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Habits That Many People Think Can Make Them Excel At Work But Actually Cannot

Habits That Many People Think Can Make Them Excel At Work But Actually Cannot

Speaking up at your new job early on.

New jobs can be scary, and too many employers don’t have formal onboarding programs to properly guide new hires. While you’re finding your footing, try not to be too eager too soon, and get labeled the “office whiner.” Your boss isn’t there to take care of you so find alternative ways to help you become successful in your new role. I’m not suggesting that you don’t ask questions or follow up; I’m saying find a balance between trying to go at it alone and driving your new supervisor crazy.

Navigating a new work landscape is like searching for those designer boots you saw at Macy’s. You browse every online shopping site to find the best price. Similarly, there are so many different ways to find the tools you need to impress your boss without flooding his inbox or knocking on his door in between conference calls. Maybe it’s the person you’re replacing, a trusted colleague, or a mentor who knows your field better than you do. Whatever it is, plan out the right approach, and you’d be amazed at how happy people will be to lend a hand.

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Waiting for your boss to notice you.

Avoid buying into the traditional mindset – the one that consistently reminds us that the 200-year-old word “employee” means a person who is subservient to his or her master, the employer. Today, employees are considered business partners. Your boss is busy, and the more ways you can make your boss’s life easier, the better chance you have of getting noticed.

Be proactive because you owe it to your career to make the relationship work. If your boss doesn’t reach out much, don’t follow his or her lead. Make it a point to check-in regularly. Ask how your boss prefers to be contacted—in person, via phone, by email—and how often. Make sure you understand your goals and give progress reports. Volunteer your time outside of the 9-5 minimum in order to see projects through – you will thank you for it.

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Counting on your supervisor to hold you accountable.

Unlike responsibility (the “before”) and self-empowerment (the “during”), personal accountability is (the “after”). It’s a willingness to answer for the outcomes of your choices, actions, and behaviors. When you’re personally accountable, you stop assigning blame, “should-ing” on people, and making excuses. Instead, you take the fall and learn from the mistake when your choices cause problems. It takes courage to be personally accountable and requires you to be honest with yourself, police yourself, and look at your own actions before pointing fingers at others.

As a career coach, I preach to my clients that professionals should treat themselves as independent contractors, meaning it’s up to them to enhance their background. I’ve watched people’s careers skyrocket based on principle and theory alone. So here’s some for you: it’s time to come to terms with the fact that a job isn’t just a job – it enhances your career and adds intellectual property to your metaphorical “toolbox.” Step out of your comfort zone, get new experiences under your belt, and seize every learning opportunity because at the end of the day, it all benefits YOU.

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Putting all your energy into current hard skills.

People focus too much on technical job skills required now and ignore opportunities to learn about emerging software programs or other forms of field training and development. The average person shifts his or her mindset from a “learner” to a “knower” and misses out on serious job enhancement prospects.

And don’t forget about soft skills – the number one reason people are let go from their jobs. Whether it’s time management or improving your ability to read a person’s body language, your brain has an endless capacity to adopt new behaviors that support a long-term prosperous career. It’s also important to get into the office politics game. Pursue key relationships with team members, clients, and partners your boss respects. Ask your boss, “What is it critical for me to know and who is it critical that I get to know?” And then invite thought leaders to coffee or lunch and pick their brains. Don’t just focus “vertically” on managers above you—also create “horizontal” alliances with colleagues. You want to have support at all levels.

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Assuming that doing your job ensures security.

Just because you have a job doesn’t mean you’re safe from termination. Too many people get complacent and lose motivation to be proactive about potential problems. They’ll blame leadership because it’s easier than mapping out all the possible issues involved in a project. These people will take notes at the meetings, then walk away with an “I’ll figure it out later” attitude.

There’s a simple antidote: ask questions. Many professionals are afraid of asking too many questions in fear of looking stupid. But the most direct route to self-empowerment is to be clear about expectations—not only what you expect, but also what’s expected of you. To do that, you need to ask questions, make agreements, and clarify everything in writing. Repeat what’s expected of you back to your supervisor as often as possible to be sure you’re both on the same page. Otherwise, you risk suffering the source of all upset: missed expectations.

It’s better if you’re not to blame or don’t make a mistake.

Clearly James Dyson didn’t prescribe to the habit of blaming others…or wavering on his tenacious dream. How many design prototypes of that vacuum did he try? That’s right, it was 5,127. Most people stay in the safe zone and wonder why they never make it to the end zone. It’s easy to claim responsibility when things go well, but it’s hard when they don’t. A truly responsible person, however, accepts responsibility either way. So next time you take on a project, be 100% responsible for the outcome. Not a little. Not somewhat. Not pretty much. Own it 100%—good or bad—with no wiggle room. When you make a mistake, own it, but also take the time to figure out what you learned from it.

Featured photo credit: Financial Times photos via imcreator.com

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.

How on earth do you get out of that spiral?

Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.

So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:

1. Improve Your Time Management Skills

Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.

For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.

Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.

“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery

2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts

These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!

This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!

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But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.

For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.

There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.

3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools

It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.

Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.

4. Use Your Phone Wisely

Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.

If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.

5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs

If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.

In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.

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One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.

6. Use a “To Don’t” List

We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.

But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.[1]

Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.

7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia

When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.

Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson

And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.

8. Be Concise

Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.

One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,”[2] which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

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Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:

  • Making new contacts
  • Talking about yourself at a job interview
  • Meeting people at conferences or parties
  • Phone calls to new clients

9. Ask the Right Questions

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz

How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.

When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.

Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions.[3] When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

10. Learn as Much as You Can

You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.

Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

11. Look After Your Greatest Resource

No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.

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If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.[4]

Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.

12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder

As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.[5]

But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!

The Bottom Line

The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.

Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!

More About Working Smart

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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