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How to Bring Work Home

How to Bring Work Home


    Gone are the days when work ended when the quitting whistle blew. Today, professionals are expected to write a report over the weekend, or join conference calls during the evening. These demands pose challenges for parents trying to care for their children, and for husbands and wives who want to be meaningfully involved in each other’s lives.

    Doing work at home is undesirable because it can exacerbate what sociologists call “role conflict.” When you bring work home, your subconscious mind may be confused as to whether it should assume a work-oriented, cognitive role, or a completely different role more appropriate at home.

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    Sociologists believe that various habits at the start and the end of the work day, such as standard morning routines or evening commutes, help people mentally shift gears between these different roles. However, bringing work home muddles these daily transitions; the act of leaving the physical space of your office is much less effective at triggering the helpful subconscious changes in your mind.

    So the best way to avoid the difficulty of bringing work home is to simply not do it. However, most of us live in the real world, in which professionals frequently need to do work-related tasks at home. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20 percent of managers do some work at home on any given day.

    If you have to bring work home, you can still try to take advantage of mental cues to separate home and work. Here are a few tips on how to implement this idea:

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    1. Create a Separate Physical Space

    To make it easier for your mind to change roles when you want it to, do all of your work-from-home in a specific physical space. A fancy home office does the trick, but a desk in your bedroom works just as well. The key is that it needs to be a work space, not a shared work-family space such as the kitchen table. You want the act of leaving this work space to help cue your subconscious mind to transition to your family role.

    2. Reserve Certain Times for Family

    You should also reserve certain times for your family every day, barring only the most urgent of work crises. If certain times of the day are saved for family—and only for family—you will be better able to put work out of your mind and fully turn your attention to your family.

    When my two children were young, I worked from home only after they went to sleep. When they became teenagers, I routinely finished up some work on weekend mornings, while they were sleeping in. But I always made sure that work didn’t encroach upon family dinners—that was my reserved time.

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    3. Be assertive with your boss

    To maintain your reserved time, you need to be assertive with your boss. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries; make it crystal clear that you are not available, say, from 7pm to 9pm. During this time, shut off your cell phone and don’t look at your email.

    To learn more about setting boundaries at work, read this fascinating bit of research describing how Episcopalian priests preserve their personal time. Even these priests don’t let themselves be on call 24×7

    In short, it is difficult to give your family the attention they deserve when you bring work home. If you can leave work at the office, then that is by far the best solution. But if you have to finish up work at home in the evening, do so in a separate physical space, and reserve specific hours as family time.

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    (Photo credit: Businessman with Briefcase via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on April 8, 2020

    9 Tips for Starting a New Job and Succeeding in Your Career

    9 Tips for Starting a New Job and Succeeding in Your Career

    Congratulations, you’re starting a new job! You’re feeling relieved that the interviews and the wait for a decision from the hiring manager is over, and you’ve finally signed the offer.

    Feelings of fear and anticipation may surface now as you think about starting work on Monday. Or you may feel really confident if you have plenty of work experience.

    Remember to not assume that your new work environment will be similar to previous ones. It’s very common for seasoned professionals to overestimate themselves due to the breadth of their experience.

    Companies offer different depths of on-boarding experiences.[1] Ultimately, success in your career depends on you.

    Below are 9 tips for starting a new job and succeeding in your career.

    1. Your Work Starts Before Your First Day

    When you prepared for your interview, you likely did some research about the company. Now it’s time to go more in depth.

    • How would your manager like you to prepare for your first day? What are his/her expectations?
    • What other information can your manager provide so that you can start learning more about the role or company?
    • What company policies or reports can you review that can get you acclimatized to your new job and work environment?

    You’ll need to embrace a lot of new people and information when you start your new job. What you learn before your first day at work can help you feel more grounded and prepare your mind to process new information.

    2. Know Your Role and the Organization

    Review the job posting and know your responsibilities. Sometimes, job postings are simplified versions of the job description. Ask your manager or human resources if there is a detailed job description of your role.

    Once you understand your key responsibilities and accountabilities, ask yourself:

    • What questions do you have about the role?
    • What information do you need to do your job effectively?
    • Who do you need to meet and start building relationships with?

    Continue to increase your knowledge and do your research through the company Intranet site, organizational charts, the media, LinkedIn profiles, the industry and who your company competitors are.

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    This is not a one time event. Continue to do this throughout your time with the company. Every team or project you engage with will evolve and change.

    Keep current and be ready to adapt by using your observational skills to be aware of changes to your work environment and people’s behaviour.

    3. Learn the Unwritten Rules at Work

    Understanding your work culture is key to help you succeed in your career.

    Many of these unwritten rules will not be listed on company policies. This means you’ll need to use all of your senses to observe the environment and the people within it.

    What should you wear? See what your peers and leaders are wearing. Notice everything from their jewelry down to their shoes. Once you have a good idea of the dress code you can then infuse your own style.

    What are your hours of work? What do you notice about start, break and end times? Are your observations different from what you learned at the interview? What questions do you have based on your observations? Asking for clarity will help you make informed decisions and thrive in a new work setting.

    What are the main communication channels?[2] What communication mediums do people use (phone, email, in-person, video)? Does the medium change in different work situations? What is your manager’s communication style and preference? These observations will help you better navigate your work environment and thrive in the workplace.

    4. Be Mindful of Your Assumptions

    You got the job, you’re feeling confident and are eager to show how you can contribute. Check the type of language you are using when you’re approaching your work and sharing your experiences.

    I’ve heard many new employees say:

    • “I used to do this at ‘X’ company …”
    • “When I worked at “X” company we implemented this really effective process …”
    • “We did this at my other company … how come you guys are not …”
    • “Why are you doing that … we used to do this …”

    People usually don’t want to hear about your past company. The experiences that you had in the past are different in this new environment.

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    Remember to:

    • Notice your assumptions
    • Focus on your own work
    • Ask questions, and
    • Learn more about the situation before offering suggestions.

    You can then better position yourself as a trusted resource that makes informed decisions tailored to business needs.

    5. Ask Questions and Seek Clarification

    Contrary to common belief, asking questions when you’re starting a new job is not a vulnerability.

    Asking relevant questions related to your job and the company:

    • Helps you clarify expectations
    • Shows that you’ve done your research
    • Demonstrates your initiative to learn

    Seeking to clarify and understand your environment and the people within it will help you become more effective at your job.

    6. Set Clear Expectations to Develop Your Personal Brand

    Starting a new job is the perfect time to set clear expectations with your manager and colleagues. Your actions and behaviors at work tells others about your work style and how you like to operate. So it’s essential to get clear on what feels natural to you at work and ensure that your own values are aligned with your work actions.

    Here are a few questions to reflect on so that you can clearly articulate your intentions and follow through with consistent actions:

    Where do you need to set expectations? Reflect on lessons learned from your previous work experiences. What types of expectations do you need to set so that you can succeed?

    Why are you setting these expectations? You’ll likely need to provide context and justify why you’re setting these boundaries. Are your expectations reasonable? What are the impacts on the business?

    What are your values? If you value work life balance, but you’re answering emails on weekends and during your vacation time, people will continue to expect this from you. What boundaries do you need to set for yourself at work?

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    What do you want to be known for? This question requires some deep reflection. Do you want to be known as a leader who develops and empowers others? Maybe you want to be known for someone who creates an environment of respect where everyone can openly share ideas. Or maybe you want to be someone who challenges people to get outside their comfort zones?

    7. Manage Up, Down, and Across

    Understanding the work styles of those around you is key to a successful career. Particularly how you communicate and interact with your immediate manager.

    Here are a few key questions to consider:

    • How can you make your manager’s job easier?
    • What can you do to anticipate her/his needs?
    • How can you keep them informed (and prepared) so they don’t get caught off-guard?
    • What are your strengths? How can you communicate these to him/her so that they fully understand your capabilities?

    These questions can also apply if you manage a team or if you deal with multiple stakeholders.

    8. Build Relationships Throughout the Company

    It’s important to keep learning from diverse groups and individuals within the company. You’ll get different perspectives about the organization and others may be able to help you succeed in your role.

    What types of relationships do you need to build? Why are you building this relationship?

    Here are some examples of workplace relationships:

    • Immediate Manager. He/she controls your work assignments. The work can shape the success of your career.
    • Mentors. These are people who are knowledgeable about their field and the company. They are willing to share their experiences with you to help you navigate the workplace and even your career.
    • Direct Reports. Your staff can influence how successful you are at meeting your goals.
    • Mentees. They are another resource to help you keep informed about the organization and your opportunity to develop others.

    Other workplace relationships include team members, stakeholders, or strategic partners/sponsors that will advocate for your work.

    Learn more in this article: 10 Ways to Build Positive And Effective Work Relationships

    9. Keep in Touch With Those in Your Existing Network

    “Success isn’t about how much money you make; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” – Michelle Obama

    You are part of an ecosystem that has gotten you to where you are today. Every single person and each moment that you have encountered with someone has shaped who you are – both positive and negative.

    Here’s How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

    Make sure you continue to nurture the relationships that you value and show gratitude to those who have helped you achieve your goals.

    Summing It Up

    There are many aspects of your career that you are in control of. Observe, listen, and make informed decisions. Career success depends on your actions.

    Remember to not assume that your new work environment will be similar to previous ones.

    Here are the 9 tips for starting a new job and succeeding in your career:

    1. Your Work Starts Before Your 1st Day
    2. Know Your Role and the Organization
    3. Learn the Unwritten Rules at Work
    4. Be Mindful of Your Assumptions
    5. Ask Questions and Seek Clarification
    6. Set Clear Expectations to Develop Your Personal Brand
    7. Manage Up, Down, and Across
    8. Build Relationships Throughout the Company
    9. Keep in Touch With Those in Your Existing Network

    Celebrate, enjoy your new role, and take good care of yourself!

    More Tips About Succeeding in Career

    Featured photo credit: Frank Romero via unsplash.com

    Reference

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