People suck.

To be more precise, people suck at managing their work.

We spend lots of time at work every week. Some of us take work home on the weekend or, horrors, on vacation. You – and you know who you are – are way out of balance. Get it together.

Done well work is an important and rewarding part (just a part) of our lives.

So here's a list to help manage your work life.

  • Take work seriously, and leave it at the office – You will burn out and lose important perspective on life and your business if you work 24/7. You may have to pull some late nights or take home some weekend work occassionally. Make these the exception. Do your best to work efficiently so you seldom if ever have to. And remember to work only on the important things. Stay focused.
  • Develop relationships, but don't confuse them with friendships – Working closely with others doesn't make them friends. A friend you can call at 3am if you need to: co-workers? Yes, you will socialize and spend time away from the office with them. But for a healthy “you” make friends who don't even know – or care – what you do professionally. We all need real friends.
  • Be quick to act and slow to criticize – Blowhards are overrated. I've seen more than my share of shameless self-promoters – people quick to crticize and complain but somehow unavailable when there is real work to be done. Build a rep as someone who does things. Talk is cheap. Action gets rewarded. Be known as someone who can be counted on to do actual work.
  • Help your boss – The single biggest mistake people make professionally is in not helping their boss. Sometimes they even develop adversarial relationships with them. This makes no sense. This is the one person who has more to do with your immediate success than anyone else. Figure out what they need. Do that. Help them. Your boss will notice.
  • Be pleasant – Yes, it matters. Even if you are brilliant other people will find ways to avoid you if you're also a prick. Much of what we do at work is subjective – choosing when and how and how much to really support others. Get over yourself and develop a sense of niceness: you will be amazed how much more people respond.
  • Be mostly right – Helpful, pleasant and action-oriented notwithstanding, you've got to be mostly right. For some this might even be the first rule, as being right creates credibility and cred is the currency of power in organizations. Know what you're talking about. Study your industry. Understand your finances. Be mostly right and you will be mostly needed as well.
  • Manage your career – Finally, take care of the brand called You. Only you can determine if your current career track is working or not. Your company can't, and no, you're not in Kansas anymore: there are no more guarantees. You need to know what you want in your professional life, put a plan in place to get that, and go after it. Be brave. Be committed. Take care of You.

Enjoy your work life, and you have a much better chance to enjoy your whole life.

And take the weekend off!



4 thoughts on “Labor

  1. Christopher, some great points here! Can I suggest a couple of additional ones from my own experience as both a manager and an employee?
    1) Admit when you don’t know the answer to something. There’s no shame in being humble. But then find the answer.
    2) Take notes in every meeting and follow up on all your action points.
    3) If you’re in HR, take a project management course. It’s one of the best skills you can have, but pretty rare amongst HR professionals.
    4) Speak up in meetings unless you don’t have anything to contribute, in which case DON’T speak up in meetings. Know the difference.

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