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Professional Habits to Adopt To Progress at Work

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 29 Sep 2010 | comments*Discuss
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In order to progress in any career, you’ve got to be tuned in and prepared both mentally and physically if you’re going to attain your goals.

Drawing up a list of achievable career goals is often useful in terms of staying focused and keeping on track in the long term but it’s on a day-to-day basis that you can really set out your stall and by adopting some professional habits and routines and by sticking to them, it will help steer you on course to fulfilling your ambitions in your chosen career.

Things To Do Lists

It’s very easy to get sidetracked or diverted on any given day at work. Whilst it’s inevitable that all jobs sometimes call upon you to be flexible and to sometimes switch tasks at short notice, keeping a daily ‘things to do’ list either on paper or on your computer can help you work effectively and maximise your performance.

Prioritise your tasks in terms of their importance and work through your list stage by stage. This will help you stay organised and to meet any deadlines you may have been set. It will also help you to avoid having to take work home with you or having to work late, both of which can often cause a worker to become demoralised which will severely hamper any career progression.

Good Timekeeping

All employers want professional workers who are at work on time. Therefore, punctuality – often to the point of sometimes being early – is a useful trait to get into the habit of keeping. It might simply be getting into work 10 minutes early and you don’t need to be working during that 10 minute period but by being punctual, it will give you the opportunity to get organised at the beginning of your day so that you’ll be well prepared for when you actually start work.

Adopting good timekeeping habits will also help when it comes to hitting deadlines. If you have a deadline for, say, 5pm, try to hit it a good 15 to 30 minutes early. This will not only reduce any stress at work but will also give you an opportunity to relax a little and recharge before moving on to your next task.

Learn Something New Each Week

The greater your knowledge about a particular job or industry, the better positioned you are to progress within your career. Too many talented people are often overlooked for promotion simply because they choose to ‘coast’ through their jobs and don’t attempt to keep up with the latest industry trends and developments. Therefore, you should make it your business to learn something new about your industry every week.

Get hold of trade magazines related to your employment or do some research on the internet about your company and get to understand where they fit into the bigger picture of the industry as a whole. By understanding your company’s goals, it can help you to achieve your own.

Be Accountable

No employer likes workers who are continually passing the buck so be accountable for all of your actions whilst at work. Be professional and understand what is expected of you and get the job done. One of the biggest bugbears for employers is people who make excuses or apportion blame to others. So being accountable is a habit which employers respect.

Stay Organised

Whether you have a desk job, you work in a factory or even if you work outdoors, you’re bound to have some kind of designated work space and probably equipment too. To reduce stress and to increase your productivity, you should try to keep your workspace tidy and organised. It will help you to find things more quickly and will make your job a whole lot easier.

Time Management

Managing your time effectively is going to make you more efficient and increase your productivity and value to the company so it’s a good habit to get into. If you find there are simply not enough hours in the working day, see if you can come up with a strategy to rectify that. It may well mean you taking a long hard look at what you’re doing at work on a day-to-day basis and keeping a diary.

You’ll often be amazed at the amount of time you waste reading and answering e-mails as they come in, instead of allocating a set period in which to deal with e-mail. And, don’t forget the chats around the water cooler. Might they not wait until your lunch break?

No one is saying that work shouldn’t be fun or that you must never be sociable whilst you’re working but you need to keep at the forefront of your mind the tasks you need to complete and by what time if you want to manage your time effectively.

There are, of course, many other professional habits which will help you with your career progression. Remaining flexible, embracing change, having an ability to relate to your superiors as well as to colleagues are all good traits which are common to any form of employment.

The fact of the matter is that it’s those people who take a pro-active approach to their work that are likely to be earmarked for promotion as opposed to those who tend to drift through their working day without taking much notice of anything going around them except the clock on the wall telling them that they can go home now.

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