How to Get More Out of Your Job (Without Winding Up Doing It All)

It's the trickiest thing to pull off in today's workplace. We're often in pursuit of a little extra something -- meaning, money, a few extra skills -- without the unwanted responsibilities and pressure that often comes with those things.

learning 

(Photo Credit: jeffedoe/Flickr)

Caroline McMillan at Lifehacker offers a game plan for folks who are mostly content with their jobs, but still want to enhance their experience at work. Her full article is worth your time, even if you're still not 100 percent pleased with your current gig. It inspired us to think about the ways in which we can all get more from our work.

The Social Side

For example, let's say you want to make personal connections with your coworkers. Maybe you have a job that tends to attract people who have a lot in common with one another, e.g., graphic design. It makes sense that you would want to cultivate connections with folks who already share your interests. (Also, as McMillan points out, friends recommend friends for jobs, which makes this a good career move on top of everything else.)

So how do you go about doing this? The best thing to do is to start with the social offerings at work. Join a team, hit the company happy hour, or just volunteer for projects. And if your company isn't already doing a lot of social stuff, you can always volunteer to organize something.

What to watch out for: Don't over-commit yourself to cruise director duties. It's fine to set something up once in a while, but if you make yourself Executive in Charge of Fun, you're likely to wind up with a lot more duties than you'd planned on.

The Professional Side

Interested in developing skills that will help your career in your current job and beyond? Look for free classes internally, or learn on the job by stretching outside your comfort zone. If you choose the latter path, remember that everyone likes to talk about things they're good at. Don't be afraid to ask your coworkers questions about their areas of expertise.

What to watch out for: A few questions are great, but don't make someone give you a class on Excel on their own time. Also, for your own benefit, make sure you don't overcommit yourself to too many projects with a learning curve. It's hard to pick up new skills when you're in a panic.

The Spiritual Side

We all want to feel like our work matters, but sometimes we just need to make a buck. If your job fits the bill in terms of paying the bills, but doesn't give you a sense of helping others, don't despair. Many companies offer volunteer days for employees who want to give back, and there's usually something for everyone.

What to watch out for: Volunteering for things that aren't your speed, such as a marathon when you use the gym for smoothies and sauna time. Overscheduling yourself with charity work, and winding up in a bind in terms of time for your regular projects.

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