5 Good Habits You Should Take On at Work
We all want to excel at our jobs, but our modern environment makes it difficult to form good work habits. There’s always another email to answer, another meeting to attend, another project in need of finishing touches. With so much going on, workdays can feel like a mad dash from start to finish, leaving little room for self-reflection or time to contemplate what can be done differently to improve.
With this mad dash in mind, we’ve collected five good habits you should take on at work, as well as tips to help you implement these practices into your busy work day. Whether you’re new to the job and looking to impress, or an old hand looking for a way to cast off lethargy and shine once again, these habits will help you excel in your profession.
Timeliness Is a Must
If you adopt only one of these habits, timeliness should be it. Getting to the office on time ensures a smooth transition into a working mindset and an earlier start on your to-do list.
But timeliness is more than just punctuality. It includes scheduling your day to meet—or beat— deadlines. To achieve this, at the beginning of every week, decide what you want to accomplish. Then sketch daily schedules to reach those goals. Remember to set SMART goals to prevent setbacks and discouragement.
Tip: Allot more time for a task than you think it will require. People tend to underestimate obstacles while overestimating their abilities, a combination that breeds setbacks. Giving yourself extra time allows you to address unforeseen hurdles in a timely manner.
Leave Procrastination Behind
We are a nation of procrastinators. Obviously, this hurts the bottom line through lost productivity and a lower quality of work. Less obvious is how procrastination damages our wellbeing. When projects hang over our heads, they create constant feelings of urgency and stress. To compensate, we try to complete too much during crunch time, leading to poor workmanship and a damaged sense of self-worth. The solution? Stop procrastinating.
Tip: Plan your day around tackling difficult tasks first so you aren’t distracted by easier but less critical duties. You should also mentally link the task to something in the here and now. A study found that people who see a task as part of the present are more likely to begin than if they see it as important to the future.
Have a Place for Everything
Don’t let your desk become a wasteland of abandoned paperwork and dirty dishes. Instead, take the time to develop an organizational system you can stick with.
Your desk doesn’t need to be dull and spartan, but everything should have a specific place where it belongs. Office supplies shouldn’t be tossed wherever. Files should be organized effectively with clear labels. This goes for your virtual space, too.
Tip: Set aside time every day to clean your workspace. Reorganize, put files away, and clean those dishes. Then do a thorough cleaning every two weeks. Dust the shelves, sanitize your desk, and wipe down your monitor and keyboard. Make this a ritual, and it will take 10 minutes tops. If you’re disorganized by nature, then that first through cleaning will be a chore, but the time and energy it will save you in the future is well worth the initial investment.
People tend to think of an education as something you achieve. You weren’t educated at first, but then you went to school and earned your diploma or degree, and now you are learned. But this view can make people complacent in a world where the knowledge available to them grows exponentially every day.
To prevent this complacency, don’t think of learning as something you have, but rather something you do. Like a lifestyle or hobby, it’s only a part of you as long as you’re actively engaged with it. Learn about your company’s history, trends in the industry, and shortcuts in the management system. This will continually improve your skill set, making you an indispensable team member.
This habit applies outside the job, too. Learn an instrument or a new language. Pick up woodworking or bird watching. Keeping your mind active is vital for healthy living and supports quality work-life balance. Above all, learning should be a source of pleasure, not a chore on the to-do list.
Tip: People lose 40 percent of new information within 24 hours, but taking notes can help us retain more. Develop a note-taking system that highlights, rather than buries, key ideas, and every so often, pull out old notes to reconnect with those ideas.
You don’t have to be besties with the whole office, but don’t bury your head in the monitor all day, either. Engage with your coworkers to build friendly, professional relationships. Say hi with a smile, learn about them and their interests, and offer a helping hand when necessary. In return, you’ll find your new office a productive, immersive place to work.
Tip: Active listening builds deeper relationships than idle chatter. Fully concentrate on what your coworkers say and how they feel, then respond appropriately. This will show you’re participating in the conversation with them, an important step in building trust and rapport.
These habits are particularly helpful because they create a natural synergy. Building relationships nets you valuable teachers to learn from, while your burgeoning organization skills will help you start projects sooner for a timely turnaround. Take these five habits to your job, and you will prove yourself a valuable employee, a trustworthy coworker, and a less stressed person in general. As a bonus, they will serve you equally well in your home life and help to create a beneficial work-life balance. What’s not to love?