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At some point in your career you are going to be assigned to a less than exciting project. It is inevitable, so it’s important you prepare yourself for it as early as possible. As cliché as it may sound, when life gives you lemons (you know where I’m headed with this). These seemingly mundane assignments give you the opportunity to showcase your talents. Ultimately, it’s up to you to manage your own career. Use assignments to perfect your craft and hedge your experiences into other opportunities. The following strategies will help you take your uninteresting assignments and turn them into some of the most exciting moments in your career.

Put yourself out there

Identify the key stakeholders and engage. Engage, engage, engage. I can’t stress this enough. Most of the time your key stakeholders will be obvious. However, there are almost always supporting members of your team, or a team you often collaborate, who will be critical to your mission’s success. Involve everyone early in the planning process. Keep everyone engaged throughout execution. Do your best to make yourself the single point of contact. It will be demanding but you will ultimately turn yourself into a key factor to the project’s success. This will give you the opportunity to wear many hats. This is a good thing. The more skills you can acquire the more valuable and marketable you become.

The devil is in the details

Study all the variables. The more you immerse yourself in your project the more you will see how inefficient you have been operating. Most projects, especially if you join a team late, will have growing pains after kickoff. Take the time to learn how past projects have been planned and executed. Unless you are at the forefront of innovation most of what you will work on has been done before. Turn to the archives and read about past projects. Learn from past mistakes and improve on past inefficiencies. Today most companies have a robust document and control system. Dig into the weeds. Spend some time studying the successes and failures of past projects.

Trust your team

You may or may not like Michael Jordan but there is no doubt that he is a natural leader. He brought the best out of his teammates. Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman may not have ever developed into the players they did had it not been for Michael’s leadership on the court. You will find yourself in that position often in your career. It’s important to trust in your teammates. Assuming they are a key stakeholder in your project, there is a good chance that they aren’t in their positions by chance. Most organizations today are for the most part merit based. Trust your senior constituents but hold them accountable. People tend to find a way then they are given autonomy to complete a task. Remember a supervisor will stand over someone’s shoulder and dictate what they should be doing. A leader will turn the people around them into a championship winning team. Keep your team focused on the goal and avoid getting caught in the day to day minutiae.

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It’s 6 o’clock in the evening and you’re still at work. You want to go home but somehow there is still too much that needs to get done. How did this happen? You do your best to be as efficient as possible but somehow at the end of the day there is always something that you feel was left incomplete. The truth is, there will always be work that needs to be done. A work day is never truly over but it must have a clearly defined end. Don’t forget, work will always be there waiting for you tomorrow morning.

Death to the 8-hour work day 

Long gone are the 8-hour work days. Many companies nowadays have adopted alternative work schedules such as the 9/80 and 19/30. Personally, I do not believe these work schedules do much to improve work-life balance. Flexible schedules seem to inadvertently lead to spending more time than is necessary at work. Throughout my career I have worked various work schedules and I have found that a rotational schedule gave me the best work-life balance. During that time, I would work 14 days and be off for 14 days. This allowed me to travel extensively, work on projects and focus on personal development. Today I work a more traditional work schedule in a typical office environment. There are a lot of challenges that come with this type of arrangement, but it is manageable if you set clear boundaries with yourself and your colleagues.

First one in and last one out 

Conventional wisdom will have you believe that productivity is a function of time. This is true to a point, but an important caveat is productivity is also a function of quality. The adage more is not better carries a lot of truth. Quality time management is invaluable to success in whatever endeavor you pursue. Just because someone physically spends more time at work does not mean they are accomplishing more than someone who spends less time at work. Quality time management can make all the difference in how quickly and efficiently you can complete the critical tasks that bring the most value to your company.

Work to live, don’t live to work

Tragedy is working at a job you hate for a lifetime, constantly looking ahead to retirement. I am not foolish, I understand everyone has responsibilities. Therefore work-life balance must be a priority. If you make the decision to work a job you’re less than passionate about, than you must set clear boundaries with yourself and hold yourself accountable. Decide what is important and schedule the rest around it. It’s not easy, and you may never get that corner office if you do, but at the end of it all who wants to be stuck in an office all day anyway? No matter how nice it is.