I thought I was so awesome. Turns out - not so much.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Quick background for this post. I started my current job in August and worked for 6 weeks. Then I took a leave of absence for 3 1/2 months to finish up a masters degree at Stanford (yeah, it sounds better and more important when I explain it). And I just recently graduated and came back to work in beginning of January. Stop background.

During those 6 weeks in the summer, I was staffed on 2 very time-sensitive cases. I was fully utilized, did not have a free minute at work and would go home at reasonable, but sad times like 8 - 10 p.m. It was great. Every day, I felt like I was pushed to the extent of my abilities and was extremely productive. I felt like I was contibuting my all to the team.

When I came back, the manager I worked most closely with over the summer gave me a very positive review. She said that:
  1. I was very organized and meticulous. She trusted me to make an exhibit or do some data research.
  2. I was dependable. If she gave me something to work on, she would be confident that I would get it done.
  3. I took a lot of ownership and responsibility early on and delivered on both. She said that I did my work with the quality and level that she would expect from an experienced or second-year analyst, but not necessarily a first-year analyst like myself.
Needless to say, I felt like I was the shit coming out of that review. And I wanted to be even better and exceed my managers' expectations.

But recently, I have been slacking and I hate myself for it. I am currently not too busy and therefore am realizing that I am not so good at managing my time and avoiding distractions.

My main distractions are:
  1. Google Reader
  2. Twitter
  3. GChat
  4. A really good friend who works in the same company with me that I chat it up with on GChat
  5. My office mates' buddies (who work in the company) and visit him regularly throughout the day
  6. Craiglist apartment and "free" stuff listings
And until recently, I thought I was doing a good enough job to let the distractions ride. I would leave them in the background and return to them whenever I had a free minute. The problem is that I am currently not working on anything urgent and therefore can stretch out my free minutes for hours. And turns out my self-control is not that great. So I am spending time each day wasting precious work minutes.


My advisor at work is awesome. He came up with a system for me to become a "star" analyst. It loosely consists of:
  1. Reading about what makes a "superstar associate" at a law firm. Then applying the lessons to my own work.
  2. Writing down my tasks for the day at the beginning of the day. This allows me to see what I have on my plate for the day, get myself in order early on and stay on track. It also (apparently eventually) will allow me to manage my time instead of having others manage it.
  3. Slowly training myself to come in at 8 a.m. in order to have half of my work day be done by lunch.
  4. Learning to take a quick 15-20 minutes to do a task to cross it off my list and not leave it until tomorrow.
All sound simple and intuitive, but require self-discipline. So that is my current goal. To go back to my organized self from this summer and become even better.

So here are the things I will do tomorrow:
  1. I will turn off GChat. And I mean log off, not become invisible. Because it is not so much that people are messaging but that I am constantly checking back to see if anyone exciting logged on.
  2. I will check Gmail when I come in and then turn it off. And then I will not check it until after lunch.
  3. I will check Twitter only once before lunch. That is all I can committ to at this time.
  4. Whenever I have a free 5-10 minutes, I will refer back to my detailed daily to-do list and see if there is anything I can quickly get out of the way.
Will report back soon.


Anshu Sharma said...

Very nice post with some great tips. Keep us posted on how it works out.

MLou said...

All of the interesting fun stuff to do on my computer makes me feel like I am trying to do my work on top of my favourite magazine. It's actively destroying on ability to concentrate. I look forward to hearing how you are doing with this.

Erica said...

I've been feeling the same way lately. Thanks for reminding me to stay focused. And so - this will be my last comment on someone's blog during the workday (for today!)