Choose your outfit wisely

Because I work at a church, Monday is my "Sunday", when I get ready for the week ahead. I confirm or adjust appointments, plan meals, and review the calendar to get a picture of what the days (and nights) will look like. Then every Monday evening, when the kids are asleep, the dishes are cleaned, the bags packed for tomorrow, and the night is winding down, I step into my closet for a weekly routine of choosing my outifts for the workweek.

Please hold your judgement of my vanity and shallowness, and allow me to explain myself.

Being a working mother, mornings are not the time when I have the luxury to dawdle in my closet assembling the latest Polyvore #OOTD. In the last five years, I have worn sizes 0-12, maternity, postpartum, and nursing friendly attire. That being said, I don't buy new clothes very often, but work hard to mix and match, and create new outfits. I am not a fashionita and am far from "perfectly put together", but I do find value in dressing appropriately for each day.  So, I have learned that choosing my outfits for the week helps me to be prepared for what's ahead, helps me to be confident in my look, and is one less decision I have to make in the groggy hours of 5-7am.

How to choose your outfit:

First and obviously, consider what is happening that day: Will you be walking a lot? Wear your flats or vans. Will you be sitting or standing most of the day? Proactively avoid the embarrassment of unbuttoning your skinny jeans after noon. Do you have a lunch meeting at Albasha? Bring an extra shirt or at least some perfume. Will you be out from dawn through dinner? Dress comfortably.

Remember that you are often the first impression of your leader. If a guest is coming to meet with your boss and you greet them in sweats, it doesn't speak very highly of your preparation for their arrival. It is good to air on the side of being overdressed rather than under-dressed.

Modesty is of the utmost importance. If you are a female assisting a man, ask yourself if his wife would approve of your outfit. Make sure to check your neckline from all angles, and when in doubt add a scarf or layer.

If it's going to be a long day, make sure that you are business comfortable. You want an outfit that will LAST for the day.

If there is event or a funeral, wear black or muted colors, even if you don't plan to attend. In case your boss asks you to bring him something, you wouldn't want to show up in neon.

Bring a layer. At least in Louisiana, it can go from 83 degrees to 29 degrees in the same day, or downpour when it zero percent chance of humidity. For this, I like to have a sweater or jacket that I can throw on and roll with my day.

And before you leave, make sure to have your spouse give the final approval. They get an opportunity to check you out, and you will feel confident knowing that the most important person to you thinks you look great!

Here is what I wore yesterday when I was out of the house from 8am-9pm. In this outfit, I sat in meetings, met with my boss, walked 2.6 miles, nursed my infant, played on the playground with my kids, ate an ice cream cone, danced wildly in worship, ran through the rain, and felt comfortable in 81 & 45 degree weather!

Your Turn: When and how do you choose what you will wear each day?

How to Take Notes

A friend of mine approached me the other day about note-taking. He is a new assistant and has never had to take notes for others before. Every person can take notes for themselves (ie: high school, college) but rarely does anyone else usually have to read or understand our scribbles. In his new position, he was asked to take notes in meetings and then send out the notes to everyone in the meeting to review and follow through. The first time he did this, he sent the notes to his boss to review before sending it out and his boss had so trouble understanding them. So he suggested that he get some help with note-taking... so we met.

I don't profess to be a very skilled "scribe" (so I suggested he meet with some other people to get their thoughts), but from all the meetings I have had the privilege to sit in, there are some tips I have found to be helpful.

  • Notes are only as good as their follow through. We often take notes and never look at them again. The point of notes is not just to record what happened but also to remind us of what needs to happen out of the meeting. I try my best to set aside 15-30 minutes after a meeting to review, edit, and send out the notes as a reminder of what we said and planned to do next.
  • It is good to have a title to the meeting, date, time, and even sometimes location to jog the memory. Also, I like to include who was in the room. This is a good way to hold the people accountable (in case of "I never heard that" syndrome) or to remind yourself who needs to be caught up to speed because they missed the meeting.
  • Depending on the type of meeting, it can be good to denote who said what in your notes. This can help to see who is talking the most, what they are saying, and even why they are saying it. It can be a great way of understanding their perspective, attitude, and involvement in the meeting.
  • MOST IMPORTANT: If a meeting is about more than just what's said but also what's next, then it is vital to have a "follow up" or "next steps" section. You can put this at the bottom (to encourage everyone to read all the notes) or at the top (as the info to make sure to read, if your attendees tend to scan). This is the most important section because it tells everyone what we need to accomplish out of this meeting and before the next one.
  • ALSO IMPORTANT: Within the next steps section, you will want to make sure to assign responsibility of any next step task. It is great to know what we need to do before the next meeting or event, but it won't ever get done unless someone is assigned to do it. As the note taker, you are also deemed the "follow-up-er". You need to make sure that those assigned know they are responsible for that task (especially those who weren't in the meeting to hear it) and remind them as it gets close. This is a great way to cover your team and help each other to move the ball forward.
  • Finally, if there is a follow up (or regular) meeting, I will usually send these notes out TWICE. Once, the day after the meeting (give yourself time to clean up the notes and pretty up the formatting- bold font, italics, underline, and bullet points are your friends) AND the day before the next meeting as a reminder of what we talked about last time and what we said we planned to accomplish before our next get together.

Your turn: What tips do you have for good note taking? Any specific formats/applications you prefer (word doc, evernote, etc) and why?