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Work/life balance

#1 Work/life balance
26/09/2007 22:08


I am due to start at accenture (A1) soon and really looking forward to the new challenge work wise, I'm ambitious and very driven BUT.... it worries me I will lose boyfriend/friends in the process! Is it possible to be a high flyer and keep your normal life? I tend to hear horror stories re work/life balance but would appreciate someone who "has it all" to reply and put my mind at rest! Thanks

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#2 RE: Work/life balance
27/09/2007 09:08

anon to anon (#1)

Don't worry, I've been here 10 months now and gf lives back in ireland and we're still going strong!

Theres the odd project thats a death march but i go to the gym every night, never work weekends and rarely finish after 7 and get on fine. Work in London also.

Some of my mates are all over the place and working longer hours though so i guess it's luck!

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#3 RE: Work/life balance
27/09/2007 09:12

mac to anon (#2)

You'll go wherever the client is. If you want to stay in London you need to find out what projects are going on and badger your HR rep and the managers on the project to staff you.

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#4 RE: Work/life balance
27/09/2007 09:41

The Senior Vice President to anon (#2)

A consultant's lifestyle can be tough at junior levels, largely because you have little control over your own workflow. I used to find that having lots of work and to some extent even long hours or travel isn't the problem... it's the lack of certainty over when you're going to have to do it which means you can't plan a social life.

My best advice is as follows:

1) Be assertive with your managers - if you want to leave early on a certain day, let them know. If practical, try also to get them to set you 'lumps' of work with deadlines so that you can manage when and where you do it, rather than being somebody's whipping boy. Sometimes people are too afraid to speak up. If you focus on breaking work up into tasks and getting responsibilities assigned, your manager may well respect you more for being organised/task-focused rather than drifting along in an ineffective team where nobody really takes ownership for anything.

2) Get a decent mobile tariff - one which gives you unlimited inclusive calls to your bf and ideally your friends (Orange do a 'magic numbers' scheme). Be on the phone constantly! If you're working abroad, then use the office phones and SMS/e-mail (sometimes you can send a text via a web page for free - great if you're a junior analyst who 'isn't allowed' to leave his computer or tap away on his phone every half hour to make a call). Even in years gone by I used to constantly phone friends/family about trivia whilst working or in between meetings. Some bosses might not take too well to it, but there are usually ways of being discreet. Umlimited call plans rock!

c) Stay away from loonies. You will quickly be able to identify the ones I'm talking about. They're the ones who laugh about having to 'pull an all nighter' or who arrive at 10am and leave at midnight every day. Or the ones who would rather talk about what needs to be done rather than actually rolling up their sleeves and getting on with it. If you hear someone say "we're going to have to work late because we have a deadline coming up", then avoid them like the plague - they invariably have poor time management skills, are lazy, or don't understand the concept of negotiating realistic deadlines with a client (external or otherwise).

d) If you do land on a project where people are working silly hours for no real reason, and you're unable to assert yourself (e.g. because of an overbearing manager), then use the 'idle time' to get on with internet banking, sorting out personal issues, sending e-mails etc. Obviously it's a dire situation when it gets to this, but you need to recover some of the lost time so that you spend the weekends relaxing and enjoying yourself.

e) Find a good mentor (someone at a mid-senior level who will take you under their wing) and stick to him/her like glue.

f) Above all, remember that life is for living. At your level, you won't be getting paid much anyway - so be aware of the trade-off you're making between £££ and hours/social life/family. An employment contract is a two-way deal so it should benefit YOU as well as the company. If you can get a better deal elsewhere, then take it! Don't hop between jobs too often or it might mess up your CV, but a few times within the first 5 years of working is fine.

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#5 RE: Work/life balance
27/09/2007 20:05

anon - the first one!! to The Senior Vice President (#4)

Thank you for all this advice! Very much appreciated!

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#6 RE: Work/life balance
27/09/2007 22:16

anon to anon - the first one!! (#5)

SVP thats some great advice. I'm the guy above who's been there 10 months all of that rings true (last one not relevant...yet).

I would also add that while it's important to have senior people who will take you under your wing, get to know some of the folk on your project who are less senior and approachable to help you with work (does it look ok, should i re-word that email, how do i respond to this arsey manager) and give you advice.

I've found this invaluable and there's some nice people here who will help you.

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#7 RE: Work/life balance
27/09/2007 23:14

Anon to anon (#6)

I'd also add - get a cleaner. I'm away from home on weekdays, only seeing my boyfriend at weekends, and we decided that it might be worth getting a cleaner so that weekends are fun time without being cut short to iron shirts or clean the house if we have guests coming. They're cheaper than you'd think and totally worth it in my opinion.

Much as the flight out on Mondays is depressing, you do find that weekends are really special and so it's worth being able to really enjoy them. It might sound cheesy but I also find my boyf and I appreciate each other a lot more and make a real effort at weekends. I think attitude helps; we went into this thinking we'll work around it and so we have.

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#8 RE: Work/life balance
28/09/2007 02:50

anon to Anon (#7)

It does my heart proud to see all you young ambitious folk on this web site. I am an old fart partner at a strategy firm (45) and have worked at PW, EY and Atos and pissed away a large part of watching my children grow up and spending time with my wife.

You get one chance at a decent life so don't waste it by selling your soul to the firm... and to put it all in perspective I've a mate who runs a small electricians (20 people) and he makes around £200k per year. So when you starting knocking yourself out for £70, £80k per annum remember there are lots of other ways to make good money...I'm off to kick the cat now

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#9 RE: Work/life balance
28/09/2007 11:38

genuine to anon (#8)

I must say that having been on this site for several years and watched the games and silly behaviour of this forum - I have really appreciated how genuine SVP's posting has been..

Asserting your right for a proper W/L balance is extremely important in this industry and yes you only have one life to do it..

Well done SVP for articulating this..

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#10 RE: Work/life balance
01/10/2007 09:01

in awe to genuine (#9)

I love you SVP, you're the best

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#11 RE: Work/life balance
01/10/2007 14:28

JRF to in awe (#10)

"it's the lack of certainty over when you're going to have to do it which means you can't plan a social life"

I would second this, as at times I was working reasonable hours but had no idea where I would be and when the long hours would fall.

Longer term bigger projects can be a nightmare with this or can be easier.

Lots of small short term projects tends to lead planning problems.

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