Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Succeeding at Work / Changing Jobs

The Final 2 Weeks: How to Keep Working When You're Ready to Go

You’ve just accepted the job of your dreams and given your current boss your two weeks notice. What do you do now?

A. Spend the remainder of your time spreading your awesome news on Facebook and online shopping. After all, you’ll need clothes for your fabulous new job.

B. Come down with a case of the “I’m outta here” flu and call in sick—four mornings in a row.

C. Fight the urge to flake out on your current job and spend your time finishing critical projects and tying up loose ends.

If you answered “C,” congrats—you’re right. (Of course, we’d expect nothing less from our Daily Muse readers!) Although it might seem tempting to take a mental vacation from work once you’ve announced you’re leaving, you actually have some very good reasons to remain on your best behavior.

First, in today’s uber-connected, ultra-competitive professional world, you can’t afford to make any bad impressions. The co-worker who has to spend extra hours finishing the projects you carelessly left behind might just be connected to someone at your new job. You want your old office mates to sing your praises, not complain that you left them in the lurch.

Second, you never know when you’ll need to ask a former co-worker for a reference or a letter of recommendation. You may even want to work at your old company again someday. By maintaining your work ethic right up to the last hour, you can avoid damaging the professional relationships you’ve worked so hard to build.

That said, while you know what you need to spend your last couple weeks achieving, actually biting the bullet and doing the work can be quite a challenge. To help you out, we’ve come up with a few tips to help push through the rest of your job productively.

Make One Final List

While making a list of your tasks is always a good motivation and organization tool, it’s especially useful as you reach the end of your current job. Whereas usually your to-do list will continue growing even as you tick items off it, now it’ll serve to show your progress toward the finish line.

Work with your boss to determine which projects need to be finished before you leave. Then make your list and get to work! You can even have a little mini-celebration every time you cross something off, knowing you’re that much closer to the end.

Figure Out What’s In It For You

You may have one foot out the door, but that doesn’t mean that the projects you’re working on won’t come in handy. Figure out if there are any incomplete projects or tasks that will help you round out your resume, meet your annual goals, or teach you something you can use at your new job, and finish those first. You’ll be extra motivated knowing that the projects you’re working hard to complete will look great in your professional portfolio.

Remove the Distractions

If you’re having a hard time getting any work done, remove what’s distracting you. Try shutting off your cell phone and putting it in a desk drawer and closing your Internet browser. If co-workers keep stopping by to congratulate you on the good news, thank them kindly, keep the small talk to a minimum, and promise them that you’ll tell them the full story over lunch.

If that doesn’t work, try a little bribe. Promise yourself a special reward, like a massage or the online shopping spree you’re not doing during work hours, if—and only if—you finish everything on your list before your last day at the office. It sounds silly, but the thought of great pair of heels might help you stay on task when you’re tempted to get lazy.

Take Some Risks

While you want to make sure not to tarnish your image during your last couple weeks, it can also be a good time to put yourself out there. For example, invite an executive you’ve always admired out to lunch. If she says no, oh well—you’re leaving anyway. If she says yes, you have a great opportunity to ask her for advice or uncover the secrets of her success. Challenging yourself to step a little outside your normal bounds will help make your final weeks feel fresh and exciting, even though you’re really just wrapping things up.

If you’ve put in your notice, stay strong. It may seem like you’re trapped in two weeks of career purgatory, but by staying focused, you can solidify your professional reputation and walk out of the office on your last day with your head held high.

Photo of calendar courtesy of Shutterstock.

A logo with "the muse" in white text.