1. Dress to impress!
Show up looking clean, like you made an effort to look your best when you got up that morning, no matter what side of the bed you woke up on. Even something as simple as putting on an ironed shirt—emphasis here on IRONED—can send the message to your coworkers and supervisors that you respect the company you work for enough to know that your general appearance reflects the company’s image. Even if you work for a startup or for a company where rules are relaxed and the average age is fairly young—showing up with a polished look tells others, from the moment you walk in, that you are a professional and that you care about what you do. Whatever you say and do after that first impression is up to you!
2. Be on time.
Personally, I hate the feeling of being late…and unfortunately, I know it all too well. No one wants to be the one person the rest of the office is waiting on for a meeting to start—or worse, walking into the meeting late after it has already begun and being called out on your tardiness. It’s just not good for you, your office reputation, or your company’s image when you’re late to a meeting or miss a scheduled phone call with a client. Do your best to be on time and if you cannot be on time, call and reschedule with the other party, at the very least letting them know that you are late. Make sure you give a realistic estimation for how late you might be so they can plan their day accordingly. Being punctual shows your loyalty to the company and client and lets them know they can depend on you for the tasks at hand. And, think about it—is the guy who’s always late going to get a raise or a promotion? Maybe if he’s absolutely exceptional, but in most cases, you need to show your employers you take your job seriously by being on time and prepared for work. So, get going and get to work already!
…Is it lunch yet?
Hey, I get it. Maybe you are not a breakfast person, or every once in a while you skip lunch for a session at the gym or to pack in some extra time for a project at work, but come on—everyone gets hungry! You can’t deny that natural instinct to eat, even if you are on a diet. Make sure you take a break for a snack or to pick up a breakfast sandwich if you skipped it that morning. I know I can get cranky when I am hungry, and if you know you are the same. Do yourself and your coworkers a favor and make sure they don’t see the ravenous beast that can emerge when hunger strikes. Yikes!
Yes, I said SLEEP. You might think you can disguise your fatigue at the office with unnatural amounts of coffee or concealer, but think again. That can only work for so long for the vast majority of us. If you are not superman, you probably need to get a few more hours of sleep, which might be easier said than done, but what’s really keeping you from those extra hours? Maybe you really do have a lot of work and have trouble balancing that with the grocery stops and seeing friends and family, but we can all make a little time to sleep. Make a list of the things you need to get done for the day or the week and then number the items from most to least important. This will help you figure out what is critical to finish that day, helping you to prioritize and make sure you get that extra shut-eye!
Yes, when you exercise your body, you are improving your office image, too. Hey, I’m not being vain here. A lot of office jobs keep people confined to their office chairs for most if not all of their 8 to 4 or 9 to 5 jobs. ATTENTION: this is NOT a normal way to live if you are not exercising. Figure out what you like to do—run, exercise at a gym, dance, stand-up paddle board—hey, you decide! Just like when you were younger, exercise is still just as important and when you exercise you release endorphins in your brain that make you feel happier. The time you spend exercising allows you to take a break for yourself, clearing your mind and leaving you fresh for whatever else the day throws at you.
Essentially, office image is more than simply wearing the right clothes. It’s about respecting your body and your mind so you can show up to work ready to do your job to the best of your ability. How can you possibly meet your professional goals if you cannot take care of yourself? Admit it. It’s hard to finish a project when you are thinking about sleep, or food, or how uncomfortable you are from sitting in a chair for hours on end. Now is the time to take charge of your professional life, by taking personal care for yourself.