Ah, summer, season of endless, lazy days by the pool or at the park, decompressing from work and enjoying life … unless, that is, you’re the poor sucker that’s stuck back at the office, while every teammate, client, and vendor is away having a good time. Before you use these fruitless hours to write your modern Cinderella story (and you’re welcome, by the idea, for the idea) take heart. You can still get your job done, with a little planning and a lot of creativity.
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1. Ruthlessly prioritize.
Now is not the time to make a priority list with five No. 1 priorities on it. Not everything can be the most important. Pretend everything you have to accomplish is on a sinking ship, and save just one.
If you don’t prioritize ruthlessly, you’re liable to wind up racing around, trying to do three things at once … which as we know, doesn’t work. You, like everyone else, are only capable of doing one thing at a time. Pick which one.
2. Involve your manager.
Of course, it’s not like you’re working in a vacuum, or even choosing most of your priorities. To really winnow down the list, you’ll need to get the boss involved.
Here’s where it gets tricky: you’ll need to express the reality of the situation, without seeming like you’re whining. The way to do that is to come prepared with a solution, not just a problem. Present your manager with a problem, and she’s likely to solve it in a way you don’t like. (For example, by giving you five No. 1 priorities.)
3. Communicate with everyone.
When the going gets tough, the tough cover their hindquarters. They do this by documenting absolutely everything, and making sure that no one ever gets a chance to say they weren’t informed.
4. Put in a little extra … but just a little.
To make things happen, and show that you’re a team player, you’ll probably need to put in a little more work while most people are away. All the time management in the world won’t supplant the need for good old-fashioned elbow grease.
Be selective about when and where you give more, however. It might sound calculating, but you want to make sure that what you’re doing is visible to others, especially when you’ve got more on your plate than you can reasonably accomplish. Buy yourself a little wiggle room by giving your all to the projects that will please people who will have your back.
5. Take time off yourself.
You’ve probably seen it before: a hardworking person’s accomplishments are ignored, because his sour mood overshadowed everything else. Don’t let that happen to you. In order to be a pleasant co-worker, you need work-life balance. Schedule your own time away from the office, and you’ll be more effective and easier to get along with – and sadly, sometimes the latter is the most important.
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