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5 Misconceptions New Grads Have About the Workforce

5 Misconceptions New Grads Have About the Workforce

For the majority of college graduates, the next step after marching across the stage is entering Corporate America. During college, we develop an idea of what we think the workforce will be like. During finals week, we dream about what it must be like to not have exams, homework, and research papers to complete. And, as we check our bank accounts, we no doubt wonder what it will be like to have a consistent paycheck coming in.

Life will indeed change in a big way once a graduate makes the transition from classroom to cubicle. But often, new graduates have misconceptions about exactly how things will change for them. Below, I share 5 of the most common workplace misconceptions new grads tend to have. Which of these applies to you?

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1. I have a great GPA, so finding a job will be no problem.

Your GPA is only one factor employers will be looking for when considering you for a position. With so many experienced professionals looking for the same jobs new grads are applying for, it is going to take more than good grades to impress perspective employers. Grades are important, but make sure you bring plenty of experience to the table as well. Although you may not have much full-time work experience as a new graduate, make sure your resume shows you have taken part in activities that demonstrate your strength in teamwork, project planning, and time management. These qualities will serve you well in your first job.

2. I will no longer need to live like a poor college student.

One of the best things about landing your first job is earning a consistent paycheck. For many new grads, they will be making more money than they have made at any other point in their lives once they land that first job. While this stability may afford you a few luxuries that were out of reach during the college years, proper budgeting and money management are necessary to set you up for a secure financial future. Enjoy the fruits of your labor, but do this only after bills and debt payments are taken care of each month.

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3. My coworkers will be excited to have a new energetic team member on board.

While your coworkers may welcome you with open arms, remember that you are entering a dynamic that you are unfamiliar with. As you seek to add value and learn more about your role, be mindful of the norms already at play in your workplace. Learn who your advocates are. Learn which individuals to steer clear of. Unfortunately, you may run into some colleagues who, for some reason, are threatened by change and therefore will not accept you right away. Do not be surprised; simply do a good job and work on building relationships with those who are willing to reciprocate.

4. If I work hard, I will advance quickly.

In college, hard work yields somewhat immediate gratification. You study hard, you are rewarded with an A on your test. If you pursue an office in a club, there’s a vote, and you find out whether you won or lost. You spend hours writing a research paper, and within a few weeks, you find out that you scored a passing grade.

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In the workforce, feedback is not always so swift. Sometimes, you will work on projects that you feel demonstrate the best work you are capable of only to receive little if any accolades from your boss. There will be moments where you are expected to go above and beyond on a project, only to do it again next week with seemingly little reward. When you work as part of a team, you will be expected to bring your best each week, not because there’s a reward in it for you, but because that’s everyone’s job. Although your coworkers may not pat you on the back for every effort you make, it is not going unnoticed. Consistency is rewarded in the workplace. Do your best on everything you put your hand to, even if it seems like no one is watching.

5. I’ve got my degree(s), so I am done with the classroom.

Today, continuing education and lifelong learning are the keys to success in the workplace. You may be done with your full-time studies, but there will certainly be many opportunities for you to return to the classroom during your working years. Many young professionals choose to attend night classes to obtain a graduate degree that will help them advance in their professional lives. But even if you have already obtained all the degrees you need, you may want to earn a professional certification such as Project Management Professional (PMP) or another certification specific to your industry. In order to obtain these valuable designations, employees often attend classroom trainings or “bootcamps” in addition to studying many hours on their own.

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The classroom is a great place to learn practical skills, network with professional peers, and gain deeper knowledge of your job function. Do not shy away from the classroom after graduation. Always be searching for opportunities to further your education, whether it’s in pursuance of a degree or some other type of education.

Featured photo credit: Konstantin Chagin via media.lifehack.org

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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.

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Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

Reference

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