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20 Common Work Mistakes You May Have Been Making Every Day

20 Common Work Mistakes You May Have Been Making Every Day

You want to get ahead at work, but your journey to the top won’t have to take nearly as long if you stop making these common work mistakes.

1. Overworking.

According to the U.S. BLS, Americans are 400% more productive now than they were in 1950. And you want to prove your worth, so you pack on the projects just to show you’re capable of carrying the world (and maybe Venus, too) on your shoulders. But all you’re doing is draining your capacity to crank out the stellar work you need to produce. The more you work, the more stupid you become, making costly mistakes because of your decreased brain volume (thank you, stress).

Work less, but smarter.

2. Powering through.

In 2012, only one in five Americans left their desks for lunch. But working through your break decreases your productivity and your focus. When you take breaks, you give your brain the time it needs to recharge and refresh, and this is uncompromisable (especially in creative jobs).

If you feel you’re on a roll, jot down some memory-jogging notes and you’ll pick up exactly where you left off when you get back, steam gained, not lost.

3. Lack of sleep.

No matter how many times it’s been said, it’s never enough. Many of us just don’t like to sleep. We feel unproductive and slack. But in reality, NOT sleeping makes us less productive! Sleep strengthens our memory, allows us to prep mentally for the tasks ahead, and even regulates our metabolism, as reported by recent studies in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Stop shaving hours off your night, start adding quality to your work.

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4. Writing nonsense.

You may have a lot to say in that email to your colleague or boss, but avoid it. Chit-chat is the fastest way to get that email deleted instead of read. Leaders at the top of any powerful organization refuse to read or send long emails.

You want to send a pro impression. Keep your emails short (under 300 words) and to the point, and the recipient will love that you respect their time and will actually read it.

5. Slouching.

Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you get to slouch. Slouching is not only bad for your posture, it’s bad for your image. People perceive slouchers as slackers. Your posture influences how people perceive you, as well as how confident you are. Amy Cuddy and her famous TED Talk on power postures reveals there are physical changes that happen when we adopt a particular stance and that explains why we are perceived as leaders when we stand tall and straight.

You’re in this game to win it, so work on aligning those shoulders with your ears. You may even get a raise out of it.

6. Not looking at the big picture.

You work in an office, yes, but you still want to be a leader. Do you want your boss’s job? Do you want HIS boss’s job? Don’t resign yourself to the cubicle and wait for the Universe to drop a management or ownership position in your lap.

Learn how and why the leaders in your world make the decisions they make and train your brain to make decisions based on the “big picture”.

7. Rambling.

Say what you have to say and stop. Rambling makes you look like an amateur, at best. At worst? You look like a liar.

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Keep your conversations on point at all times to let your higher-ups know you mean business.

8. Looking for another job.

You might not be happy. Who would be with minimum wage and a boss with a bad attitude? But don’t look for another job while on the job you currently have. Accountemps uncovered that three out of 10 employees job hunt while on the job. Even if you’re not trying to get ahead in the office you’re in, you could bring demise faster than you planned, if you’re caught fishing off-shore.

9. Facebooking.

Facebook on company time? Salary.com surveyed employees and found that 41% are using Facebook at work. You know your boss is reading your posts, right? What do you suppose he thinks when he sees your “Delicious Mexican for lunch again today!” post? You think he’s thinking “Let’s give him a raise”? Nope. He’s wondering why you’re not pimping your company or already focusing on what you’re going to do after lunch.

10. Complaining.

Everyone has to vent. Do it when you get home. Venting at work makes you look like a nagger and a whiner, taking away points from your overall success score. Having a listening partner can do wonders for your ability to take crap in the office (making you look like the rockstar you are).

Set up a daily or weekly time to yell and scream to an objective third party who is simply going to listen and say, “I hear you. That is frustrating.”

11. Not communicating.

If you don’t talk to your team, how will they know what needs to be done? And if you and your colleagues are working on a project together, how will you figure out who does what? They’re not mind-readers. And you’re not telepathic. The National Association of IT Professionals reports that 28% of project failures are due to a lack of communication.

Work out a time for weekly meetings to get everyone on the same page. Your boss will love the initiative.

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12. Not controlling your voice.

Asking for a raise and having your voice crack right in the middle of your request is the fastest way to a denial of said request. Learn to speak confidently and clearly so you always come across as someone who knows his stuff. As Nick Morgan, author of “Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact,” points out, the richer and more resonate your voice, the more authoritative you sound. So ask with your leadership voice, letting your voice rise with passion and fall with authority, and you’ll stand a better chance of getting what you want.

13. Not prepping for meetings.

You don’t just breeze into the President’s office, totally unprepared to rebut any possible retort he might have about your project. Being unprepared is not only sophomoric, it shows a great disrespect for your position and your colleagues. Bye-bye raise, promotion, and big cushy chair.

Know everything you can possibly know about your boss’s needs and anticipate his questions/comments/inquiries so you can address them on the spot.

14. Playing games.

You cannot become VP by spending your days playing phone games like Candy Crush. Lay off the games. Focus on your work. Focus on the objectives your management team expects from you. But go even bigger than that. Focus on the things that would make you a superstar in their eyes. Push yourself to the next level.

15. Being too nice.

You can’t keep doing favors for your colleagues. You work hard, right? Make the rest of your team work hard, too. If you’re letting them skate by, then you’re nothing more than the office workhorse and the only thing you’ll get for it is that haggard, overworked look around the eyes.

When people ask you to do them favors, think very well about what you’ll gain from saying yes.

16. Not smiling.

Who said smiling is overrated? Making your co-workers feel valued is a trait that will take you to the next level. It shows you’re a team player. You work for the greater good. And Pryce-Jones reported that smiling and happy people at work are engaged in work-related activities 80% of the time, as opposed to the unhappy grumblers who are productive only 40%. And if you don’t feel like smiling, here’s evidence that says doing it anyway will make you happier. Win-win!

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17. Overusing your phone.

Using your phone at work could cost you your raise if you’re spending more time with it in your hand than your mouse (Hint: We know you’re playing Candy Crush again. Or, worse, you’re on Tinder.)

Avoid the urge to check your email, answer your mother (again), or surf the web by locking your phone in your drawer, only pulling it out at lunch and on breaks.

18. Not writing it down.

Being creative is a must. If you aren’t creative, you have no advantage over the other Nagging Nancy in the next cubicle over. And ideas have the habit of coming at horribly inopportune times, which means you probably won’t remember them.

Spend time each day coming up with ideas and write them down. Keep a notebook with you and write down every idea that comes to you. You’ll not only have a created a journal of wealth, but you will have developed one of the most powerful muscle in your body: the one that is going to carry you to the top in the business world.

19. Wearing multiple faces.

This is not high school. This is the real deal. Don’t waste your valuable time making friends with all feuding parties. Inevitably, if you get embroiled in the office drama, someone will stab you in the back. Be courteous to all, but don’t take your eyes off that trophy position.

In the end, avoid as much as you can of office politics or learn how to play the game more ethically than the rest.

20. Not dressing the part.

Want to be a success? Make them think you already are one. Whatever the style of your office is, step it up one notch. Even Neil Patel talks about how simply wearing a particular watch vetted him profits. It’s important to look the part you want to play. Period.

Invest in a wardrobe that will increase your value.

These common work mistakes are keeping you squarely positioned in your cubicle. Get out by vowing to make this the year you break your bad work habits and develop habits that will smash your competition.

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Last Updated on July 18, 2019

How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

How to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills For a Swift Career Switch

Most people grow up with dreams to go to college and graduate with high-paying job offers waiting for them the week after graduation. Others may favor non-traditional career paths. But the desire is the same: to find a job we love where compensation is commensurate with experience.

However, plans change. For instance, what started out as a dream to be a surgeon is cut short by a nasty injury and you’re debating how to transition into a new role. Or you might be facing being let go from your current employer and are anxious about “options out there.”

Whatever the case may be, switching careers can be intentional or unintentional. What matters is that you’re well-prepared, and the only way to do so is to learn new skills — hone in on your transferable skills.

Why Hone in on Your Transferable Skills?

There are several reasons you need to develop these skills if you want to go far in life and your career. In a nutshell, honing in your your transferable skills can lead to:

Better Job Offers

Continuous assessment and improvement of your skills widens the pool of job offers for you to make selections from. You’re no longer tethered to one industry as you’re able to lead your career by design, not by default.

People with transferable skills on a resume also open up opportunities for more potential employers.

Increase in Pay and More Responsibilities

You’ve heard the saying “with great power come great responsibility.” In your case, transferable skills make you more marketable to employers which could lead to pay raises.

Although this isn’t an automatic process– you have to be proactive about what you want in the marketplace, there is a chance that these pay raises will come with change in titles and roles.

A Shot at Entrepreneurship

Yes, changing career paths also includes the possibility of working for yourself. With these skills and work experience, you could live anywhere in the world and design a life and career you want.

We’ve talked about why you need to strengthen your transferable skills but what are some these skills, and how can you work on them?

13 Tips to Sharpen Your Transferable Skills

1. Update Your Resume

You might be surprised to know this but yes, updating your resume is a skill. The very first thing you should do while thinking about switching careers is to highlight attributes that make you very desirable candidate to employers.

Think about your volunteer experiences, freelance projects, and school projects. Although they might seem insignificant, they demonstrate your ability to deliver results that several companies are looking for.

While you might have held several positions since college, switching careers will require you to have a different type of resume.

There are three different types of resumes: functional, chronological, and a combination resume. However, if you are looking to switch careers you’ll want to have a functional resume. A functional resume is strengths-based that emphasizes skills that are transferable rather than a collection of dates and job titles.

2. Brush up on Your Communication Skills

Every attempt to get ahead in business and in life starts with the need to communicate effectively. Whether it is interpersonal, intercultural, or multi-generational, the ability to be seen and heard while respecting the boundaries of work relationship matters.

That’s why it’s one of the top skills you need to master. Strong communication skills allows you to effectively tailor your messages to specific audiences, which will make you a stronger asset to any organization.

To hone this skill:

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Pay attention to your listening skills. To communicate effectively, you need to first learn how to understand others.

Your ability to decode overt and implied messages, no matter how nuanced they are, is key to knowing how to foster deep relationships with others.

This article can also give you effective ways to enhance your communication skills:

How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

3. Learn Technical (or Business) Writing

Another form of communication, writing, is a skill that can take you anywhere.

Companies communicate a lot through written memos, emails, newsletters, and other audio-visual means. But at the crux of this all is someone or some people who are tasked with translating the organization’s vision into statements anyone can understand.

To hone this skill:

Consider taking some free or paid classes online. You can accomplish this through several community colleges or online platforms like Lynda, Udemy or edX .

4. Practice Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

No matter how intelligent you are, no one will take you seriously if you’re unable to pull off a decent level of persuasion through presentation skills.

Most presentation can be done through either electronic devices or require your physical presence. Your chosen career may require you to be in front of several hundreds of people or you could be charged with developing materials for presentation.

To hone this skill:

Volunteer to lead projects that give you some responsibility for putting together presentations.

Also, try taking courses that will improve your public speaking skills if you feel lacking.

These tips on public speaking would be helpful too:

The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

5. Get Comfortable with Identifying Problems and Solutions

Every organization has got its problems no matter how greener the grass is on the other side.

How to hone this skill:

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Practice being resourceful.

Do you know where to find every company policy on the intranet in less than five minutes?

Think about a time you noticed some inefficiency at work and proposed a solution. Think about instances where you lent your voice to a cause which resulted in improved processes for your department.

No matter how small or inadequate you might feel, you’ve got some problem-solving skills that some organizations want.

If you look for more ways to improve your problem solving skills, take a look at this article:

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6. Recognize Your Team-Building Ability

Your ability to smoothly switch careers also depends on how well you can energize your team, especially if you’re aiming for a leadership role. Unfortunately, team-building usually isn’t something you learn on the job in most careers unless you hold a managerial position.

The good thing is that you possibly know one or two things about team-building. Think back to moments in college when you had group projects with colleagues and had to work with 3 to 4 other strangers for months. Were you able to get past your differences and disagreements to focus on the uniqueness of everyone at the table?

Making a career switch might require that you work with multidisciplinary teams whether you have a deep knowledge of what the other team does or not. I can easily think of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and social workers working closely to achieve the goals in a patient’s care plan.

How to hone this skill:

Look for collaborative projects and team building activities that excite you and challenge yourself with new possibilities.

Try some of these tactics to keep your team motivated as well:

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

7. Lean into Your Leadership Skills

Although similar to the previous point, leadership skills extend far beyond building teams, managing time sheets and correcting behavior.

What I’m referring to here is your ability to develop a vision, believe in it, and inspire buy-in from everyone involved. This isn’t about knowing how to run a particular machine; it’s about how to lead a team of people with various backgrounds, experiences, and ideas of how things should be done.

How to hone this skill:

Although more complex than the rest, it all starts with an introspective look into your strengths and weaknesses. Then get a mentor or a coach who can bring out your leadership qualities so you can operate from a place of strength.

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Learn more about the effective leadership types here:

5 Types of Leadership that Help You Build a High Performance Team

8. Improve Your Analytical Skills

Are you good at taking large amount of data and interpreting them? Your skills could come in handy.

Organizations are looking for people to make sense of the data around them, explain how it affects profitability, and make projections based on it. Best of all? You don’t need to be an accountant to be analytical.

How to hone this skill:

Try taking data interpretation classes online or at a community college. Learning Microsoft Excel or Access is also a plus. If you’re ambitious enough, you could consider getting additional certifications to up the ante.

Take a look at these ways to help sharpen your analytical skills:

What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success

9. Don’t Discount Your Time Management and Prioritization Skills

How good are you when it comes to deciding how important tasks are, organizing schedules, and coordinating plans?

Should you be willing, there is a market waiting for you out there. Organizations and busy executives are always looking for talented individuals to outsource these tasks to.

How to hone this skill:

Although not everyone possesses secretarial superpowers, you can improve this skill by focusing on taking huge tasks and breaking them into smaller goals or steps in order to achieve a bigger goal.

Here, you can learn to prioritize to achieve more:

The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

10. Embrace Your Creative and Critical Thinking Side

Although it’s often believed that creativity is for the arts and right-brained people, I believe everyone is capable of being creative. In fact, most organizations recognize creativity as a vehicle that will drive successful inventions in the future.

How to hone this skill:

Try doing something fun. As simple as this sounds, you’d be surprised to learn how much. In fact, behavioral and learning scientist, Marily Oppezzo, says taking a walk might be all you need to get your creative juices flowing.[1]

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Anyone can be creative, you just need the right way to train your brain:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

11. Don’t Stop Learning Tech Knowledge and Skills

Being tech-savvy is a huge plus. If you have an affinity with computers, software applications and are abreast of technological improvements, it is a transferable skill that is worth highlighting.

You don’t have to be a young college graduate with silicon valley dreams to work

How to hone this skill:

All you need is the determination and the readiness to learn. This article will give you some ideas on the types of skills to learn:

How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

12. Build Networks and Relationships

You aren’t free from networking. Not at the moment. With your goal to switch to a different career, your networking skills will come in handy.

Fortunately for you, networking doesn’t have to be so hard.

How to hone this skill:

Attend conferences and job fairs. Chances are you already have people in your network you can move you closer to your dream career.

To enhance your networking skills, take these steps:

How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

Final Thoughts

Although there are several people with the same qualification and degree(s) you possess, what ultimately determines hireability comes down to a myriad of things such as culture fit, how teachable you are, cultural sensitivity, inter-generational awareness, and your ability to navigate uncertainty.

You have a chance to stand out by letting your dream companies know how these soft skills make you an invaluable asset, and how saying ‘YES’ to you is a win-win for both parties.

Happy career switching!

More Resources About Career Advancement

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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