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9 Ways To Speed Up Your Career Advancement

9 Ways To Speed Up Your Career Advancement

Career advancement is harder than it used to be. During the decades after World War 2, steady economic growth meant many opportunities. Today, many are torn between the aftermath of the 2007-2009 recession and the incredible possibilities described by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler in their ground breaking book Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think. Economic problems and distress are both present in our world. You get to choose what you want to focus on.

Let’s look at nine ways you can pick up the pace in your career advancement.

1. Work On Goals That Matter

It is difficult to get ahead when you don’t care about your daily work. Pursuing exciting goals is one of the key insights I learned from Michael Hyatt’s approach to goal setting. In the career context, you will probably receive annual goals from your employer (or client). If these goals fail to excite you, then set at least one goal to advance your career (e.g. learn new skills – see point 3 below) this year. If you don’t have stimulating goals, it will be difficult to muster the enthusiasm needed to get ahead.

2. Use A Reliable Personal Organization System

Personal organization is an essential skill to getting ahead. While technology helps, effectiveness in this area ultimately comes down to habits and using the right systems. For example, successful professionals know how to run a meeting. In addition, you need the capability to thrive in a rapidly changing world (i.e. no more complaining about the pace of change). Everyone can improve their personal organization by studying books such as Getting Things Done by David Allen.

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Tip: Learn how Dwight Eisenhower stayed focused and organized: How to be More Productive and Eliminate Time Wasting Activities by Using the “Eisenhower Box”.

3. Learn To Earn More

Delivering more value in your career is an essential skill to getting ahead. After six to twelve months in a given role, many of us become comfortable with the routine work we are expected to complete. That`s why you cannot assume your skills and knowledge will continue to grow at your day job. To expand your horizons, check out this list of 51 training resources.You can start by using free resources on the Internet – however, you are more likely to commit effort and attention if you pay your own money for training.

Tip: As an adult, you decide the best way to learn. Experiment with different approaches such as self-study (e.g. reading books), traditional classes and hiring someone to give you individual training and advice.

4. Navigate Power Like A Prince

Author Robert Greene reminds us that power is a reality in our daily work. That means taking the time to understand how powerful people can improve your career. For example, George Washington`s career expanded at a dramatic pace because he had powerful friends. Even if you are not seeking the CEO`s position, it pays to understand power and the priorities of people who make decisions. Otherwise, you risk being left in the cold in the next economic downturn.

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To expand your network and increase your power, use the following resources:

8 Networking Tricks To Help You Socialize In Any Event

7 Habits To Win In Office Politics

5. Maintain Focus on Results Rather Than Time

Many of us start our careers earning money as a hourly wage. Unfortunately, that early experience means you start equate `time worked`with `value created.` Nothing could be further from the truth. If you sit in your chair and stair out the window for an hour, the company lost money (and your reputation may take a hit).

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6. Exploit All of Your Benefits

If you work at a large company, you have a vast wealth of benefits at your disposal. At first glance, you will probably think about health and retirement benefits. Those are absolutely essential and well worth your effort. If you have complicated forms or paperwork to complete, it is a small price to pay. Even if you have to sacrifice one or two lunch hours to sort out your benefits, it is well worth it.

Using all of your benefits advances your career because this practice reminds you of your value. On another level, you’re also training yourself to work through corporate bureaucracy to achieve your goals.

7. Give Time, Attention And More To Your Network

As poet John Donne wrote, no man is an island. To get ahead in your career, especially at senior levels, your network makes the difference. There are no application forms (or online postings) for many of the best roles. Instead, people in your network are your resource. However, few people enjoy responding to desperate pleas for job hunting help. Start by giving value to your network: remember birthdays (send a card or gift), introduce people by email and otherwise (e.g. “Jane, meet Tim – you are both database experts and I think you would enjoy chatting”) and simply stay in touch.

How To Be The Most Interesting Person At A Networking Event 

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Read Mastermind Dinners: Build Lifelong Relationships by Connecting Experts, Influencers, and Linchpins by Jayson Gaignard. This is an innovative approach to improving your network by organizing dinners.

8. Protect The Asset By Keeping Up Your Health

In the short term, it is easy to imagine that you can trade your health for career advancement. Unfortunately, that’s a dangerous habit to build. Instead, take note from highly productive people such as President Obama (who works out on a regular basis) and British billionaire Richard Branson who fit fitness into their daily schedule.

Keeping up your health is good for your career because physically fit people tend to have more energy and better focus throughout the day. For an extended discussion of the mental health benefits of exercise, read Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by Harvard professor John J. Ratey.

9. Develop Conflict Management Skills

In the world of career advancement, you will face conflict. It is a fact that other people have different goals and interests: those differences often lead to conflicts. Unsuccessful people tend to struggle with conflicts. Instead, recognize that you can learn conflict resolution techniques to work through these problems. Handling conflict with confidence is a hall mark of executives and many other highly successful people.

Featured photo credit: Entrepreneur Start Up/StartupStockPhotos via pixabay.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

Not being able to stay productive at work is a problem that everyone runs into at some point; no matter how much you like your job, there are certain factors that prevent you from staying at maximum proficiency throughout the whole day.

A lack of productive focus at work can lead to extra stress on yourself, missed deadlines, passed opportunities, raise denial, demotion and even termination.

So, if you are someone who has trouble with your productivity, here are five effective tips on how to be productive at work:

1. Take breaks

First and foremost, it’s important for you to take regular breaks. Trying to work throughout the whole day will tire your brain, which will then cause you to doze off and think about something else.

If you keep working your brain, it will fill up and get jumbled with information—sort of like a computer hard drive. Taking a break would be like resetting your computer so that it can start afresh, or de-fragmenting the data so that all the information is in order.

This is a great thing because it allows you to solve problems you were unable to solve previously, by seeing it differently; if you are able to organize your thoughts properly, you will be able to take in new information more easily.

There have even been studies about methods of saving time and staying proficient, and taking breaks is one of the leading factors.

According to Christine Hohlbaum, the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, eating lunch away from your work area every day will greatly increase your productivity. Eating in your work area will give you the illusion that you are working, but whether you like it or not, your brain will begin to wander and think of something else and then you will be working tirelessly with no progress.

It’s important to take breaks before and during work too: if you come to work in a rush because you woke up late, your mind will not be mentally prepared for the day ahead, and you will spend the first 10 to 15 minutes trying to get organized and composed before you can actually start working.

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Instead, you should try to wake up 20 minutes earlier than the time it would take you to “just get” to work. Take that time to stare off into space and not worry about anything.

If you do this, your brain will be empty and ready for all the challenges it has coming for the next few hours.

If your employer only allows a set amount of breaks during the workday, that doesn’t mean you can’t just get up and walk around for a quick break every now and then.

Even if it’s only 5 minutes, it will refresh your brain and you will gain renewed energy to do your job.

Learn more about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

2. Pace yourself and balance your workload

One problem that most people run into is that they underestimate the amount of work they have to do, and end up doing 50% of the work in the last 20% of the time they have to do it. This is due to an issue of balancing one’s workload.

When you receive a project, or are doing a job you normally do, take some time to really plan out your work schedule.

Consider how much time it took you to do this last time; determine how you can break the project into smaller parts and which can only be accomplished on certain days, and whether anything might come up that could interfere with your plan.

All of these questions are important for starting on a project, and when answered, they will help you stay productive throughout each day.

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For example, if you needed to design a project to map out the amount of aid offered in various regions after Hurricane Sandy, you can break it up as follows:

You will need to know what organizations are offering help to begin with, how much aid those organizations gave or plan to give, which regions were hit by Sandy, and which regions suffered the greatest losses.

You start this project on a Thursday and know you have until Tuesday to gather this information.

In order to stay productive, you need to plan out your work week—now you know you can find out which organizations are involved in helping the Hurricane Sandy Victims any day since that information is online, but gathering information on the organizations may require you to call them.

Since phone calls can only be done during week days, you have to plan on gathering all of that information before the weekend comes.

That is just one example of a situation in which pre-planning your project will help you stay productive; had you researched the affected regions first, you would not have received the info on the organizations until the weekend, and may have missed your chance to call them.

That, in turn, would have wasted time you could have spent working on this project to finish it.

Knowing what you need to do, when you can do it, and how long it will take you, is important in balancing your workload and being more productive and efficient.

3. Put your work first

This is an issue that usually occurs with young people who are new to the workforce: they’re often tempted with offers to go out at midday, and then come back lost in thought and unfocused on their work-related tasks.

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While it is important to take breaks, your breaks should consist of you clearing your mind, not loading it up with other less important information—like sports.

However, that is not the only situation where you need to worry about putting your work first before all else.

In a work environment, the senior employees will oftentimes push some of their menial tasks onto the newer employees. If you fall into that category, you need to know that their work is not your work, so if you have tasks that need to be done, you need to do it first.

If you are a new employee, you must learn to say no to other people even when it means you may not be in their good graces anymore. You can help others out once your work is done, but you are paid to do your own work, not anyone else’s.

4. Don’t open your browser unless you need them

In this day and age, everyone is constantly monitoring their social network. This is a major pain point for companies, which is why many don’t allow employees to access their social networks on company workstations.

When you are at work, disconnect the internet from your phone and keep your browsers closed so you’re not tempted to log onto your social media accounts or browse any sites that are not work-related.

If you keep your browsers closed and phone tucked away, only to be used in an emergency, you will find yourself being a more productive employee right away. 

5. Try to be happy and optimistic

If you always have a negative outlook on life, you will be more distracted and less motivated to get work done, so it’s important for you to start your day off right.

This can be done by having a good breakfast or by taking time in the morning to watch one of your favorite TV shows before work.

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If you are happy, you will find yourself able to work much more productively as your mind won’t wander into worrying about something else.

Also, if you stay optimistic and keep telling yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to, the tasks will seem much less daunting and will go by much more quickly.

Take a look at more effective ways to stay positive at work:

15 Ways To Stay Positive At Work

Happiness and optimism are the keys to being a productive and happy employee.

All in all, heed the five tips above and you will find yourself being one of the most productive people at your company.

While you do not need to master them all, each and every one of them will help you become a better and more efficient employee.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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