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