The 9 To 5 Myth: Your Success Is Measured By What You Do Off The Clock

I was listening to Beyoncé on my walk home from school one evening. (My music tastes are becoming way too predictable…) It was late enough where I had missed the post-work rush.

Late enough where I was game over about going to the gym, and late enough where I was too tired to pretend to even contemplate it.

The beat of Yoncé’s sultry track “Haunted” track propelled me home. “Working 9 to 5 just to stay alive. Working 9 to 5 just to stay alive,” she crooned.

Well, f*ck that. I couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculous lyric: ‘9 to 5 just to stay alive?’ Yeah, if you’re lucky. Beyoncé of all people should know that you have to work more than mere eight-hour days to get by. (And, if we’re being picky here, shouldn’t it really be 9-6?)

I glanced at my watch… 7:42 pm and I still had more writing to do when I came home. In the new work age — and especially in Nigeria — your job doesn’t stop just because you left the office. There is always more work that can be done, and if you’re not doing it, someone else will.

But this notion is something that many Millennials have accepted. We carve out marvelous careers for ourselves at startups that pride themselves on non-traditional hours. We stay up late into the night banking, researching, lawyering — all in service of getting ahead.

We do it with equal parts glee and pride, though. Anyone who doesn’t “work as hard” or adopt that mantra or fit that lifestyle, they’re forever suspended in easy regularity, living a charmed life.

Amy Odell, inspirational editor of Cosmopolitan.com (and fellow Beyoncé enthusiast), recognizes that to be successful you have to start first thing in the morning.

She recently told Elite Daily’s “I Want Her Job Series,” “As soon as I wake up, I look at my iPhone to check my email and our traffic – how does it look this morning? Where did we end up last night?

Then I field pitches from the writers and editors and usually read the news before I leave my house. I also try to finish up anything I need quiet time for because I usually don’t get a whole lot of it at the office.” Redefining what it means to work from home.

Doing the bare the minimum produces results reflective of that level of effort. Most people can do the 9-5 — the ones who take it further stand out. Here’s the 9 to 5 myth: why your success is determined by what you do off the clock:

You are your own brand ambassador
Even when you’re technically off the clock, you still have the opportunity to promote yourself. Regardless if you’re on the job or not, you are representative of your company.

It’s why actors get fired off shows after their lewd behavior is revealed, or why Nike dropped Adrian Peterson.

It’s also why YouTube-beauty-blogger-turned-makeup-mogul Michelle Phan is now a household name — you at your job and you as a person are linked. And those who strategically enmesh their jobs and lifestyles are those who become the most successful.

You are one step ahead
It’s like how racers are taught to run straight through the end and not slow down when they see the finish line. Even if your project is coming to a close that doesn’t mean you should give yourself a premature break. It means you need to pay even closer attention to the final touches.

How many of us pack up our belongings and check out 30 minutes before the end of the day when we could instead be using them more productively like catching up on emails or preparing for the next day’s work? Don’t impede your results when it matters most.

You are the point person to get it done
After everyone has packed up and left, you are the go-to person dedicated to moving the company forward.

Kathryn Minshew, cofounder of revolutionary job site The Muse spoke to Elite Daily’s “I Want Her Job” series about what it takes to be the rainmaker.

“Starting and running your own company has been made out to be very sexy in the press, but the day-to-day reality of being an entrepreneur is a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifice,” Kathryn admits.

Don’t be afraid to give up certain areas of your life to exceed in others. We have a tendency to paint this as a bad thing, but in reality you are streamlining your priorities to be more efficient in what matters most to you.

You build meaningful relationships
Those who stay after-hours usually form a kind of “survival” solidarity. You get to see another side of your coworkers that’s usually kept concealed in the usual office environment.

In addition, your colleagues respect you more because you put in the extra effort to make your position great. Your associates know that they can rely on you because they visibly see that you are working beyond your expectations to meet goals.

Photo Courtesy: Tumblr

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