Monday, January 14, 2008

"Before 7" Crowd Challenges the "After 5" Crowd

The "New" Staying Late

A look into my morning routine:
-Wake up at 6am sharp. What is a snooze button?
-Stretch for 5 minutes
-Prepare cereal or oatmeal
-Shower and suit up for work
-I'm sitting in my office by 7am, at the latest.

The next 45-60 minutes are all mine and it is my personal sanctuary / ivory tower. Cue up the cd (oops, IPOD now) player and pop in a little Joe Henderson, Stan Getz, or some other jazz artist and I'm in the zone.

Personal reflection or "getting your life organized" for the day is something I do every day. I do not even turn the overhead lights on, just the desk lamp. I prepare proposals, research my clients, perfect paperwork from the day before, and sometimes *gasp* clean my desk / relegate old papers!

7:50am rolls around and everyone else comes bumbling in, then proceeds to socialize for 15-30-45 minutes (My co-workers may give me some flack for that remark). Then, when it is time to "start" work, no one is prepared and meanwhile, I am ready to go and head-down. I am a very driven and focused person. I know what is expected from me and I know what I need to accomplish. It's how I was raised.

How does your morning grind go?

I want to make clear, in no way am I saying those that come in later are not great workers or successful. I am simply saying, I usually see two things: 1) Out the door right at 5pm and content with where they are, or 2) Staying way past 5pm.

(Are you one of the people above? Counting down to 5pm?)

I do not like staying past 5pm. No one does. It destroys family time, social time, and non-work relaxation (ie hobbies). I am one of the biggest advocates of family time (and I'm single) and not sacrificing my life for just work. Nor do I count down to 5pm.

I am a die-hard cyclist. I train. I race. I push myself to new horizons. There are mornings when I'm up at 4am to train, but, usually, I like to ride right after work where I can put in 2-4 hours. It is my outlet from work, not to mention a little swing dancing once a week.

Between the hours of 7am and 5pm, I'm heads down. Sometimes, I do not even take a lunch. Just sit at my desk and eat. It is all about efficiency and productivity. Just so you all do not think I am a strict hour gnome, when the job demands staying past 5pm, I do it. I have done my fair share of 12 hour work days. But, on a whole, I do not need to because I do not waste (excuse me, I "maximize") time during the work hours. You may think being connected with your Blackberry or home-access improves your ability to work, but we'll open up this can of worms at a later date. (Hate to break it to you, but it does not)

To address the "social circle" crowd. If you need those social hours, get together outside of work. Go grab a beer or get-together for some event after work. I love speaking with my co-workers as well, but there is a time and a place. When co-workers respect your routine, it makes life easier as well. My clients expect me to be working for them between 7am-5pm, that is what I do and I'm damn good at it. When individuals try to hinder my ability to properly serve my clients and my name is on the line, you better watch out.

So, to wrap this up, mix your schedule up for a week or two. Come into work earlier than usual. Reflect on the upcoming day's hustle and bustle. Avoid the prolonged social time. Keep your head-down for the duration of the day and see what time you get out on average for the week(s). You'll see a metamorphous in your life. In addition, I bet your hours will not be stretched too long past 5pm.

Let's fight for our after-5pm lives.



Anonymous said...

As a member of the "after 5" crowd, I have to argue with you.

I'm a sales rep and I cover the state of Texas... central and mountain time zones. If I show up at 7 my time, it's 6 their time. Not to mention that I work with bankers - who aren't in the office until 9 and aren't "chatty" until at least 9:30. Do I really want to "hang out" from 7 to 10:30 for the hell of it? Not really. But do I need to stay at work until 6:00 - yes.

It's unfair to group the workplace around time cards because we all do different things. Me coming in at 9 and staying until 6 reflects only one thing about me - I work when my clients work. Staying past six or arriving before 9 is a futile effort because they aren't at work either.

To be fair, there are exceptions when I need to come in a little earlier to do some paperwork - and I'll usually just bring it home with me to do in front of the TV that night. Why? I'm a lot of things, but a morning person isn't one of them. Plus, I'm single - which has its perks. When I come home at night no one needs anything from me except me. I need dinner and a quick work out - but that's all. Beyond that, the world is my playground. So if I want to curl up in my recliner with my computer and draft proposals and contracts, then so be it. But, to be fair, that will probably change when there's someone in my house besides myself. Until then though, I'm an after-5er because it fits my job and my lifestyle.

The Small Biz. Guru said...


Your point is very well taken and of course a valid counter-argument.

Time zones can and are obviously an issue for some people. Case and point, yourself. Barring the time zone difference though (which you cannot overcome, unless you move to TX), grouping someone into "time cards" is not what I am ideally saying.

It is more of an overall mantra to life. People complain about being so stressed and not having anytime for anything outside of work. I am saying: arrive to work earlier and focus on the job at hand, allows you to hopefully get more things done and focus on work AT work.

Working when your clients work is a given, and I am not disputing that.

Thanks for the comment.