Look the Part, Be More Productive by Meggin McIntosh, PhD

By meggin@meggin.com
In Women
Jan 14th, 2014

The point of this week’s tips is not to argue about whether there is a double standard for women and whether that is right or not.  The Top Ten Productivity Tips for Women, including this week’s tips on “looking the part and being more productive,” are about doing our work easier, faster, and more smoothly.  I don’t know why, but truly, if we attend to the following 10 areas of how we “look,” it does make it more productive as we do our work.  I will say a little something about each one.

  1. Hair – Ladies, the truth is that our hair is one of the areas of our outer self where we can spend a LOT of time.  Whatever you can do to make your hair easier and faster to deal with – and where you still feel like you are looking good – then do it.
  2. Jewelry – Simple jewelry works best for you.  If you know that you want to be ready for whatever happens in a given day, at least get some earrings in (if you have pierced ears) and a simple ring on one of your hands.  You can always add more later but jewelry is part of what makes you like you are paying attention to yourself (in the good way).
  3. Makeup – Generally speaking, they don’t make makeup for men (although plenty of them could use some!  Heavy makeup is certainly not needed, but most of us feel better when we have at least a little bit on – maybe a skin tint foundation, a bit of lipstick, and a dab of blush.  I don’t know what it is for you, but see if tending to this helps you feel more “ready” for the day.
  4. Accessories – Just as I mentioned that jewelry is one aspect of accessories that we want to pay attention to, so are all the other accessories we might use.  Use accessories that are “easy” for you.  For example, the scarf that must be positioned just right is too much fuss for me so I have learned never to try that.  Maybe I’m not in fashion, but I don’t want to be fussing with my scarf when I’m trying to do a workshop.
  5. Clothing that is not ‘shot’ – I’m all for getting our money’s worth from our clothes, but at some point, your clothing, especially that clothing you wear when others see you – at work, at community events, etc. – needs to be the clothing that is still looking good.  You feel better and look better.  If the neckline on a sweater is sprung, if the hem of your pantleg is dragging, or if the cuffs of a blouse or jacket look ragged, then you are undermining your ability to be taken seriously.  Again…not arguing whether this is right or wrong, but it is the truth.
  6. Stand up straight (posture) – You may have had to walk around your house with a book on top of your head or your mother may have constantly reminded you, “stand up straight!” and so you already know this one.  But, take a look in the mirror as you pass one (or a shop window) and do you see someone standing tall or slouching?  Pull yourself up as if you had a string on the top of your head.  You look better (and thinner, if that is something you wish you were).
  7. Shoes – As far as productivity, I could write a whole week’s top ten about shoes, but here’s what I will say in this brief comment.  If the shoes hurt your feet, get rid of them.  No one is productive when her feet hurt.  Get good shoes that make your feet feel good and ditch the other ones.  You decide whether you need to tend to this in your personal or professional wardrobe – and get going on that today if it’s been problem in the past.
  8. Eye contact – Generally speaking (for those of you who are reading this), making eye contact is one of the ways that we need to “look the part.”  Have a professional mentor or a wise and loving friend (who is strong and assertive) tell you what your eye contact conveys.  If you appear afraid to look into others’ eyes or you are forever glancing away, looking up, or doing any of the other less-than-strong and productive eye contact behaviors, then start learning strong and assertive ways of making eye contact with others.  You can practice this and you will get better.
  9. Personal space – What does your personal space look like?  When someone walks into your office or gets in your car, does it “look the part” for what you want to convey?  If not, what changes do you need to make?  Guess what?  The changes you may need to make (cleaning the clutter out of your car) will also make you feel much better and be more productive, which is the idea!
  10. Accoutrements (briefcase, pen, etc.) – Do you have a massive tote that you are forever rooting around in?  Not a great way to look the part.  Get a decent briefcase, purse, pen, planner, and/or whatever other accoutrements you need that help you display your feminine gracefulness and productivity – and help you support your feminine gracefulness and productivity.

gap_guide_deliberately_designing_your_professional_presence_perspective_newFor more suggestions related to designing your professional presence for success, you will want to access the Get a Plan! Guide® to Deliberately Designing Your Professional Presence, which is part of the Get a Plan! Guides® series. The Get a Plan! Guide® series will give you the ideas and inspiration to do your work easier, faster, and in a more focused fashion – so that you can accomplish your goals more smoothly, i.e., peacefully, productively, and predictably.