Many who walk into their first job or first step in a new career make common mistakes that can set back their career path and diminish their reputation in the workplace. Here are five subtle things that you can stop doing this year to be more successful at work.
Stop using “busy” as an excuse.
Walk into every meeting or exchange assuming that the other person(s) is simply busier than you are. Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t, but the bottom line is that everyone is busy. Instead of mentioning how busy you are – or worse, using it as a cop out – start focusing on solutions and emphasize your own strategies for combating “busy syndrome.” Odds are, you’ll end up finding a lot more time in your schedule as a result.
Kick bad habits before and after work.
The time you spend away from work can have just as much impact as the time you spend at your desk. If you’re only getting 5-6 hours of sleep, try heading to bed an hour earlier. Similarly, stop hitting the snooze button multiple times every morning, because it programs your mind and body to expect the extra sleep every morning. Instead, set your coffee maker the night before and push yourself to hit the snooze button just once. You might even become a morning person. Other subtle adjustments can be as simple as committing to drinking more water, eating healthier lunches, and choosing your outfit the night before work. Remember that it takes about three weeks to truly develop a new habit, but once you do, you’ll see changes in your work performance as well as your personal life.
Stop isolating yourself at your desk.
Instead of hunkering down over a series of assignments, commit to “sprints” to help you get through each task more efficiently, and then break up each sprint by connecting with a co-worker (when appropriate; don’t disturb all your peers on a regular basis) or going for a five minute walk. Doing so will help you to appear more approachable throughout the work day but also send a clear message as to when you are actually “heads down.” Employees who spend the whole day glued to their desks are not only difficult to approach or come to for suggestions or ideas, but it’s tough to decipher when they actually need space to get their work done.
Don’t make arbitrary commitments.
One of the best ways to grow professionally in a company is to start getting involved with tasks and projects that are normally outside of your role. Doing so will offer you exposure to other elements of the company, and, more importantly perhaps, will showcase a variety of your skill sets to people you might not work with normally. Be sure that you are conscious about what you decide to support and what you have to turn down – your new ventures at work should never interfere with your core responsibilities.
Stop fearing feedback.
For new hires in particular, hearing constructive feedback can be a difficult art to learn. Being open minded to feedback is a powerful tool, though, and one of the best ways to learn in a new role. If you can weather feedback well, not only will it display a certain level of maturity, but you will have a clear sense of what you need to do (or stop doing) to move ahead more efficiently in your role and future roles. Asking questions like, “What can I do better next time?” are a great way to start a healthy dialogue with a manager or co-worker, and always suggest that you are taking the success of your role seriously and contributing in the best possible way.