How to manage your work day when you’re not in charge

Let’s face it. Chances are, at your job, you don’t call the shots. You don’t have control over where you can work, the hours you can put in and how you deal with other departments. The most frustrating thing about every time management or productivity blog I read, is that they presume people have the power to work from home when they choose, or work hard for three hours then call it a day. I’ve never had a job where my boss has accepted the notion that people only work three to four hours of a given day. Those tips are great for the self-employed or people who swan about above middle-management, but what about the working stooges? The people who are judged on how long they are chained to their desks? These three tips are for you.

  1. Procrastination is a key part of my process. I need to work my way up to completing a task and sometimes that task can be as mundane as sending a single email. Unfortunately, it is often viewed as simply time wasting, rather than a necessary step to achievement. My trick is to get in a win early in the day. Do something that is seen by a few people and they’ll assume that’s the pace you will continue at throughout the day. Write a blog post as fast as you can, or hit send on something you’d spent the previous week working on and pretend it was all done that morning. Then you’ll be free to kick back and enjoy some quality browsing and bunking off.
  2. Make tasks seem harder than they are. Over-estimate the length of time something will take you, regardless of how easy it is. This one is good to kick off early in your employment. You don’t want to set a precedent that will be impossible to uphold once you settle into a solid procrastination routine. If a piece of writing or some kind of number-related work will take you 15 minutes of head-down, tell your superiors it’ll be ready in a couple of hours. You want to double-check. You’re waiting on something from someone else. This isn’t lying, it is simply insuring yourself against burnout. You get a task done in 15 minutes, you’ll just get given another. Pro tip: “It’ll be ready by the close of business” is a great deflection. This will then allow you to postpone its delivery until the next morning when the end of the day rolls around. No one wants to be sent something at 5pm, so hang on to it and you have your early win locked and loaded for the next day.
  3. Talk about the project you’re working on with your manager or someone in authority. This is the big one. Showing a slightly elevated level of interest and offering something even marginally insightful will go a long way. Even if you’re deeply bored by whatever it is, taking the time to throw in a few comments that indicate you’re in any way engaged, will help maintain the illusion you’re in the trenches with the company. Once you get this unpleasantness out of the way, you’ve bought yourself an afternoon’s worth of leisure time. “I was reading an article about the correlation between pop-up windows and time-on-site” or “Inventory management is as much about managing people as it is about inventory.” The more circular and incomprehensible your comments, the better they’ll sound.
How to manage your work day when you’re not in charge

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.