Good habits go a long way in moving your career and life forward. Those habits are not as hard to do as many people think and starting out with small things is the way to go. Important habits to ensure success include: 1) make lists; 2) start difficult; 3) don’t multitask; 4) prioritize; 5) get in early; and 6) never eat alone.
- Make Lists: Knowledge workers need to use lists because a lot of things are on our plate and lists help us organize things and free up mental space. Having a list of high priority items and low priority items is important. High priority items are items that either have high impact or have upcoming deadline. Low priority items are items that are everything else. Make sure you focus efforts on high priority items. Of course low priority items that take little effort are good to knock off the list. Review your lists at least weekly and if items should move from low priority to high priority or vice versa make sure to do so. Note your high priority lists should not have more than five things on it at a time and if it does so consistently then it is time to talk with your manager.
- Start Difficult: People start the day off with a full tank after a night’s rest and getting the difficult stuff done when you are on full just makes sense. Now there are some people that are rare where the best time for them to do difficult work is at night but this is rare. Key is no yourself and when your best mental time is and use this time to focus on the difficult tasks.
- Don’t Multitask: Difficult tasks deserve focus and should not be spent multitasking. This means when you are working on difficult tasks you might turn off instant messaging and block that time of day off on your calendar. Even logging out of your email is best and letting calls go to voicemail. Now of course how much of this you can do will depend a lot on your job but the general theme of not multitasking and putting focus on tough tasks is essential.
- Prioritize: Understand the priority of the work you are doing and focus on things with highest priority. This seems like an easy thing to do but many of us have so many different items on our plate that we lose sight of this and just do things that are convenient or we like to do at a given time when they do not have the highest priority. Further, if you are a manager make sure to clearly prioritize items for your team so that they can meet expectations.
- Get in Early: Getting in early is one of the things I consistently see of nearly all highly successful people. This goes in part to your tank is full discussion mentioned in (2) above and also not having others distracting you. Even if you don’t consider yourself a morning person, I recommend that you give a try for a month and see how you like it because I have seen people that never considered themselves morning people change their mind after they have given it a try.
- Never Eat Alone: Not only be successful in your day to day work but also making sure to build relationships with team members, colleagues, and others is important. The famous book “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz is a great read and I certainly believe in the thought of having as many coffees, lunches, and happy hours as you can fit in with other obligations is a great way to spend time. Doing this not only helps you get away from your desk and frees up your mind but it also helps further relationships that not only are rewarding as a human being but also often proves beneficial when trying to get work done or looking for that next opportunity.
Putting these good habits into practice will not only help you be more successful at work but work will also be more enjoyable. Let me know how these habits work for you and other key habits you practice to move your career and life forward.
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