manager leaves to get her hair done during the workday, should I sing a song at my interview, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My manager leaves to get her hair done during the workday

I work for a small firm with a fairly laid-back environment. One of my bosses regularly schedules her multi-hour hair appointments for workday afternoons. Every other month or so, she leaves work at 3 and comes to work the next day with freshly styled hair. She will leave meetings and reschedule work activities (conference calls, etc.) around her appointments, and it seems unlikely that she’s using her vacation/personal time for the time she’s taking off.

I understand that hair appointments are important and do take a significant amount of time. I have also scheduled hair cuts and coloring appointments during the week, but always after work hours. I don’t really want to confront her about this or even try to get her in trouble for it, but I do wonder if this is more acceptable than I’m thinking it is. To me, it seems unprofessional to run out to a grooming appointment during work time. Is this appropriate?

Yes, in lots of offices, this would be perfectly fine, especially for someone senior enough to make decisions about how to manage her own time (and your manager probably falls in that category). Particularly in jobs where you end up doing work in the evenings and on the weekends, reasonable employers are fine with people stepping out mid-day to take care of something personal. Hell, even in jobs where you’re not typically working outside of regular hours, reasonable employers will be fine with people occasionally stepping out for personal reasons. (You also don’t know if she’s using PTO for that time or not. She very well may be.)

For what it’s worth, if I were your manager I’d be pretty annoyed that you thought this was an issue. Assuming she’s generally competent at her job and the department is not falling apart because she leaving work a couple of hours early now and then, you should stop thinking of this as a problem.

2. Should I sing a song at my interview?

I have an interview in a week at a well-established clothing company for a job doing phone and email customer support. If there’s a chance to sell something along the way, the support agents are expected to do a good job with that too.

They asked the candidates to bring an object and have a presentation about the object. It can be presented as we wish.

Straight away, I knew I had to bring my guitar and I have a whole thing prepared already. But then suddenly I got the idea that I could write a song about my guitar and present it that way? Do you think they will appreciate that? I don’t know if it’s too risky. I know they will remember me for it, but will they think it’s not serious? It just seems kind of boring to bring a guitar without playing anything on it.

Don’t do it. Exercises like this are generally supposed to give a window into your work skills. You’re not going to be singing to customers (I’m assuming/hoping), so doing your presentation in song isn’t going to give them information about how you’d perform on the job, which is what they’re looking for.

That said, I’m 100% sure that there are some hiring managers out there who would like this and think that it demonstrated personality and energy … but there are more who would feel like you missed the point of the exercise.

3. Am I being too persnickety about candidates’ cover letter formatting?

I work in an office at my university, and we are reviewing applications for a graduate assistant position. How important is proper cover letter formatting (such as including the name of the recipient and including a greeting)? A coworker and I disagree about how important it is.

My position is that using a correct business format shows that you are willing to put in a solid amount of effort to complete a task. While I’m not generally a stickler for professional formatting—I’ll often leave out greetings in emails—I do think that if one cannot make the effort to do a task as important as applying for a job properly, then how much effort will you put into task everyday tasks? The way I see it, people who don’t use proper formatting either (1) did not know how to and yet did not take the, arguably, simple step of googling “cover letter format” or (2) were too lazy/didn’t take the application seriously enough to submit a formatted letter. Both of these factors stick out as red flags to me. Am I being too persnickety here?

Are you talking about cover letters that are in the body of the email or attached as a separate document? If it’s in the body of an email, I wouldn’t hold it against someone for not including a formal greeting and a name; ideally they should have those things, but email is an inherently more casual medium than old-school business letters are and I don’t think you should reject anyone over that.

But if you’re talking about a separate document that’s been attached, it does look unpolished when it’s a document with no “dear hiring manager” or “dear Alison” and/or no appropriate closing (“sincerely, Cressida Warbleworth”). I wouldn’t penalize someone for not including the other aspects of a formal business letter though, like the date and the address block; email has really changed the conventions in that regard. (And that stuff definitely doesn’t belong in a cover letter that’s in the body of an email, since email makes that info redundant. In fact, when it appears there, it usually signals lack of savvy since that’s not how email works.)

Definitely don’t penalize people for not tracking down the name of the recipient (I’m not sure if that’s part of what you meant or not); “dear hiring manager” is fine.

So, yes, I might be coming down on the side of “too persnickety” here, depending on which aspects of this are in play.

4. I keep almost falling asleep in meetings

I’m having an issue that’s embarrassing me. I just started a new job a few months back. My small team in a big company is full of reasonably nice, smart people. No team is perfect, though, and one of the few pet peeves I have with them is the excess of long, talky meetings we have. That’s not exactly what this question is about, though.

I keep almost falling asleep in meetings where I’m not directly involved. I’ve tried several things to mitigate this–going to bed earlier (doesn’t work), drinking extra coffee (just gives me a headache and makes it harder to fall asleep that night), taking notes (I end up zoning out anyway), etc. None of it works. Half an hour into that day’s lunch meeting, I’ll be physically struggling to keep my eyelids open.

I’ve had issues sleeping since I was a kid. Nothing serious enough to see a doctor about, I think, but I usually wake up one to three times in an average night and am fairly yawny and groggy the day after that happens. I don’t think my managers have noticed yet, and I’m working very hard outside these meetings. It doesn’t help that I also have ADHD. But I want to find some way to fix this before it starts affecting my reputation at work. Any advice?

See a doctor! It’s negatively impacting your life, despite you trying all the obvious remedies. That moves it into the “yes, talking to a medical professional is now warranted” category. That doesn’t mean that it has to be something serious, but when something impacts your life in a way you don’t like and can’t fix on your own, it’s appropriate to seek professional help.

Read an update to this letter.

5. Can employer move your hours to the next week to avoid paying overtime?

My nephew works for a fast food chain. I looked at his check and feel that he is not being paid correctly. He is paid biweekly.

If he works 50 hours on week 1 and 30 hours on week 2, does he get overtime for week 1? Or does the employer have the right to move those 10 hours into week 2? Also, can an employer take hours you worked in a pay period and move it to the next pay period?

No, an employer can’t move hours around like that. If you worked more than 40 hours in a week, then you need to be paid overtime for that week, and the employer can’t use a two-week period instead of a one-week period.

That said, be aware that the employer gets to decide how they want to define the seven-day work week; they can choose to start it on Sunday or Wednesday or Friday or whatever they want. (But it does need to be the same seven-day period each time; they can’t keep mixing it up to get out of paying overtime.) So one thing to look at it is which seven-day period they’re using, and whether that changes the overtime calculation.

{ 298 comments… read them below }

  1. Knitting Cat Lady*


    Yes, see a doctor.

    Constant bad sleep is a huge stressor for the body and may eventually lead to significant health problems.

    As a short term fix: Could you ask to stand during the meeting?

    1. MillersSpring*

      OP4, you say your sleep problems are nothing to see a doctor about, but you should get an appointment to see a sleep specialist–usu. an internist or ENT with extra training in sleep issues–and let him/her determine whether you have asleep disorder. Everything you mentioned will likely be on the doctor’s initial questionnaire.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Agree. Outing myself as someone who has mild narcolepsy, which would never have been diagnosed had a manager not insisted I figure out what the problem was when I was falling asleep in meetings. I’m forever grateful to her — she could have just fired me, but knowing my work ethic as she did, she realized it was a medical issue. Now I know how to manage it.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I know someone with narcolepsy, and this was my first thought. However, sleep apnea or even a medication the OP is taking could also be to blame. Since the OP has already eliminated the common causes of sleepiness in meetings (and I’m sure we’ve all been there at some point), it’s time to talk to a doctor – these kinds of problems might get worse. And I really don’t want to OP to fall asleep when driving or in some similar situation.

        2. Koko*

          Isn’t it strange realizing that a condition you’ve dealt with all your life is actually a condition and not just the way the world is for everyone?

          I used to frequently get hours of ceaseless intense itching at the back of my jaw after eating. But because it had happened my whole life I never stopped to think, “That should not be happening.” It was just part of being alive! Then my wheat allergy was diagnosed and I stopped getting itchy after eating. Who knew.

          I imagine it’s the same for mild narcolepsy. You probably thought that how sleepy you felt was how sleepy everyone else felt. It never even occurred to you that if everything was normal you should easily be able to make it through even boring meetings without falling asleep. You just thought everyone else was better at fighting off the urge to sleep than you were.

          1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

            It is amazing! I’m sorting through a number of chronic pain issues that I had not reported because I thought what I felt was totally normal. Luckily, my doc is smart enough to connect dots – but he had to ask me specific questions to drill into what was really going on.

            I guess I took the Buddha too literally with “Life is Suffering.”

          2. straws*

            It’s so strange! I also have mild narcolepsy, and you’re spot on for my experience. I also have double vision from a condition and wasn’t diagnosed until my late 20s because I didn’t realize it wasn’t normal. My grandfather was completely deaf in one year and everyone just assumed he was spacey until some time in his 30s!

            1. Carly*

              I just got glasses at 26 and it’s amazing the difference in my life. I honestly did not realize that everything I looked at shouldn’t be fuzzy until I jokingly tried my friends glasses.

              1. Koko*

                I had a similar experience too, but I was 17 when I got my first corrective lenses. I think my immediate reaction was, “Wow, the world has edges.”

          3. Jill*

            This is what I came to say. I’ve had pain in my tooth for so long, changing my chewing habits and giving up food that I love because of the pain. I put off going to the dentist due to back-to-back pregnancies and dealing with small children. I finally went in and low and behold, I had a cracked tooth that went down to the nerve. One root canal later and I have no oral pain. It had been so long since I ate without pain that I forgot what that felt like. So, OP – yes, go to the doctor. You have likely become normalized to your sleep patterns to the extent that it no longer occurs to your brain that there’s a better way to be!

          4. Armchair Analyst*

            This is how I felt with foot pain.
            I actually said to my husband, “you know how usually you (meaning everybody) gets debillitating leg cramps once a week? Mine have increased to once a day.”
            And he said, no, I don’t know about that. That doesn’t happen to me.

            Neon sign! Go to podiatrist!

      2. MillersSpring*

        The waking up 3-4X/night totally could be sleep apnea. Insomnia, too. You may think you’re awake but you’re just sleeping very shallowly. And with sleep apnea, you don’t realize that your body is waking multiple times per hour (even a ridiculous number of times per hour). You have no idea it’s happening (and a roommate or partner may not realize it either); you’re just not getting good sleep. Then you’re drowsy at other times, such as meetings, sitting down with a book, or even while driving.

        1. MillersSpring*

          Also, do try standing. People may raise eyebrows, but I think most people would initially assume you were about to leave the room then ignore it and guess that you just needed to stretch your legs. Some people learn better by doing or moving, and your coworkers may be aware of this even if it isn’t your particular reason for standing.

          1. Melissa*

            In many contexts, just politely asking the facilitator/meeting leader if they mind if you stand during the meeting shouldn’t present a problem. With bad backs and health surrounding too much sitting at work and also standing during meetings being a rather well known trick to stay awake, most of the time you can get away with it.

        2. Pixel*

          Yes, a thousand times yes.
          Mr. Pixel had a health scare that led to him doing the sleep study. I never suspected he had it – we both chalked up our interrupted sleep to stress or uncomfortable mattress or whatnot, and were convinced this is the way things are supposed to be.

          He was diagnosed with moderate-to-severe sleep apnea and was lucky enough to adapt to the CPAP machine within less than a week. The first night after he stopped fighting it and settled into sleep was, to put it mildly, life-altering. I was shocked at how different real, deep, restful sleep was from what we have settled upon. He said his focus at work is infinitely better than before, the scary health condition that started the ball rolling is all but gone, and I sleep better because he is no longer tossing and turning.

          The sleep study can be done at home – you borrow the machine in the afternoon and return it the morning after – and the CPAP may not look very sexy but it’s relatively comfortable, quiet – and I am a light sleeper who is bothered by everything – and it’s a potential life-saver.

        3. Rachel Paterson*

          I have suspected sleep apnoea. My partner says that sometimes, I will stop breathing in my sleep, for an alarmingly long time, then suddenly start again. (Which alarms me to think about, tbh, because my dad did a lot of that during couch naps when he was dying of cancer.)
          I’ve never been tested, mainly because I didn’t know about it until I started living with my partner in Japan, where medical care is tricky to navigate if you don’t speak the language very well. I spoke to my English-speaking psychiatrist and he prescribed me Benzaline, which is a mild benzodiazepine, to take at night to keep me in a deeper sleep. I’m not sure how much this helps with daytime drowsiness, but at least I no longer wake up at night.

    2. Sherm*

      Yep, definitely see a doctor, maybe a few until you get the answer. If you are waking up tired and groggy, then your sleep isn’t working out for you.

      At least where I work, no one is scandalized if you step out for a few minutes, especially if the meeting is long. Could you do that and then take a mini-walk, splash water on your face, or whatever helps wake you up?

    3. Misc*

      I am SO glad they said they have ADHD cause I was sitting there reading going ‘do not internet diagnose’.

      Falling asleep when bored is a symptom. You either need to manage your ADHD better somehow (i.e. go talk to the doctor), or stop your brain switching off with some new coping strategy (I find doodling is the only thing that helps me and it can get a bit manic looking but people just write me off as the wacky artist and act vaguely impressed that I can draw at all).

      Or it might be something else, but

      1. Misc*

        ….sigh. And in classic ADHD-mode, I forgot to finish both the first and last sentences to include things I wanted to say.

        It COULD be something else, but it IS an ADHD thing. Either way, it’s a problem, it’s causing a significant impact, get ye to someone who knows about this stuff.

        […and I’m going to get officially diagnosed tomorrow, hopefully, after months of problems at work, so this is hitting really close to the bone right now :D ]

        1. MommaTRex*

          I’m also ADHD (not really much H); without meds, I have a constant desire to take naps.

          I was also going to mention the doodling thing. I try to make it look like I’m taking notes, but if you saw the page afterwards, all you would see is maybe three words of notes surrounded by scribbles. Oh, and I should mention that I have ZERO drawing abilities. But I am awesome at scribbling. There seems to be something about keeping my hands moving that helps me stay awake and pay attention.

          1. Wendy Darling*

            I am probbaly ADD as all heck but have not been diagnosed — I just have basically every symptom on the ‘adult woman with ADD’ checklist. I actually had A MANAGER send me a link to a giant version of 2048 to play in meetings because it’s mindless but keeps my hands going, which is important if you want me listening.

            Now that I work from home I play Solitaire on my phone during teleconferences.

            Lately I’ve been wondering if it might be worth pursuing an actual diagnosis, but I’m not interested in medication and I function extremely well (because I have arranged my life in a way that works for me) so I feel like it might be kind of a waste.

            Of course right now I am procrastinating because I have concerns about the project I’m working on, so maaaaaybe I could use some help…

            1. LawPancake*

              I hadn’t heard of 2048 before but man do I regret googling it… I need to catch up on about an hour worth of work now!

          2. valc2323*

            I have zero drawing ability, so I took up knitting. There’s times where I can’t get away with it, but 90% of the time it’s no big deal to do it in meetings, and I have a beautiful product at the end! It helps that my managers recognize that I am paying attention – mostly because I ask relevant questions at appropriate times, and contribute regularly to the thread of discussions – and not just zoning out.

          3. AdminMeow*

            ADHD here too – the sleepiness is a common problem and for me it only helped when I started taking a stimulant. Oddly enough, my mother (not ADHD, at least diagnosed) went to a sleep specialist because she was so tired throughout the day and they also put her on a stimulant which worked perfectly for her. I literally had no idea how tired I actually was until I wasn’t tired anymore.

            I also used the tangle toys and a spinning ring to keep my fidgeting controlled or I liked to make lists on lists on lists but harder to do that and pretend to be listening.

      2. CLP*

        I’ve got very mild attention problems (and have been known to get drowsy in long meetings), and I also fidget (which is probably related to the attention stuff) I used to doodle but now I’ve found something that works even better for me. Tangle toys (I specifically use the tangle jrs. mostly but they come in different size and you can get different kinds, like I have 2 that I got from a subscription box that I can’t remember the name of), they keep my hands busy which keeps my mind from switching off. I keep 2 on my desk at work, 1 in my bag, and 2 on my desk at home.

        1. F.*

          I knitted my way through a night school paralegal course. It was the only way I could stay awake (after working all day) and pay attention. Only one instructor objected, so I didn’t knit in his class. The bonus was that I had completed a baby blanket for charity by the end of each semester!

        2. MommaTRex*

          Oh Tangles! I forgot how much I like those. I think I lost mine. I’m going to get some more!

      3. Tau*

        Huh! I don’t have ADHD I think – it’s hard to tell because I have Asperger’s and there’s a lot of symptom overlap. That said, I absolutely had the falling-asleep-in-meetings, or rather in seminars, problem, and taking notes and/or doodling was the only thing that helped. I generally can’t concentrate on speech alone for longer periods if I’m not doing something with my hands – I doodled my way through high school, and then I did maths at uni where you’re generally copying from the blackboard the entire lecture (postgrad is where things started getting really painful). The issue is probably not helped by the fact that I’m about 90% sure I have auditory processing problems… anyway, interesting that that’s (also?) an ADHD thing.

        Good luck with your diagnosis! I got my AS diagnosis as an adult, after I had huge problems at uni, so I can sympathise. *crosses fingers for you*

    4. Florida*

      Seconding the standing thing. If you aren’t comfortable saying that it’s because you might fall asleep, you can say it’s more comfortable or you need to stretch your legs.

      I used to teach real estate law, which is a very boring subject. Many students came to the night class after working all day. Frequently, students would stand in the back. Some would even pace in the back of the classroom. It never bothered me or other students.

      Like almost everyone else has said, your doctor might have a better, more long-term solution. Good luck.

      1. Qmatilda*

        If only I had thought of that in my “survey of local law” class. So painful.

    5. Ihmmy*

      other short term fixes: I find pinching myself or digging my nails into my skin just enough to hurt a wee bit really helps wake me up. Also chewing gum helps, but that may not go over well with your corporate culture

      1. Tuckerman*

        Ouch! Try wiggling your fingers and toes (at the same time). Helped me while working at a call center.

        1. Rachel Paterson*

          I used to dig my mechanical pencil into my thigh during lectures at uni. Punctured my jeans and subsequently my skin one day :( Undiagnosed ADHD at the time, aggravated by new-student insomnia and poor sleep habits.

    6. Donna*


      Could you come to the meetings with a cup of small ice cubes and then hold one in your mouth until it melts? I knew someone who had narcolepsy, and that’s what he did when he had to drive.

      1. straws*

        I’ve had some success with “spicy” candies, like fireballs or even root beer barrels for similar reasons.

        1. Editor*

          Yes, I find hard candy helps keep me alert. Spicy candy gives me problems, but peppermint is a reliable wake-up flavor for me. The best choice is something that feels like it is clearing your sinuses without making your nose run or your eyes water. In a pinch, I will suck on a piece of fruit-and-mint blend gum, but the temptation to chew can be maddening, and there’s also the disposal issue.

          Pro tip: test opening the container and/or unwrapping candy at home to make sure you’re not making crackly noises frequently during the meeting. It’s also easier if you can put candy in a purse, cell phone case, pad folio or something else that can sit on the table or floor within reach so the candy does not get warm and sticky from body heat.

    7. Van Wilder*

      Another short term fix: try drinking water. People often reach for caffeine first but water is surprisingly important and effective for keeping your brain awake. I have struggled with the same problem since high school and I didn’t “discover” water until a couple years ago.

    8. teclatrans*

      Gonto a sleep specialist (don’t just let a doctor order a sleep study). You might have apnea, you might have circadian rhythm problems or other issues common to folks with ADHD, you night have mild narcolepsy, etc.

      Other things to consider: you might have the type of ADHD that makes you sluggish cognitively; you might need different ADHD meds or coping methods (perhaps improved fidgets, getting up to walk around, etc.). You may just be exhausted from having to pay attention for so long (which is where walking, drinking water, going to the bathroom can help out).

      Also, we have an alertness system loop in our jaw muscles that mostly just causes difficulty (TMJ), but can also be harnessed by chewing crunchy things (um, I assume this would have to happen on that bathroom break).

  2. Sami*

    OP#4: yes, make an appointment to see your doctor. He or she may recommend a sleep study.
    In the meantime, try popping a few strong mints during your long meetings.
    Take them out of the noisy wrappers before your meeting and don’t crunch them in your teeth.
    Good luck!

    1. Dweali*

      Yes, strong mints or a mint gum, I also keep a cup or bottle of ice water to sip on all of this though should help for the short term while you figure this out with your doctor

      1. KR*

        Yes to the water! If I am in a long meeting or having trouble staying alert I also like to take bathroom breaks even if I don’t need to use the bathroom. Step out, wash my hands, put some water on my neck and wrists to cool myself down and wake myself up, fix my makeup, ect. Getting the blood flowing helps me stay awake!

      2. Meg Murry*

        Yes, ice water for the win! I also have ADHD, and have therefore found that caffeine doesn’t really help all that much. A little bit of caffeine might help perk me up, but too much actually dulls me (part of my ADHD brain, I actually sometimes drink a caffeinated beverage to HELP me sleep).

        But I agree with everyone else that this has now reached the “impacting my life” stage and is worth talking to a doctor about, but that it may take a while to get the balls rolling for a sleep study, etc so OP should do what s/he can in the meantime to avoid falling asleep, and ice water is a valid method. OP also mentioned it’s a lunch meeting, so looking at what you are eating during that meeting is also worth considering. A combo of boring meetings + dim lights if a projector is on + rich or simple carb heavy food is a recipe to make me crash as well.

        OP, are you totally necessary in this meeting? Have you talked to your boss about whether you even need to be there? Or are you there just in case someone has any questions relating to your job function, or as an FYI? Are there meeting minutes and could you get just as much out of it by reviewing those?

        If you can’t get out of the meeting, another strategy I’ve used besides doodling is to make a game out of it. Buzzword bingo is sometimes a bit obvious (and not so exciting if you get a bingo in the first 5 minutes), but I’ve found making a game of “write down all the buzzwords/jargon/acronyms used” and giving a score at the end keeps me mildly entertained. I make a list in advance of any especially obnoxious jargon worth extra points, I give double points to acronyms pronounced as words, and triple points to any acronym used twice in the same meeting to have 2 distinct meanings. It’s a way to keep my brain somewhat alert and listening to what the speaker is saying, and to fake attentiveness.

        1. F.*

          We used to play inappropriate/swear word bingo in staff meetings under one of my previous managers!

        2. Anxa*

          Man, this thread is really making me suspect that my anxiety and attention issues really might be ADHD and wish I had access to some sort of evaluation.

          I never understood the coffee craze; it just makes me jittery, a little nauseated, and then super sleepy. I always suspected it was just because I hadn’t got hooked on it yet, but maybe that’s another sign.

          1. JessaB*

            A lot of the main medications for ADHD are actually things you’d call uppers if they were illegal. It’s like the treatment is to over pump you so that you finally crash and settle in at what would be normal for people without ADHD. So yeh in a lot of cases caffeine would work opposite for someone with ADHD.

            And yes in people without ADHD (or chronic pain, caffeine boosts pain meds, hence Excedrin having caffeine in a lot of their formulations,) caffeine can make you really jittery.

            1. MommaTRex*

              It’s like the treatment is to over pump you so that you finally crash and settle in at what would be normal for people without ADHD.

              I disagree with that description. People with ADD/ADHD often take stimulants because they stimulate activity in our brain that increases the blood flow to our prefrontal cortex.
              It is NOT to create a crash. A crash would be horrible and we would all just fall asleep. The meds stimulate our brains so that WE don’t have to through hyperactive behavior. For example, when you see someone with ADD/ADHD pumping their leg, it is probably a subconscious attempt to get some stimulation in their brain to tap into the executive functions of their prefrontal cortex.

          2. JessaB*

            ETA – if your state has a department of vocational rehabilitation (may be called differently, but is usually a part of the labour board,) one of their mandates is to get people employment or keep them employed. One of the ways they do this is by using their budget to pay for testing, working with employers to get ADA carve outs so they have the TIME off work for this testing, and if necessary paying for adaptive equipment, etc.

            For example – Voc buys my hearing aids and before I had eye insurance, my eyeglasses. They paid for testing to show that after an injury I had certain limitations. They paid for testing that proved up my processing problems. They paid for an adaptive chair for one job I needed it for. They ALSO paid for my psych meds, when I was in between medical insurance, until our new insurance kicked in. In each case they liaised with my bosses to make sure I was getting the ADA required help I needed – the chair thing was when the boss insisted that a new chair would be unreasonable, and tried to fight anything about a chair at all. They paid for the ergonomic assessment and paid for the chair, and made it clear to that particular boss that they wouldn’t get away with a fight on that one.

            But my point in a nutshell TL;dr is see if voc exists in your state if you’re in the US, or wherever you are might also have a similar programme, and call them. Be aware however that budgets can be tight, so plan this around your state’s fiscal year, cause seriously? They spend when they have it (cause if they have leftover money the state wants to cut their budget.)

            1. Anxa*

              That’s pretty interesting. I was in a bind a few months ago where I was so nervous about not having glasses at work; I need them to do my job well. The thought even crossed my mind that I was lucky that I was in a job where I’d probably have the chance to have a conversation about my performance before an on-the-spot firing, and thought about how much it would stink to lose your jobs because you can’t afford the tools to do them.

        3. Kat M*

          The old Toastmasters “ah counter” trick helps me when I need to look (but not actually BE) attentive.

          Keep track of all the ahs, ums, you knows, likes, and other filler words people use. You’ll DEFINITELY stay busy.

          1. Editor*

            This backfired on me with one professor. I got so conscious of the fillers and their frequency I found I was losing track of the content.

        4. teclatrans*

          Oh, right! I heard an ADHD sleep specialist (Olivetti, maybe?) say that caffeine is often useful for ADHD patients with insomnia – mostly to allow them enough focus to fall asleep.

          But also, while on the topic, not everybody with ADHD experiences caffeine this way (so don’t rule out ADHD because it actually stimulates you; though, if it doesn’t stimulate you, it might be worth investigating).

    2. Sally-O*

      I used to fall asleep in meetings or class all the time, until I changed my diet. I cut out processed grains (particularly wheat), soda, and sugars. No more sandwiches for lunch; instead I focus on protein, healthy fats, and veggies. It made all the difference in the world – now I am hardly ever tired during the day, no matter how bored I get.

  3. Ann Furthermore*

    #1: Scooting out early once every 2 months for a hair appointment? Yeah, I do this on a regular basis. I block the time on my calendar so I don’t get scheduled into meetings, make sure any fires that have started during the day have been put out before I leave, and then I log on when I get home to check email and finish my work day. I’m an adult, and my manager trusts me to meet my deadlines, get my work done, and manage my time.

    OP, you don’t know that your manager isn’t finishing things up in the evenings when she has hair appointments, and chances are she puts in extra hours when they’re needed if there’s a big deadline looming, or a project is about to launch. So it all evens out in the end. And if that’s the case, who cares if she leaves early once in awhile to get her hair done? I too would be annoyed if someone was monitoring my comings and goings in this way.

    1. Nico m*

      #1. Its only an issue if she has a rod up her ass about her staff taking time off.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Agreed. If she does this kind of thing on a regular basis but doesn’t like her staff doing it, that’s a double standard. The OP didn’t say anything about that though, so I’m assuming that’s not the case.

        1. Mabel*

          Maybe and maybe not. It’s possible that a manager’s job allows for this kind of time off, but that her staff wouldn’t be able to have this kind of flexibility due to the nature of their work.

          1. Anna*

            Maybe, but if the people you manage don’t have that sort of flexibility, you probably don’t either. Or you should definitely lead by example.

          2. Anna*

            I should add, having said that, two of the managers I work with do this; one of them being my boss who is the Big Boss. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. In fact, I’m taking off an hour early next week so I can get my hair done and absolutely nobody I work with will look askance at me.

      2. Tuckerman*

        I can see how that could be frustrating but the manager may be exempt and the employees may be non-exempt, which would affect how they can manage their time. It could be OP doesn’t understand this distinction.

    2. Laurel Gray*

      Yeah I see nothing wrong with this. I had a coworker that would leave early by one hour every other week for her gel manicure. She would make up the time during the week like staying late or coming in early on another day. I have left early for grooming appointments, so have bosses of mine both male and female. Salons are open during business hours so either you take a whole day off for a 1-3 hour appointment or you are at the mercy of the Saturday morning salon appointment.

      Outside of performance and time management issues, I hate clock watching of employees in offices where butt in a seat isn’t a strict requirement (like in call centers).

      1. Allison*

        “I hate clock watching of employees in offices where butt in a seat isn’t a strict requirement”

        Yes, people who unnecessarily monitor other people’s comings and goings, and then make snarky comments like “Oh you’re leaving now? *tsk* Geeee, must be niiIIiiiice . . .” really grind my beans. If I’m getting my work done, and my leaving at X o-clock doesn’t interfere with other people’s work, if my absence doesn’t hold up any processes and I’m not leaving people to pick up my slack, then what’s the big deal? Fairness? Do we really all have to come in at 7:30 and stay until 5 just because some people on the team have to?

        1. Mickey Q*

          OP – I cannot stress enough that you need to MYOB. And do not talk about it to other people in the office. I had an employee who actually went over my head on a regular basis to let my boss know when I was leaving early. I fired her as soon as I could make a case for it (which wasn’t hard). If you want to remain in that job keep your mouth shut.

          1. JessaB*

            OP honestly, if the boss taking off like this is causing an actual work problem (not you don’t like them taking off regularly,) but things really aren’t getting done, or it’s making huge work flow problems for other employees, then mention THAT. “When Boss left last Thursday, the Simmons Teapot Statistics had not been done, and we couldn’t finish them because boss didn’t leave her numbers.” If you can’t point to an actual, proveable, explainable reason why the boss leaving is a problem to work you need to do, then let it alone, it’s not your business. And even if it’s a problem to someone else, that’s still not your business. Management may have already decided that it’s still okay to have that problem.

            1. myswtghst*

              Completely agreed. If it’s causing an issue, it’s worth starting a conversation about how to handle / resolve the issue going forward. I’d also recommend starting the conversation with your boss and framing it as something they might not be aware of, then keeping in mind that the resolution might not be “Boss can’t leave early for reasons I deem unnecessary.”

          2. Tonia*

            My sentiments exactly. If she is your manager, she’s your boss. Why would you even think to bring this up, or make an issue out of it. It’s like going over your bosses head. Not a good idea. MYOB, do your job, and focus on your work, not your managers.

      2. Jinx*

        I don’t get hair cuts anymore, but when I did I can totally understand wanting to schedule it during the day. There are places around here that are open after work hours, but it’s much harder to get an appointment. Also, the evening traffic in my area can make a one-hour appointment take all evening. It’s much easier to get around before five.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          We have the same thing here. Rush hour in the evening can last until nearly 6:30. I have a touch-up appointment at 4:00 next week and I will be leaving at 3:30. Normally I do it on Saturdays, but with wedding season coming up, my stylist is too busy.

        2. Koko*

          Yep. I go about every 2-3 months for a 3-hour hair appointment and if I want a 6 pm (latest possible for 3 hours) or weekend appointment I have to book her not long after my last appointment because they fill up so fast. But if I can duck out of work at 2:30 pm I can grab at 3:00-6:00 within a couple of weeks.

          1. Chalupa Batman*

            Same here-long appointments mean that sometimes you have to bend your schedule around the stylist. My hair doesn’t require frequent maintenance (1-3 times a year, depending on various factors) but I will only go to one particular stylist because I have what is sometimes referred to as an “ethnic” hair type, in an area that’s…not so “ethnic.” I’d definitely cut out a little early (typically not a huge deal at my office) if I needed to if it meant catching her last appointment for months. Lucky for me, our 3 hour+ appointment usually just means I’m getting up very early on a Saturday.

      3. Elle*

        “…or you are at the mercy of the Saturday morning salon appointment.” I have to set my Saturday appointments 6-8 months ahead of time. It’s a real pain.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq*

          Yes! To me, it’s a bit of a public service to schedule your appointments during the workday if you have a job that allows you to do so. There are plenty of people who don’t have that same kind of flexibility, so I like to do that stuff during times that others in less forgiving jobs can’t. (Same reason I almost never fight my way onto a full subway car; I can be 10 minutes late to work and it doesn’t matter, but I might be taking the space of someone who can’t be late.)

          1. LoLeeDC*

            I solved this problem by going to a salon located in one of the highly upscale burbs where I’m one of the few clients with a job :) I love my stylist and his Saturday mornings are always wide open!

          2. Michelenyc*

            I am the same way with the subway. I don’t see the point in running in the morning or evening when I leave work. There is always one 5 minutes later.

          3. Giselle*

            I completely agree. My sister is my stylist and she is grateful that I have the flexibility to work from the chair in her salon every month during her less busy hours rather than taking evening appointments that are easier to fill with new clientele.

        2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          My hair appointments are usually 4/4.5 hours…which means if I schedule for a Saturday, my stylist loses half his day to my appointment.

        3. starsaphire*

          +1. I have stylists in the family — those Saturday slots are like box seats at the opera.

          1. Anna*

            For my stylist it’s Sunday because she doesn’t work Saturdays. So when I couldn’t get in Sunday, I snatched up a Tuesday afternoon appointment.

    3. Jen*

      I was going to say – I’m looking at my calendar this week and I’m leaving 30 minutes early to get a hair appointment on Wednesday. The lady doesn’t have any Saturday appointments available for a month and she keeps normal business hours.

      Jobs nowadays are so 24/7. I check my e-mail all the time. I had to work two hours on Saturday morning and I have to work 3 hours next Saturday. These little things aren’t a big deal if I can leave early to go to the doctor for a check up or get my roots done.

    4. Sadsack*

      I think it’s one thing to wonder about all this, but something over the top to consider “confronting” your manager about her schedule.

    5. Koko*

      The read I got off the letter was that this was someone who has experiencing working in more of a retail/shift worker environment where there’s a much bigger emphasis on actually being present for your full shift, and this is perhaps their first job in a professional office with exempt workers. Coming from that background I can see it looking like the manager is doing this horrible thing by just abandoning her post for HOURS.

    6. Vicki*

      But this manager isn’t blocking time on her calendar. “She will leave meetings and reschedule work activities (conference calls, etc.) around her appointments”.

      It sounds like she leaves the appointments off of her calendar and then changes other things around to suit her convenience and inconvenience other people.

      The issue here isn’t the hair appointment. The issue is the cavalier approach to other people’s time and schedules.

      1. LizM*

        I don’t think it’s obvious from the letter she isn’t blocking the time. I often block time for personal appointments off in my calendar, and people still schedule over them. When that happens, and it’s an appointment that can’t be easily rescheduled, I’ll let people know that I’m unavailable at that time, and if it’s critical that I’m there, the call or meeting needs to be rescheduled. Sometimes people will keep the meeting as is, but adjust the agenda so that any part I’m critical for is at the front, and I’ll leave early.

        There are some individuals that feel that if they schedule a meeting, it’s SO IMPORTANT that people need to reschedule their personal appointments to accommodate. I’ve found it’s important to set those boundaries and make it clear that if it’s on my calendar, that means I’m unavailable for people to respect those blocks.

  4. LiteralGirl*

    LW#1, you’re saying that your manager leaves 2 hours early once every two months for personal reasons. If you didn’t know what she was doing, would you still question it? That seems kind of petty; if I were you I’d just not give it another thought.

    1. Panda Bandit*

      The breakdown per year is 6 afternoons out of about 250 working days. The LW definitely needs to let it go.

    2. SystemsLady*

      Especially if they leave 15 minutes early every Friday – and in some offices, that’d be staying late!

    3. MK*

      In fact, the OP cannot be certain that her boss is having her hair done during work hours. My hairdresser, beauty salon and nail salon are in the same area as most of my doctors, and I often bundle appointments. For all you know, the boss has to have an unpleasant procedure every two months during work hours and schedules a hair appointment right afterwards to cheer herself up.

      1. Random Lurker*

        OP also cannot be certain if PTO is being used or not. This is so very much not her business – time away and use of time away are between an individual and their manager. OP is in neither of these roles. If the boss being away creates issues with work being done, that’s what OP needs to focus on. What the appointment is for, whether or not there is PTO, the frequency, etc., are none of her business, and takes away focus from what the issue may actually be.

    4. Joseph*

      In a lot of companies (particularly white-collar ones), the attitude on minor stuff like that is “We’re paying you like a professional to be a professional.” Which includes managing your time and personal life. If you need to take a couple hours for a personal matter, it’s assumed that you’ll plan the rest of your week properly to still get your stuff done – which includes working a couple extra hours on a different day if needed. Then they only make an issue of it if you’re doing it regularly (like every week)

    5. TootsNYC*

      And for some people, that grooming thing might be a big part of what they do for work. I know that top staffers are often judged on what they look like, and if they had a lower level job, they might not invest as much (time & money) in a really great hair-color job, haircut, etc.

      1. LizM*

        This seems to be one of the areas where women are penalized in the workplace. I work in government, in a regulatory capacity, and frequently interact with industry executives and attorneys (i.e. people wearing suits that cost more than my car payment). If I show up with a crappy hair cut or my roots are showing, I’m considered unprofessional. If I take personal time during the work day to take care of personal grooming, I’m abandoning my job. It’s lose-lose.

        Saturday appointments with my stylist have to be booked months in advance. Evening appointments are sometimes an option (only have to be booked 6 weeks in advance…) but I have a young child, and it’s hard to be away during bedtime, which means I try to be home by 6:30. My husband is totally capable of taking care of the kid, but I like that time with him. It’s much easier for me to schedule an appointment during work hours, be home for bedtime, and then put in an extra 30 min a day for the week, or get online after my son falls asleep at 7:30.

        This is a long post basically saying that hair is important for professional women, and it’s just another thing we have to try to balance with work-life balance, so OP needs to give us a break and stop policing the clock.

  5. Sara M*

    #2, how about closing your sales spiel with a short jingle? I’m talking like a brief four chords and lyric line like, “Make your guitar rock for YOU,” or something silly.

    You’ve still demonstrated your sales skills verbally and also shown a bit of creativity. Just remember, less is more. (I wrote this post at the Dollar Store…)

    1. Christopher Tracy (formerly Doriana Gray)*

      Yeah…I’m with Alison that this is a big No for a job interview. Unless the job is as a contestant on The Voice or she’s in theater (or the job posting specifically asks the candidates to sing about their product), OP needs to not sing at this thing. It’s incredibly tone deaf.

    2. Joseph*

      I think the whole idea of a song/jingle is missing the point of the exercise. They don’t care about your talents, they care about your abilities.

      Honestly, this sounds like they want you to bring an item you own (so you presumably know a bit about) and present it *as a sales exercise*. Kind of a variant of the old “sell me this pen” question.

      1. Kate M*

        Right, it sounds like this is an exercise where you try and sell an object. If you’re not going to be singing on the phone to customers, you don’t need to sing in this exercise. OP, you should know a lot about the specs of the guitar, who the target customer would be, price, and reasons to buy the guitar. Be personable (but not cheesy) in the presentation, and I’m sure you’ll do fine.

        (But also thinking about it – are you sure you want to bring something as big and bulky as a guitar? I’m guessing most people will bring things for a presentation that are small enough to fit in a small bag/purse. The object probably isn’t that important – it’s the way you sell it. If they didn’t give any restrictions on objects, it’ll probably be fine, but I know I’d get even more sweaty/disheveled lugging around a guitar on my way to an interview.)

        Anyway, the song thing sounds like a holdover from people who have interviewed at Coldstone before and had to sing a jingle for their interview.

        1. BananaPants*

          Agreed – our OP should bring a picture of the guitar rather than lugging something so bulky along for an interview.

          1. MillersSpring*

            Also, the noise would be distracting in the interview area. People would be coming out of offices and/or prairie dogging.

    3. Trainer*

      I mostly agree that a song is a terrible idea. BUT, if you go to the store to buy a guitar (or any musical instrument for that matter) the sales person is likely to play it so you can hear what it sounds like. I think there could be a way to work it into the sales pitch the right way. For example, talk about the sound, why it is better than other guitars in terms of sound quality and then demo that point.

      1. super anon*

        I used to sell guitars and musical instruments. I never played them to test out the sound for the customer – I let the customer do that. I knew the difference between the guitars and their sounds (a hollow body electric will sound different than a hard body, etc) and about strings and ways to manipulate the sound, etc.

        1. SusanIvanova*

          Sure, but this isn’t really a pitch to a customer, they want you to sell the pitch itself. It’s kind of like on Shark Tank – they aren’t interested in buying the actual product, so getting them to interact with it is a gamble. Sure, if it’s food or a pet product, but not if they’re going to look foolish, and handing a guitar to someone who doesn’t know or care about it has a good chance of doing so.

      2. Sara M*

        That’s what I was getting at. A good sales pitch will engage the customer and show the item’s quality and features.

  6. INTP*

    #4: It isn’t clear if you tried this, but if you haven’t, make sure that you try going to bed earlier consistently for at least a week, preferably two and with a few nights of sleeping as late as your body sleeps naturally with no alarm, to see if it helps. If you have a sleep debt built up (most people do if they need alarms to wake up most days) it can take awhile to even make a dent in it and feel a difference.

  7. SystemsLady*

    OP4: Since you mentioned the ADHD and I have it myself: I’m fortunate not to have them in this exact form, but a not well known fact is that the sleep issues you mentioned are common in people with ADHD, including falling asleep during the day.

    Psychiatrists/psychologists should be pretty well aware of this and have a couple strategies they can try these days, so I would definitely try talking to yours.

    1. Just Visiting*

      Yes, came in here to say this. My natural sleep schedule is 2am – 10am, and when I’m “allowed” to follow it I sleep like a baby. All attempts to reset the schedule are futile, I’ve tried. Right now I can usually coax myself into a 12am – 7:00am schedule but it doesn’t always work and I still have sleep debt. Around 80% of people with ADHD have a delayed sleep phase so if this is your issue you’re not alone!

      Are you taking stimulants? Is it possible that the dose is either too high or too low? One thing I do during meetings (which luckily I don’t have too often) is draw/doodle, I see you’re trying to take notes but maybe that’s too similar to the content of the meetings to keep you alert. Also, when I was in college (before I knew I had ADHD) I used to wear a rubber band around my wrist and snap it when I found myself falling asleep/zoning out. That might be hard to conceal at a meeting, though. :(

      1. Nobody*

        I second doodling! It is the only way I can stay awake during all-day training sessions. Studies have shown that doodling actually helps you focus and pay attention to the meeting, and I’ve found that to be very true for myself. The downside is that some people who see you doodling may think you’re not paying attention, even though it’s the opposite.

        1. Yetanotherjennifer*

          I used to work for an educational software company and it was always fun to see the artists’ doodles after a long meeting. They can up with some of their best ideas and parodys during meetings.

      2. INTP*

        FWIW, I tried a million things to fix my delayed sleep phase (also have ADHD) and thought nothing worked. On my natural sleep cycle, getting anywhere before noon requires a painful wake up. It turns out they do work, but I had to do them all, every single night without fail, for a few weeks to see any result. I can now maintain an early sleep phase, but it requires sacrifice that most people see as impossible or not worth it. (I.E. I have to sleep enough to wake up without an alarm, and I have to be absolutely rigid about my bedtimes, and I have to wind down for awhile before bed, so even on weekends I am generally not out past 7 or 8 pm).

        Here are the things that worked for me:
        Consistent pre-bed routine
        No caffeine past 11 am
        Nothing too mentally or emotionally stimulating for a couple of hours before bed, like an emotional movie or a phone call (talking winds me up, ymmv)
        Blue blocking glasses when using phones or tablets at night
        Low dose of melatonin, I like Trader Joes chewables
        Consistent bedtime. One night of staying up a few hours later than usual can throw me off for weeks.
        This isn’t commonly recommended but I get in bed .5-1 hour before I am to fall asleep to wind down, and I usually do it watching light shows in Netflix, and fall asleep to episodes I have already seen before. My ADHD brain races without some stimulation and that’s enough to occupy it without keeping it awake. Other people might have luck with reading. I wear blue blocker glasses while watching or reading anything and a black sleep mask when I am tired enough to fall asleep.

        I know this might not be doable for people with kids or other unpredictable obligations and not worth it to others that don’t want to disrupt their relationship or social lives, but I wanted to post because I also thought sleep hygiene tips and going to bed earlier made no difference for me. I just needed to eliminate my sleep debt and do them all, consistently, long enough to reprogram my sleep cycles, to make it work. I’m not saying you or OP haven’t tried in that manner, but most people I’ve talked to about this have tried one thing at a time, or everything for a week or so, or they do it intermittently, or they have a large sleep debt and don’t change their bedtime to early enough to work on eliminating it (since that’s before 9pm for many), and they see no results. It has been absolutely life changing to find a system that works so I wanted to post in case it hasn’t occurred to someone to make such massive changes when small or short term ones didn’t work.

        1. Just Visiting*

          You’re right, that wouldn’t be worth it for me. :) I’d rather deal with the health problems from sleep debt than spend so much time regulating my sleep schedule. But maybe it will work for OP!

          1. INTP*

            I totally get how it wouldn’t be worth it for many people. If someone is falling asleep at work, though, I think that is a point at which maybe unpleasant sacrifices need to be made. You need to be awake at work, and that’s more effort for some than others, but it still needs to be made unless a medical or personal issue makes it literally impossible, at which point it needs to be discussed with a supervisor or HR. I think it’s reasonable for an employer to expect you to conduct your personal life in a way that allows you to be awake at work. For some this means no binge drinking and staying out until 4am on work nights, for others it might mean no 8pm dinners or glasses of wine. (If the sleeping in meetings has nothing to do with sleep debt then my point is moot, but I feel like it might, just a bigger sleep debt than going to bed a little earlier could compensate for.)

        2. Turtle Candle*

          This was my experience too. Sleep hygiene made a difference to even my intractable insomnia, but boy howdy did I have to be serious and consistent about it. I can definitely see how for a lot of people in a lot of situations it simply wouldn’t be worth it (or, if they have irregular shift work, children, etc., might not be possible at all).

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I’m 11 pm–6 am during the week, though not ADHD. If I don’t get seven hours, I’m pretty sludgy during the day. If left to my own devices, I tend more toward 12 or 1 am and get up at 8. That doesn’t work well with an office job, however.

        I can stay awake during boring meetings, but don’t quiz me on the contents at the end. Most likely, I’ll have been off in another world even if I look like I’m paying attention!

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      As another ADHD sufferer — yes! And it’s a horrible feedback loop, at least for me — insufficient sleep means I have more trouble controlling my inattentiveness and then makes it harder to get to bed on time, leading to more inattensiveness…

      Really, you have to find what works for you to break the cycle. My doctor put me on a mild antidepressant (since, like many, I do have comorbid depression) and that tends to put me right the heck out as long as I keep to a schedule. So now my phone alarm goes off at 9pm sharp going “Hey, you! Take your pills! Go to bed!” and I start the “getting ready for bed” ritual, which ends right about when the pills kick in and then I flop to bed with enough time to sleep properly before morning.

    3. Misc*

      Aaaand I should have scrolled down :D But I was too busy rushing to Say The Thing.

      But yes. All of this.

      (My particular ADHD/sleep problems are:

      – brain switches off when bored
      – brain has trouble switching off at night AND I have delayed sleep phase so insomnia is all too easy
      – brain tires out easily if very involved on something brain intensive for awhile and then I crash with fatigue cause brain used so much energy

      All of these are separate, but add up to ‘why am I always falling asleep’)

      1. Zillah*

        Yes. Ughhh. I also have bipolar disorder, and I swear, ADHD has been so much more disruptive to my life than it has as a whole. I got medicated and sometimes have to adjust my dose; it usually doesn’t have a significant impact on my life. ADHD, on the other hand, never stops being disruptive. (And then everyone in my life tells me not to “blame the ADHD.” Leave me alone, FFS.)

        Anyway. Sleep issues are totally an ADHD thing. Whether or not it’s that, something else, or a combination of the two, definitely talk to your dr about it.

  8. Christopher Tracy (formerly Doriana Gray)*

    OP #1 – I’m with Alison and the others who say this is not unprofessional. I’ve done it myself and my manager’s have been okay with it. Hell, I’ve taken a full day of PTO to go get my hair and eyebrows done – the hairstyle I wanted took six hours to do, and my hairdresser couldn’t do it on Saturday like she normally does because that’s her busiest day (and she’s closed Sundays). A Monday morning was the only time she could get me in to do it. People use PTO for all kinds of personal appointments during a work week, so I figured, it’s nobody’s business if I come in the next day with freshly done hair, just like it’s none of my business if a coworker’s out watching a game (many of my coworkers took off for March Madness events this year).

    Are you irritated with your boss for other reasons, OP? Because I know when I’m annoyed with someone, everything they do becomes A Thing with me, even things that wouldn’t normally bug or be that big a deal. If you are, you need to get to the root of that and figure out how to get over it so you can stop focusing on things that are inconsequential and out of your control.

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      The last paragraph…YES! This is soooo me as well, although I still would never say anything about the hair thing. It sounds like there could be other issues or this person may be older and from a generation in which things like this were not acceptable. My mother is 70 and would definitely balk at anyone leaving during work hours for anything other than a medical appointment or family emergency, although she of course wouldn’t say a word either.

      And I too have taken full days off to get my hair done, enjoy a nice lunch, and browse the mall. I am in a white collar environment, although non-management, and ALL of my hair appointments take place during work hours and they always will. Heck, I’ve taken off a couple hours early to beat the rush at the nail salon. Totally worth it in my opinion.

      1. babblemouth*

        Yes! There was a manager at my ex-Job (thankfully not my manager) who was very often leaving early for all sorts of appointment. It pissed me off so much. However, since this was often a 7 days a week job, with all sorts of unknowns, plenty of other people were doing it too, and I never had a problem with them.
        The root issue was that she never awarded other people (in her team and others) the flexibility she gave herself, and would often turn down some reports or press releases five minutes before she was out of the building, thereby blocking everyone else.
        OP didn’t mention aggravating circumstances in the email, so it may not be this. However, we’re sometimes ourselves blind to our real issues, and focus on a petty thing because THAT feels more relevant.

      2. Observer*

        The thing is that most people with that mind set would never think of confronting their boss over their time off, though. Even if the boss WERE doing something unacceptable.

    2. J.B.*

      Absolutely. If your boss is not available to approve things she needs to approve, that is the problem. Not the reason for which she is unavailable.

    3. Chickaletta*

      Yes, sounds like there may be more to the story here. It may be that you and your boss just don’t jive well together, or she holds you to a standard that she herself doesn’t maintain, or whatever. I’m just sitting here imagining the one coworker I absolutely could not stand, and if she left work early on a regular basis for a personal appointment I would think she was a b*tch for doing it, even while knowing that everyone else does it too including myself! Sometimes we can’t change our feelings, but we can at least learn why we feel that way and be aware of them.

  9. Graciosa*

    Regarding leaving during the work day, I have left early to go to the spa, see a movie – whatever. I have taken two-hour lunches with visiting friends and family members. I’m perfectly honest about it, and the reactions have been totally supportive.

    In my role, we all work however many hours are needed to get the job done, and often around the clock (necessary in a global company). If I look at my calendar and decide I don’t need to be in the office – well, that’s also part of being an exempt professional. I manage my own schedule as part of managing my own work.

    After juggling calls with Europe at 6:30 a.m. and calls in the Asia region that run until 8:00 p.m. (and I’m lucky – a colleague has regular calls that start at 11:00 p.m.!) my reaction to someone who tried to tell me I needed to be butt-in-chair in the office from 9-to-5 would not be printable. I cannot imagine a subordinate commenting on this, but it would be a very bad decision.

    The OP can pay enough attention to her boss to observe the office culture and see how it impacts expectations about her own performance in her own role. I am actually modeling the behavior I expect to see from the professionals on my team, and I don’t mind people asking questions about my expectations for time off or anything else.

    On the other hand, the OP has NO business judging her boss’ performance and deciding she doesn’t like the way the boss manages her work or her schedule. That is the prerogative of the boss’ boss.

    1. Seal*

      Same here. I also having meetings in and out of my building, travel for work locally, regionally and nationally, work from home evenings and weekends as necessary, and stay late f0r meetings and events as necessary. As a department head, that is part of my job. Occasionally I need to do personal errands and appointments during the day; those are scheduled around work. Regardless of what I’m doing, I make a point of being attentive and available to my staff – also part of my job. At this point in my career, I have NO patience for anyone other than my own boss judging how I manage my work schedule.

  10. Mando Diao*

    OP1: I’ve never had a job where employees at all levels didn’t say, “I’m leaving at 4 for a hair appointment” somewhat regularly.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Same here. In one office that was about 95% women, it seemed that nearly each week someone was out a couple hours early for a hair appointment, myself included.

  11. Bookworm*

    #4 – You didn’t mention how people were reacting to this, but I have trouble imaging that it’s going completely unnoticed if this is a regular thing. And seeing a doctor, rightly or wrongly, will add legitimacy if you ever get called out. It’s a way of signifying to your team that this isn’t a reflection of how engaged you are, but rather an issue you’re struggling with.

    Depending on how obvious you think you’re being, and your relationship with your manager, it may be something you want to proactively discuss. (Certainly something you’d want to own up to and recognize the seriousness of if you’re ever asked about it.)

    1. KR*

      This is what I was thinking – even if you go to the doctor and they tell you they can’t do anything about it, if someone ever calls you out on it, you can now accurately tell them that you’re seeing a doctor, you’re working it out, you’re trying.

  12. Dan*


    Here’s the way I look at these things. How do you feel about the hires that you do make? If you like them, then your hiring practices are fine.

    But if you feel your hires could be better or that those you are interviewing could use improvement, then maybe you should re-evaluate who makes the cut.

    The reality is that you are going to phone screen so many people, and bring in even fewer for an onsite interview. What filtering techniques you use are up to you. And for many entry level jobs, “the best person” is often a strawman, as “good enough” is generally sufficient. The other thing is, deal breakers/pet peeves for you may be different than other managers, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    1. Rowan*

      Dan, that is an excellent way to look at it. To add a twist: with this system, do your hires end up being mostly or all middle-class (0r higher) and white? Because that’s the group of people that is most likely to be trained by their parents in the minutia of how to format a cover letter for the US market. Or to know that such minutia even exist, and therefore to look them up. You could be missing out on a lot of valuable diversity on your team by using this as a screening tactic.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Yes, I agree with this, and was just listening to a podcast about how lots of job requirements or techniques hiring managers use to cut down the applicant pile often negatively effect the ability to recruit a diverse workforce.

        OP, does this position require people to write business letters? If so, then yes, a poorly formatted cover letter is a bad sign. But if the job requires little to no business correspondence, and the cover letter is otherwise well formulated, I think you may be giving it too much emphasis compared to other relevant qualifications for the job. What do you want more, someone who is good at applying for jobs, or someone who is good at doing the day to day tasks of the job once hired? After all, it’s easy enough to teach someone to use a business letter template – it’s a lot harder to teach them to be an excellent Teapot Maker or to write well overall.

          1. Meg Murry*

            Planet Money # 697

            Although one thing they kept mentioning that got to me was the idea of using credit score to weed down the candidate pool. I guess that could be a thing if people were self selecting out of applying for jobs that clearly stated there would be a credit check, but in my experience credit checks almost always happened at the end of the hiring process (if they were used at all) with only the top 2-3 candidates, so I don’t see how that would help weed down the candidate pool initially. Maybe if part of the application process was consenting to a credit check up front? Not sure. But still an overall good listen, and I want to follow up some of the studies/information presented.

      2. LabTech*

        Agreed. If the applicant is coming from a background where white-collar jobs aren’t commonplace, they simply might not realize what the business norms for hiring are, and may not think to look for professional hiring norms online. OP wrote:
        The way I see it, people who don’t use proper formatting either (1) did not know how to and yet did not take the, arguably, simple step of googling “cover letter format” or (2) were too lazy/didn’t take the application seriously enough to submit a formatted letter.
        The problem with that line of thinking is it doesn’t allow for this third possibility.

  13. Tyrannosaurus Regina*

    The sleepiness thing for #4 could be anything, of course, but rings VERY FAMILIAR to me—and I have sleep apnea. Don’t be surprised if your doctor recommends a sleep study. You might even end up with a cool Darth Vader/elephant trunk CPAP or APAP device for nighttime. The upside, if it’s sleep apnea, is that treating with CPAP or APAP is pretty effective and you may soon end up feeling a jillion times better.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      This was me before I cut back on caffeine and alcohol, both of which can disrupt deep sleep. I only mention it in case the OP makes the next available appointment with their doctor and it’s for 3 or 4 weeks from now. I would try cutting one or both of those out completely for at least a week and see if there’s a difference. Warning: cutting out caffeine will be rough, you will probably get a withdrawal headache, which paradoxically may keep you awake the first night or two, but give it time, and take whatever OTC pain reliever works for you.

      I still have coffee (~10 oz. a day) and alcohol (1-2 drinks a day 4-5 days a week), but cutting back has really improved the quality of my sleep; I am in bed the same amount of time as before, but I feel much more rested.

      But please do see a doctor, as there are a lot of things that could be going on that you would need a doctor’s help with.

      1. UKJo*

        And just to add, take care with sone of those OTC pain killers -some contain caffeine!

          1. MillersSpring*

            Note that Excedrin contains caffeine; it’s apparently proven to increase the efficacy of the main analgesic ingredient.

  14. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    OP #5, if you’re a regular reader this will be a familiar refrain: it’s even more complicated in California! If your nephew happens to be working in California, then he must be paid overtime if he works more than eight hours in any given day (not just over 40 in a week). They also have to pay him overtime if he works seven days in a row. I’ll add a link in a reply comment.

  15. Nelly*

    OP4 – I’ve fallen asleep in meetings all my life (30 years of working and sleeping in meetings). It’s not a health/sleep issue, just being bored because I’m not actively involved. (Although I did start a presentation once by pointing at the memo only I could see floating through the air…).

    Things that don’t work: sticking pins in the hand (I’ve woken up with the pins sticking out and funny looks from others). Taking notes (still fall asleep).

    Things that do work: saying something like, “I hope you don’t mind if I stand, it helps me concentrate”, or ignoring the meeting altogether if it’s nothing to do with me and making to do lists, or working on other projects in a way that makes it look like I’m taking notes.

    I’m also ADHD, so being uninvolved in a project means my brain just shuts down. Standing is about the best thing I’ve found, the only thing reliable, and excuses are also along the lines of ‘having a bad back’ or ‘you know I’m going to fall asleep if I don’t stand’, depending on who else is in the meeting.

    It’s not a medical issue, and I’ve never found a real solution other than excusing myself from boring/unnecessary/time wasting meetings as much as possible.

    1. Misc*

      “It’s not a medical issue”

      Well, *technically* it’s a brain chemistry issue… :D

    2. Roxanne*

      I second the boredom part. My last job I found myself dozing off at many meetings despite the fact most of the info was relevant or part of my training! But I was not engaged as the meeting was not about me or had me presenting – I just had to listen. And part of my brain was thinking about the work piling up while I was in another meeting. Doodling helps a lot but depending on your work environment, be discreet. Take the occasional notes too if the doodling is frowned upon.

      I am now at a new job…and in the three or four meetings I’ve had, I’ve not dozed off once and I think it was because I was not bored.

      See if you can’t find out if you can skip the meeting (citing work commitments) or just attend the parts that are relevant to you.

    3. AnonNurse*

      I so agree with the this! I take medication for my ADHD but still have a really hard time concentrating during meetings that I’m not actively involved in. I tend to do what the previous poster stated and look like I’m taking notes while making my daily to-do list or grocery list. It makes me look like I’m engaged while keeping me from passing out. I also use the “ope, need a quick bathroom break” to slide out of a meeting for a few minutes and stretch my legs.

    4. Koko*

      Also, as a person who is always cold I hate to suggest this…but could conference room temperature be an issue? If the women in your office aren’t bringing cardigans to the conference room, it’s probably warm enough to encourage napping. (She says sadly, looking at the office cardigan she wishes she didn’t have to carry everywhere but has accepted allows her to work in the same environment with people who get warm easily.)

  16. Cath*

    #op4 Is the room you’re having the meeting in well ventilated?

    It could be that if it’s a long meeting in a stuffy room that as the meeting goes on there is less and less oxygen in the room which would cause drowsiness.

    I used to have the same uncontrollable urge to sleep in meetings until I started working at a ventilation company which obviously had a really well ventilated building and I noticed the difference.

    Perhaps you could try opening a window or propping the door open to see if that helps.

    1. hermit crab*

      Nerd tangent: I’ve heard that the driving factor here is really the CO2 concentration, with oxygen playing a secondary role. I’ve been to meetings in conference rooms with CO2 monitors and it’s fascinating to see how much CO2 builds up over time just from people sitting together and breathing. Some state-of-the-art HVAC systems actually monitor CO2 levels in problem areas and kick up the ventilation when it reaches a certain point. It makes a big difference!

      1. fposte*

        I know the body alerts to raised CO2 concentrations and not lowered oxygen, which is why CO poisoning is pernicious–since it’s not raised CO2, the body doesn’t notice the lack of oxygen.

        1. hermit crab*

          Yes! I think I actually learned that fact from reading The Martian, haha.

    2. GigglyPuff*

      Yes! I have ADHD as well, so I completely understand the being bored part. But at my job I started last year, there’s an auditorium and we use it for annual meetings and large presentations. Dear Lord, almost every time I go in there, if it’s longer than 15 mins I get so drowsy. Seriously one time it was so bad, it took everything not to continuously nod off. After the second time it happened, I knew it was the room not me. I’d never been that bad before.

  17. Some Sort of Mangement consultant*


    Definitely go see a doctor! It could be nothing. It could be your ADHD. It could be a blood pressure issue (a family friend had that) or your blood sugar or sleep apnea.

    Or something else.
    and it might be completely fixable!

    Before you start blaming yourself, rule out any medical causes.

  18. Jeanne*

    #3, my question is what is your application format? If someone submits a cover letter on paper, proper formatting is expected. But every time I apply online, it says Paste Cover Letter Here and no matter what I do the formatting is everything is aligned exactly to the left. I made my cover letter so it would look decent in the electronic system. Definitely not proper letter style but I only get a choice of neat or messy.

    1. mander*

      Yes, I’m wondering what level of persnickety we’re talking. Block paragraphs when the OP prefers indentations is too much; if candidates are leaving off any kind of greeting or closing would be more understandable.

      1. MillersSpring*

        I also wondered about the degree of persnicketiness. Why use it to rule out candidates if writing business letters isn’t part of the job requirements?

        And actually, one of my pet peeves is non-specific salutations, e.g. Dear Valued Client, Dear Hiring Manager, Dear Sir or Madam. I often use that line for Re: or Subject:

        I also agree about the diversity issue. Don’t use a persnickety issue to rule out otherwise qualified candidates, whose letters are well written.

        1. Anon Moose*

          It is not always easy for job applicants to find out the correct person to address their cover letter to if it is not included in the job posting. In my experience, it is very rarely included on the application- the contact listed may not be the hiring manager. You can do some digging online and it may be obvious for some postings but not others. And a job applicant can also be worried about addressing it to the incorrect person! So I think people should not be so picky about the “Dear Hiring Manager” because sometimes it is not at all clear.

  19. Pipes32*

    I agree with seeing a doc for sleep issues. Lots of potential problems that may be lurking and would be a big help to diagnose / fix.

    However, OP, this is going to sound crazy, bug when I stopped eating carbs my sleepiness during meetings and in the mornings went away. I think this is likely because I have no major blood sugar spikes (and therefore crashes) anymore. I also started waking up easily in the mornings vs having to drag myself out of bed. (and I lost a ton of weight.)

    I know diet is very personal and most people would consider eating sub 20g of carbs per day pretty crazy, but I wanted to bring it up as my chronic sleepiness was solved this way.

    1. Khal E. Essi*

      Same here. OP, what are you eating for breakfast? Try low-carb for a bit (run it by your doctor first, though). A couple eggs and half an avocado for breakfast is good. Otherwise, a carb-heavy breakfast (full of non whole grains, like a plain bagel) can spike blood sugar.

    2. Sally-O*

      Definitely avoid a carb-heavy lunch. Skip the sodas, cookies, and sandwiches. A nice big salad (for example) will give you energy without weighing you down and making you fall asleep. I also was able to solve my sleepiness problem by changing my diet. It’s so nice not to be embarrassed by dozing off in meetings anymore!

  20. Mookie*

    Straight away, I knew I had to bring my guitar

    This is like the beginning of a horror film or one of those pantsless, public-speaking nightmares. No. Unless that phrase is followed by “to my guitar lesson / my audition that I was absolutely invited to, pinkyswear / the wake of a mortal enemy,” no.

    1. Wehaf*

      Why such a strong reaction? OP was specifically asked to “bring an object and have a presentation about the object.” Why do you think a guitar is a bad choice?

      1. MK*

        I think the guitar might be a bad choice, if it’s too irrelevant to the product the perspective employer is selling. But I think Mookie might be thinking that the OP might come across as unprofessional in their enthusiasm; the company wants to assess the OP’s professional skills at sales, not listen to her rave about her hobby.

        Also, dealing with a bulky and uncomfortably shaped object like a guitar is not something I would choose in a job interview.

        1. Nobody*

          I agree. I know the OP wasn’t asking for opinions about her choice of object, but I would imagine the interviewers are expecting candidates to bring something much smaller (something that could fit into a briefcase or purse). It could be awkward to have to wrangle something as big as a guitar, and find somewhere out of the way to put it before and after the presentation segment of the interview.

          OP #2, are you sure you actually have to bring the object? Could you maybe bring a picture of it, or if you’re doing a PowerPoint presentation, put a picture of it on the screen? If you really do have to bring the object, is there something smaller you could use instead? Maybe you could bring a guitar pick as your object and still make your presentation about the guitar?

        2. Kate M*

          I agree – I mentioned above that bringing an item so big as a guitar would make me even sweatier and more disheveled arriving to an interview (especially if you don’t drive). But I did also get the feeling that this is a hobby the OP is passionate about, which could be a good or bad thing. It’s not necessarily bad if it means that OP knows all the specs/everything about the guitar, but I could easily see this going into more of the OP talking about the hobby, rather than trying to sell and actual object to someone else. The presentation should be about the customer, not the OP. It’s not show and tell.

      2. Mookie*

        Well, I was actually (in an admittedly fatuous way) expressing horror that bringing the guitar was the LW’s first instinct rather than something they reasoned their way towards based on what they know about the culture of the company that’s hiring and the nature of the position.

        Were they applying for an in-person, retail sales job with the clothing company, I could see an opportunity in an extended interview for a demonstration of self-expression (displaying confidence, charisma, spontaneity, etc.), particularly if the company is youth-oriented, mall-type gear. Aspiring models, actors, and musicians work in these kinds of jobs all the time (when they’re not working as waitstaff, I should think) and bring with them a certain desirable skill set that’s hard to train into someone who isn’t naturally entertaining and “on” all the time. But this is primarily about customer service, not sales, and it’s not in-person, where quirkiness, talent, and charm might have their place.

        Also, LW implied they already had a song on hand, which makes me suspect it might not be quite so closely tailored to the company but is more an attempt by the LW to circumvent or avoid the trouble of completing the assignment at hand, just shoving headlong their hobby into the nearest gap. A savvy manager would probably pick up on that, if it’s the case, and that wouldn’t bode well for the LW.

        1. Mookie*

          Actually, I need to correct myself here on a pretty important point that initially eluded me: LW says they had a presentation planned once they heard about the assignment, not a song they’d written before applying. I actually kind of think using the guitar (as the object of the exercise) could work in mimicking a situation in which customers are relying on an agent to correctly and clearly explain something complex or potentially misleading verbally or in writing only, with no visual clues. The guitar itself might be the answer to LW describing an object and its purpose without explicitly naming it (a kind of What’s My Line? situation, but without the back-and-forth of charades), or they could provide a precise, technical explanation for how a guitar is manufactured but make it intelligible for the layperson. If executed perfectly, that would demonstrate some pretty good verbal skills, but it does largely depend on exactly what the company asked the LW to do. I’d like to read those instructions, if they’re willing to share them.

      3. LCL*

        Since the job isn’t looking for specific technical skills, I think bringing the guitar is a great idea. People are fascinated with instruments. As long as you have the presentation scripted and ready, the guitar tuned, and can change your presentation to fit the audience, I say go for it. This would work for me as a hiring manager if we weren’t hiring for technical skills. The kind of customer service described takes a specific kind of persona, and is a kind of performance. Not saying customer service is easy, but it can be taught to the right type of person and the wrong type will never be able to do it.

      4. TootsNYC*

        because I think she’s too invested in it, it’s too much about her personality and not enough about the skills.

        So very much of the time when someone uses that phrase, it’s a sign that they are WAY too self-focused. Throw in that it’s her guitar (and not “my cousin’s widget” or “my sister-in-law’s soap, which is similar to what they already sell”), and I think it’s an indicator that the OP’s focus is not where it will be most powerful.

        OP, I’d vote for finding something that’s similar to something they already sell, and working up a sales pitch that’s believable.

        1. Ultraviolet*

          Agreed–I think there’s some danger here of thinking of the choice of object as a sort of personality test and a way to show something about yourself. Like if someone asked what object you’d want with you when you’re stranded on a desert island and you immediately think of your guitar, that makes sense. But with a kind of weird request like “give a presentation on an object as an interview for a phone/email customer support position,” I don’t think it’s a given that the first thing you think of is going to be ideal, and not having thought it over might be a warning sign that you’re not taking the optimal approach.

          I also agree with everyone who pointed out that a big object like a guitar will stand out as an unnecessary burden at the interview.

    2. Florida*

      I tend to agree. I’m not as strongly opposed to the guitar as Mookie is, but I tend to think a smaller object might be more appropriate. Suggestions would be a calculator, a watch (that you are already wearing), a wallet (that you have in your pocket), a briefcase/portfolio (that you are bringing to the interview anyway).

      In any case, good luck with the interview.

  21. MiaRose*

    She will leave meetings and reschedule work activities (conference calls, etc.) around her appointments

    I wonder if this is what concerns OP#1. To me, this implies that the hair appointments override already established meeting and activities.

    1. MK*

      That’s not what I got from the letter, but it’s still not her business, unless it’s impacting her own work. I doubt two hours six times a year qualify as that, and even if so, the OP should only address the absence, not the presumed reason for it. As in, “When you leave meetings early and reschedule calls, it creates X problem”.

    2. INTP*

      That’s what I thought too. Taking a couple of hours is fine but hair appointments should be scheduled around meetings and calls, or at least well ahead of time so the calls can be scheduled around the hair appointments. Leaving meetings might be okay if they’re not very important but I think it’s pretty inconsiderate if she’s rescheduling calls other people have been planning around for a haircut. Maybe less so if the nature of her job involves constant meetings and calls so any time off requires rescheduling, but even then, salons will book you months in advance so you can avoid double booking. The OP can’t do anything about it but as far as “is this professional” goes, I would definitely find it unprofessional if someone rescheduled on me multiple times per year for haircuts.

      1. Former Retail Manager*

        Eh…as you said, salons book months in advance. My hair appointment is typically set at least 2 months out and there is usually very little room to reschedule due to my hairdresser’s other clients. Trying to reschedule a 3 hour+ hair appointment isn’t easily done at the drop of a dime if your hairdresser has a healthy clientele and is busy most days. Where I work, it’s not at all uncommon to have a hair appointment scheduled and then have a conference call or meeting spring up after the hair appointment was booked. Depending upon the meeting or call’s level of importance, I may attend or I may reschedule.

        1. INTP*

          If something springs up and you immediately say “I can’t make that time”, then I don’t consider that rescheduling. To be unavailable 12 hours a year should be fine. But if someone is setting or agreeing to times and then changing them for hair appointments, several times a year, that’s unprofessional imo.

        2. Michelenyc*

          I know for me my appointments are also made 2-3 months in advance and sometimes I completely forget that I made them until I get the phone call to confirm my appointment. I have had to rearrange meetings but in my industry people are very understanding and since we are on a strict calendar it is pretty easy to know when you should or shouldn’t be scheduling appointments.

          1. Evan Þ*

            What I do with my dental appointments is, as soon as I make them, put them on my work calendar. It’s an Outlook calendar, so only I can see “Dental Appointment”; everyone else sees “out of office.” That way, as soon as anything else comes up, I can see whether it’d conflict.

      2. insert witty name here*

        Without more info it’s hard to know, but I was thinking these were standing weekly or twice monthly calls.

    3. OP 1*

      Yep. This is the problem for me. I guess I didn’t express it clearly. She’s left meetings with the owner of our company to make her appointments before. It’s kind of become A Thing around the office that she will drop what she’s doing, regardless of what it is, to get her hair done. But I didn’t realize this was such a common thing to do, so I guess it’s not that big of a deal.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        It may or may not be a big deal, the point is it’s not for you to worry about unless it directly interfers with your work.

        If the owner of the company sees her leaving then it’s on them to address it if there is a peoplem or let it go if there’s no problem.

        The main point is She’s senior to you, its not your job to manage or police her time keeping or attendance.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Yes, this. If the owner has a problem with it, that is for him to deal with, not you, because he obviously sees it happening. And quite possibly, she has let him know what is happening behind the scenes – so if he proposes 2 pm – 4 pm meeting that day, she’s let him know “ok, but I have to leave at 3 for an appointment, please let me do my presentation first” and then she’s made arrangements with others to fill her in on anything she has missed.

          Now, if there was a standing meeting the 3rd Thursday of the month for an important meeting with her and the owner and she regularly made her appointment on that same 3rd Thursday, then yes, the owner should probably call her out on that (privately) and tell her to pick a different time. But in a meeting heavy culture, people are going to occasionally have to miss a meeting here or there or cut one short. And while a haircut may seem frivolous on one hand – on the other hand, if she is often working evenings, weekends or other times that are unpredictable, there may be no good time to go for a haircut, so she just has to make it work as she can.

          The other key part I saw was that OP mentioned it as a “firm”. Not always, but often to me, a “firm” indicates a place like a law firm, accounting firm, etc where work is counted by billable hour – and whether those hours occur from 9-5 or anytime 24/7 is no as important as whether they get done. So the manager is cutting out at 3:00 – she may very well be logging on and getting more work done that evening or weekend. Or heck, if she’s going for a process that involves sitting and waiting an hour for dye to process, etc, she may be still dealing with emails via her phone, etc during that time.

          All that said, while you shouldn’t judge her on it, you probably shouldn’t emulate it directly without talking to her about it first (nor should other readers without looking at their office culture and speaking to their boss). So if you have an event you want to cut out early for once every month or two, it sounds like it would be appropriate to ask your boss what it would take to make that happen and whether it would be appropriate for you to take off as long as the work is getting done or if you make up the time later.

      2. Joseph*

        That clarifies your concern a bit, but it’s still one of the things that isn’t really in your court since she’s your boss and it’s not your place.

        *IF she was one of your reports, I would actually have a different take (presumably Alison would too) – primarily revolving around checking if it’s becoming a disruption:
        >Does she provide enough notice for people to plan around it or is she dropping it day-of?
        >Is this wasting the (highly paid and valuable) time of the owner? If so, is she at least giving him notice that it’s going to be a 21 minute meeting?
        >Is the office gossip about “Jane and her hair appointments” potentially affecting her standing with others?
        >Do the rest of the employees realize that “take a couple hours here and there for stuff” is an accepted policy or are they mistakenly thinking that she’s getting a free ride?
        >Do the appointments sometimes fall on critical days, causing mass chaos? If so, can you do anything to make this better?

        And so on. Again, since in the current situation, she’s YOUR boss, it’s not your place, but if the situation was reversed, you’d be justified (and a good manager!) to consider stuff like this.

      3. MK*

        OP, in view of what you clarified, I don’t understand why you wrote of “confronting” her or “getting her into trouble” in your letter. If the owner and the rest of the office, presumably including her boss, know about this, why would you even consider bringing this up? Is she making it seem that she has another work engagement, when she does this and you are bothered by the deception? Is she expecting you to cover for her?

        Regardless, I have a feeling you are focusing on the hair thing, because you consider it frivolous of her to prioritize hairdressing over work issues, but that’s really not your call to make. And maybe you and the rest of your office should dial the judgement down; leaving 2 hours early 6 times a year does not equal “she will drop what she’s doing, regardless of what it is, to get her hair done” by any reasonable standard.

        I think you should try to forget about your conclusion about what she does when she leaves early and deal simply with the fact that she does, IF it actually causes disruption with YOUR work.

        1. Doriana Gray*

          leaving 2 hours early 6 times a year does not equal “she will drop what she’s doing, regardless of what it is, to get her hair done” by any reasonable standard.

          + 1, 000

        2. OP 1*

          Hmm, I think I must not have been clear in my question. I’m definitely not trying to police her or keep tabs on her time. I don’t want to confront her or go to our owner’s about it because I wasn’t sure if this is even an issue. It’s something people have commented on around the office, and I’m trying to gauge my reaction to it. I’m still fairly new in my field and I have limited work experiences. My question was intended to get clarification on if scheduling work around personal appointments and not the other way around was appropriate. I appreciate the feedback.

          1. Meg Murry*

            For clarification – it sounds like at her level it is appropriate. At your level you probably still want to build up some work cred or see what your peers do before you emulate it.

            Also, there is a big difference between declining a meeting because you already have an appointment on your calendar or rescheduling a conference call that is easily rescheduled and deciding at the last minute to skip out on a meeting that has been long standing or to push back a conference call that takes a lot of coordination to get all parties on the line. And as a lower ranked employee, you probably shouldn’t push back too much on minor things. But as others have pointed out – once every 2 months for a senior employee really isn’t that big a deal.

          2. MK*

            Oh, I see. As a general rule, though, when trying to gauge what’s appropriate, do not necessarily look to your boss’ behavior, because, as Meg Murry said, it can vary with seniority and how time-flexible your work is, etc. I think you would be safer looking to coworkers that are at (or close to) your level, who do the same kind of work as you.

            1. Laurel Gray*

              And if you still aren’t sure, ask the boss directly. I don’t think any reasonable manager would react negatively if a report asked them about scheduling appointments around work. Given that many of us have the need to book the same appointments, many would be understanding and accommodating.

          3. Laurel Gray*

            “…I wasn’t sure if this is even an issue. It’s something people have commented on around the office, and I’m trying to gauge my reaction to it.”

            Your reaction should be to ignore or change the subject. The archives here has some great letters and comment threads about colleagues and subordinates doing similar and the overall view is not positive. No one likes their attendance policed when they are doing a satisfactory job and do not have a position that involves strict butt-in-seat time. You don’t want to develop the habit where you do throw in your observation when a colleague comments. People work out specific work schedules for a variety of reasons. If you aren’t their direct manager, it is none of your business. If someone’s absence is effecting your work, it still isn’t your business, it just becomes a discussion you need to have with your manager. Please don’t read my tone as brash. I have had personal reasons where I needed an occasional wacky schedule so have many colleagues of mine over the years and I think we all are entitled to this without the behind the back whispers.

          4. INTP*

            OP, I think that you are smart to question if things are normally “done” and get a wider sense of professional norms, that will help you in the long run. You are not out of line to even think about these things, you are allowed to have independent thoughts about your boss’ behavior.

            I also think that if it’s a Thing at the office, it is likely frowned upon and not something that is considered totally normal so much as something they tolerate from her because they like her work.

            1. Koko*

              OP mentions further down that she and her boss are the only women at the company, so it’s possible the chatter amounts to men-talk about, “those women, always doing their hair!”

              Like when I used to travel with an all-male group of coworkers and they’d razz me about “women always pack so much!” Yeah, and guess whose societal beauty standards have required me to pack this much stuff…!

              1. TootsNYC*


                And those societal beauty standards make it so the boss probably feels she needs to truly prioritize that hair appointment. No visible roots ( if it’s color), a continuously polished look (if it’s style).

            2. MK*

              It depends. I would think it’s possible that the owner considers it normal, but her subordinates resent her having more flexibility than them. If the owner is one of the people who are making these comments, that’s pretty crappy; if they are tolerating this because they like her work, they should do so graciously, not allow it to go on and badmouth her behind her back.

        3. TootsNYC*

          “I have a feeling you are focusing on the hair thing, because you consider it frivolous of her to prioritize hairdressing over work issues”

          And actually, considering the amount of judgment women get over how they look, and the power that appearance has in terms of communication, getting a good haircut or appropriate haircolor can be very important in professional terms.

          I saw an interview w/ the head of Conde Nast Publications (Vogue, Glamour, GQ, etc.) in which she said, “Get your haircolor touched up before you come to an interview with me; if your roots are showing, you look unorganized.”

          So if your boss has some level of needing to look good to clients, etc., she is probably quite legit in terms of taking that work time to look that level of polished.

          1. BananaPants*

            Often once white collar professionals reach higher levels in their career, maintaining an appropriate appearance becomes more important. This is doubly-so in certain industries (pharma sales being a big one that I can think of off the top of my head) where one’s appearance is usually very important for success.

            I’m a mid-career individual contributor who’s stepping up my appearance game because frankly, it’s starting to become necessary. As an exempt employee I’m able to flextime by leaving early to get my hair done in time to pick my kids up at daycare/school after the appointment. It happens every 6ish weeks, certainly not a constant thing.

      4. (different) Rebecca*

        For me (were I the owner) it would make a difference whether this was an abrupt leaving–standing up, gathering ones things, and scarpering without explanation–or whether it was a planned thing–‘now, (different) Rebecca, I do have to be gone by X time, so here’s what I need to tell you and the amount of time I have to express it.’ If it’s planned, and not abrupt, then… *shrug*

        1. Koko*

          It also might look abrupt to some people in the meeting but not others. If I know I have to leave mid-meeting, I will have already alerted my boss and my immediate teammates about my absence, but there could be other people in the meeting who wouldn’t know about my schedule. I will usually tell a colleague before the meeting begins, “I have a hard stop at 3:30 for a hair appointment, if anyone asks where I’m going after I leave.” And then rather than interrupt a productive conversation/presentation to announce my departure, at 3:30 I will quietly gather my things and slip out as quietly as possible with maybe a small wave goodbye.

          1. Oryx*

            Oh, yes. This happened frequently with ExJob, I’d have a work related appointment that would sometimes require me leaving in the middle of another meeting. I’d also let the person leading the meeting know but I can see how it would look abrupt to everyone else.

      5. AA 1*

        I totally understand why this bugs you. In my 14+years with my current employer, I have seen many exempt staffers abuse the flexibility of our system. As a matter of fact, I have caught several exempt staff outright lying about time off or working outside normal hours*.

        Try to shrug it off because trying to change established practices is going to get you nowhere. You will end up frustrated and everything she does will become a b*tch eating crackers moment. As long as your work is not affected by it, just ignore it.

        Please, before everyone piles on me telling me that what exempt workers do is not my business and I don’t know what they do after hours, I know this. However, when I am the one who is supposed to track their time and report it to corporate office, it does become my business. They have some very weird ideas about exempt workers around my employer, so I learned not to worry about it. I do my work, track and submit their time as requested and go about my business.

        *One exempt person came in late every day and left early every day. They claimed they were “making up” the hours on Saturday. Because of the late arrivals/early departures, they would need to work a full 8 hour Saturday. They claimed they came in at 8 am on Saturday, took a half-hour lunch and would leave at 4:30 pm. I had to work one Saturday and I witnessed this “make up” day. I arrived at 8 am. They came in at 10 am. They were at lunch when I went to the break room, I stayed approximately 25 minutes and went back to work. They stayed for more than an hour. At 3:00 pm, they said they were going home for the day because they had made up all their time. They worked approximately 3.5 hours and claimed that made up for all the hours they missed during the week. This person very rarely answered her phone or responded to emails after normal working hours. Heck, getting them to answer their phone or respond to emails *during* normal work hours was dang near impossible. That Saturday was the day I decided to not worry about what they did.

        TL;dr- Save yourself the trouble and don’t worry about it. Focus on you and let it go.

    4. Coffee Ninja*

      I feel for the OP because my boss does this pretty frequently (we’re up to once or twice per week now) and sometimes her work is falling to me because of it. It’s frustrating when I find out at the last minute that I have to drop what I’m doing and go to a surprise meeting because she’s leaving 3 hours early for something like a hair appointment, but she’s the boss so oh well. I don’t think the OP is really in any place to say anything about it. If for some reason her boss’s absences are or become an issue, her boss’s boss will pick up on it.

  22. Jen*

    #4. Didn’t read other comments do apologize if this is a repeat, but see a doctor! My father struggled with this basically his whole career only to find out at 55 that he had sleep apnea. He got a CPAP machine and said for the first time in his life, he understood what a good night’s sleep was! Previously he was a man of naps and early bedtimes but it turned out all the sleep in the world didn’t help because t was bad sleep!

    1. Jen*

      Oh, and if it isn’t medical- what helps me:
      -not eating a big meal right before a long meeting (bring snacks to the meeting if you can eat them quietly)
      – sip water every few minutes
      – when you feel yourself zoning out, pop out to the bathroom and go for a quick walk (or pee if you’ve had 4 cups of water!)
      – ask a trusted coworkers to kick you if you start obviously zoning out :-)

  23. BRR*

    #3 keep in mind there’s not one standard format for cover letters. Ive seen the advice to not put an address at the top because you’re losing valuable real estate to sell yourself. There should be some leeway because there’s not one “right” format for a cover letter.

    1. KR*

      This is what I was thinking when I read it. Sure, it’s easy to do a google search to find a good cover letter format but what shows up first in the applicants results might not be what OP gets when OP googles it and we would be back to the same problem. Or a school might teach formatting a certain way and you’ve always been taught it has to be formatted another way.

    2. Rox*

      As a young person (read: one of those damn dirty 20-something millennials) who has been job hunting for over a year, I’d like to add that even those of us who do take the time to research proper cover letter formatting often end up finding conflicting information – the format taught to me by my high school is not the same as the format I was told to use by my college career center, which isn’t the same as what I’ve been told by my 60 year old mother, which isn’t the same as what I was advised to do by my 30 year old sister. Drag Google into it and suddenly you have a whole bunch of other variations on formats to use, and then none of those match the advice given on Ask a Manager. Then, of course, you have many sources offering conflicting information about what’s still expected in a cover letter and what is outdated. So on and so forth.

      My point is that learning the correct way to format a cover letter these days is a total crapshoot, and what you define as correct may not be the same format that all the other places your applicants have sent cover letters to define as correct. Even people who do put in the amount of effort you expect out of a candidate may not meet your standards because they simply found/chose to listen to the “wrong” advice.

      For what little this matters, I would hope as a job seeker that my cover letters are being judged based on how the content reflects my fit (or lack thereof) for a job. Being picky about spelling, grammar, and organization is one thing, but I hate the idea that my entire application might be dismissed just because I didn’t write an address in the top corner or because I put “Dear Hiring Manager” at the top instead of sifting through a staff list on a website desperately hoping that I manage to pinpoint the right recipient.

      tl;dr – It’s fine to have standards, but make sure you have those standards for a damn good reason.

  24. Granite*

    LW #3 – You say Graduate Assistants, which makes me ask:

    1. Are these experienced folks, or recent/soon to be BA/BS graduates? Is it possible this is their first ever job search where a cover letter was required?

    2. What exactly is the job they are applying for? I’d view this very differently for an English teaching assistant vs a chemistry research assistant. While both need to learn how to write a cover letter, it’s more of a miss for the former than the latter.

  25. Allison*

    #1, I’m not even a manager and even I often get my hair done in the middle of the day. I aim for evenings and weekends, but naturally, those appointment windows are highly coveted AND I often have commitments in the evenings and on weekends. I normally either work from home on the days I get my hair done so people don’t even notice when I step away for a couple hours, or I leave early, and work from home after my appointment.

      1. Christopher Tracy (formerly Doriana Gray)*

        I was actually able to get one of these recently at a new dental office down the street from my job with only two weeks notice, and I was curious as to how that happened (my old dentist was booked pretty solidly in advance). Well, this office has about 15 hygienists so they were able to fit me in. I’m now a convert and will never go back to my old dentist again (she only worked Fridays anyway).

    1. Heather*

      Yes! My hairdresser doesn’t even book simple haircuts on Saturdays anymore, they book up way in advance for wedding parties and dye jobs.

  26. Florida*

    OP #5 – It is nice that you want to help your nephew by writing Alison, but please let him solve this problem. Whenever an older person asks for advice for a younger adult/teenager, I always worry that the adult is going to intervene. Admittedly, this is my own bias as you didn’t mention anything about contacting nephew’s boss.
    It would be great if you talked to your nephew and even coached him (if he wants/needs that) on how to approach his boss. Learning to diplomatically question his boss is a great skill to gain early in his career. I hope that Nephew wants to learn that and is able to get some experience with it early in his career when the stakes aren’t as high.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I didn’t get the sense that the OP was going to overstep by contacting the nephew’s boss or anything, just getting information for his nephew. Coaching the nephew for how to approach the boss about it would be great if he’s open to that.

  27. Dust Bunny*

    LW1: The lady who cuts my hair is not available “after hours” and is always booked a million years in advance for her few Saturday slots, so if I need a haircut, I schedule it with vacation time. Granted, I don’t work in a high-pressure industry so this doesn’t inconvenience anyone, but I’m not skipping out on the clock.

    Dozing in meetings: Go to the doctor. If you’re that drowsy the next day, you’re drowsy when you’re driving, etc., as well, and it doesn’t sound as though it’s getting any better.

  28. DCGirl*

    With regard to #1, I had a manager who was leaving early every other week for a hair appointment. (She had a very short, almost shaved, hairstyle that needed regular maintenance.) While she wasn’t ducking out of meetings or anything like that, the rest of us clearly thought that it was a sign she was starting to check out mentally from the job. It impacted us in that 1) she wasn’t there to make decisions (and she wouldn’t empower us to make decisions without here and 2) if we had to work late, we were supposed to get a cab voucher to get home. The cab vouchers were locked in her desk after she left. This was also someone who was absolutely awful about authorizing time off for her subordinates — to the point where people didn’t ask for PTO knowing it would be denied, they just planned to call in sick that day.
    In our case, the hair appointments every other week when we couldn’t ever go to the doctor were tremendous morale suckers. Senior management finally realized it was a problem and addressed it for the issue that it was.

    1. Michelenyc*

      I have very short hair too. While it might not be close to shaved, it does require regular maintaience not every other week. That’s a bit ridiculous IMO.

  29. Kat Snacks*

    Annoyed that you thought it was an issue? Maybe I should get my hair done at 1pm and see if my boss likes it. I would be annoyed if she thought it was an issue. This is the sort of behavior that builds up resentment. I prefer supervisors who lead by example.

    1. AMT*

      Are you salaried or hourly? Maybe it’s a cultural thing. Out of college, I’ve worked mostly salaried positions and it’s generally accepted at these jobs that you’re an adult and no one needs to monitor your coming and going. Assuming your performance is good and you’re not inconveniencing anyone, it’s seen as kosher to take an extra hour here or there for personal errands, just as you might stay an extra hour or come in early to pull together a big project.

      Basically, the trade-off for not being paid overtime is the flexibility of not being nitpicked about your schedule. Sure, not that every salaried job is like this, and I’m aware that some workplaces depend on butts being in chairs during certain times, but OP didn’t mention any hardship that she was suffering because of her boss’s hair appointments, so I’m assuming the occasional long lunches weren’t tanking productivity.

  30. BeetSmoothie*

    Ack! Autoplaying video with audio ad right above the comment section, loud and slowing down my page load. Could this be removed?

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      Well the ads pay to keep the site running so we should be tolerant of them where possible, but otherwise send Alison the url and if it doesn’t fit with the rules she agreed to the ad met work can take it down.

    2. Liana*

      Ads bring revenue, which is what keeps the site going, so I don’t think Alison can just take them down like that. Maybe turn your volume down, or off? That’s what I do.

  31. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #1

    I regularly let my exempt person leave for hair appointments, because she’s an adult and knows how to manage her workload. I know she isn’t going to have a “spa day” while we have 15 reports that need to be filed.

    And as a manager, I’d be really annoyed if my team members were monitoring my comings and goings. I’m an adult. I manage the workload and I’m not slacking off. Plus, they don’t know that I log in at night sometimes or an emailing with the boss or vendors about something. That’s what I get paid for. If I were slacking off and the workload was suffering, of course they would have a right to speak up.

    1. Michelenyc*

      Totally agree! I am so glad I work for a company that treats us like adults. We are all well aware what we are responsible for and what needs to get done on a daily basis to meet goals/expectations. If there is a problem it is addressed privately with that person!

  32. Mena*

    4. Consider dietary changes. For me, carbohydrates make me sluggish and sleepy while lean protein keeps me alert and awake. When I know I have lengthy meetings, I’m very careful about what I choose for the meal prior.

    1. Koko*

      Oh my gosh, it changed my life when I stopped eating a bagel every morning. I never knew it was possible to not get sleepy at 11 am every singly day. That was just the carb crash from my 9 am bagel.

  33. Karyn*

    RE: the sleep issue!

    For a while, I was having a huge problem falling asleep at work. I would literally fall asleep at my desk for an hour at a time. It was horrible. I was terrified I would do it without meaning to and get caught and punished. I didn’t have trouble sleeping at night, so i didn’t know what the issue was – I’d even seen a sleep specialist and there was no physical issue causing it.

    Turns out, two of the medications I was on were both causing severe drowsiness, and combining them was making it even worse. I was taken off of one of them, and poof! Sleep issue gone.

    I hope this gets better for you, OP – I know how frustrating it can be.

  34. Artemesia*

    #1 Best way I can think of to get fired is to keep track of the boss’s hours and report on them to their boss. There are rare situations where this might be something to figure out how to bring up (e.g. a remote office and a seriously slacker boss who is making it hard to get your job done) but otherwise, it is so not your job to discipline or keep track of boss’s face time. Part of being a manager is you take work home, work extra hours, pull a weekender if necessary etc. And beyond that, it simply is ‘not your place.’

    #4 I used to have a problem falling asleep when I sat down — meetings etc. I just figured I was getting old and tired, needed more sleep etc. Turns out I had almost no thyroid; this got discovered on a routine physical, I hadn’t even complained about it. Once I started taking a hefty dose of levothyroxine every day, this problem disappeared. Worth at least checking out a physical cause.

  35. Mimmy*

    #1 – I was going to respectfully disagree with Alison on this one…until I saw everyone else agreeing with her as well. I can be a bit of a prude and have never been comfortable with the idea of taking off work for the occasional personal time other than doctor appointments (though I did take off once a long time ago to attend a concert even though it was in the evening…).

    I’m not sure that I like that she’s leaving meetings and rescheduling conference calls for her appointments, but as long as everyone is otherwise happy with her as a manager, she’s getting work done, and it’s not interfering with your or others’ work, then I’d say let it go.

    1. Florida*

      A lot of it depends on the workplace and your position in the workplace. If I remember correctly, last week someone said they had a weekly medical appointment. Alison suggested that they specifically tell their boss that it was a *medical* appointment lest the boss think it was for her weekly pedicure. In that case, it was weekly, not monthly. It was a lower level employee. And employee wasn’t sure if that was OK with the culture. (I hope I’m remembering everything correctly.)

      In today’s case, it is clear that these monthly appointments are OK with the workplace. It’s a manager position. (This company may or may not be OK with lower level employees doing that.) There are so many variables that make it OK at one office and not OK at another office. I think most offices will tolerate personal appointments in moderation, and if it is something that needs to be done during work hours. It would be a little odd if you regularly did your grocery shopping during work hours, when the grocery store is open all the time. But if the day before your big holiday party, you left early because you had to buy all of the food, I think most people would be OK with that.

  36. CR*

    I’m sorry but I’m cracking up at my desk at the thought of someone at an interview taking out a guitar. Anyway here’s Wonderwall…

    1. LCL*

      This is great! My dog has been known to try to push me off the couch with his feet, if I am sitting in front of him playing my guitar. What is interesting is the dogs seem to dislike acoustic guitars more than electric, it turns out acoustic guitars have more harmonics in their tone than electric guitars.

      1. So Very Anonymous*

        When I was in high school our cocker spaniel would howl whenever I practiced my flute. I’d guess those high notes were painful for her. Didn’t know that dogs were bothered by harmonics though — that’s interesting.!

      2. esra*

        I wish that explained why my cat hates it when I practice my ukulele, but I think it’s just because I’m a truly tragic ukulele player.

  37. Anxa*

    Another reason I”m not sure if I had ADHD is that I think I might just have DSPS. Got 4 hours of sleep last night, but was able to sleep in til 10. I feel more refreshed than my usual Monday where I have to get up at 8 and get 5-6 hours. I’m so ALERT right now, if only every day could be a late-start day….

    Maybe it’s not a one or another thing, but a both thing. I feel so terrible about getting sleepy in meetings! Neither DSPS or ADHD were on my radar in college, so I just skipped so many classes out of fear of falling asleep and appearing rude. Now I just make a game out of it and act like it’s my great battle in life and act like a video game character or something, trying to keep those eyelids open.

    I briefly had more money and a good insurance situation, but almost every sleep doctor was an apnea doctor or some other type of pulmonologist. I called sleep centers and they hadn’t heard of DSPS! And were just really judgy about me being so silly to call a sleep center about circadian issues.

    1. A Cita*

      I have DSPS. It took forever to get diagnosed. First all the sleep hygiene stuff. Then they tried various sleeping pills (none of which worked). Then they thought depression and suggested meds, until I looked doctor straight in the eye and asked, “Do I seem depressed to you?” (Hint: No.) Then I went to live halfway across the world for a few years for research. 12.5 hour difference. Wasn’t falling asleep there until 5-6 am. Came back and was immediately on the same sleep schedule–falling asleep at 5-6 am. Doctor finally realized how bizarre that was and the bell finally went off.

      Anyway, the only things I find that helps is: 1. making sure my room is as dark as can be fairly early in the evening. If I super dim lights and computer screen around 8 pm; 2. magnesium supplements taken at the same time. I can now get to sleep by 2 am. But only if I’m disciplined about it. Last night I wasn’t. :(

      1. Another Academic Librarian*

        I have DSPS too! It’s been an issue since I was a small child, but I was only diagnosed after I spent a year living in a country with a 5 hour difference–the time difference sent my circidian rhythm into a tailspin, and apparently that’s not normal. When I got back, I couldn’t fall asleep naturally until 10am.

        1. So Very Anonymous*

          Wow, just googled DSPS, and that is totally me, ever since I was little.

    2. Meg Murry*

      I have both ADHD and something that sure seems like DSPS (never formally diagnosed in those terms, but a sleep doctor understanding/agreeing with me when I explained that I pretty much have NO circadian rhythm or what I do have is much longer than a 24 hour phase).

      I’m not on this routine now, but what she prescribed that does help was:
      -no screens and dim lights as much as possible after dinner
      -a low dose of melatonin earlier than usually recommended. She told me to start by taking it one hour before I wanted my bedtime to be, and if I wasn’t sleepy by then to push it back week by week one hour earlier, and sure enough, as she recommended, it took me taking melatonin at 6-7 pm to be sleepy at 9:30 pm and asleep by 10:30 pm.
      -no fighting sleep – if I feel a little bit sleepy anytime within an hour of my bedtime, I need to obey that thought immediately and start on my bedtime routine. If I let myself do anything else, next thing I know I’ve gotten another “wind” and I’ll be up doing something for another 3 hours before I feel tired again, and even then I’ll have trouble actually falling asleep.

      The other part of this is that when I was much younger I just powered through the sleep deficit during the week and slept a ton on the weekends. Now that I have kids and adult responsibilities I can’t catch up by sleeping until noon on the weekends, so I have to be much more vigilant about at least trying to get decent sleep on the weekdays.

      1. Anxa*

        If I get a fulltime job, I think I’m going to try to get some blueblocking glasses. I have a tablet that I’d like to use more in the evening and it doesn’t have flux.

        I have to do a similar version of going to bed as soon as I’m tired. I know if I’m sleepy before 11:30 pm, it’s not going to lead to a true sleep, and then I’ll be stuck awake at 2am and I probably won’t be ready for bed by that time anyway. My target bedtime is 2am. I brush my teeth at midnight sometimes and make sure my bags are packed, etc. for the next day. Then, as soon as I get tired (if I do), I may get an early bedtime night.

        This doens’t really help with the whole consistent bedtime thing, but I’d rather get a few nights of going to bed early than not. I’ve found wake up time to be more important than bedtime. Plus, brushing teeth and having half of my bedtime chores down really helps cut down on the struggle between being tired and not having the energy or drive to go to bed.

        I also would love to purchase black out curtains*, a new mattress, and a light box one day. If only those were covered by my insurance! One day!

        May I ask, do you often become irritable around bedtime? I get pretty bad moodswings around the whole trying to go to bed process. I’m pretty awful.

        I’m pretty bummed. I have two weeks off of work this month. Not only does that mean I don’t get to go into work (I like my job) and have a smaller paycheck, but when I do start up again I’ll be anything but refreshed, because I’ll end up totally regressing into my natural sleep habits. I can’t enjoy the extra sleep when I start berating myself for losing all that ground I made. I think this year is the record of nights-in-bed-before 2am for me.

        *I tried really cheap ones and they just didn’t work. Now it’s even worse because the light still comes in at night, but they block the morning sun so well it’s hard to get up.

  38. Liana*

    OP #4: I struggled (and occasionally still struggle) with the exact same issue. I’ve dealt with insomnia ever since I was a teenager and I had a particularly rough adjustment when I transitioned from a college/waitressing lifestyle (working nights, staying up late, etc), to a 9-5 office job. Suddenly I was no longer working in a job that required me to physically walk around and talk to people, and I had a hard time staying awake in meetings. I think a lot of other commenters have great advice, so I’ll just echo them: definitely see a doctor about this. There may be an underlying medical issue, there may not be, but if you have a doctor you trust, they may be able to offer some good insight. Also, keep sticking to a regular sleeping schedule! This is the part I struggle with the most, but I’ve noticed that when I manage to get to bed at a reasonable hour for at least a week straight, my productivity at work goes way up. Building a habit of getting to bed early can be a game-changer.

  39. Anxa*


    I agonize over cover letter formatting. And yet, I know I’m not going to please everyone.

    I would love to give a targeted salutation, but if it’s a Friday afternoon, should I really worry about calling to find the name of who’s hiring? What if the application is closed over the weekend? What if I call anyway and I just annoy HR? What if they give me the wrong answer, and I look more foolish than if I had just left it at “To Whom it May Concern.” The way I feel, if I someone’s going to expect a non-generic greeting, put that information in the job ad or make it easily searchable online.

    I often feel like cover letters look naked, but I sometimes feel silly putting in an address. I don’t put an address in the body of an email. I often include them in attached or separate letters. But even that I waver on. First of all, I’m not sure if I’m using the best address. Since it’s being submitted online, no physical address was in the posting. Do I go physical or mailing? Is this address a waste of space? Is this the right department? Will they think I’m nuts for adding this?

    My address. Hmm. I like this letterhead format because it saves me a lot of room. Does that mean my cover letter will be too long? Will I annoy them with an extra three lines of text? Who do I think I am that I need these extra few lines? Should I cut this out and just put a line about where to contact me near the salutation. And if I leave it in, do I really need to add a line about how to contact me. Shouldn’t it be pretty self evident by my contact information. Sure I have my preference, but can’t I trust that a company the mails me a response won’t hold it against me if I don’t get their response until it comes in the mail. If they are moving faster, they’ll call right? Or email? I don’t have to actual specify that do I? But then again…. there have been so many potential employers and hiring personnel who really needed things spelled out for them? Am I being insulting? Redundant? Or thorough?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I would love to give a targeted salutation, but if it’s a Friday afternoon, should I really worry about calling to find the name of who’s hiring? What if the application is closed over the weekend? What if I call anyway and I just annoy HR? What if they give me the wrong answer, and I look more foolish than if I had just left it at “To Whom it May Concern.” The way I feel, if I someone’s going to expect a non-generic greeting, put that information in the job ad or make it easily searchable online.

      I’ve been the one looking at cover letters coming in, and I have to say I don’t really care what the salutation says, as long as it doesn’t say “Dear Sirs.” I fully agree with you that if you want to be addressed by name, you should put your name in the ad. Otherwise, I fully expect to see “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Hiring Committee,” and those are perfectly fine ways to address the reader. I’m way more concerned about the contents of the cover letter and résumé than I am about the salutation.

      1. Anxa*

        Thanks for your perspective!

        The last paragraph of my comment got cut off, I was basically trying to say that just because someone submits a cover letter in a format you don’t prefer, doesn’t mean they didn’t put any thought into it. I don’t think there has been a truly standard format since applications moved to the internet.

  40. shellbell*

    OP#1 Is there something in particular that bothers you about your managers hair? You mention that the appointments are multi-hour (not sure how you know that). Do you disapprove of the hairstyle. Seems there is a lot of talk in your office about this woman’s hair.

    1. Probably Off Base*

      Hair and hairstyles can also be tied up with race, so this question set off alarm bells for me. To be honest, I pictured OP’s boss as a black woman, which might explain both the long appointments and all the talk about her hair–it’s not uncommon for black women to change between fairly disparate styles (from long cornrows to a short bob, etc). I might be way off base here, but the question just made me wonder if there was something else going on.

      1. shellbell*

        There is an assumption that appointments are multi-hour and everyone always notices the change in her hair. That makes me thinks the styles are always different and/or elaborate. This is more than a cut or a cut and color. I can freshen my color and lose a few inches and people barely notice. There seems to be a great deal of talk about this woman’s hair. There is more to this. People don’t normally care this much about other people’s hair.

        1. OP 1*

          She’s told me that they’re multi-hour, and there’s nothing wrong with the way she wears her hair. She also lets everyone know why she’s leaving, so it’s not like anyone is spying on her… No one is talking about the way she wears her hair – it’s a mostly male environment, so no one cares about the way she styles it. I kind of feel like you guys are going out of your way to look for malicious intent here, but just in case, I clarified the intent of my question above.

              1. shellbell*

                Does she wear her hair in a way that is common among your office or different?

                1. Koko*

                  She explained upthread that the purpose of her letter was really more intended to figure out if this is normal behavior or not. She just buried the lede a little in her original question:

                  “I don’t really want to confront her about this or even try to get her in trouble for it, but I do wonder if this is more acceptable than I’m thinking it is. To me, it seems unprofessional to run out to a grooming appointment during work time. Is this appropriate?”

                  I think people are interpreting her “I don’t really want to confront her,” to suggest that she thinks she should confront her but is hesitating. But at face value, this is what she said:
                  1) She isn’t interested in getting her boss in trouble.
                  2) She just wonders if this is normal.
                  3) It seems unprofessional to her, but because she’s uncertain, she’s writing to AAM to find out.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I think Koko nailed it — that particular wording read to a lot of people (including me!) as if the OP thought confronting her would be a reasonable thing to do but was hesitating. The OP has since cleared that up in the comments, but a lot of commenters comment without/before reading every other comment, so I think people may have missed it.

              2. Anon Moose*

                Sometimes depending on hair texture and style desired, it is not at all uncommon for hair appointments to take a long time. Braids, twists, extensions, relaxing, weaves- they can all take a long time. Even coloring on any hair type can take a long time. And the appointments for regular maintenance are obviously important to this person to maintain their professional/personal appearance and such appointments can be difficult to schedule outside business hours. As many have mentioned, professional standards of hair especially are sometimes more complicated/ important for people of color. And honestly, for women in general.
                Overall, I think it sounds like its a very common and appropriate use of personal time and that she is handling it professionally by letting everyone know of her longstanding personal appointment and moving appointments as necessary to accommodate. I think it isn’t that different than if a manager had to leave to get her child to piano lessons once a month, or visit a relative, or take a pet to the vet. Its not a doctor’s appointment, but its a pretty fixed personal out of work commitment that she has decided is valid for her and probably run by her managers since she’s open about it. Hopefully she is also flexible for any personal commitments for her reports.

          1. Pontoon Pirate*

            For what it’s worth, it isn’t just you. There’s been an overall lack of kindness in a lot of our collective responses to a lot of queries for some months now. But I still think there’s lots of good advice floating around, and a lot of really thoughtful people who want to help the folks who write in.

            I think your takeaway today is mostly that it’s normal for people who have the autonomy to manage their time to take care of personal errands in a way that’s mutually beneficial to them and their workload. If it starts impacting you because you can’t get answers you need/can never get time with your boss because she’s gone/are being held accountable for her absence, then it’s reasonable to investigate how you can get the answers you need/find time with her/make it clear you don’t run her schedule.”

          2. Koko*

            I agree…this line of discussion seems to really be reaching and grasping at straws without much evidence in the letter to support what they’re suggesting.

          3. Observer*

            If you and your boss are the only women in the office, then you REALLY need to not get into any discussion. As others have mentioned, women are often in a no win situation. If they don’t look perfectly groomed and coifed, they are seen as disorganized, sloppy, even slovenly. But when they spend the time to get that look, people often talk about how “she’s always fussing with her hair” or other comments. You really don’t want to feed that kind of dynamic.

            1. Observer*

              To be clear, I get that you have no intention of getting into with your boss, etc. I’m trying to add on that when the comments come your way, you should try to shut them down or at least not engage.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          Shellbell – I debated for a while this morning whether or not I should raise the race issue as well – I had a very strong feeling that the OP’s boss was a person of color, and yep, there it is.

          1. shellbell*

            Sadly, white women’s hair choices are much less likely to be considered unprofessional. FWIW, I’m a white lady with conventional hair choices. I also don’t think anyone would bat an eye if I left early for a salon appointment. Nor would they notice my hairs as freshly styled.

            1. Beezus*

              I think working in a mostly-male environment may be as relevant as the race question. I work in a heavily male industry, and if I left early and explained that it was for a hair appointment, eyes would be batted. (I schedule mine on Saturdays, and if I do have a rare personal appointment during the week, I don’t offer any unnecessary explanations. The only time anyone notices my hair is when I make drastic changes, like cutting off 8 inches or going from blonde to brunette.)

          2. Meg Murry*

            Yes, I had the same gut feeling, but I didn’t want to call it that if I was wrong, because it doesn’t seem to be the root of the issue, but it could be a piece of it.

            It reminded me of the issue a few years back when Gabby Douglas won the gold medal, and there was more talk about her hair than her amazing accomplishment. One of the points that was made was that she trained Iowa in an area where there are no salons that cater to black woman’s hair, so she would need to take 4 hours out of her training day to go have her hair done – and even then it wouldn’t last since she is working out so much.

            I think OP should ignore the hair talk, and not join in. “Where’s boss?” “Oh, she had an appointment, she’ll be back in tomorrow” “Oh, had to go get her hair done, huh?” “I don’t know, she didn’t say. Anything I can help you with or do you want to wait for her to be back tomorrow?”

            Maybe the joking about the boss’s hair being her “thing” is just good natured joking. Or maybe it is actually an issue regarding boss’s gender and/or race. Either way, OP should stay out of it because contributing to negative office gossip never helps and often hurts your reputation.

      2. Murphy*

        Interesting. I suppose it’s my own privilege that I’ve never thought about a racial dimension, but just as a point of reference, my hair appointments are often multi-hour (3-4 hours) and I am not a person of colour. I just have many steps to getting my hair done sometimes (highlights; bleaching out the under-layer; applying a fun colour to that layer – this time is teal; solid colour on the roots in between the highlights; cut; and then an all-over gloss to tone the highlights. And then the styling. 4 hours easy.).

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Yeah but you wouldn’t describe that as styling. You probably would have described it as “cut and color” or “cut and straightening.”

          I definitely read the OP’s letter as describing a black woman.

      3. Petronella*

        +1 that this woman’s hair seems to be a subject of unusual interest around the office. Is she of a different race from the majority of people at work, or otherwise different in some way? Is she the only female manager? Is she significantly older or younger than the other managers?

        OP, the best advice you’ve gotten in this thread, besides the general sentiment to MYOB, is from the person who added that when your workmates start talking about your boss’s hair, you should discourage the conversation or at the very least, refuse to join in. It’s gossip.

  41. Sparrow*

    OP #3 – I agree that I would look askance at a cover letter that lacked a greeting or closing, but otherwise…meh. I’m picky about grammar and the like, but I feel like email has so fundamentally changed professional communication that formal business letter format seems irrelevant in most situations.

    I’d definitely discourage you from ruling good people out based on this. At my Old Job (also in higher ed), the individual I replaced apparently had Very Strong Feelings about people signing their cover letter. As in: if there wasn’t a physical signature on the letter, he wanted to ditch the applicant. Fortunately, he was on the way out and wasn’t able to enforce that, or neither of the individuals hired out of that search would’ve made it (and we were pretty great hires, if I do say so myself!) I think it’s not coincidental that the new and out-going employees were from different generations.

  42. Elizabeth*

    OP#1’s boss should do what my old boss did: arrange for someone who works at her salon to get an interview, have that person be hired, and then have that person give her a blow out every morning in her office before the day starts. Everyone thought there was chronic daily vacuuming going on before we realised it was the sound of a hair dryer.

  43. Heather*

    OP#1 – In my office we have a code for hair appointments, “I have a very important off campus appointment.” I thought that was one of the benefits of having a female boss!

  44. That Marketing Chick*

    #1 If your manager is salaried and not hourly, it is none of your business. If she is hourly, it’s actually still none of your business. It’s between her and her boss.

    I work well over 40 hours a week and would hazard to guess that she does as well. It’s common for me to check email on nights and weekends at a minimum, and occasionally am asked for a deliverable on the weekend – not to mention coming in early and staying late almost every day. I would be really pissed off if my employee questioned me leaving early every so often whether it’s a doctor appointment or a hair appointment or just to go stare at a wall.

  45. Anon for this*

    OP 4, I used to have this problem too! Turns out with me my ADHD medication was masking how tired I was from undiagnosed sleep apnea and I was that tired ALL THE TIME. If I hadn’t talked to my doctor about falling asleep in meetings I never would have gotten diagnosed, and honestly getting treatment for sleep apnea changed my life for the better.

  46. Chriama*

    OP#1 – I read through some of the comments and your responses at the beginning and I think some people are missing the point.

    Bottom line: working professionals should be treated as professionals. Your boss is likely exempt, so there’s no reason she can’t leave early and get her hair done. Whether or not she uses PTO is none of your business, but it would be fine even if she didn’t because she’s not gone a whole day and it’s highly likely that she puts in more than 40 hours at least once in awhile.

    I think you’re wondering more about how you should feel about what she does, and this wondering is prompted by the talk in the office. And in that respect, the hair appointments are a red herring. The real question is, is she a good boss and a good worker? The idea of her leaving meetings partway could either be snide commentary or real annoyance – it depends on whether people know in advance and if she makes the transition easy for them (aka, doesn’t walk into a meeting that’s been scheduled for a week and declare that she needs to cut out early. If she does that, then the hair appointments are masking the fact that she doesn’t respect other peoples’ time. If it’s more like people stop in to speak to her or call her into an impromptu meeting and she lets them know that she can only talk for a few minutes because she has to get her hair done then that is perfectly reasonable. Maybe hair seems frivolous compared to something like a doctor’s appointment or picking a kid up from daycare/school, but it’s not inherently unprofessional.

    Bottom line though: OP, don’t engage in gossip about your boss, even inside your head. If you have real concerns about something she does that impacts your work, bring it up with the appropriate people (her, or her boss if it’s that critical). And if she’s doing something really hypocritical but not actually detrimental to your work (like cutting out early but making snide comments when you need to flex your hours) then decide whether you can live with it or want to find a new job with a better boss. But in terms of idle speculation about what she’s doing and whether or not it’s justified, take care to have an attitude of “she’s the boss, she can do what she wants.” This attitude will serve you well throughout your career.

  47. HRChick*

    This is kind of funny because I am a manager and have an appointment to get my hair done tomorrow morning and rescheduled a meeting to get it done!

    All anyone looking at me will see is that I leave with one hair style and come back with a different one. They don’t see me taking leave (because that’s none of their business) or me making sure everything is okay with the people I have the meeting with (actually, rescheduling worked for everyone – hurrah!). It sounds like a lot of gossip over a non-issue.

  48. Rachel B*

    Falling asleep in meetings: Have you tried taking a short walk, just around the block, a few minutes before the meeting? Dark chocolate or carrot or apple pieces work well for me as well. I add in green tea if I’m really tired, say, maybe 15 minutes before the start of the meeting so it has time to kick in.

  49. SusanIvanova*

    Wow, business letter formatting – I’d completely forgotten that I was taught how to do that. I took typing in 1980, in 10th grade, because it would be useful for college term papers, though the focus in the class was on the pre-secretarial track. Applied those skills to a computer the semester after that, and never typed a business letter again.

    I wouldn’t think to google it because I’d totally forgotten it was even a thing. I wouldn’t even trust that all the clever tricks we did back then would survive in electronic format – all you need is one person to use a different app or convert it to plain text and all your work is gone.

    1. Alternative*

      Same here. It had never occurred to me that the formal business letter formatting that we were taught prior to email might be expected on a modern cover letter.

  50. Fleur Mortis*

    LW #4 here. Thank you Alison and everyone else for your thoughts! They were super helpful. I’m actually kind of relieved to hear that the consensus seems to point towards a medical issue? I avoided seeing a doctor about it because it’s been like this my entire life, but I’m only just now starting to twig to the fact that no, not everyone actually falls asleep when they get bored. I actually have a yearly physical with my doctor coming up pretty soon, so I’ll ask her about this!

    Replying to a few of your suggestions: the idea of eating less carbs at lunch is a good one. I’ll try that out and see how it goes. Same with eating mints or spicy candy. I’m wary of drinking water or ice–with these meetings, there’s about a one in three chance that it will last two or three hours at a stretch. (Yes, these meetings are exactly as excruciating as they sound. Seriously, though, the rest of the job makes up for it.) The room is definitely a factor–it’s fairly small with a large window that sunlight comes through, making it the perfect sleepiness combo of warm and stuffy. I’m very hesitant to try any kind of medical sleep aid, though, because most do not react well with the kind of medication I’m currently on.

    I’ll be honest–I didn’t even consider that I could just get up for a bathroom break in a meeting. Getting up and moving around definitely helps me wake up, but I’ve not been using that in the middle of meetings because, well, I didn’t know I could. (For context, if it helps: this is my first non-internship job, and I’m still very much learning the ins and outs of corporate culture.)

  51. nerfherder*

    #2 NO!!!

    You mention part of the job is sales. I think that’s what they want to test you on. Take a thing with you and convince them that they absolutely need this think in their lives. Sell it.

    Don’t sing a song. No

  52. DanaScully*

    #4. I would suggest some blood testing as I suffered similarly in the past. Have your doctor run a full thyroid panel and also test adrenal function.

  53. Anon Moose*

    #3 You’re probably being too formal in your expectations of what a business letter should be. If its an attached document to an email, it is often less formal than a business letter- why would you put a full address on a letter that is being sent by email? Also, it is often difficult for a job applicant to ascertain who the hiring manager will be even with good internet research skills. Perhaps there are multiple people in your department. Should they address it to the professor? To the department admin? To the HR contact on the job description? It is confusing and expecting perfection from job candidates when the info is not clear on the application is not really a great practice.

    But ok, let that be one part of your calculus, especially if writing properly formatted letters is a necessary skill for the job. But only a small small part. Read the actual letter and resume as well. That should be the most important thing. Even if you don’t like someone’s formatting, they could be a great candidate.

  54. Observer*

    #3 – Are you serious? Unless you actually put something like “Please address all correspondence to Ms. Jane Observer” in your ad, you have zero business to expect the name of the recipient. How is the person supposed to even KNOW who the correct recipient is? Even if the ad has enough information for the applicant to figure out that the position will be working with Professor Shmoo, who says that that’s who is looking at the initial applications? Who says that professor Shmoo will even see the cover letter?

    As for the “arguably, simple step of googling “cover letter format” Have you ever actually tried doing that? I just did, and I cam up with a ridiculous number of formats. It’s really not helpful, although at least one site did point out that you need to format your letter differently for an ATS than for a piece of paper.

    Also, keep in mind that many of the items in a formal cover letter are relics of a different time. Some of the items served a practical purpose that are no longer relevant. Eg the addresses were useful to make sure that whoever got the letter was able to see that it WAS meant for them, who it was from and that person’s contact information. That’s not relevant with email or most ATS’s. Also, formatting conventions in email make the return address on a cover letter irrelevant, as the same information is typically part of a signature block (even in less formal emails, because it’s automated.)

    The bottom line is that you are using a filter that emphasizes form over function, will almost certainly knock out otherwise excellent candidates and honestly makes you sound like you are seriously out of touch.

  55. Lara*

    There are a lot of comments here but i wanted to chime in and say that I have had problems falling asleep in meetings. I used to nod off, and no matter how much I pinched myself, stabbed myself with pens, went to the washroom and slapped myself/splashed myself with water, there was no relief.

    I went to a sleep study as referred to by my doctor and they monitored my sleep and said there was nothing abnormal. I do get road hypnosis pretty easily as well. The big question was “do you strongly dislike your job?” at the time I would have said “no” but in retrospect, I was very unhappy in life and in my job. I am not suited to long meetings and that particular job seemed to have ENDLESS meetings.

    Perhaps you could get a doctor’s note saying you can’t sit for longer than 45 minutes a time, and to restrict long periods of time where you are sitting in meetings. There might be a work-around.

    Long meetings aren’t productive! It’s infuriating that people still try to have them.

    If I’m ever in a position to hold meetings, you better believe I will be running a clock like this for everyone to see:

  56. Vicki*

    #2 – When I read the title ( Should I sing a song at my interview?) I was expecting the question to be “I’m interviewing at a company that wants all candidates to do a little talent presentation”.

    We’ve had so many of that sort of letter.

    I was almost sad that this wasn’t one of those.

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