Pickwick Coffee: A sign from above

I was on my way to work one rainy morning, when I walked past an alley and a floating apparition appeared before my eyes: A giant neon sign that said COFFEE.


This sign, to be exact.

I thought I was imagining it. I thought I was that sleep deprived. But when you see a sign from above, and it’s literally a neon sign above you telling you to get coffee, you don’t question it.

So I Googled it later that day and saw that it was, in fact, real, and it was a fabulous hole in the wall coffee shop hidden in an alley (well, not so hidden, given the neon sign). Yet no one I knew had heard of it. 

I had to go again and get a coffee for myself to really know it was real.

So I went with my roommates after church, and there it was:


I was not making it up! My roommates realized my sanity!

I got a cold brew, black, and it was delicious. My roommates got lattes with classic latte art.


Well, if you call an eerie resemblance to the Build-A-Bear logo classic. 

In any case, it was every bit as magical as it was when it first appeared to me in my vision, and I know I’ll be making it a stop on my commute more often. 


Well, except for this week, because this week is MY BIRTHDAY and I will absolutely be claiming my free birthday lattes from both Starbucks and Dunkin’. I have no loyalty, especially when it comes to receiving birthday presents. 

‘Til next cold brew,

A

Work Playlist of the Week: Uplifting Electronic Goodness

Every week, I bring to you a batch of the hottest non-hits that get me through the work day. Fair warning that my musical taste ranges from Blondie to Bassnectar to Britney Spears.

Week of 6/19: A rough week that called for uplifting electronic goodness.

“Not Alone,” Matt & Kim

I haven’t listened to Matt & Kim in a hot minute, but this kept me bouncing in my seat through some stressful stuff.

“Life Itself,” Glass Animals

I first saw Glass Animals at Lollapalooza last year, and I was impressed with their ability to not sound like every other alternative band out there at the moment.

“I Can Change,” LCD Soundsystem

It’s like the 80’s came back! Enjoy this keyboard-driven song that’s both laid back and upbeat.

“We Are Your Friends,” Justice

I can always use some Justice in my life. Fingers crossed I get to see them at Lollapalooza this year, which is (of course) in the park across the street from my office building. And then I can hear them FOR REAL from work! Just kidding. That would be more depressing than cool.

“DVNO,” Justice

More Justice because you can never have enough.

“Oblivion,” Grimes

The nice thing about Grimes is that the music doesn’t distract you too much. Sometimes music makes me want to dance a little too much, but this song is perfect for when you need to be in the zone and crank it out.

“Ready for the Floor,” Hot Chip

Hot Chip is another band I’ve had the pleasure of seeing at Lollapalooza, and they never disappoint. I must just be in the music festival mode, with Taste of Chicago and Pitchfork both coming up soon…

“Where’s Your Head At,” Basement Jaxx**

Just a great electronic head-banger. Also see below.

**BONUS: “M.E.,” Gary Numan

THE ORIGINAL SONG THAT BASEMENT JAXX SAMPLED. I actually discovered this when looking for new 80’s music, and this guy was so ahead of his time. Holy wow.

 

How NOT to get it done

You’ll find a ton of articles telling people how to be more productive and get things done. Well, here I am to tell you how I don’t get things done.

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If I don’t write it down, I don’t get it done.

Think you’ll remember that mental note? Think again. Everything will fly right out of your head the minute after you tell your boss, “Yeah, I can definitely do that!” And then you don’t.

Use a Post-It. Keep a notebook on you. Set reminders on your phone. Whatever you need to do to get it out of your head and into the physical realm ASAP.

If I don’t tell someone I’m doing it, I don’t get it done.

It’s not always enough to hold yourself accountable. If someone knows what you need to do, even if it’s just your roommate, you’ll still feel more responsible for doing it.

If I don’t block off time, I don’t get it done.

Literally schedule time on your calendar to do a task. Treat it like an important meeting.

If I don’t list my tasks in order of importance, I don’t get a single thing done, I just sit there and panic at all the things I need to do and then don’t do anything.

Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. I’ll say it one more time: Prioritize. Categorize emails based on level of importance– this is like dividing and conquering, because once you split up your tasks, you’re mentally putting things into more manageable chunks. It’s still the same amount of work, but because you’re separating your tasks into groups, you can tackle one group at a time without feeling overwhelmed.

Once the panic sets in, it’s hard to stay focused, and you’re so distracted worrying about the things you need to do that you don’t do any of it.

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If I don’t stay organized, I don’t get it done. 

Because if you lose the thing you were supposed to do, you can’t do it.

If I don’t get it started, I don’t get it done. 

The hardest part is when you actually start doing the thing. Until then you just procrastinate and do other things.

If I don’t have coffee in my system, I don’t get it done.

XO,

A

Motivation Monday: Showing Up

In honor of both Father’s Day and my dad’s birthday (they’re back to back, which means I get two excuses in a row to tell him how awesome he is), I’m going to start the week off with some of his advice: Most of success is just being there.

Whenever he says that, I think he’s referring to the famous Woody Allen quote– 80 percent of life is showing up. Or maybe the Thomas Edison quote about genius being 1 percent inspiration, and 99 percent perspiration. Well, whatever the percentage, one thing is obvious: To do well in something, half the battle is showing up (or more than half…60 percent? Oh, forget it).

To do well in something, half the battle is showing up.

Today was one of my roughest days as an intern so far this summer, which is saying a lot, because interning at a large PR agency is no joke. I had to hide in a bathroom stall for five minutes to do deep-breathing exercises and pretend for a second that email did not exist. When you watch the work pile up, and your day get longer and longer, and your chances of making it home in time for The Bachelorette get slimmer and slimmer than the Bachelorette herself, it’s easy to feel like giving up and calling it a day. And why not? Why not settle for leaving tasks for the next day?

Don’t let that screen stay blank.

You already know the answer, because you’re reading this blog. You don’t settle. You sure could. But deep down, you know that buckling down and tackling that to-do list for two more hours means the world to your team. You know that you are there to do your job, and do it well. And you know that as long as you are there– as long as you haven’t walked out of that office– you are already so much closer to your goals than everyone that marched out at 5 p.m. Yes, it’s demoralizing to be the last one sitting in a dark, quiet cube on a Monday night. But it can be empowering instead. Put on headphones and blast whatever EDM it takes to get in a zone. Grab a coffee (obvi). And chug away, both on the coffee and the work.

Mondays are the worst because they’re about showing up. It’s so hard to show up after a weekend of not showing up. But once you’re there, you’ve already made it halfway/80 percent/99 percent depending on who you ask. I firmly believe that the first person in the office and the last person out are both the people that will be taking the corner office one day, if they don’t already have it.

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They say work smarter, not harder. But sometimes, it doesn’t take smarts to get somewhere; it just takes tenacity. Thomas Edison would know. And if he can invent the lightbulb, well, you can probably fill out a spreadsheeet for another hour or two.

Xo,

A

Caffeinate

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As the name of this blog would suggest, caffeine is a huge part of what makes me, me. I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or not, because that basically means I’m part human, part coffee.

It is what it is. I’ve accepted it.

Besides, caffeine makes me awesome.

When I created this blog, I knew I wanted caffeine to be an important aspect, since coffee is such an important aspect of my identity and also culture. It means something different to everyone– whether it be a morning ritual, a social activity, a pick-me-up, or an addiction. For me, it’s all of those things, and I’m excited to share them all with you as I post about my coffee-related shenanigans. Topics will include:

  • Coffee shops I find on accident
  • Thoughts on my love-hate relationship with K-cups
  • Starbucks and Dunkin: Pros and cons
  • Pro tips for making iced coffee at home

And that’s all I have planned so far. We’ll see how this goes. Join me and caffeinate!

XO,

A

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Time Flies When You’re Having Fun (Or Need Time Management Skills)

Most people at work and in school wish the day would go by faster. In PR, it’s a different story: There isn’t enough time in the world to get everything done that needs to get done, and that’s probably why Public Relations Executive is listed in the 10 Most Stressful Jobs among Taxi Driver and Airline Pilot. But like taxi drivers, I somehow survive the traffic jams of my job; it just takes time management and nerves of steel. Easy, right?

That’s not to say I haven’t had my crashes. Every once in a while, I’ll feel beyond overwhelmed at work and realize that I’m missing a meeting or a deadline on a task that had completely slipped my radar. It’s especially hard for interns, whose time is less valued. As an intern, you’re seen as dispensable, so your tasks pile on faster than you can handle them– you’re expected to be up for the challenge, no matter what else you have going on. It gets frustrating, because you feel like you’re juggling so much that you’re going to drop the ball at some point. But guess what? If you’re able to juggle everything without dropping the ball, you won’t be so dispensable anymore. You’ll be needed, respected, and appreciated.

Easier said than done, though. How exactly does time management work?

How to Not Drop The Ball

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Manage Up

Here’s a term for your buzzword list: Managing Up. I actually heard this one in a staff meeting at work, of all places, and it means working effectively and building a strong relationship with your boss. Here are a few ways to manage up:

  • Grab coffee with your manager and tell them your goals for the job. Alternatively, email a memo to your closest supervisors, so that your managers know what projects to give you and appreciate your ability to think about your career.
  • Understand their perspective. As stressed as you are, your boss is probably more stressed, and they’ll be appreciative when you’re responsive to
  • Anticipate your manager’s needs. Make sure to be thinking about how you can make their life easier, and it will make your life easier in turn.

Overcommunicate

Granted, I work in the communications industry. But in any job with tight deadlines an multiple projects, your boss will be just as nervous as you are about something getting done, so she/he will want updates on what’s getting done. This relates to my last point of managing up– you want to keep an open, positive line of communication with your managers about your workload.

  • Don’t wait until you’re done with a project to tell your manager how it’s going. It’s tempting for me to wait until I’m all finished, then present it to my manager with a grand AHA! HERE IT IS email (not literally, but you know what I mean). However, this means there could be a long period of time when your manager has no idea you’re taking care of it, and might even give you a new task because they forget you’re busy with another assignment. Tell them what you’re up to. Give frequent progress reports.
  • Send updates whenever you’re swamped and give a heads up when you’re going to be out of the office. If you have to run out for an hour to complete a task, for example, send a quick email letting your teams know how they can reach you.
  • Before signing off and leaving the office for the day, follow up on each of your projects with your teams to make sure everything has been taken care of.

Don’t Go Overboard

As important as it is to be proactive, you also don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. Be honest about what you can and can’t handle– and if there’s something you truly have no time for, make sure your boss knows before it’s too late.

  • Plan for a crisis each day. When planning out your schedule and workload, leave yourself a cushion of time in case an urgent request comes up.
  • Be assertive with your time. Ask if a deadline is hard; often, your supervisor will say they need something by noon, but it can really wait until 3.
  • It’s okay to say no. Delegate tasks that can be delegated (even to another intern, if you’re an intern) and be honest about what you can and can’t take on.

Think One Step (Or Three) Ahead

If you work ahead and know what’s coming, you can make time that didn’t exist. When you’re feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day, you can create more.

  • Look at your calendar at the end of each day to see how tomorrow looks. Have a ton of meetings? See if you can take care of any tasks the night before so you don’t feel swamped.
  • Always assume something is going to take longer than it actually is. It’s better to overestimate a task and be left with extra time, than to underestimate and get left behind.
  • Use the Time Management Matrix: This is life-changing. I discovered it last week when Googling time management tips during an SOS moment at work. Just draw the grid and bullet-point your tasks according to Urgent/Important, Not Urgent/Important, Urgent/Not Important, and Not Important/Not Urgent. See below example:

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I know this was a doozy of a post, but it’ll save you from a doozy of a work day. These are just a few of many time management tips, so if you have one I missed, share it in the comments below!

XO,

A

Summer Side Hustles

It’s summertime, which means more time for relaxation, right? NOPE.

Summer is the perfect time to get going on that side gig you’ve been thinking about. Bonus points if it’s something you can do from the middle of a pool.

So have you ever been standing on a rooftop at a bar having the best time ever and then you look at the bill and realize you’ve just spent $24 on an appetizer? An appetizer that is French fries? Technically truffle fries but still…fries? For $24?
Well anyways, that was me last Friday, and it was quite the reality check. Literally in the form of a check. And reality check checks can only mean one thing: It’s time to magically pull money out of thin air to pay for magically expensive fries.

I know I’m a workaholic, but a summer side gig is seriously the best. Think about it– you have extra time, and you need extra cash. Those poolside margaritas won’t pay for themselves. Besides, the more you tap into your inner entrepreneur, the more you’ll start to figure out what you want from your normal job.

Tips:

  • Manage your time in chunks. You don’t want one job to take your focus away from the other, so carve out a block of time each day that’s reserved for your side hustle
  • Don’t sell yourself short. You’ve got skills. They’re in demand. What’s fair is fair, and again…those margaritas won’t pay for themselves.
  • Make sure it’s something you enjoy. Part of the point of a side gig is to pursue a potential passion project or explore a skill you never really tapped into. Think about what you naturally enjoy doing and what you’re good at, and go from there.

Ideas to get you started:

  • Were you a cheerleader in high school? Soccer player? Give lessons to local athletes trying out for the high school team in the fall.
  • If you’re a math major, tutor students struggling with their summer college algebra class. Same goes for history, English, anything.
  • Assist with college applications and planning (okay, a lot of these suggestions are geared towards helping high schoolers, but let’s face it– high schoolers need a lot of help).
  • Edit cover letters, resumes, essays, anything
  • Adult. Lemonade. Stand. I literally just made that up and it sounds amazing so please do it and let me know how it goes.
  • Open an Etsy shop if you’re the crafty type
  • Flip garage sale items (art, clothes, etc.)
  • Become an online dating consultant. It’s like giving your friends dating advice except getting paid!
  • Start your own brewery. You might not make money. You might actually lose money. But this is a worthy pursuit.
  • Be a research participant. When you get stopped at the mall to take a survey, take the survey for once. Do focus groups.

Happy hustling!

– A

Other resources:

http://thezoereport.com/living/work/make-extra-money-side-hustles/#slide-3

 

Dear crazy ambitious people: This site is for you.

As I began writing this new blog, I had to think: Who is this site for?

If you’re reading this, and you’re looking for inspiration to absolutely DOMINATE at whatever you aspire to doing, this site is for you.

If you’re a hustler looking for your next project to tackle, this site is for you.

If you’re a creator and innovator looking for the next trick up your sleeve, this site is for you.

And if you’re a motivated self-starter (how many times have you seen THAT on a job posting?) looking for a like-minded 20-something who has been there and done that, and then some? This site is for you.

My name is Alex, and I’m the magical age of 21. I’m a master’s student working in beauty and lifestyle public relations, and after finding my dream career so early in life, I want to be a resource for other women with crazy ambition.

I’m not going to pretend I know everything there is to know, but I’m going to tell you what I do know. And I’m going to learn from you, dear readers, in return. Because PR (and life in general, really) is about living on the learning curve– none of us will ever know everything there is to know, and that’s the exciting part of what we do. We’re all in the same boat, and here to help one another. So this site is for everyone out there ready to take this on together. Welcome to Caffeinated Californian: your almost-expert source on the life of a working woman ready to dominate and always caffeinate.