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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.

More by this author

Sean Kim

Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

But what does being productive actually entail?

Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

1. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

2. Turn off Notifications

According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

3. Manage Interruptions

There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

4. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once famously said that:

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“if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

5. Cut Down on Meetings

Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

6. Utilize Tools

Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

Some examples of tools that could be used:

Communication
  • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
  • Samepage for video conference software.
  • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
Task Management
  • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
  • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
  • Wekan for an open source option.
Database Management
Time Tracking
  • Clockify for a free tracker.
  • TMetric for workspace integrations.
  • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

7. Declutter and Organize

Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

8. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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9. Drink Water

Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

The Bottom Line

The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

More About Boosting Productivity

Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

Reference

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