4 AM Wake-up – No Fooling

I am a full-time student and work a part-time job so there isn’t much time to sleep. I wake up at five am every day to get to work by six. I usually don’t want to wake up as early as 4:00 or 4:30 to do my hair in the morning so typically I do my hair and makeup in the back office where no customer can see me (and we rarely have customers that early anyway that I have to interact with). Is it a faux pas to do your personal grooming at work, even if you have no interaction with customers typically that early and your boss hasn’t even come in for the day yet? This is just something I have been thinking about lately. How would you feel about it?”

KC, Columbus, OH

There are several reasons why your choice to do your personal grooming at work is a mistake.

  • The general rule of thumb is: Other than a quick touch-up of hair and makeup, do your personal grooming at home.

The point here is that you should look professional—in your case ready to do your job—from the moment you leave your home to the moment you return home. I know a young woman who worked in the financial services field in New York City. Although appropriately dressed in business formal clothing, she would wear comfortable flip-flops to work and then, once at her desk, exchange the flip-flops for dress shoes. One day as she entered the elevator, the CEO followed her in. She felt embarrassed that he observed her in less than professional footwear. That was the last time she wore flip-flops to work.

  • Company time isn’t personal time.

It sounds like you take anywhere from half an hour to an hour to do your personal grooming. Currently, you arrive at work at your start time of 6:00 AM and then spend the next half hour to hour or so of company time—time you are being paid for—on personal grooming. You point out that your boss isn’t at work yet as though this might be a good reason to be able to get away with doing your morning beauty routine. After all, he isn’t there yet and so he doesn’t know you aren’t doing the work you are being paid to do. Not a good idea.


At the very least, if you are set on doing your morning grooming at work, you should discuss your plan with your boss and get his approval. The alternative is he will find out what you have been up to, and you may discover he isn’t very pleased. Tonight, I suggest you set your alarm for 4:00 AM.

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