4 Stupid Work Rules to Break To Get Ahead

Rules are stupid.

Especially at work, rules frustrate, infuriate and stagnate. Asinine and archaic rules in the workplace are pretty much a guaranteed way to drive a good employee straight out the door.

In corporate-land, it’s next to impossible to rewrite the rules. As someone who doesn’t lay down the law, your only real option is to, well, break it.

Now we aren’t talking about breaking rules that are in place for good reason, like sexual harassment, privacy and safety policies. What we’re talking about are rules so antiquated that in the process of shattering them, you’ll actually benefit your career.

It’s all about sticking your neck out far enough, but not so far that you end up on the chopping block.

Here are four stupid work rules to break to get ahead.

1. We’ve Always Done It This Way

These are the six deadliest words ever uttered in business and the most ridiculous reason for anything. Ever. It prevents efficiency and innovation. And we all know in business, you need to innovate or die.

How To Break This Stupid Rule

Next time you question a process, procedure, thing or another rule that is validated with this stupid reasoning, and you know that you could make the thing a thousand times better doing it a new way, develop that new way. Then show your boss your new way, how it works and why it works. Using hard figures is best – this will X amount of money, this will save X amount of time, etc.

How It Will Get You Ahead

You’re highlighting not only your innovative way of thinking, but your initiative. You are showing your boss that when it comes to this job, you’re all in. Ride this impress-your-boss wave all the way to the next rule up for breaking…

2. We Have To Pay Our Dues


Said who? That old fart that meandered his way into his cushy little VP role?

And who the hell is he?

Nope to this. 100% nope.

How To Break This Stupid Rule

Instead of working your ass off and “paying your dues” (whatever that means, because really, how do you measure due paying anyway?), ask for a promotion. But before you fire away, get your ammo ready. I lay out the steps…..here.

How It Will Get You Ahead

Promotions don’t come to the passive. You can quote me on that one.

Employees aren’t lifers anymore. We don’t stay with the same employer for 40 years. Call us non-committal if you must, but really it’s all about the strategy. And promotion requests should always be part of your career strategy. Go out and get what’s yours, or someone else’s, who cares, look out for you and take your career path into your own hands.

3. We Work Through Lunch

People gotta eat. But people don’t gotta eat…at their desks. By law, you are entitled to a lunch. So any workplace that implies you need to work through your lunch needs to bone up on their labor standards. If you’re eating at your desk, it’s probably the cultural norm, and you don’t want to lose face by taking time away from your desk to eat. The problem is, eating at your desk has various negative consequences.

How To Break This Stupid Rule

Take yo’ damn lunch break. Meet up with a non-work friend. Schedule it into your calendar so you can treat it like any other meeting.

How It Will Get You Ahead

When you actually take a lunch away from your desk, the possibilities of how you can spend your time, and advance your career, are endless. You can network – say, take someone you’d love to learn from to lunch. You can study, read, listen to podcasts – using the time to boost your skills. You can regroup and recharge – if eating alone is your bag, do it as renewing that energy will only help you continue to kick ass at work. The list goes on. Make a lunch, sans desk, part of your daily.

4. We Make Ourselves Available on Evenings and Weekends

Ef. That.

Unless you are contractually bound to being on-call during off hours, you do not need to be available. Not being able to have downtime has many of the similar dire consequences as not taking lunch.

How to Break This Stupid Rule

It’s all about dem boundaries. First of all, stop or don’t answer emails on off hours. When I hear about people answering emails at an ungodly hour like, 3am (yes, far too many people do this), I cringe. Don’t set this precedent. If you already have, stop. Have a conversation with your boss if necessary. Tell them that your weekends and evenings are getting fuller (you don’t need to tell them why, it’s not their damn biz), and that you won’t be available at those times.

How It Will Get You Ahead

You need, need, NEED your downtime. Anyone who says they don’t is fooling themselves and has their one-way ticket to Burnout-ville. Conserving your energy, and getting that proper recharge with actually relaxing on the evenings and weekends will pay dividends at work. You’ll boost your performance by doing work with a clearly mind, you’ll boost your efficiency by limiting the amount of hours you have to get the work done. And you’ll boost your mood, bringing a much nicer YOU to the office every day.

What rules would you LOVE to break and not sure if you can? Head over to the Facebook page and drop me a line.

Kamara Toffolo

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