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There is a reason for the term "short-timer." Whether you are in the military and ready to separate, or in the corporate world and ready to leave your job, it can be a struggle to keep both your body and mind engaged.


We're notorious for apathy, disregard, and detachment once the decision to move on has been made. In fact, some short-timers have been known to toss all workplace standards out the door. They begin showing up late, conduct long personal phone calls, and have a blatantly disrespectful attitude. We've all seen this (and maybe we've even done it ourselves). Is being a short-timer really that bad? In a word: yes.

Our professional and personal brand is showing all the time, not just when we are in the middle of a job, but also as we make our exit. How we leave is as important to our career as how well we do when we're fully engaged in our position. This is the time for leaving a lasting impression and making them want you to stay. Even if you hated the place and everyone in it, you never know what the future holds; you don't want to burn any bridges. You might want references, referrals, or even a job at some point.

Why do we become short-timers? Interesting situation, isn't it? There are really two forms of change. One form is the actual act, like leaving your job or moving. The other form is the internal transition or emotional component. These two forms of change don't necessarily show up at the same time. When you have gone through whatever process that has led to departure, at the point you made the decision, the emotional train has left the station. You start seeing yourself as less a part of where you are and more a part of what's to come. You start disengaging and disassociating yourself. When that happens, unless you are aware of it, the other behaviors I mentioned start creeping in because you are no longer as attached or invested.

So, how can you leave a job without burning bridges? Here are six things you can do to keep both your body and most of your mind on the job until your very last day.

1. Be Aware Of The Shift

Woman tells her friends she's leaving her job

As mentioned, we start shifting and disengaging. Check in with yourself or a trusted co-worker daily to stay aware and focused on your work.

2. Make A Departure Plan

Boss says goodbye to his colleague as she leaves her job

The best departure plan will be made with your manager to incorporate their needs for completion and cross-training. To ensure you're engaged during this time, make sure you have included things you want to accomplish before you leave. All items need dates for when you will have them done. Keep track of those dates every day.

3. Collect Materials

Woman packs up her desk before leaving her job

Since you are leaving, think through the types of information and materials you might want to have in your next position or in the future. The types of things to consider collecting include:

  • Performance appraisals
  • Employee recognition notes and letters
  • Copies of supporting emails from bosses
  • Reference materials that aren't proprietary to the company, but you may want to reuse
  • Email addresses and phone numbers of people you will want to keep in your professional network

4. Finish The "To-Do" List

Man leaves his job

Now is the time when you need to complete those pesky lower-priority items you never got to. We all have them and somehow wait for the day when we have nothing else better to do. Get these done now.

5. Clean And Organize Your Desk And Office

Woman is happy about leaving her job

There is nothing worse than the chore of cleaning up someone else's leftover mess when they leave. Make your goal to leave your desk ready for move-in of the next occupant. Label files, toss out materials that only you found of value, and refill anything that's almost empty.

6. Make Your Goal To Be There Completely

Man meets with his boss before leaving his job

To make your last days the best for you and everyone, commit to being fully involved until the day you leave. In order to have a great career and personal brand, you have to think of the work you do in all of its phases. Clearly, leaving is a phase that you will have more than once in your career. It can be the lasting impression you make on your current boss, as well as on future bosses who may be your peers right now. Make that lasting impression as impressive as the work you do.


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This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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