Kicking this article off with a famous quote by F. M. Alexander "people do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their future" It's true, we are all creatures of habit. Improved performance and productivity at work don't just happen overnight, it's simply a byproduct of good habits in the workplace. Having said that, building a habit is easier said than done, while there's no concrete time frame on how long it takes to form a habit, it's believed to be around 66 days and consistency is key. So if you haven't worked on creating good work habits it's never too late!
While there are loads of good work habits you can start to work on out there, any of which I believe would benefit you somehow, here are the 7 workplace habits (which in my opinion have the greatest impact) that I've carefully picked out to help you get started. Let's start the working year like how you plan to end it - productive and successful!
1. Planning and setting goals
Time to brush up your planning skills, as Benjamin Franklin said "if you fail to plan, you're planning to fail." Most people are aware about the perks of planning, the challenging bit is how to create an effective plan. An effective plan should have a mix of short, medium, and long term strategy. A good plan should provide clear objectives and the ultimate goal as well as how to achieve it. Planning is as important as the execution, without a good plan would be like cooking without a recipe. The end result? Satisfactory, but not excellent.
2. Have a continuous learning mentality
Learning doesn't stop upon graduating from University. It's no longer theory and concepts, in the job is all about putting it to practice and delivering results. While it may sound straight forward, there will be many instances in a job where you find yourself in an unfamiliar and tricky situation such as resolving a conflict, high pressure negotiation, and other practical instances where you can be learning from a more experienced person in your company. It is also not uncommon for you to be placed in a role where you would have to learn a new skill or learn as you go.
3. Networking and building connections
They say in business it's not about what you know but rather who you know, and so far I find that to be quite accurate. The primary value of having the habit of networking is creating opportunities for your company as well as for yourself. By having that connection it opens up the possibility of collaboration, forming partnerships and even joint ventures. It also helps to generate quality referrals (much better than leads you get from marketing efforts) that you can potentially turn into clients. And it doesn't always have to be about business, networking is also a great avenue to befriend like-minded people.
Read also: Is your workspace productive?
4. Start with the most important assignment first
The most important assignment might not be the easiest to complete but often times have the most impact. A study have shown that people prioritizing urgent yet unimportant tasks will end up being worse off financially. If you are procrastinating important assignments to complete a less important one, it's time to kick that habit, even if the less-important assignment is more urgent. Maybe start by spending less time on emails and start working on that big project!
5. Have a sense of urgency
Having mentioned the previous point on prioritizing important tasks first, there's a reason why people tend to work on tasks that are less-important but have a more pressing deadline - the 'mere urgency effect'. The effect suggest that people prioritize unimportant tasks first not because of logical reasoning like deeming the task as easier to complete or wanting immediate reward but simply because they feel that they have to overcome the illusory urgency. The secret here is to apply the same sense of urgency on more important tasks with longer deadlines! People tend to procrastinate when they have long deadlines, practice setting a self-imposed deadline and you will be surprised at how much faster you can complete a task.
6. Be proactive
Being proactive at work is a quality that is valued highly by employers. You might come across words like 'self-motivated' or a 'go-getter' in a job description or during an interview and that's what they are looking for - a proactive person. It's notably more essential in a remote work setting where there's a limited oversight to what employees are doing. Being proactive means taking initiative to go the extra mile whether it's getting the work done or attending workshops and seminars to continuously seek improvement and bring more value to the company.
Read also: How to have a productive meeting
7. Staying healthy
Aside from not being able to work when you're sick, being healthy has a strong correlation to one's psychological well-being. Healthy body, healthy mind - they say. Start by integrating exercise routines into your lifestyle, spend 2-3 days a week in the gym or playing your favorite sports. Once you have that going, you'll start making healthier decisions in different aspects of your lifestyle like sleeping better, eating healthier, drinking more water, and so on. In turn this will help you to focus longer on a task, have more endurance, and be more competitive. You can also make an impact at work by setting up office foodservice delivery or an employee wellness program to build momentum throughout the office.
The start of the year is the perfect time to set the momentum going for the rest of the year, and not only in the workplace but also on your personal development. I know building a habit is not easy, there will be times where you will be tempted to ditch the exercise routine in favor of watching your favorite movie at home and that's okay, but remember to come back to it and keep grinding!
Are you working to pick up a habit that will improve your work performance? Let us know in the comments below.