There is always more work we could do. You need to find that balance within yourself where you have completed what you need to for the day and save the rest for another day. Your manager will not be the one to tell you to stop. You will need to be the one to hold up your hand and say my plate is full. Now people talk about work/life balance. Sometimes there is not balance in a day, week or year but rather over a longer period of time. You may find yourself in a situation that you have to put in more than average for a while to get to a better or different place. The important point is it will not be forever. But whatever is the amount you need to put in, learn when to be done and leave the rest for another day literally and figuratively and enjoy your off time, because you deserve it!
I get excited about learning new things. At work I think it is a must to keep upgrading yourself and what you can contribute. New colleagues are being added to the mix all the time. They are bringing in new skills and the latest thinking from other companies and institutions. Markets are changing and demanding new abilities, so in essence if you are not constantly upgrading yourself, you will be left behind. It is not really a choice. So when someone is asking for a volunteer to learn something new, why not raise your hand to be among the first learners? You have a lot to gain if you do and a lot to lose if you don’t.
There are a lot of people, things, projects that will be vying for your attention every day of every week. So it is important to pick the projects that are most important to you, your manager and the organization. The ones that will have the most impact. This could include a mixture of short, medium and longer term impact projects. Once you have prioritized your workstreams, focus becomes key.
I am a good multi-tasker and can keep multiple balls in the air at once. However, lately I have found a key to forward momentum for me is focus, specifically focusing on the highest priority projects. So now instead of me having 10 different projects that I am shuffling between at one time, I have streamlined to 2-3 of those high priority items and spend the majority of my time working on all the facets of these. I am noticing that I am able to really move the needle because of the concentrated effort and it opens the door for me to potentially make a larger contribution because of my prioritization and focus. Others might find this approach useful too.
This is a huge mantra for me and people who have worked with me for a while know this is something I do. If you don’t ask for something, you know that the answer is no, so what do you have to loose – absolutely nothing. So ask already. Ask for more data, ask for more support, ask for more budget, ask for the project you want, ask for more out of your vendors There is so much upside just waiting for you out there and it is just a question away.
I recall one very rewarding project I had and being a part of this project did not come about by accident. For months colleagues were working on a project and I was not offered a spot on the team. I quickly understood the potential if the project came together and realized that I had a complimentary skillset that could enhance its value. I could have either sat on the sidelines or ask to participate. Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity, I went in and asked to be on the project and came out being part of it. It doesn’t always happen that way but if you don’t ask, who will, so why not ask?
Your integrity is everything. It precedes you and follows you. So make sure you follow your words with actions. If you promise to do something, make sure you give yourself enough time to deliver and deliver on time. Then follow-up and do it. Be accountable. If the request is not something you feel you can deliver, either say no or negotiate to a point until you feel you can deliver. There is an art to ‘under promising and over delivering’. The key is it is OK to pad the schedule to make sure you have time to complete the request while balancing your other work. People probably won’t remember if you negotiate the delivery to a later date when you are agreeing on the timeframe, but they will remember if you miss a deadline. So say what you will do and then do what you say.