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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 September 18, 2019

11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

Are you looking to move up the career ladder? Or maybe you’re tired of having a “job” and want to start looking for a more permanent career?

Whatever your motivation, you are going to have to learn some new and different hard skills to broaden your opportunities. After all, there’s a very famous quote that says:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

While the insanity part doesn’t really fit here, the overall message is a good one. If you are looking for a different result (career advancement, more money or even a career instead of a job), it’s up to you to make it happen. This is both the good news and bad news!

The good news is that because it’s up to you, you have complete control over it happening. The bad news is that change is hard. Humans are creatures of habit, that’s why we develop routines, and anything that disrupts that routine causes us anxiety. And we will do almost anything to get rid of that anxiety. The overweight person will calm their anxiety by eating that doughnut, the smoker will light up a cigarette to avoid anxiety.

What we want to do with this article is to give you the hard skills you’ll need to reduce that anxiety so you can move up that corporate ladder, make more money or have career instead of just a “job.”

The following hard skills are essential to learn if you want to advance your career. They may not be easy to take up, but definitely worth your effort of learning:

1. Cloud Computing

“Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence and more—over the Internet “the cloud” to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale. You typically pay only for cloud services you use, helping lower your operating costs, run your infrastructure more efficiently, and scale as your business needs change.” Microsoft[1]

There are many different jobs available in the cloud computing world today. They range from architects and developers to data scientists, security pros. Each job is its own specialty and requires a high level of specification for advancement.

This is definitely a hard skill that requires education. But if the tech world and computers are your thing you can make cloud computing a lucrative career.

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2. Data Mining and Statistical Analysis

Again, these are highly specialized fields. Data mining is defined as using large sets of data to look for anomalies and other patterns that can be used to predict future behavior.

Amazon is probably the best known company to use data mining. Have you ever noticed that when you buy something at Amazon, you’ll see a little ad at the bottom that says “customers who bought this also bought…”and it lists 2-3 other items? All of that information comes from data mining, by examining the millions of sales amazon makes they can predict that if you buy item #1 there is a high likelihood that you will buy one of the other items too. T

his not only increases sales for Amazon, but it also serves as a reminder for you that you may need these additional items for your project. This is very valuable information and has a wide range of uses. Although it has a bad reputation and evil sounding name, it is a very useful tool for maximizing productivity and sales.

3. Data Management

All companies today deal with a ton of data! Being able to manage that data in an efficient manor is not only highly prized, but a necessity.

We all have these things on our desks called computers. Unless there is a need for a paper copy, almost all of our data is computerized. Meaning that, in theory it is all at our fingertips. Being able to organize that data so that it’s easily and quickly retrievable is why computers are replacing filing cabinets!

However, just like the old fashion filing cabinet, data management on a computer is only good if it’s well organized. You want to make sure that you are keeping your data well organized so that it’s easy to find when needed. This is a skill that comes easily to some people (are you a person that makes lists? Good!) but with others it will be a skill that needs to be practices. Make sure that this is a discipline you master.

4. Scheduling

Being able to make and keep to a schedule is a very useful tool in both business and life. Effective scheduling means that you can prioritize projects, understand the tools needed to get the job done on time and that you are organized enough to lead people.

An important point here is to write things down! Whether it’s in an old fashion daily or weekly organizer or in a PDA. Have a copy of your schedule available at your fingertips at all times.

5. Financial Skills

These are especially important when looking for that promotion. The higher up the ladder you go, the more you’ll have to deal with things like accounting, budgeting, financial planning and cash flow management.

While you may not need to be an expert at all of these, you should have a good grasp of all of them. This is where taking a few night classes at your local community college is a good idea. You don’t need to become an expert, but brushing up on these skills will help you tremendously.

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6. Research Skills

These are important in all aspects of life, but especially in your work-life.

Are you looking for that first job out of school? Nothing impresses a boss or hiring manager more than someone who has researched the company. Trust me, they deal with people walking in off the street everyday looking for a job, but managers and owners need to see the value in hiring (or promoting) you.

So do your research and have some company specific questions ready to ask. Show that you are interested in working for that company or that position and not just “a” job or the “promotion” because you have seniority or need the money.

If it’s a promotion that you are after, never bad mouth the previous occupant. Instead pick out an example that he/she was good at and explain how you would like to use or expand that policy and how it would enhance the policy changes you’d like to make.

If it’s a new job you’re going for, then make sure to have some company specific questions ready to show that you have done your homework for the new position.

7. Marketing Skills

While marketing a companies products or services has always been a highly sought after skill. In today’s world, it can take on several different forms.

Some of the marketing skills that are highly sought after today include, SEO, Search Engine Optimization, SEM, Search Engine Marketing and marketing campaign management. Familiarity with Google Analytics as well as Word Press are also valuable.

While traditional marketing and branding were focused on advertising and selling. Almost all marketing efforts now a days are focused on the internet.

8. Network Security Specialist

Again, this is a highly skilled position that requires specialized training. But the amount of data that all companies store is significant, and if that data is leaked or stolen, it can costs them millions of dollars in both lost revenue and lawsuits.

So, if you have an interest in network security you will find the field both lucrative and stable.

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9. Communication Skills

At first glance, communication skills may not look like it fits into the category of “Hard Skills” that can help you succeed. But in this ever shrinking world where companies can do business from almost anywhere, communication is more and more important.

Are you bilingual? It really doesn’t matter what language you speak, there’s a company out there looking for someone who speaks that language.

10. Computer Programming

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that computers are going to be around for a while! As both the hardware and software get more advanced, the need for computer programming is only going to increase.

11. Graphic Design

As of 2018, there were 4.37 million new websites launched.[2] A good number of them will fail because they just aren’t interesting enough visually. The use of templates and replicated websites is only making the problem worse.

Part of the way Google ranks sites is through originality, this almost ensures that replicated sites will never get ranked through Google. So the more original your site is, the more likely people will visit and actually spend time there.

That is what a good graphic designer does. Takes your basic idea and turns it into a website that people actually want to visit.

Embrace the Anxiety That Comes with Change

You know it’s going to be there, you know that you’ll want to give up as you’re learning these new skills but, you’ll also know that the end result is worth the journey.

Here’s a little trick when you’re feeling overwhelmed:

Have you ever met an ex-smoker who was sorry they quit? An ex-drinker or drug user that said life was much better before they quit? These people have gone through some of the most difficult challenges humans can go through including weeks, if not, months of intense physical withdrawal symptoms. They did it because they knew that the pain and anxiety they would experience would ultimately get them to a much better life.

Now what was that complaint you had about attending night-school?

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This is the part everyone hates, everyone thinks night-school, adult education and just generally giving up family and/or spare time. While those are certainly possible ways to develop the necessary skills, they aren’t the only way.

You’ll want to check with your human resources department because depending on the company, a certain degree maybe required in order to even be considered for a position. In those cases, night-school, on-line or some other form of adult education maybe your best route.

But as long as a degree isn’t required, then your options are wide open.

Let’s just say that you’re a sales person interested in becoming the sales manager but, the territory you’ve been given will never produce the sales figures that would make you stand out as a good candidate for sales manager. So how about you start your own side business (don’t compete with your company), but let’s say you enjoy golf.

In this day and age, there are plenty of places that will teach you how to sell products on-line and even set you up with your own website. So you start a site selling golf equipment and accessories (don’t worry, you won’t even have to carry inventory or worry about shipping).

Now, when that sales manager spot opens up, you can explain that even though other salespeople had better numbers than you, it had nothing to do with your sales ability, it was more of a consequence of the territory your were given.

And to prove it, you brought in some information about a side business, you started showing that you’re on target for a sales growth rate of 30% this year. And because you had to do all of the marketing for the business, you came up with some marketing strategies that you can bring to the new job (built-in experience).

The Bottom Line

We’ve put together these 11 hard skills as a way to give yourself a “leg up” on the competition. We’ve tried to make this a mixture of both skills that require a great deal of training, and also ones that you can work on and develop by yourself.

We know that not everyone is cut out to be a cloud computing expert, but we also know that working on and having good scheduling skills will make you a much more desirable candidate for the position!

We also don’t want you to discount the idea of a “side hustle“. Especially for people new to the workforce, having a business that you have started and run successfully shows potential employers that you have initiative, scheduling skills and ambition which can put you well ahead of your competition!

As usual, we hope you found this article both enjoyable and informative. If you did, may we ask that you share it with your family and friends through social media. It really does help us and is greatly appreciated!

More Skill to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Kyle Sterk via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Microsoft Azure: Cloud Computing
[2] Netcraft: December 2018 Web Server Survey

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