meangirls

Links of the Week: Cosmopolitan.com, Mean Girls, L’Wren Scott, Blake Lively, and Those Pesky Subway Alarms

Link Roundup, On My Radar

I’m testing out a new feature – five stories that caught my eye this week. Let me know what you think!

1. Amy Odell and the Great Media Race – by Debra Scherer, Business of Fashion

Business of Fashion interviews Cosmopolitan.com‘s Amy Odell on her career and her vision for the site.  It’s interesting to see how print publications and online-only brands approach web content differently. I remember when Amy was at The Cut it always had the most cutting edge and juiciest stories in fashion, and I love what she’s done with Cosmo’s website. There are “listicles” but I always find them relatable and shareable.

2. Blake Lively Returns to the Spotlight by April Long, Elle

I’m more excited to see Blake Lively on the cover of Elle than I am to see Kim Kardashian and Kanye West on the cover of Vogue, #sorrynotsorry. The primary reason for this is my obsession/girl crush on Blake and admiration for her style. I’m also wondering if she’s doing this cover to promote her as-of-yet-nebulous lifestyle company. I’m not a GOOP kind of gal and I’ve always found Blake’s interviews about cooking/baking/homemaking to be a bit unusual, but still. (Tell us more about wearing Gucci/being BFFs with Christian Louboutin and less about your new oven, please!) I’m curious.

3. The Ultimate Mean Girls Trivia Quiz by Kara McGrath, Seventeen

I’m ashamed of myself for scoring an imperfect 19 out of 20 on this quiz, as I am probably one of the world’s leading Mean Girls enthusiasts. I’m not even exaggerating. (see: My Regina George Halloween costume, on my Mean Girls Everthing board on Pinterest).

4. Scott’s suicide reveals tragic side of of city’s glizty scene – by Maureen Callahan, The New York Post

As someone who has had her fair share of financial struggles, I appreciated this piece on the darker side of portraying a glamorous lifestyle in the New York City fashion scene.

5. ‘Subway Alarm’ – by Ken Webb, The New York Times

Thunderous applause goes out to this NY op-ed, which points out how pointless, irritating, and dangerous the alarms that sound when NYC subway “emergency exit” doors are used. I hope the MTA does something about them after reading this. As someone who takes the subway daily, I can attest that those alarms are THE ACTUAL WORST and I’m surprised that nothing has been done about them sooner. Touché, Ken, touché.

What’s on your radar this week?

time management

Dealing with Social Media Distractions

Social Media, Time Management, Work, Writing

Over the past few months I’ve been really interested in learning about how I can boost my productivity. I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, which I loved, and also attended a seminar about time management. The challenge that I think a lot of people face in the age of “busyness” is how to dedicate the most time to the things that matter to them. About two years ago, I felt like I wasn’t spending enough time reading, which was disappointing since I love to read. To fix that, I didn’t exactly “schedule” reading time. I just updated my Amazon wish list, asked for books for my birthday and Christmas that I wanted to read, and placed holds on books I wanted from the library. Once I had the books I was excited to read, the more inclined I was to do it. When I was more active as a blogger, I didn’t have “scheduled” time to blog, I just did it and let everything else fall by the wayside.

Not only did I want to spend more time reading, I also wanted to work on a few writing projects: blogging, a few ideas for a novel, freelance pieces for magazines. I also wanted to get on/maintain a workout routine. I also work full time, commute to the city, and sometimes take night classes. I feel like I’m busy all the time, even when I’m not. It’s very easy, at least for me, to waste hours of my unscheduled time outside of work scrolling through social media and watching TV instead of using it in productive ways, since I feel like I spent the entire workday trying to be as productive as possible.

Most of the articles I’ve read online about productivity talk about unplugging and stepping away from social media since it’s so distracting. There are many different theories about when to check email, how much time to spend on social networking sites every day, etc. Another source I consulted for inspiration is the “media diet” feature on The Wire, in which different celebrities/important people share what they read and when, and Harpers Bazaar’s “24 Hours With…” to learn how successful people in the fashion industry manage their time. Of course, none of the uber-successful people mentioned spending hours falling through the Instagram rabbit-hole, but if I were being interviewed by a high-profile magazine, I probably wouldn’t mention that, either.

What surprised me after doing all of this unofficial research was that the best book I’ve read so far on time management/productivity actually doesn’t mention computers or social media at all. It’s “How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life” by Alan Lakein (and was a recommendation from Kate White’s book, I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This.) Alan Lakein’s book poses a simple question: “What is the best possible use of my time right now?”

The problem is that, a lot of times, watching a TV show or reading a magazine *is* a pretty good use of my time, at least indirectly, as it gives me a chance to unwind and absorb new ideas. Social media, used correctly, is a good place to promote my work and make contacts.

I think there’s certainly something to be said for social media’s contribution to our productivity. I get blog post and story ideas and discover new writers, articles and books all the time when casually reading. For me, the biggest takeaway from the time I spent reading about time management (the irony of this is not lost on me) was that I don’t have enough time to read all of the interesting articles I come across each day on Facebook and Twitter. So this is my biggest productivity tip: make a few different bookmarks in Google Chrome (for consistency across your home computer/work computer/ipad etc.) and favorite the articles you want to read, then catch up on them on say, Sunday afternoons. Recently I found myself deleting about half of the articles I favorited, realizing they weren’t as interesting or relevant as I first thought. Since implementing this, I’ve been able to get more done at work without being weighed down by internet article FOMO.

What are your best tips for managing your time and social-media distractions?

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Izzy Mandelbaum, ultimate workout master.

Questions I have about guys at the gym

Life as a twentysomething

I’m lucky in that the gym I go to isn’t super-crowded. There’s never a wait for cardio machines like there was in Manhattan, and the different weight machines usually aren’t backed up either. Even when they aren’t though, I find it rude and strange when guys come up to the person using a machine and ask them if they’re almost done, how many sets they have left, offer to switch on and off, etc. Did you not learn in kindergarten that you have to wait your turn? Plus there are at least a dozen similar machines you could be using!

A few weeks ago I was using an arm machine when a beefy-looking older guy approached me.

“So, uh, do you have about 100 sets left on that, or what?”

This idiot.

“Sir,” I said, “Do I look like I can do a hundred sets on this?”

Dumb question, dumb answer.

I mean, really. Every single machine around me was empty. I think it’s rude that these “fitness” types try to intimidate people off of the machines, particularly by insinuating that someone else’s workout routine isn’t as serious as theirs.

…Are guys’ fitness routines that serious? I’ve seen exchanges between men agreeing to switch on and of of a machine in which a strictly regimented routine is detailed. “Well, yeah, I have 3 sets left on this…” as if the exerciser in question COULD NOT possibly deviate from those three sets, or, you know, do something else and come back to them. Sounds a little OCD if you ask me.

Another common occurrence I’ve noticed is the male exerciser who is ostensibly showing off. He makes a show of putting the pin ALL THE WAY at the bottom of the weights, sits still for a few seconds (to get pumped up?) and then proceeds to lift the stack of weights which is much too heavy for him, rapidly, in a very small range of motion, and then loudly lets the weights clatter back into place. I can’t help but think that this is somehow intended to be a display of strength for my benefit. Do men really think that this is impressive?

How did I meet your father? Well, I was on the quad machine, minding my own business, when I heard this grunting sound and then a clatter of weights…

No. Stop this right now. It is distracting and ridiculous.

Last question: Short shorts, usually seen on older guys. Why?

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Ban Bossy

The Good and the Bad of #BanBossy

Career, On the News

The #BanBossy campgaign video starts by saying:

“By middle school, girls are less interested in leadership than boys. And that’s because they worry about being called ‘bossy.'”

The problem here is twofold: that girls are called bossy and that they worry about being called bossy.

I’m in favor of campaigning to change the negative view of girls who are leaders, but I believe the #BanBossy campaign is missing something important. There is not enough focus on teaching girls that being called bossy, or anything else derogatory, for expressing their opinions or displaying leadership qualities is a not bad thing, or that the boys – and yes, other girls – who do use these words should be ignored. In other words, the campaign is targeting the wind when it is much easier to help girls adjust their sails.

Assertiveness training is so, so important for girls and women, especially in business. I took a class at NYU as part of my marketing certificate on communication skills for women in marketing and PR (it was called “Be a Powerful Presence” and taught by Raleigh Mayer. I highly recommend it.) and we learned a lot about the differences between the way women and men communicate in the workplace, such as phrasing statements as questions, high intonation at the end of a declarative sentence, and saying “sorry” profusely when it isn’t necessary. Taking a course like this at a younger age would have been hugely helpful for me in my education and career. I’m aware of the Girls Leadership Institute after watching Rachel Simmons’ TED talk and it looks like they do great work. It’s as important to teach girls to lead as it is to teach them not to let the fear of being criticized keep them from raising their hands.

I remember when girls were called bossy in school or during a playdate it was because they were being controlling and unfair towards their more passive classmates or friends. There is a difference between bossing your peers around at recess and being a good leader. Leaders have the interpersonal skills to bring out the best in others. That means giving others their turn to shine.

So, I agree. Let’s spread the message that girls expressing their own voices and being leaders isn’t a bad thing. But let’s also help girls develop the skills to brush off silly comments and grow a thicker skin. It’s difficult to move up the career ladder without one.

Update: I especially like Alexandra Petri’s Washington Post article on #BanBossy, in which she writes: “This is like dealing with the Sleeping Beauty curse by removing all the spindles from the land. The trick is not to remove all the spindles. The trick is to teach you how to handle a spindle safely so that it won’t sting you.”

You don’t have to love me
You don’t even have to like me
But you will respect me
You know why?
Cuz I’m a boss!

-Kelis, “Bossy”

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