Things I wish I had known when starting out

Turn UpAdvice for new starters to the world of work.It is a long time now since I started work, 46 years to be precise, and it was a very different world back in 1968 when I first pulled on a lab coat and started shaking test tubes for a living. I was musing the other day on what might have changed and what hasn’t altered in those years. Here are a few of those thoughts, especially about what has not changed. I rather wish that I had known some of these things when i first started out.

  • The Pareto principle
  • The boss is not always right and the boss is (nearly) always right
  • Have a go at the hard stuff
  • People matter
  • Know when to stamp your foot
  • It is amazing what you can achieve if it doesn’t matter who gets the credit
  • When you set a deadline, mean it
  • Choose your battles carefully

Over the next couple of weeks I will be writing a short piece about each of them, but let me start with the most important of them all “Turn up”.

So what do I men by “Turn Up“?

Well we are paid to turn up for work, but I mean much more than that. Have you ever found yourself not really wanting to go, but feel that you have to? Have you ever found yourself distracted during the day (Facebook, Twitter, Shopping List, that attractive young guy/girl along the corridor) only to find that your attention to what you are doing has drifted? Have you ever wandered off to the copier or stationery store as a distraction from what you were doing? Answer ‘Yes’ to any of these and you were not Turning Up.

For me, Turning Up means giving my total attention to whatever it is that I am doing at the time – be that saying hello to my co-workers, writing a report, researching some data, whatever. Multitasking is a myth – the best we can do is switch between different tasks and every time you do that you lose a bit of time ‘shutting down’ what you were doing and ‘starting up’ what you are going to do – wasted time and a brain that can’t quite figure out what it should be working on.

So, when you are at work, BE at work. When you are with someone BE WITH them. When you are working alone WORK alone. And finally, when you have finished for the day GO HOME and be at home.

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