Six Pearls of Wisdom from My First Six Months of Full-Time Work
Okay, I know what you're thinking:
"Six months?! Is that all?
What's she raving about that for?"
Well, I'll have you know, that the past six months were effectively the sowing of the seed of my legal career; the first piece of the puzzle; the first page in the book...
Enough with the corny analogies.
Granted, six months isn't that long, especially as I have another 60+ years of work to go, but it's significant in terms of it being the beginning of many more great months and years ahead.
Nonetheless, within my six months I have noticeably (at least to me) developed personally and professionally. I feel that the majority of this a consequence of the level of responsibility I enjoy, coupled with my key values that I employ daily.
They're the foundation to how I conduct myself at work and the attitudes I take towards my work. While we all have our job duties, I think it vital to have a personal plan of action on how to carry out these duties.
Assess your strengths and weaknesses
Perhaps you are at your most productive in the morning or you work best with hard copies rather than digitals.
Mitigate the weaknesses and enhance the strengths
While it may not seem the greatest task to start with at 09:00, you'll write your research note so much more succinctly than when you're battling a post-lunch slump. Make friends with the office printer; duplex and combining two pages on one sheet will support your preference for tangible docs, while preventing you from running the stationary cupboard dry of A4.
So, Here are My six pearls of wisdom on tailoring your work style for the better
NO. 1: Question time
Doing so is vital for your learning and development. While work may just seem like work, the processes and procedures you follow day in, day out, are all in place for a reason.
Sometimes, it's obvious –
e.g. printing emails for hard copy files so as to prevent any loss of information, should the digital copy go awry.
Sometimes, it's not so obvious -
e.g. why some clients are assigned certain colour or numerical codes, while others are not.
If you don't know it and there isn't an obvious reason, ask. No one is going to think you stupid, you'd have no reason to know otherwise. In fact, it is likely your colleagues will be pleased to see your curiosity, particularly if your question is regarding something that many would categorise as on the more mundane side of things.
NO. 2: DOUBLE(TRIPLE)-CHECK
No one wants to do anything wrong at work, especially when you're newbie. Mistakes are inevitable every now and again but their likelihood can be reduced.
Double and triple check your work - I can't stress it enough. Luckily for me, *touch wood*, I haven't made any serious mistakes at work, and I want to keep it that way.
While it might seem a bit regiment, I treat every bit of work I'm set as an assessment. No matter how minor, I place a great deal of importance on it.
The most common places for mistakes are usually in the most obvious places: digits of a telephone number, postcodes and names of addressees. Check the minutiae.
You and your credibility will be ever so pleased you did.
NO. 3: LUNCH
The humble lunch hour; the quickest of hour of the day. It goes by in a flash, right? First things first: always take your full hour.
Aside from this,
I have three rules for GETTING the most out of my lunch breaks:
- Stepping Outside
Sit in a park, eat outside, walk round the block or just run an errand. Even if the weather dire, as it often is, make going outdoors an essential part of your lunch hour. I've found that 10 minutes out in the fresh air, especially in the winter, really resets my brain after being cooped up in the office.
- Switching off
There's an immediate tendency to check out phones as soon as we have a free moment – catching up with what's going on in our personal lives. However, if you've been looking at a PC screen for the past few hours, transitioning to smaller version is not giving you a rest.
Take 10 minutes of time for yourself and your thoughts – think about something non-work related, perhaps what you've got planned for the weekend. No info processing needed.
- Preparing for the return to the office
Taking a couple of minutes on the walk back to go through your mental to-do list or action plan will help you ease into tackling those tasks you may have been putting off during the morning. Make sure you give yourself good time, try not rush back. Sit down, take a moment, then ace the afternoon.
NO. 4: ATTIRE
For me, the way I dress influences my mood, my confidence and to some extent, my motivation levels I have during the given day.
At my workplace, the dress code is very relaxed, however I always dress smartly, even on 'dress-down Fridays'. It's just in my nature.
When I'm dressed like I 'mean business', I find that my mind is in the right frame to(for use of a better phrase)
get. sh*t. done.
Whether you like to dress smart or casual, make it you. Make sure you feel comfortable and confident in what you're wearing – you don't need to be anything particularly special, it's what you feel like that counts.
Heck, if you want to do a Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg and wear the same outfit everyday–why ever not?
NO. 5: PROMPT
NO. 6: #GOALS
Time-management is such an important skill. In fact, I think it is up there with the top three necessary skills to succeed, in anything.
Sure, you could be the expert in your field but if you can't deliver what's expected of you at the time it is expected, what use is your knowledge?
Ensure you are prompt in
- Starting work
Arrive a bit early than you're set to start working: put the kettle on, slip off your commute shoes, touch up your hair/makeup if you so wish. Get in your zone.
- Doing your work
When you're set a task, ensure you ask whether it's urgent or what timescale the individual delegating to you is working to.
Then, ensure you exceed the deadline.
If you're told to have work in "By 3pm", get it to them at 2:30pm *provided* you don't have to rush it, as you'll only make a mistake and cause delay in taking the time to rectify it.
Don't lose focus on your end goal.
Do not allow yourself to get stuck in your job, even if you're enjoying it. Make sure you're aware of other opportunities in your circle and always keep a behind-the-scenes focus on that end goal.
That being said, ensure you actually enjoy the job you do in the meantime while you're working on getting to the goal.
Sure, there will be days when nothing seems to be going right, or you're stuck doing mundane and repetitive work, but keeping an eye on the goal will keep your spirits up.
While you may not be where you want to be,
you are taking a step within the journey there.
Just think about yourself in a couple years from that moment, you'll back at yourself thinking about how much you worked and grafted to get where you're at.