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Published on January 29, 2020

9 Exceptional Work Habits To Be More Efficient

9 Exceptional Work Habits To Be More Efficient

A work habit is any attitudinal, ethical, behavioral, or practical tendencies you apply in achieving peak performance in your business or workplace. Good work habits establish a solid foundation for peak performance, efficiency, trust, effective communication, regular attendance, compliance, time management, punctuality, and collaboration.

Have you ever extended your job functions and duties to assist your colleagues in a bid to achieve team efficiency and productivity? If yes, you possess good work habits.

But that’s not all. Successful people understand they need to display exceptional work habits to stand out. Here are 7 of such habits with two bonus-tips on setting priorities:

1. Prioritize Your MIT

Your MIT here means your ‘Most Important Tasks’.

It’s not enough to have a to-do list; you need to establish your Most Important Tasks.

The concept behind prioritizing your MIT is predicated on the fact that some activities are more crucial than others. Therefore, checking off the items on your to-do list might not be enough, as you may end up completing both important and less important tasks.

So what’s your best approach?

Spend some minutes in picking 1 to 3 MITs- the tasks you need to complete before the day ends no matter what.

You can then channel your energy on what matters with a renewed focus, as you know they must be completed.

Here’s what Laura Earnest, a productivity blogger, said about the significance of establishing your MITs as a work habit:[1]

“Productive people focus on the most important activities. They also ensure the means of getting those tasks done are the most effective. I believe they possess the capabilities of discerning the most important tasks and are apt in delegating the less important.”

2. Limit Social Media Use

With emails, notifications from social media platforms, and several minor to-dos, you can easily get distracted while trying to engage in productive work.

Our Editor-in-chief of Lifehack.org, Anna Chui, talked about the work habits that help her get ahead in life and business. Here’s what she said about limiting social media use:

“I limit my social media and IM usage so I can stay focused on what’s important to me. I turn off all WhatsApp group notifications and check them only before work, during lunchtime, and after work. I also turn off all social media notifications, so I don’t get distracted in the middle of my work. I go on social media only after work and limit time to less than 30 min per day.”

Limiting social media usage is a good work habit that can impact how you manage your time and what you make out of it.

3. Be Open to Feedback

The feedback system is a tool to optimize your efficiency in the workplace. When you receive positive or negative feedback from your superordinate, don’t take it personally. The goal of feedback is to make you more productive.

Here’s what Elijah Falode, a Top-rated content writer on Upwork, said on how he manages feedback from clients:

“I understand the significance of both public and private feedback on my reputation and work. To deliver a quality job, I spend more time to understand my client’s requirement, and then I ask questions. Once the client request for revision, I quickly work on it and ensure the client’s requirement has been met, and he or she is satisfied. Each feedback helps me to improve on the job.”

4. Exercise Daily

You may ask me what exercise has got to do with work habits. The truth is they are correlated. Your physical disposition affects personal productivity. This is why exercise will rank high on the list of exceptional work habits.

Several studies have pointed out that physical exercise is one of the essential work habits you need if you want to be healthier and live a happier life. Exercise will help you achieve quality sleep, optimized memory, mental alertness, and better concentration. You can’t accomplish this with a sedentary lifestyle. It will even impact your financial life.

According to the Journal of Labor Research, those who exercise daily were discovered to earn about nine percent on the average than those who live a sedentary life.[2]

5. Make Healthy Choices

If you continuously make some unhealthy choices, the truth is it will not only impact your mind and body negatively, but it will also affect your professional success. Therefore, making healthy choices is a crucial work habit.

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Here is how to make informed choices:

  • Write down those daily activities that add value to your health to assess your lifestyles.
  • List those habits that you think are hazardous to your health.
  • Select one of the healthy habits and devise a plan to increase it. For instance, if you read for 30 minutes daily, increase it to 60 minutes daily.
  • Pick one of the unhealthy choices and plan how to decrease it. For instance, if you are always tempted to taking soda by 4 pm every day to boost your energy, switch to taking herbal tea or water.
  • Select one of the bad work habits and substitute them with good work habits. For instance, if you browse social media immediately, you wake up in the morning, replace that habit with a yoga exercise or early morning meditation.
  • Evaluate your achievement every weekend. If you are not making progress, find out what’s the issue and adjust, so you don’t repeat the same mistake.

6. Engage in Reflective Practice

Reflection is a habit of reflecting on your ideas, thoughts, and actions in a bid to engage in a life-long learning process. It is also paying rapt attention to the values that inform your daily habits. Reflective practice helps you in cultivating vital skills and evaluating your effectiveness instead of going with the flow. It enables you to find out the motives behind your actions and curate a better approach in doing them subsequently.

Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston. She spends most of her time studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and authenticity. She recommended you:

“Talk to yourself like someone you respect, with tough love and honesty.”

Meanwhile, most people are limited by the outcomes of that endeavor. Radical honesty demands standing in your resolution. This act of honesty will also enable you to make the right decisions, communicate better, and learn.[3]

Create a work habit by dedicating some time to ask the following questions:

  • Am I organized? Do I recall things?
  • Am I focused or get easily distracted? Do I need to reinforce a work habit/
  • Which of my skills stands out?
  • What are the challenges facing?
  • What distractions or tasks may impact my profession or career?
  • What impact am I making?
  • What makes me happy?
  • How do I want to improve every aspect of my life?

Reflective practice is a work habit that can help you achieve happiness in your personal and professional life.[4]

7. Find Time To Recharge

Your energy carries the same level of importance as your time. It does not make sense having enough time with no energy to remain productive.

Yes! It’s good to prioritize and also apply some productivity tactics. But you also need to learn how to take care of yourself.

Highly effective leaders find time to recharge. This means they get sufficient sleep each night. They also exercise and eat healthily.

If you are finding it difficult to concentrate on the job, evaluate your work habits. Jeff Bezos said of getting good sleep:

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“I prioritize it. I think better and have more energy.”

Bezos advocates for eight hours of good sleep. He said,[5]

“If you shortchange good sleep, you may win some additional productive hours, but that productivity will remain an illusion. Quality matters than quantity when it comes to decisions and interactions.”

8. Employ the Eisenhower Matrix to Track Long-Term Priorities

Sometimes, while trying to be productive, you focus on the short term. However, Peter Drucker, the renowned management legend, affirmed that:

“There is nothing as useless as efficiently performing activities that deserve no attention at all.”

The Eisenhower Matrix, utilized by Dwilight Eisenhower in making informed decisions while he was a general, was popularized in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People written by Stephen Covey. This matrix assists you in determining the tasks you should work on and those you should ignore.

Do you want to create your Eisenhower Matrix now?

Here’s how to go about it:[6]

    Are you working on urgent tasks that are not important? Devise the means of delegating, automating, or eliminating those tasks.

    Are you engaged in activities that are not important and urgent? Then ignore those tasks!

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    The Eisenhower Matrix simplifies the establishment of priorities.

    9. Utilize the 80/20 rule

    You need to focus on the most significant tasks. The 80/20 principle is an excellent approach to prioritize your tasks.

    Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, discovered the principle. It is popularly known as the Pareto principle. According to this principle,

    “80% of your results emanate from 20% of your efforts.”

    To develop a good work habit, you need to discover the most rewarding 20% of your activities. Then, devise the means of reducing the 80% of your schedule. This will create more time for you to focus on the most impactful activities.

    Final Thoughts

    Highly exceptional people may seem like robots. Sometimes, they have only learned how to prioritize their tasks, surmount challenges, and overcome procrastination.

    Good work habits are crucial to achieving optimal performance in every aspect of your life. A client gives you a 5-star for quality performance, but he or she does not rate others the same way.

    Managers and business colleagues will love to collaborate with you when you possess exceptional work habits.

    Productive work habits will make you stand out in your business and workplace. Clients will value you for your efficiency and hard work

    Exceptional people are not brilliant than the rest of the world — they have only developed work habits that make them stand out from the rest of the world.

    Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    More by this author

    Leon Ho

    Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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    Last Updated on August 6, 2020

    Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

    Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

    Bristol is the most congested city in England. Whenever I have to work at the office, I ride there, like most of us do. Furthermore, I always make sure to go at off hours; otherwise, the roads are jam-packed with cars, buses, bikes, even pedestrians. Why is that? Because everyone is working a traditional 9 to 5 work day.

    Where did the “9 to 5” Come From?

    It all started back in 1946. The United States government implemented the 40 hour work week for all federal employees, and all companies adopted the practice afterwards. That’s 67 years with the same schedule. Let’s think about all the things that have changed in the 67 years:

    • We went to the moon, and astronauts now live in space on the ISS.

    • Computers used to take up entire rooms and took hours to make a single calculation. Now we have more powerful computers in our purses and back pockets with our smartphones.

    • Lots of employees can now telecommute to the office from hundreds, and even thousands of miles away.

    In 1946 a 9-5 job made sense because we had time after 5pm for a social life, a family life. Now we’re constantly connected to other people and the office, with the Internet, email on our smartphones, and hashtags in our movies and television shows. There is no downtime anymore.

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    Different Folks, Different Strokes

    Enjoying your downtime is an important part of life. It recharges your batteries and lets you be more productive. Allowing people to balance life and work can provide them with much needed perspective and motivation to see the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve.

    Some people are just more productive when they’re working at their optimal time of day, after feeling well rested and personally fulfilled.  For some that can be  from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m; for others, it could be  2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

    People have their own rhythms and routines. It would be great if we could sync our work schedule to match. Simply put, the imposed 8-hour work day can be a creativity and morale killer for the average person in today’s world.

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    Productivity and Trust Killer

    Fostering creativity among employees is not always an easy endeavor, but perhaps a good place to start is by simply not tying their tasks and goals to a fixed time period. Let them work on their to-do list at their own pace, and chances are, you’ll get the best out of your employee who feels empowered instead of babysat.

    That’s not to say that you should  allow your team to run wild and do whatever they want, but restricting them to a 9 to 5 time frame can quickly demoralize people. Set parameters and deadlines, and let them work at their own creative best with the understanding that their work is crucial to the functioning of the entire team.

    Margaret Heffernan, an entrepreneur who previously worked in broadcasting, noted to Inc that from her experience, “treating employees like grown-ups made it more likely that they would behave the same way.” The principle here is to have your employees work to get things done, not to just follow the hands on the clock.

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    A Flexible Remote Working Policy

    Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously recalled all her remote workers, saying she wanted to improve innovation and collaboration, but was that the right decision? We’ve all said that we’re often more productive in a half day working from home than a full day working in the office, right? So why not let your employees work remotely from home?

    There are definitely varying schools of thought on remote working. Some believe that innovation and collaboration can only happen in a boardroom with markers, whiteboards and post-it notes and of course, this can be true for some. But do a few great brainstorms trump a team that feels a little less stressed and a little more free?

    Those who champion remote working often note that these employees are not counting the clock, worried about getting home, cooking dinner or rushing through errands post-work. No one works their 9-5 straight without breaks here and there.  Allowing some time for remote working means employees can handle some non-work related tasks and feel more accomplished throughout the day. Also, sometimes we all need to have a taste of working in our pajamas, right?

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    It’ll be interesting to see how many traditional companies and industries start giving their employees more freedom with their work schedule. And how many end up rescinding their policies like Yahoo did.

    What are your thoughts of the traditional 9-5 schedule and what are you doing to help foster your team’s productivity and creativity? Hit the comments and let us know.

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