By contrast, toward the latter parts of your career, you should be reluctant to take a job that does not really appeal to you. The chance of that job leading to what you want is relatively low — unless it helps to prepare you for a stimulating retirement.
You note that most professionals have a much better grasp of how they spend their money than their time. Why does that matter?
It’s certainly understandable that many people find it easier to keep track of their money than to keep track of their time. Money can be easier to count and you probably spend money only a few times each day, instead of every minute of your life.
But in many ways, time is a much more valuable resource than money. You can earn large profits and save them for use years later. However, once time is gone, it will never come back. That’s why it’s so bizarre to me that professionals often use their time inefficiently — by procrastinating, by perfecting an unimportant task, or by just sitting around in the office, trying to be seen. It seems to me that professionals should husband time as an irreplaceable resource.
How important is it to manage your boss?
Your boss is probably the most important person in your professional life (other than your family). He or she has the power to hand out your assignments, to recommend you for promotion, to set your salary and bonus, and ultimately to fire you. So it’s critical that you take the effort to manage your boss.
To manage your boss, you need to communicate with him or her, early and often. Once each week, sit down with (or e-mail) your boss to make sure you’re both on the same page about what you should be doing: Create a list of your assignments and rank them by priority, and then ask your boss if he or she agrees with your ranking. This gives your boss an opportunity to add or remove a task, or let you know if something has dropped or risen in priority.
If an assignment begins to run into roadblocks, be sure to tell your boss as quickly as possible. This gives you and your boss a chance to reevaluate the project or discuss possible solutions. There’s nothing that bosses hate more than surprise blowups.
I appreciated your discussion about procrastination and how there are more and less obvious ways to put off doing your work. Do you have winning strategies for procrastinators?
Procrastination is not an effective way of getting work done. Instead of making measured progress every day, procrastinators try to cram it all into the last days or hours of a project. Aside from the sheer unpleasantness of those final days or hours, this strategy leads to rushed, shoddy work.