If you’re used to a job that comes easily to you and where you can take the occasional long lunch and get all your work done in 35 hours a week, it can be tough to adjust to a new, more demanding role.
If you find yourself in a new job where the workload or work itself is much more challenging, these steps will help ease the transition.
Accept that things are different, and that what worked for you in the past now needs to change. One of the biggest mistakes people make in this situation is to assume that they can keep operating the way they used to, even as they’re feeling an increasing crunch. So they go on working the same hours, at the same pace, with the same sorts of work habits, and then feel incredibly stressed out and overextended when they’re at work. But when you move into a more demanding role, you’ve got to reassess your habits. In your last job, you might have been perfectly capable of reading the news during the day or leaving right at 5:30 and still excelling. That might not be the case anymore. (And of course, with time, you might find yourself able to skim the news from work again – but it might take you a while to become strong enough at your new job that you have room for that.)
Reset your family’s expectations if needed. If your family or friends are used to texting with you during the day or regularly meeting up for early happy hour, let them know you’re not able to do that in your new job. Being very clear with people when things like this have changed for you can help you enlist them in being supports to you rather than temptations – and they’re highly likely to be temptations without realizing it if you don’t reset what they expect of you.
Watch the work habits of people in similar roles who are excelling. One of the worst parts of struggling in a new role can be feeling isolated, like you’re on your own Island of Struggle. Take a look around you and see if you can identify people who are doing similar work or facing similar challenges but excelling, and watch how they operate. If you notice that they all work 12-hour days and never look up from their computers, that’s important data to have; you might need to decide if you want that lifestyle or not (and better to know that’s what it takes so you can decide if it’s for you, than to keep struggling and not realize that). But you might notice more constructive work habits that you can adopt – such as how they organize their time, meetings or projects they say no to, and what they prioritize.
Ask for advice. Asking for help isn’t a weakness; it can actually help you look stronger. There’s nothing wrong with saying to your boss or to new colleagues, “I’m working on adjusting to the workload in this role. What have you seen work well for people in the past to manage the ___ (high flow of email/quickly shifting priorities/pace of client requests/or whatever you’re struggling with most)?”