Get More Done With a Work Buddy

For the past month, I’ve been working with a “work buddy”. She helps me stay on track with my projects, keeps me focused when I’m not feeling motivated, and gives me professional advice. She has become my go-to person for almost every concern I have with work, and I try to pay it back by doing the same things for her.

I find that since we’ve started this new working relationship, my output has become more consistent, and I’ve also had the time to work on side projects that I was “too busy” to try before. On her end, she tells me that my encouragement helped her start work on a stagnant project. Apart from improving productivity, here are the other benefits we’ve experienced as “work buddies”:

  • More creative problem-solving. When you’re too close to a problem, it’s hard to find outside-the-box solutions. This is no surprise since you need some amount of psychological distance to see the problem in a new light. Your work buddy might have the right amount of distance from the problem to help you find new solutions you wouldn’t have been able to think of yourself.
  • Obstacles seem easier. Even the biggest project can seem easier to achieve with the right work buddy. According to one study, social support from a friend can make hills seem less steep. So don’t be surprised if your to-do list seems shorter with the right person supporting you.
  • Collaboration. Apart from providing you with emotional support, your work buddy can also give you more opportunities to collaborate on exciting projects – no matter how informal they may be.

If you’re going through a rough time professionally, or if you simply need your own personal support group, finding a work buddy might be a good solution for you. It’s just a matter of finding the right person. Ideally, your work buddy should be:

  • Someone you respect. For me, this is the most important criterion for choosing a work buddy. By choosing someone you respect, both professionally and personally, you are less likely to waste their time and more likely to make the most out of the relationship.
  • Someone who understands your work. As Dawn pointed out in a previous post, explaining most web working jobs to the uninitiated can be difficult. Your work buddy should understand enough of your work to give you constructive feedback, make suggestions, listen to your complaints and recognize your accomplishments. Someone who knows your work well is more likely to engage you in more meaningful exchanges, rather than just blank stares or insincere one-liners.
  • Someone who knows how to deal with you. Your work buddy should also be someone who knows the right things to say or do that will motivate you to keep working. He or she should know how to push you when others are telling you to take it easy.
  • Someone who also needs your help. For this to work, the two of you have to need each other, or else the relationship is going to feel one-sided. This could be someone who needs your skills, experience, network or even just your unique insight.

Other, more specific traits may depend on what you need. For example, you might need someone who works as a logo designer or has experience in leading a team. Be aware of these specifics so that you can come up with a clearer picture of who your ideal work buddy should be like.

Have you ever had a friend or colleague who helped you become more productive? What was your experience like with that kind of relationship?

Photo by flickr user vek