By now I think you all know that I have a normal day job outside of this blog and the Collegiate Daybook. If you didn’t, well, now you know. If you look at the big picture of my job, its the typical desk job. Shooting off hundreds of emails a day, jumping from back-to-back meeting to another, all the while trying to find time to actually get your work done. It’s a balance that I’m still growing to learn, but as I approach my one year anniversary of starting this job (hello October 24th!) I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on how to tackle my day to day and thought it may be helpful to share.
So without further ado, here are the things that I learned in my first year out in the real world.
- The project you are working on is not the most important project everyone else is working on.
In any company, large or small, there is, at all times, more than one project happening. It’s just how companies work. There will most likely be a project more important and less important than yours happening at the same time yours is. So when you collaborate on these projects and ask help from others, just assume that they will (or should) drop everything they’re working on to help you. Everyone’s time is valuable and yours is not more valuable than theirs. Plan ahead, schedule time to work together only on your project and stick to that setup. If you plan properly and far enough ahead, all projects will get done on time and accurately. What more could you ask for?
2. Nothing (minus fire, medical emergencies, & family crisis) is an emergency.
You’re going to have to use a touch of common sense here, but for the most part, if you make a mistake or something goes “wrong” in your workplace, the earth will continue to rotate, the sun will still rise in the morning, and no one will get hurt or perish as a result. We all get those red flag emails in a meeting and feel our heart start to pound and our minds begin to race. We have to continue to remind ourselves that it’s okay. You don’t need to run out of the meeting that was probably also important that you were at jus two respond to an email and solve an issue 30 minutes sooner than when you would have. I think its a good sign that we get worried and care so much about our jobs that we want to fix everything right now, but we have to remind ourselves that its not an actual emergency.
3. You need to set your boundaries.
In today’s world, we’re always plugged in. And that’s why its so important to set boundaries and force ourselves to unplug. I live by myself, so I feel that it’s okay sometimes to check my email and do some work over the weekend if I need to (or even want to) because I’m not missing out on precious time with my family. If I had a family at home where the majority of my time spent with them is on the weekend, maybe I wouldn’t be okay with that. Maybe I would shut my computer off at 5pm on Friday and not look at it again until 9am Monday morning. And sometimes I even do that. If it’s a long week and my brain is fried, I don’t do anything. The weekends and evenings are the time to fill our cups back up. We get to let loose and not think and reset our minds so that on Monday morning we are refreshed and ready to go. So set your boundaries and stick to them.
4. Having a “destressor” is key.
I’m not sure about you, but my job can get pretty stressful sometimes. I get invested in the work I do and when it doesn’t go right or someone throws a wrench in my plans, its frustrating. So its super important for your mental health to have a way to blow some steam off. For me, it depends on my mood. Some days its just Netflix and a glass of Rosé, other days its working out, almost all days I just go to bed early in hopes of waking up in a better mood. Whatever works for you, do it, and make a priority of it on the days when you’re really stressed out. It will help everyone around you, not just you.
5. “Take a beat”
We all get those emails. They’re either asking the same question they’ve been asking for the past two weeks and still aren’t understanding the answer, or its a one-off request that will take up a lot of your time. Either way, the best response is most likely not going to be the response that first pops into your head. You need to calm down for a second before you reply all with a passive aggressive response that isn’t going to solve any issues. When this happens, I get up from my desk and walk around. Go to the bathroom or grab a drink, honestly just a take a lap around the office. Calm down, try to think of the situation from the other person’s perspective, maybe even try to understand why this issue keeps resurrecting or why its still not being solved. Whatever you need to do, take a beat before you respond.
There you have it. Everything I’ve learned. That was a joke, I’ve learned a ton in these past (almost) 365 days and I’m sure I will continue to do so for the next 365. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Have some tips to add? Shoot me a comment below! Thanks for listening!