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Making work work for you

Back at your desk after summer fun and not really feeling it? We hear you. Here's some food for thought from the autumn's hottest self-help book by ex Elle journalist turned author Lotte Jeffs.

lotte jeffs

For most of us, September marks a return to the grindstone after the more carefree days of the summer. You might be working more days, longer hours, starting new projects, catching up with admin. And quite possibly wondering if your chosen job or career still actually works for you – because of course it’s always when we’re sitting around sipping rosé on a sultry evening on holiday that we have major life epiphanies, isn’t it?

With this in mind, I thought you might appreciate this extract from new self-help book, How To Be A Gentlewoman, by journalist Lotte Jeffs. Part memoir, part manual, it redefines the old-fashioned idea of a “gentlewoman” for the modern age, with Lotte urging us to live a life with gentleness and kindness at its core. She covers lots of different parts of life but here are her tips on making work work for you. Over to you, Lotte.

Lotte Jeffs: Instagram

Maya Angelou says it better than I ever could: ‘You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.’

If a gentlewoman is to be truly happy at work, she has to care – not so much that it takes over – but to care just a bit more than enough, because her professional output is – as her home, her style, her personal relationships and everything else are – a reflection of herself.



Don’t write anything in an email you wouldn’t want read out in an all-company meeting.

Have friends but don’t be cliquey – this isn’t high school.

Enjoy Mondays. It’s dull and basic to say you hate going to work after the weekend. If you do, change something.

If you realise you don’t need to be in a meeting politely excuse yourself.

Ask if you really need a meeting or could you just have a quick chat at someone’s desk where possible.

Avoid conference calls, particularly video conference calls, as much as possible.

Ban jargon: CLOP, EOP, WFH (Close of play, end of play, work from home!)

WFH – sorry, work from home – whenever you can.

Don’t wear headphones at your desk – you need to be engaged and part of the action.



Take time each day to do something totally unconnected to your day job.

Don’t get drawn into moaning and encourage others to try to change something they are not happy about rather than revel in complaining about it.

Talk to friends in other industries and get their perspective.

Be honest.

Write lists.

Go out for lunch with colleagues.

Make sure everyone on the team has a role and feels part of the bigger picture.

Be clear about your expectations for a team or what you can deliver.

Extracted from How To Be A Gentlewoman: The Art Of Soft Power In Hard Times (Cassell) by Lotte Jeffs

Like what you hear? Lotte is one of our three wise women speakers at Muddy Stilettos Book Club Live at Henley Literary Festival on Sat 5 Oct. Read all about it here and then, quick, nab a ticket here!

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