Bad Habits of a Gen Y-er: Working Too Much

by Emily Jasper on January 22, 2009

Not that I’m obsessed with posting in a series, but I kind of liked the idea of linking my posts. While my stereotype assumes that I think I’m perfect, I know in fact that there might be a couple of bad habits I have that could be attributed to my age. So here is the first in a series about Bad Habits.

Working Too Much. Now, many of you will say, “Where are you for my company, I have these kids leaving the chair spinning at 5:00 they’re out the door so fast…” Of course, I could also get a lot of crap from other Gen-Yers who think I make them look bad. But since I was always the kid who had her hand up during class because I was the only one who prepared, I’m not going to worry about that just yet.

Ok, so working too much. Ever since I stopped getting overtime, my timesheet keeps inching up in hours. Plus, my computer keeps finding its way to my coffee table, even when it’s Friday Movie Night. My Blackberry also goes with me everywhere, mostly because touch phones don’t work so well with mittens and Minnesota winter. So I can’t help but work all the time…right?

While I may not have reached what the Japanese call karoshi, I probably work more than I really should. And it’s for the same reason that caused me to always prepare for classes: Because you do what you’re supposed to do. If I have lots of projects going on, I’ll do them all. And then I volunteer for extra projects, either because I want to work with the team or the project itself is interesting. And then I have my own pet projects. Because for the first time in my career I’m excited about what I do.

Now, the funny thing is that I actually think I have a pretty good work-life balance. If I burnout in the middle of the week and sleep-in one morning, I don’t feel bad about not being in the office at 7:45 as usual…because I’m usually in at 7:45. The same would go with vacation, I don’t feel bad because I work so much. And I know a lot of managers fall into the trap of feeling guilty about taking vacation time. I would say, the only time you should feel guilty is if you didn’t take care of things before you headed out. No need to inflict pain on your team because you didn’t plan ahead.

I’ve also discovered there’s a loophole buried within the “If I can’t see you, you aren’t working” philosophy. If you are a selling organization, why be in the office anyways? Those people who still walk around looking for butts in seats forget that if you’re at your desk, that means you’re not selling to a client or didn’t win the work to deliver it. Not good.

What I will have to remember, is when I have a more demanding personal life outside of work, I will have to make new rules. For example: right now, I may go on some dates, watch hockey, DVR my shows for the weekend, and do some volunteering. For the most part, I can actually get in bed around 9:30 at night (yes, I am a nerd). If I pick up grad school in the fall, I’ll have to be sure I arrange my schedule around classes and homework, planning for assignments outside of work. In exchange, maybe I only take on two extra work projects instead of four. Or cut back on the amount of reality tv I DVR.

I think the final lesson is that I should be happy about the work I’m doing. If I’m spending way too much time thinking about the job, it shouldn’t be because I want to shoot myself. I should be because I want to get up, get in at 7:45, and start kicking some project butt.

The views expressed in my blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

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