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 on the job. We are 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 work-place 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 sometimes we’ve even done it.

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 embedded 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; so 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 a 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.

Here are six things you can do to keep both your body and most of your mind on the job until you leave the building:

1. Be aware of the shift. 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. The best plan will be made with your manager to incorporate what their needs are for completion and cross-training. To ensure your engagement 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. 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:

a. Performance appraisals
b. Atta-boy letters
c. Copies of supporting e-mails from bosses
d. Reference materials that aren’t proprietary to the company, but you may want to reuse.
e. E-mails and phone numbers of people you will want to keep in your networking circle.

4. Finish the “To Do” list. 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. There is nothing worse than the chore of cleaning up someone else’s left-over 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 almost on empty.

6. Make your goal to be there completely. To make your last days the best for you and everyone, commit yourself to be 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 the current boss, as well as future bosses who may be your peers right now. Make that lasting impression as impressive as the work you do.

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If you’re not working up to your usual standards, maybe it’s burn out. Take this free quiz to find out: From Dorothy Tannahill-Moran at