It can be hard to create work-life balance when you’re junior. There are plenty of Devils wearing Prada in circulation, no matter your industry, and it’s easy to feel burnt out when your boss’ phone number flashes on your screen at 9 pm on a Friday night. Here’s some advice for creating more structure—and hopefully, saving your sanity.
Establish clear meeting times and show workflow.
If your boss is constantly adding more work to your plate, suggest a morning meeting to discuss the day’s priorities and deliverables. One assistant I know keeps a white board at her desk with the list of these goals, so when her boss comes and asks her to do something new—she can quickly reference the list and ask what should be given priority.
Recap after meetings.
After any meeting, send a quick recap to your boss and let him or her know what you will be getting done and when. For example: “Discussed upcoming event in August. I will call 3-4 possible locations by Wednesday to determine cost and availability.”
Don’t talk about your personal life at work.
When you share your plans for the evening or the weekend with your boss, you’re sending a clear message that you want to be connected in that way. If you sense you have a boss with “boundary issues,” keep your personal life personal. It doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly or share pertinent info (ie. I’ll be out of pocket this weekend because I’m attending my sister’s wedding in Dubai). But err on the side of under-sharing about your life outside work.
Turn off your phone at night.
One assistant I know was sleep-deprived because her boss—who apparently had her own sleep issues—was texting her throughout the night with thoughts about projects. My advice? Turn off your phone when you’re going to bed! You can politely explain that you’re eager to talk in the morning, and that you will be at your desk early to address the issue at hand. Don’t allow an unsustainable situation—like the expectation that you’ll respond to texts at 2 am—to develop.
Suck it up.
Plan on paying some dues. Accept that you will be asked to work at times you would rather be doing something—anything—else. When your boss asks for something, respond with a positive attitude. Appreciate that this job is not forever, and work hard to graduate from it with a boss who sings your praises.
Having a demanding boss can make each day feel like an eternity, but try to keep your perspective and sense of humor. Use your after-work time to network and build your skillset, preparing yourself to springboard to the next step in your career.
Andra Newman is a co-founder of QuadJobs. She previously headed recruitment for J.Crew and Abercrombie & Fitch and ran her own search firm, Winokur Newman.