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Top 7 Things You Can Do Today to Transform Your Career

Top 7 Things You Can Do Today to Transform Your Career

Advancing your career can come in many shapes. But there are specific things you can do today to transform it.

Most of us try dozens of non-impactful activities that can only advance our career by 10, 20% at the most. We should be focusing on smaller activities that can have a major impact.

Today, we’re going to share the top 7 things you can do today to transform your career. Hope you enjoy!

1. Seek Out a Mentor

There’s no need to reinvent the wheels when it comes to having a successful career. No matter what industry or dream you have, it’s very likely that someone has already achieved what you want. They’ve made mistakes and learned the hard lessons that you could learn from, so you don’t have to make the same type of mistakes yourself.

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Where to start: A mentor doesn’t have to be someone you have a real-life relationship with. Getting in touch and building a relationship with a mentor takes work, but anyone has access to a mentor in today’s information age. You can pick up a biography of someone you admire, listen to their podcasts, watch their interviews, etc. Instead of having one mentor, you can have ten mentors that each provide a unique perspective of life and career.

2. Learn How to Speak a Foreign Language

Learning a language can add between 10–15% to your wage. According to The Economist, these are the breakdowns by the most useful languages to learn for annual bonuses:

  • Spanish — 1.5 percent bonus
  • French — 2.3 percent bonus
  • German — 3.8 percent bonus

If money is not your only motivation, keep in mind that these bonuses were awarded because bilingual employees were shown to be more valuable to employers they worked for. Being more valuable in the marketplace can open you up to new and greater opportunities (even around the world if you learn a second language), provide you with more freedom, and ultimately a greater purpose to your career.

Where to start: If you want to advance your career with a foreign language, it’s best to focus your attention on becoming a better speaker of your target language, since most of your language skills will be used towards communicating with other people, whether it’s clients, partners, and co-workers.

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Learning a language may seem difficult at first if you have a full-time job, but you can use online websites to start learning a language online with professional language teachers, any time of the day, any day of the week. Lessons are usually just 30 mins each, so you can fit it into your schedule, no matter how busy you are.

3. Practice Your Public Speaking Skills

When Warren Buffett was asked what’s the most important skill you can learn, he said “improving your communication skills.” It’s a life-long skill that will become increasingly more useful to learn as you advance your career, and it can be the single factor differentiating you when the competition gets stiff.

Where to start: Check out your local Toastmasters to be surrounded by a supportive community of fellow learners. You’ll receive constructive feedback, provide feedback to others, and grow together as professional public speakers. It’s one of the best ways to get practice for beginners and even advanced speakers.

4. Enroll Into an Online Course

Online education is without a doubt the way we’ll learn anything in the future. The benefits of learning online are vast, from being able to learn anywhere, anytime that works for you, and at an affordable rate (often free).

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Taking courses online to learn a new skill related to your work or future industries you want to enter can be a great investment to the advancement of your career. The good news is that there are more places to get started than ever.

Where to start: The list of places to enrol into online courses is endless. You can check out Udemy, Skillshare, CreativeLIVE, or non-profit organisations like edX, which streams lectures from the top universities around the world, including Harvard, Yale, and Stanford.

5. Do More For Your Network Than Ever Before

While most people try to do everything they can to expand their network, they don’t do nearly enough to nurture the current network they already have. You’ll be surprised how much you can benefit from just adding more value to your network, because it’s likely that whoever you want to meet is just one or two connections apart from the people you already know.

Where to start: List ten people that you admire most in your current network, and the people that you think can advance your career. Send a gift, take them out for coffee, and become involved in their community (if they have a blog, podcast, etc.). Focus on doubling down on the quality of people in your network, rather than spreading yourself too thin.

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6. Travel to a Place That Makes You Uncomfortable

This may appear irrelevant at first. But some of my biggest career moves have been when I’ve travelled the world alone to foreign places like Colombia, Argentina, or Peru. By putting yourself in these uncomfortable situations, and isolating yourself from the day-to-day distractions, you can reflect on what you truly want out of your career, and think on a higher level than you do normally.

Where to start: There’s no better way to start travelling than to pick a location and book your flight ticket.

7. Become Better At Managing Your Time

In order to do any of the things we mentioned above in this article, you’re going to have to get better at managing your time. Everyone has the same number of hours in the day, but those that can be more productive will get more done, learn more skills, and grow faster in life and career. Getting a few more things done per day may not seem critical, but when you repeat the same process every day for a year, two years, five years, than the gap increases exponentially.

Where to start: Read more books and articles about how to manage your time properly. A good book to start with is Getting Things Done by David Allen, and using productivity tools to complement your time management tactics.

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5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

Not being able to stay productive at work is a problem that everyone runs into at some point; no matter how much you like your job, there are certain factors that prevent you from staying at maximum proficiency throughout the whole day.

A lack of productive focus at work can lead to extra stress on yourself, missed deadlines, passed opportunities, raise denial, demotion and even termination.

So, if you are someone who has trouble with your productivity, here are five effective tips on how to be productive at work:

1. Take breaks

First and foremost, it’s important for you to take regular breaks. Trying to work throughout the whole day will tire your brain, which will then cause you to doze off and think about something else.

If you keep working your brain, it will fill up and get jumbled with information—sort of like a computer hard drive. Taking a break would be like resetting your computer so that it can start afresh, or de-fragmenting the data so that all the information is in order.

This is a great thing because it allows you to solve problems you were unable to solve previously, by seeing it differently; if you are able to organize your thoughts properly, you will be able to take in new information more easily.

There have even been studies about methods of saving time and staying proficient, and taking breaks is one of the leading factors.

According to Christine Hohlbaum, the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, eating lunch away from your work area every day will greatly increase your productivity. Eating in your work area will give you the illusion that you are working, but whether you like it or not, your brain will begin to wander and think of something else and then you will be working tirelessly with no progress.

It’s important to take breaks before and during work too: if you come to work in a rush because you woke up late, your mind will not be mentally prepared for the day ahead, and you will spend the first 10 to 15 minutes trying to get organized and composed before you can actually start working.

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Instead, you should try to wake up 20 minutes earlier than the time it would take you to “just get” to work. Take that time to stare off into space and not worry about anything.

If you do this, your brain will be empty and ready for all the challenges it has coming for the next few hours.

If your employer only allows a set amount of breaks during the workday, that doesn’t mean you can’t just get up and walk around for a quick break every now and then.

Even if it’s only 5 minutes, it will refresh your brain and you will gain renewed energy to do your job.

Learn more about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

2. Pace yourself and balance your workload

One problem that most people run into is that they underestimate the amount of work they have to do, and end up doing 50% of the work in the last 20% of the time they have to do it. This is due to an issue of balancing one’s workload.

When you receive a project, or are doing a job you normally do, take some time to really plan out your work schedule.

Consider how much time it took you to do this last time; determine how you can break the project into smaller parts and which can only be accomplished on certain days, and whether anything might come up that could interfere with your plan.

All of these questions are important for starting on a project, and when answered, they will help you stay productive throughout each day.

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For example, if you needed to design a project to map out the amount of aid offered in various regions after Hurricane Sandy, you can break it up as follows:

You will need to know what organizations are offering help to begin with, how much aid those organizations gave or plan to give, which regions were hit by Sandy, and which regions suffered the greatest losses.

You start this project on a Thursday and know you have until Tuesday to gather this information.

In order to stay productive, you need to plan out your work week—now you know you can find out which organizations are involved in helping the Hurricane Sandy Victims any day since that information is online, but gathering information on the organizations may require you to call them.

Since phone calls can only be done during week days, you have to plan on gathering all of that information before the weekend comes.

That is just one example of a situation in which pre-planning your project will help you stay productive; had you researched the affected regions first, you would not have received the info on the organizations until the weekend, and may have missed your chance to call them.

That, in turn, would have wasted time you could have spent working on this project to finish it.

Knowing what you need to do, when you can do it, and how long it will take you, is important in balancing your workload and being more productive and efficient.

3. Put your work first

This is an issue that usually occurs with young people who are new to the workforce: they’re often tempted with offers to go out at midday, and then come back lost in thought and unfocused on their work-related tasks.

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While it is important to take breaks, your breaks should consist of you clearing your mind, not loading it up with other less important information—like sports.

However, that is not the only situation where you need to worry about putting your work first before all else.

In a work environment, the senior employees will oftentimes push some of their menial tasks onto the newer employees. If you fall into that category, you need to know that their work is not your work, so if you have tasks that need to be done, you need to do it first.

If you are a new employee, you must learn to say no to other people even when it means you may not be in their good graces anymore. You can help others out once your work is done, but you are paid to do your own work, not anyone else’s.

4. Don’t open your browser unless you need them

In this day and age, everyone is constantly monitoring their social network. This is a major pain point for companies, which is why many don’t allow employees to access their social networks on company workstations.

When you are at work, disconnect the internet from your phone and keep your browsers closed so you’re not tempted to log onto your social media accounts or browse any sites that are not work-related.

If you keep your browsers closed and phone tucked away, only to be used in an emergency, you will find yourself being a more productive employee right away. 

5. Try to be happy and optimistic

If you always have a negative outlook on life, you will be more distracted and less motivated to get work done, so it’s important for you to start your day off right.

This can be done by having a good breakfast or by taking time in the morning to watch one of your favorite TV shows before work.

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If you are happy, you will find yourself able to work much more productively as your mind won’t wander into worrying about something else.

Also, if you stay optimistic and keep telling yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to, the tasks will seem much less daunting and will go by much more quickly.

Take a look at more effective ways to stay positive at work:

15 Ways To Stay Positive At Work

Happiness and optimism are the keys to being a productive and happy employee.

All in all, heed the five tips above and you will find yourself being one of the most productive people at your company.

While you do not need to master them all, each and every one of them will help you become a better and more efficient employee.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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