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7 Important Things Our First Job Taught Us

7 Important Things Our First Job Taught Us

Entering the workforce for the first time is going to be as instructive as it will be potentially terrifying. Most of us get jobs when we’re fairly young, and the realization that we will spend most of our lives answering directly to somebody other than ourselves isn’t an easy thing to shake.

The thing is, our first jobs, no matter how ridiculous, are going to stay with us; they’re going to teach us things we would never learn elsewhere, and to a certain extent, shape the person we’ll become later in our professional lives. Here are seven important lessons you’ll learn from your first job.

people skills

    1. People Skills are 90 Percent of Any Job.

    The other 10 percent consists of the actual skills you learned at college or otherwise acquired along the way. The problem is, we don’t exist in a bubble; we’ll have to deal with other people pretty regularly.

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    Knowing how to communicate effectively, as well as being personable, is going to be (for some of us) the hardest part of the job. Even if you work from home as an independent contractor, you still answer to (and will have to interact with) real people.

    2. You Need to Stay Two Steps Ahead.

    Our success at our jobs – no matter the job – is less about any given moment, day or project, and more about the next. Anticipation is a thing we’ll learn early, whether it’s anticipating what a customer will want before they know how to ask for it, or anticipating the next demand our boss will make.

    If our first jobs teach us anything, it’s that one of the quickest ways to distinguish ourselves in the workplace is to take initiative. Don’t wait around to be told what to do; don’t make any assumptions, either, but if you’re given a chance to jump on the next thing that needs doing, without being instructed to do so, you’ll probably be rewarded.

    3. Don’t be (Too) Afraid to Make Mistakes.

    Conventional wisdom tells us that human beings learn from our mistakes. Science tells us that we may learn better from our triumphs. I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle.

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    When it comes to tackling a job, you’re almost guaranteed to slip up once in a while. That’s what the “learning curve” is all about; it’s an understanding between you and your boss that you’re still getting used to how things work. The thing is, learning is a lifelong process. You’re going to make mistakes. Dreading them, or walking on eggshells all day to avoid them is no way to live.

    business

      4. Get Used to Monotony.

      With very few exceptions, most jobs out there are almost painfully dull. There may be slight variations along the way, but for the most part, our jobs will largely consist of the same activities and tasks on a daily basis.

      Learning to make the most of a predictable life is important; you’ll have to find your own ways to change things up from time to time and inject a little bit of variety into your working hours.

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      5. You’re Going to Work With People You Don’t Like.

      This might be the most important takeaway from our first jobs. It’s tempting to think that after you accept a job, you’ll find yourself among like-minded individuals who have everything in common with you. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, on occasion, you may end up feeling like you should take some animal repellant to work with you.

      I got my first job when I was 11 years old, at a local rental company. They rented chairs, tents, power equipment and dozens of other things I couldn’t name. It seemed like almost every other employee who worked there was some kind of ex-convict, swore like a sailor and chain-smoked. Needless to say, there weren’t any employee picnics, and if there were, I’d have come up with a great excuse not to go.

      job security

        6. Accepting Any Job Can be Risky.

        Getting hired is, for most of us, a cause for celebration, and for good reason. It’s a culmination of a potentially months-long process of drawn-out interviews and waiting and worrying. Unfortunately, what comes next is anything but certain.

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        Unless you’re the CEO’s daughter, your continued employment is far from assured. Neither is your financial stability. Learning not to take anything for granted is one of the most important life lessons you’ll ever learn.

        7. Getting Hired is Only the Beginning.

        So you’ve successfully landed a job. That’s great, but you’re still far from knowing everything you need to know about performing the job and, more importantly, immersing yourself in the culture of your new workplace.

        There are peoples’ names to learn and organizational procedures to memorize. Just because you work there now doesn’t mean you’re on even footing with your new co-workers; it’s going to take time and effort to make yourself a truly valuable piece of the puzzle. Find your strengths in the workplace and what kind of skills you offer that others can’t to make yourself truly valuable.

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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.

        More About Boosting Productivity

        Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

        Reference

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