July 18, 2017, by Carla Froggatt
Starting Your First Job? How to Master Your New Workload
By Susanna Quirke, Senior Content Editor & Marketing, Inspiring Interns
As a student, it can be easy to feel hard done by. Essays, problem sheets, extracurricular and exams – it can all pile up. When you graduate to your first job or internship, however, you’ll soon realise that working life’s a whole different ball game.
So. How to make a master that workload and impress your new boss? There are a few ways.
Write it down
One of the primary causes of stress is a pile-up of small tasks. While that report may be no problem in itself, things get tricky when you add in next week’s performance review, tomorrow’s article, today’s outreach programme and yesterday’s press launch.
The trick to mastering a complicated workload is to break things into chunks. Write out a complete list of tasks which you must complete. Determine the order in which they should be dealt with and work your way through, piece by piece. You could do this on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis depending on how you want to structure your time.
So your boss wants you to research that paper, handle logistics for this conference and set up a meeting with a new client? Sit down and figure out what comes first, and ask for help if you need it.
If the conference is next week, it needs to take pole position. If the client has asked for a meeting by the end of the month, that can go next. The research for that paper, unless there’s a pressing reason otherwise, can be knocked back a bit.
Never try to get everything done at once; it is rarely possible and never advisable. Unless you work in a particularly stressful industry, most time scales are variable. Work out which are non-negotiable and flip them to the front of the queue.
Streamline the pipeline
If you’re the type to procrastinate, get distracted and freeze up at the first sign of stress, then your first stop in mastering your workload should be your own process.
Addicted to your phone? Put that second screen away. Lock it in a drawer, at the bottom of your bag or even leave it at home in the morning – just get rid of it. If your work computer is your favourite place to scan the net, use a program like Chrome Nanny to block certain websites.
Consider your most productive times of day. Most people are at their best in the morning. Use your first few hours of the day to attack the densest tasks on your to-do list.
A busy workload can be difficult to manage and, sometimes, frustrating. But letting your work stress leak into your evenings and weekends isn’t going to help.
Most people are paid to put in face time for a certain number of hours a week. Dedicate those hours to getting through your workload. Work hard, efficiently and strive to get it all done within the time limit. Don’t go overtime if you can help it; unless you’re being paid an above-average salary, it’s just not something you should be required to do.
Unfortunately, sometimes situations get desperate. If there simply isn’t enough time to get through everything and you feel that working beyond your hours is necessary, that’s okay; just ensure that you’re not taking your work home with you. Spend your office hours working and your family/friends time playing. Boundaries are there for a reason.
Talk about it
Although it may be easy to assume otherwise, managers are not mind readers; if you don’t talk to them they won’t know you need help. You manager can advise you on time-saving tips, wider company priorities, and seasonal highs and lows. Whether it’s your first job or your third job, your manager is a source of support: use it.
Susanna Quirke writes for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in marketing internship roles. Looking for more advice on starting your first job? Find it here. Still assessing your options? This is all for class of 2017 graduates.