When I first started working full-time, the things I thought would make me happy included working very long hours (to prove how important I was) and achieving things on my own (probably also to prove how important I was). Whilst these things may be satisfying in the short-term, I have learnt the hard way that not only is this the way to burn out, but it’s not actually the road to happiness at work.
Having moved organisations in the last year from a job where I was constantly fire fighting and working on average 12 hour days to a more senior position but working 9 1/2 – 10 hours a day and with a lot less fire fighting I have made some new discoveries…
It’s all about prioritising and planning
Not just prioritising your daily tasks – that’s obvious, but deciding what you need to do this month or this quarter and what can wait. It’s so easy to think that everything needs to be done now or to prioritise something that is more interesting or what has been waiting longest. Instead by taking note of the opportunities around you, the interests of senior management and the risks associated with projects you can make some smart decisions – completing important things whilst maintaining some sort of work-life balance.
If you work crazy hours you will end up disliking your job
Everyone has a number of hours that they can comfortably work without feeling crazy – my ideal is 9.5 hours. Part of the reason I wanted to change jobs is because once I had started over working I couldn’t stop. I thought it would mean I would be extra appreciated at work and to some extent this may have been true but I couldn’t climb off the ledge I built myself – this reputation I had created (though it was a reputation no one cared about but me), meant I felt like I owed it to myself to keep going – I was in a bad place.
Achieving things together is even better
So I enjoy controlling things at work, but as one person you are limited – as a team you can combine specialisms, expertise and physically do more in a shorter time. You also have people to celebrate with, which is just a nice thing. However, everyone does have to share motivation for the project and has to be competent, otherwise you may as well have taken the solo route.
Work in a lovely space
It’s down to luck where you get to work and some places are better than other, but whatever happens try and make it a nice space for you, whether you like minimalism or house plants or cat stationery, you should indulge – you spend long enough there, consider it an investment*. If you feel like your workspace is yours then you feel more in control. Personally, I think this leads me to working more productively.
*the image for this post is the coaster I invested in, which I had hysterics over when I first saw it