April 27, 2018
Transitioning to the 40-hour work week
By: Katie Hayward

The transition from Uni to the workplace took longer than expected to adjust to.

I wasn’t prepared for the fact that my week would no longer be as flexible as it once was.

The free time I used to have to schedule personal appointments; the long holidays to relax general flexibility during the week I had to plan my time as I pleased.

Katie in a beach

When I started working full time, I wasn’t as well prepared as I could have been to spend the majority of my week with my client, at the office or with my colleagues. I didn’t realise how much the 40-hour work week would impact the other areas of my life and it can be quite overwhelming.

Katie at a party

Often people will adapt quickly to the expectations of full time work but it took me longer, closer to 8 months.

Had I really put some thought into it beforehand and set expectations, maybe I would have adapted faster.

I’ve developed a routine that works for me now and there were definitely key ideas that helped me along the way.

Understand the reality of the situation
Firstly, understanding and accepting as early as possible that your overall flexibility with the free/flexible time you had day-to-day is going to drastically change. Be ready for that and prioritise where you value spending your time.

Set realistic expectations
It’s important to set expectations about what you want from work and your career. But it’s also important not to go overboard with those expectations. There’s a lot of information to get your head around. Deciding where you draw the line with both work commitments and other aspects of your life can help with obtaining promising work-life balance.

Use lunches and weekends wisely
There are often social sport teams at Accenture - that can be a good way to exercise during your lunch time and save you time before or after work. Also use the time you have in your weekends efficiently, do you really need to spend two hours doing a task or could you be doing something else to be better fulfilled?

katie with friends

Be adaptable
Adaptability is crucial in your work, with your time and in your capabilities and skillset. Being adaptable and open to change while at the same time trying not to overstretch yourself and say “yes” to all that is asked of you keeps your week interesting and quick-paced.

Talk with your manager
If you’re feeling overwhelmed – talk to your manager or lead. Explain what you’re struggling with and try and take options to overcome these struggles. People are happy to take time out to speak with you and explain the “grey” areas, which is one way I’ve learnt more over the past year and built my skillset. You’ll find you become a lot more confident that way as well.

Be patient and stick with it
Coming into a new area, it’s important to be patient and know you’re not going to understand everything straight away. If you feel you’re not performing as well as you did at University or wherever you’ve come from, it’s a matter of sticking with it - regardless of frustrations. You will learn and it will become easier.

Don’t second guess yourself
It’s not directly related to time management, but it’s important to not second guess yourself. I studied a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Wellington and majored in International Business and Spanish. When I started at Accenture as a technology consultant I found the title daunting because I didn’t have a technology background. You might feel like you don’t know enough and question whether Uni was helpful at all! But I’ve found that the skills you learn in any degree are often transferable, such as your soft skills. I’m often complimented on my communication with others which I’ve partially learnt from completing assignments and working with others. Be patient and stick with it, don’t feel nervous and don’t second guess yourself. Sure, the person you are working with may have a different skillset to you but it’s important to remember that you’ve been hired for your skills which are just as impactful. You need to use the skills you have, maybe it’s empathy or quick thinking, but use those skills and what you’re good at to illustrate how you can add value and that you’re capable of whatever is thrown at you.

While it might not be the most insightful advice – it’s these simple things that, if I’d thought about before I started, would have made the transition from Uni to the workplace much easier and smoother for me.

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