Nitten Nair/Most of us complain about how work is sucking the fun out of life. In most cases, it is caused by our own doing and in many ways we have the power to change that. The first concept we should imbibe in ourselves is that work is a medium to help us live our lives the way we aspire.
Life is not a byproduct of the quality or success of our careers, but our desired quality should be a driving factor that fuels our professional ambitions. If a particular job is not fulfilling these basic criteria, the solution is not to work harder and longer and hope for the best; but to source out other jobs that will satisfy our needs.
There are a few ways where you can extract the maximum out of life, maintain a decent work-life balance and also progress in your chosen career. I personally have seen an amazing change in myself once I started following them in the past 2 years.
Leave your laptop in office
This is a Golden Rule that for the past 2 years has made a huge difference in what I do after work hours. Firstly, the laptop is company property and in no way is it meant to be removed from office premises. Secondly, with the level of connectivity today it will be practically impossible not to check your work emails (especially if it’s from your boss or if he is in cc). Thirdly, having your laptop with you gives you the false “freedom” to take work home with you.
By leaving your laptop in the office, it allows you to explore the internet with stuff that actually interests you and not confine yourself to work. A firm decision not to carry your work home also gives you the impetus to focus on work during office hours as you need to finish your work in the office itself.
Leave work on time
This brings me to my second rule. Simply not carrying your laptop home does not guarantee that you will be able to do a lot of things after work. To abide by the firm decision on not carrying your laptop, you might end up sitting late hours in office as you have work to complete. This defeats the whole point.
Plan your work in such a way that, you will be able to complete your work within office hours. If this means less time wasted on useless office gossip, even better! Once you start the habit of leaving on time after meeting all the deadlines, it establishes the fact that you are an efficient employee and also that you have other things to do as well.
Plan your day before opening your email
The previous point was about planning your work. This brings me to my next point – Do not open your emails the moment you switch on your laptop in the morning. In fact, delay this as much as possible. Switch on the laptop, start by opening all required folders and domains needed. Go make yourself a cup of coffee and then plan out what YOU think needs to be done on that day.
Once you have figured out YOUR priorities for the day, open up your mailbox. Ensure that you have factored in enough time for any new assignments and urgent work that may crop up during the day. Now, your emails do not set the course for how your day will pan out, you do. This allows you to plan your day and leave on time without having to take your laptop home.
Learn to switch off “work mode” the moment you step out
Despite following these rules for some time, I realized that I may not be at work but am constantly thinking about it. Thinking about if I managed to complete my tasks, whether I had met all my deadlines or things like what should I work on tomorrow. Then it finally struck me – I was still in “work mode”!!
Switching off from work mode is the most difficult thing to do especially if you are a dedicated professional or if you really enjoy your work. But it is essential to have a fresh perspective to bring to your work every day. One way to active “life mode” is to start doing something you like within 30 minutes of reaching home. In my case its either reading or PlayStation. This completely gets work off my mind and the rest of the day goes on happily.
Never make yourself indispensable
This is one rut that we forcefully invite on ourselves; we want to be indispensable. The company should feel that without us, it cannot function. This is just a myth and living this myth tends to cloud our judgment and we tend to start giving ourselves a false sense of security. Learn to delegate and share knowledge, this will help by having someone cover for you or share your workload.
If you don’t believe it is essential, I have a statement one of my ex-bosses told me a long time ago. He said, “Never think you are indispensable. The show will go on with or without you. Also never strive to be indispensable. If you are indispensable at your role, you can never be promoted.”