or judgment!

        • Amen!! It does not look unprofessional to wear a warm winter coat and boots (and hat) in awful weather, and take them off when you reach your interview (replacing the shoes with something appropriate)!

      • I think a dark colored puffy coat is 100% fine. Assuming OP is meeting indoors, just remove the coat on the way in and meet with the coat already hung up with a receptionist or in her arms. Not a problem AT ALL, in my opinion.

        Also, I will add (not to anyone in particular) that I am somewhat perplexed by all this bending over backwards for the headhunter. I definitely get that the poster is seeking employment and that headhunters aren’t a dime a dozen in such a case. At the same time, these are people that often make cold calls, who I hang up on several times a week, and who I generally view as needing to impress ME (yes, I do have a couple better ones to whom I am more courteous). Totally get that this comes from being employed, but at the same time, I don’t think most of these people expect to be fawned over.

        • I think the relationship goes both ways. The OP should be trying to impress the headhunter and vice versa. In this economic climate, however, I suspect a job seeker has far greater need to do the impressing.

          I’m not sure why you are referencing the cold calls they make. You’re on a different end of it when you are the employer, so it really has nothing to do with it.

          • I didn’t mean as the employer. I meant people cold calling me to tell me about “great opportunities,” trying to place me.

          • Though sure, I do agree that in this case the headhunter has more to offer.

      • Ballerina girl :

        Call me old fashioned, but I think a puffy jacket looks unprofessional (at least for big law). A wool coat with proper winter accessories will keep you just as warm. I live in NYC and my wool coat is my warmest coat. And I’ve been to interviews where they don’t take your coat before you meet the person, so I wouldn’t bank on that.

        That said, a coat is very different from shoes. In NYC at least, it’s impossible to get around in the snow in heels and i think it’s ridiculous to expect that someone would–you could hurt yourself.

        As for whether to go all out for a headhunter, I just think you’re better off playing it safe and inconveniencing yourself for one day if you think it has any chance of improving your chances of getting a job. It’s tough out there.

        • I’m sorry, but as someone who has had both the wool coat with the proper accessories and the down coat, the latter is MUCH more comfortable when it gets to be quite cold. Like others on here, I do not find them to be particularly unprofessional.

          • Ballerina girl :

            Well, to each his own, but it’s not sooo cold in NY right now that you can’t handle wearing a professional coat to a professional encounter. It’s only 30 degrees, people! It’s not 10 degrees. And there are people out there who think they’re unprofessional so if you’re going to an interview and want to dress to impress, I think it’s worth it to wear proper interview attire. If I were interviewing someone and they walked in with a puffy coat, I would think they weren’t dressed very professionally.

            That said, all this talk makes me want to get a puffy coat for the weekends.

    • I would most definitely skip the jewelry. Since you have to take it off at the hospital, I would not risk loss or generally, the hassle of taking it off/putting it back on for the minimal effect of looking more put together. Lots of people never wear jewelry and manage to look polished.

      Puffy coat — wear it. It’s cold. But try to bring extra shoes if at all possible; you would need them for your second job anyway.

      I will add this: I have only met in-person with a headhunter once. I’ve worked with them several times, including being placed in my firm many years ago post-clerkship by one. That one in-person meeting was an utter waste of my time. I did dress professionally, though not in a full suit, and felt perfectly fine if not even over-dressed.

  2. Anon E Mouse :

    I might be missing something but the dress has a note under it that says “refer to plus size chart”. Is this a plus size dress? The one review indicates no, as it says the dress makes skinny people look fat.

    • I don’t think this particular garment is a plus size, but it’s on clearance, so the only size available is a Large. I’m pretty Large and would avoid this dress like the plague.

  3. Sale alert! I just bought a suit (jacket, pants, and skirt) at J Crew, plus another pair of pants, all for $250. Code is MUSTHAVE for extra 30% off sale, plus free shipping on $100 or more. :)

    • Anon E Mouse :

      But isn’t that no returns/all sales final? Unless you are positive on the sizing, it can be dangerous.

      • Yes. It’s all final sale. I have had a few things in my shopping cart & am having a hard time actually pulling the trigger because so much of JCrew’s sizing has been inconsistent lately (at least, in my experience).

        • I hate final sales.

          • I agree. Talbots is pulling this “final sale” thing too now. Sucks.

          • I like them when I’ve tried the stuff on already or saw it in the stores/on others, and have been stalking it to this point.

            But generally, I wouldn’t risk it!

        • I have the same problem with them. I ordered a few pieces and some of them were on final sale – which i didn’t realize until it was too late. The pants I got are slightly tight, despite being the same size I consistently wear at JCrew. They have been relegated to summer pants, because that’s the only time of year I’ll be able to get myself into them. Sometimes, though, the extra 30% off does NOT make it final sale, as with my last JCrew order, so you might double check!

        • SF Bay Associate :

          Chat with/call a JCrew personal shopper and get the exact measurements for the items you are looking at – sizing has indeed been very inconsistent, but if you get the actual measurements, you can tell what size you’ll be. I check everything before I buy JCrew online.

    • Not all of the things I bought are final sale – only the pants (which were $30). Everything else can be returned, but still got the extra 30% off.

      • I didn’t like something I bought from J. Crew on final sale once. I sweet talked the guy at the check out in my local store into taking the return anyway. I wouldn’t use that as an insurance policy, but if you do end up with something you don’t like, it’s worth a try.

        • retail vet :

          I used to work in retail (within the past year). You can basically talk your way into anything these days with enough of a scene – one of my co-workers told a story about how a guy got a free bed at her former job – but it was horribly infuriating for everyone else involved. I have no problem making J. Crew or other such stores lose $30 here and there, but it does actually come back and bite the employees in the ass.

          • I didn’t have to make a scene at all. I tried to return it, he said it was final sale, and I said, “Oh goodness, I didn’t realize. Is there any possible way you could return it just this once?” And he said yes. I was actually shocked at how easy it was.

          • retail vet :

            oh, i wasn’t commenting on you – just in general. i had nice people (like you) who i would help because i wanted to, and really mean people who we had to help because our manager accepted their B.S. excuses – “unworn” boots that had water stains all over them, for example.

  4. Selling like hotcakes. Only one color now (gray) and size L left…

  5. This might be a bit nit-picky for some, but the website says the dress is “wool/elastane” and doesn’t give the percentages. I’m not sure I’d consider that a “natural fiber” garment. It could be 10% wool/90% spandex for all we know.

    And unlined wool anything? Ach. I get itchy just thinking about it.

    I’d definitely want to try this one on before buying.

    • Makeup Junkie :

      I can’t wear any kind of wool either

    • Anything more than 2% spandex is extremely stretchy. It’s probably just 1-2% to give the wool a little stretch.

  6. anonymosity :

    I have a quick question for you ladies. I’m a law student and this question is for my future reference. How do you count billing hours? How do you handle chatting with a coworker, bathroom breaks, and other interruptions?

    • Anonymosity, the time will come when this is important stuff, but really, don’t worry about it now. You will learn about it when you start work and your firm will train you in billing ad nauseum. Then you will wish for the day when you didn’t have to record your hours. Trust me.

      If you really want to know, it varies by firm and by client, but basically the rule is, if you are working on a file, bill it, even if you are strategizing while in the shower at home. If you are taking breaks, clearly you don’t bill that.

      But as I said, really, this will all come later. Enjoy your non-billing status while it lasts.

      • You bill for time “strategizing in the shower at home”? It’s my understanding, that’s padding and totally unethical.

        • I haven’t ever billed for time spent in the shower, and it depends on the circumstances, but surely if you are thinking about a matter and things like strategy and how to proceed, your physical location doesn’t make any difference. If I was practising a presentation for a client while in the shower, surely this would be billable just the same as if I was practising in my office.

          • That’s what I meant. I wasn’t condoning padding at all and never would.

      • Your law firm MIGHT train you on this ad nauseum. My small firm gave me exactly zero training on this, and it would have been nice to know up front before I was licensed so I could start practicing as a clerk. I’m still trying to figure it out 2 years in.

    • Chatting, bathroom breaks… don’t get billed at all. I am a first year associate at a small firm, and the partners asked me to keep a time slip called “office time”. This time slip allows them to see what I am up to when I am not billing. Obviously, they weren’t referring to bathroom breaks, but when I have some down time and take time out to catch up on some publications for CLE credit, I write that down. If I have to take time to learn how to use a program or something like that, I write that down on my Office Time slip as well. If I attend court or a depo or a meeting with someone from the firm as an educational experience, that is another thing I write on my Office Time slip. This would be harder to utilize at a large firm, and pointless if all they care about are your billables, but I think it’s really helpful to show what happens when two hours of the day are missing. Those add up over the year and the extra time slip allows me to prove I was doing something worthwhile.

      • My VeryBigLaw firm had time codes for this stuff. CLE, client development, general reading such as catching up on stuff in your practice area, etc, etc. Of course, all non-billable, but it did show up in your time if you had less than 8 hrs of billables per day on a given day. E.g. — was reading CLE stuff from 10 to noon, when partner finally showed up with the project he had been promising.

    • I use a timer system. I turn it on when I start working, turn it off when I stop or take a break. Bathroom breaks and other interruptions are non-billable. I stop my clock or adjust my time accordingly. Everyone’s system is different though and you have to figure out what works for you. Every practice is slightly different, too. I’m a litigator and manage a huge variety of files each day. I think my methods would be different if I only handled one or two cases at a time.

      • Do you use a specific time program? I’ve been using the online stopwatch website and the stopwatch on my phone, but lately I’ve been wanting to track two or three different projects at once. I haven’t been able to find a stopwatch that will let me do that, though.

        I’m a law student, but I have a lot of trouble focusing for more than a few minutes at a time. Using a stopwatch keeps me on track.

    • There are codes for everything. There is also a difference between billable time and recordable time. Obviously breaks don’t count. That is your own time.

      A phone call with a client to talk about a billable matter – billable time.

      Your computer crashes and you have to call IT for 15 minutes – recordable time, but not billable. In other words you would indicate that you spent 15 minutes on the phone to IT, but a client will not pay the firm for this time and it will not count towards your billable hours.

      You spend 20 minutes having a cup of tea and reading Corporette – not billable and not recordable. Although depending on your firm and your own dishonesty, you might be able to get away with ‘professional reading’. I do NOT advocate this approach.

    • If chatting with a coworker is chatting ABOUT A CASE, then it is billable. Sometimes I would go in to coworkers’ offices to ask a question about how to do this kind of research, or what resources would be good, etc. etc., and then I would tell them the client number and we would both write down the time.

      Depending on your firm, you may run into people who pad their hours by counting bathroom breaks, interruptions, etc. You will also run into people who don’t write down their time as they’re doing it – they guess at the end of the day or even the end of the week. In Biglaw they usually make you enter your time every day, so this is less of an issue, but the people that don’t do their time every day are not recording it accurately. This may result in problems later on, if you are a scrupulous timekeeper and thus your hours are lower than your peers’. I have no good suggestions for that situation, unfortunately.

      • Oh, btw, I would put down my time on a legal pad – I would write down the name of the client and the time, then enter it when I had a second (eg after the interruption).

      • Lana Lang :

        This is very true re guessing – we have one particularly notorious partner here who has not entered his time for the last year and just guesses when it comes to billing. I would hate to be his client!

    • Honestly, when you’ve been working for a while, you get a bit less strict about timers. If I’m working on one matter all day, I’ll ballpark it a bit but with the idea that I’m not billing for breaks, etc. But I’ll be damned if I’ll spend all my days clicking on timers.

      • Corollary to that: a lot of the people I work with do their hours at the end of the week (or month) so you know everyone’s not using timers. Usually I just keep tabs on a sheet of paper or use the timer (just not always–usually only when i’ve got lots of matters open).

      • Agreed. I’m much less stressed about it now. Also, I’ve stopped worrying about turning off my timers when walking to the break room to grab a soda for 10 seconds, etc. Timers are useful, but keep in mind that the time you bill is intended to be a proxy for allocating your time among clients, not a method of torture. Old Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law was helpful in getting this mindset.

        • Indeed. And realistically, the time you (or I, at least) spend grabbing another cup of coffee kind of balances out against the time you spend reading client e-mails on your blackberry or the other little tasks you don’t actually bill for (unless you’re one of those people who do actually bill for those, in which case maybe it makes sense).

          • Exactly!

          • I agree! Life’s too short to worry about stopping the clock for a 1 minute trip to the bathroom. I kind of think of that as a cost of doing business. If you stop and chat, that’s a different story, but everyone has to go to the bathroom!

    • Anon here :

      I use manic time (free program) and drag and drop and label as I go along.

      • Where do I get this?? I’ve been looking for help with this. I get interrupted for cases in the middle of work on other cases a lot, and sometimes at the end of the day it’s hard to sort it all out, even when I try to note it all down.

    • anonymosity :

      Thanks for all the replies. Interesting read!

    • I’ve tried several systems over the years, timer, billing notebook, etc. What works best for me is just leaving a draft email open all day with the date in the subject header. I update the email as necessary, time started/stopped, description, subtract time from one matter and add it to another, and at the end of the day it goes to my secretary or to my drafts folder to more completely fill out descriptions later. Gives me flexibility and is pretty efficient.

    • When I was billing my time, I had a paper worksheet I created for myself that was a chart in 6-minute increments. When starting to work on the billable project, I would write the number of the hour in front of whatever minute was closest to when I was starting (eg, if it was 10:02 when I started a project, I’d start at the :00 increment; if it was 10:04, I’d start at the :06). One page could cover 3 hours of work. I wrote quick notes on what I was doing. I always kept this on my desk near my computer, and at the end of the day I’d prepare my timesheet on the firm’s computerized billing system according to the worksheet. What I liked about this was that with this system, I had an easier time shifting focus if I got interrupted (by a partner, colleague, secretary, phone call, etc.) and had to move to a different billing matter: it was much easier for me to just reach over and write the stop time on the sheet than it was to pause a computer program, write down the time, start another timer for a different matter, and then shift focus. This system really worked for me.

  7. Jewelry Question:

    Ladies, what are your thoughts on wearing earrings and a necklace that are part of a set? Dated or not? I have a lovely amber necklace and pair of earrings that came together– I’m wondering if it’s too much to wear them at the same time in a conservative office environment. The rest of my outfit would be simple- black skirt, heels, and purse with a solid shirt…


    • I would think that if the pieces are simple and classic, it won’t look dated to wear them together. Amber is a nice, neutral “stone.” (Not sure what to call it, generically.) Your styling sounds very nice!

      I think that matched sets can look like too much if they are really eye-catching or costume-y. Think bright colors or very large settings.

    • Ooh, I second this question. I have a couple “statement necklaces”—heavier, distinct pieces. I often wonder what to do about earrrings, particularly when the necklace is a colored/beaded piece (e.g., Even simple studs I consider “neutral” like diamond or pearl don’t seem right to me, but neither does wearing nothing, which seems unpolished. But like Anon101, I wonder about matching earrings to necklace. What’s the best way to style a statement necklace, especially one that is not gold/silver/pearl etc.?

      • surrounded by lawyers :

        I suppose earrings are not mandatory, but I feel weird leaving the house without them. So maybe some very understated metallic studs or tiny hoops–like, grazing your earlobe-small?

      • Small hoop earrings would go fine with a necklace like this. If your statement necklace is one solid color, then you could also get away with small multi-color earrings.

      • I always wear my statement necklaces with tiny metallic studs — either gold or silver depending on the necklace. I think I need to have something there, and this is the least flashy. I think it works well.

      • I have earrings somewhat similar to these & find them to be surprisingly versatile with beaded necklaces, or just about anything else. Mine are small & not particularly dangly at all; very neutral but still interesting. They go with a LOT.

    • I have this same question about pearls. I got a pearl necklace and pearl stud earrings for Christmas (thanks, hubby!) and wondered if it’s too much/too dated to wear them together.

      • Anonymous :

        It’s ok to wear them together or separately, depending on your style. Pearl studs with a pearl necklace is a very classic preppy look – you see it a lot on a certain type of woman in the South especially.

    • It probably depends on the type of set – if it’s say, a necklace of amber beads with single amber bead earrings, I think that would be lovely. If it’s along the lines of an amber heart pendant with amber heart earrings, that might look a bit dated / matchy. While others may be more adventurous, I feel most comfortable if my earrings go with necklaces – like small silver earrings of the same metal tone that may echo the curves of a silver necklace, or earrings that pick up one of the colors in a multi-color necklace. And some sets do the work for you – as long as it doesn’t look too contrived, enjoy wearing the pieces!

    • Anonymous :

      Wouldn’t wear them if they match, but would wear them if they “go.” I have a couple earrings/necklace sets and I never wear them together.

      Matching earrings and bracelet looks a little less matchy-matchy to me.

      • Same here.

        • With very limited exceptions, I am not a fan of anything that looks like a set. Jewelry, and I think almost everything else except maybe suit tops and bottoms, should be complementary, not identical.
          Sometimes things “match” but in a non-“set” way, e.g., pearl necklace and pearl studs. If you like that look — and I agree that it’s definitely a very preppy/traditional look — that’s fine. But a “set” set often does have a tendency to look a bit dated and unimaginitive (to me, it often says, “I can’t match things on my own, so I buy things that are predetermined to go together” . . . ).

          But that said, I have an aunt who does a matching necklace, earrings, ring, bracelet AND sometimes a brooch, and maybe because she’s older and has a certain kind of presence, it seems to work for her. On me, however, it looks like I either aged 10 years or lost any semblance of a personality.

    • Depends on the set, to be honest. If they’re smaller pieces, it should be ok. You don’t want both pieces to be ‘loud’.

      If I do statement (e.g. toursade) necklaces, I usually wear pearl/diamond studs. And vice versa.

  8. Threadjack! Anyone have any thoughts or suggestions on how to better manage your time at work? I’ve had a lot of trouble focusing and getting things done efficiently lately and it’d be great to know what your strategies were for imposing some discipline on yourselves at work.

    • Caffeine! If that doesn’t work, then I take 15 minutes or so to get up from my desk and clean my office. Filing things away, clearing the desk. It leaves my mind clearer and it helps to have an uncluttered, organized workspace when things get hectic.

      • Ditto on the uncluttered workspace. I always find that when my desk gets super messy, that’s also when I run into trouble focussing.

        • Ditto on the clean desk.
          I also try to make little to do lists and cross things off. If I am in the middle of an unfocused period, I will add small things to the list that I haven’t gotten around to so that I can have that little “high” from crossing them off (e.g., return files to…., e-mail so-and-so about…). I think being productive makes you more productive so just starting on something small tends to get my momentum going.

          • govvie girl :

            “Just something small gets the momentum going”… absolutely, (which is why I do my 1-2-3 short list)…along with that really good, strong coffee :)

          • I like to write each task on a small post-it and stick it on my monitor. It feels good to be able to take it down and toss it when I’ve completed the task. This system also keeps me from forgetting tasks since they’re staring me in the face.

    • Either the night before or during your morning commute, write out a task list of what you need to accomplish for the day. even better, figure out how much time you’ll need to perform those tasks and block out time periods in your calendar for each task.
      Identify your least favorite task (i.e., calling annoying opposing counsel, review document, whatever).
      When you arrive at your office, do NOT open personal email or check websites, but immediately set on the least favorite task. Having gotten it out of the way early, you’ll feel better (and probably more motivated) for the rest of the day.

    • govvie girl :

      I’m right there with you! I’m having to set aside a half-hour for this, a half-hour for that, and give myself 1-2-3 lists, like “first this, then that, then the other thing.” But as a warm-weather lover (even sunny/no wind high 30s would do), on cold dreary days, I have to really fight the hibernating bear mode. I think I’m going to bring in a coffee press and some of those Starbucks single serve instant coffees for a nice mid-afternoon coffee break.

    • I find that when I’m procrastinating and unfocused, there’s a reason behind it. If I really evaluate my attitude to the tasks I’m supposed to be doing, I usually find that I’m uncomfortable with them either because they’re awkward (hello that phone call I don’t want to make!), or I’m not confident that I know what I’m doing and my subconcious has decided if I just go really slowly it’ll magically do itself.

  9. My task list is in front of me on the desk. itis also of course on my computer so I can revise it daily or as often as I want to. I can highligh similar tasks by putting them in a certain font or highlight. That way if I am in a mood to address say real estate those tasks can all be seen at a glance. It’s good to start the day with work you know is billable at a good rate.

    Today’s dress – it appears to be inexpensive – but if you factor in the cost of dry cleaning it suddely seems quite expensive – for what you are getting.

  10. Sale alert #2:

    The Gap has lots of stuff 50% off today. I got two pairs of their “boy fit” pants, which are unlined but 100% suitable for work, for $10 a pair. Plus a nice $10 part merino wool sweater, and some other non-work stuff. Gap Body was also 30% off. Lots of ladies’ stuff on clearance. Enjoy!

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