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How to know if what you are doing at work is a waste of time

Athira Nair
10th Aug 2018
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If you can't find satisfactory answers to these questions, are you simply wasting your time?

Life is too short to do something, which you don’t enjoy. But this is wishful thinking for the millennial generation, who are getting more opportunities, but also more competition than ever before. As much as we are often forced to sacrifice our personal time, or dealing with uncooperative colleagues, the hope is that it will all be worth the effort – to build a career to be proud of.

But there are some instances wherein you have to put your foot down for yourself to go forward. Letting go of a job that promises financial security is not an easy decision, but making sure that you are doing your best – whether inside or outside the company – is essential for your own progress.

There is no scale for productivity except the quality of your work. For a quick check, ask yourself the following questions and see if the answers satisfy you enough to continue what you are doing, or if it is a waste of time.

What are you adding to your portfolio and to build your career?

It’s a big, bad world and you don’t get a lot of chances. There is no time for you to waste if you are serious about your career. So, unless you are an intern who has to alphabetise or even get coffee for the boss to earn a full-time job, there are not a lot of things you have to do unless it adds to your portfolio. The relevant question here is whether you are proud of what you do, and whether you will be able to convince others of its value.

Does your vision align with the company’s vision?

If the company claims to follow certain principles and strategies for achieving its targets (not just in terms of numbers but quality as well), ensure that it does not go against your personal principles and targets. Also, employees will be inspired to do work for the company’s vision only with consistency in execution and friendly HR (human resources) policies. Most importantly, be sure of what your own vision is. To achieve it, there is no harm in seeking consultancy from experts/professionals.

Are you doing something essential for the company’s functioning and growth?

Going beyond your regular KRA (key resource area) can be advantageous for growth in your company – but only if you are doing something extra-ordinary to further the company’s strength. If you are a graphic designer working over-time to design the company’s data-base without being asked to do so – first ask yourself how you will benefit from it. The truth is, it has minimal impact on the company, and absolutely no impact on your own growth trajectory. You know you have better things to do.

How does your company add to your brand value?

Public image runs the world today. When you are an early to mid-level employee, you have to build your own brand to get to the senior position without losing too many years. Unless you are planning a change of field for your career, the company you work for plays a significant role in branding you. It need not be about the valuation of the company, but whether it offers you opportunities to grow and build your brand. Of course, it will be your decision to explore those opportunities.

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