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Susan Johnston

Susan Johnston

July 7, 2015

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Single Girls Have Lives Too!

It’s Friday afternoon and your department still has a ton of research to compile for that Monday-morning presentation. You’re eager to hit happy hour and start your weekend, but guess who gets asked to stay late and take one for the team—that’s right, you. After all, you’re single, so your co-workers figure you don’t have an SUV and 2.5 kids to tend to over the weekend. You have tons of time to finish the project, they assure you, as they pack up to join their families for dinner. Unfortunately, this routine is familiar to lots of unhitched employees. But just because we don’t have a family to take care of doesn’t mean our time—or obligations—is any less important. Here’s how to avoid getting sucked into the singledom trap.

Pitch in when you can. It’s important to show early on in your career that you’re willing to put in the time and effort to excel. So when you have the time, stay a little late and help out. That way you won’t look totally selfish when you need to bail at 5:30 for a friend’s birthday party. Also, always stay on top of your workload, especially when you have weekend plans that you’d hate to miss. Then try to steer clear of those who love to pile on more work.

Plan ahead. If you’ve got a big event coming up, make sure your co-workers know about it in advance. Even if the thought of taffeta and dyeable shoes makes you nauseous, talk up how much you’re really looking forward to your roommate’s sister’s wedding so that no one can expect you to drop everything and fly across the country for a last-minute business trip that week. If it’s a girls’ weekend in Vegas, put that on the calendar, too, but maybe leave out some of the details. (After all, what happens in Vegas…)

Stand your ground. If covering for a co-worker while she takes her son to soccer practice will make you miss Pilates class, say so—especially if you normally help her out. After all, you don’t want this to become a weekly routine. To be diplomatic, say something like “I wish I could help, but unfortunately I have a prior commitment.” Your personal time is important too, and you’ll be a better employee once you’ve had time to relax.

When all else fails, blame it on the relatives. You may not have kids, but you still have a life. No one should fault you for declining to accept a last-minute assignment on the weekend of your parents’ 50th anniversary or your sister’s baby shower. Just don’t overuse this one—no one has that many family functions to go to.