You might think of habits as bad things, such as smoking or biting your nails. But some habits can help you achieve career success.
We all want the secrets to success. However, reading about hundreds of successful leaders talking about their habits can feel either too specific, too vague or simply not replicable.
The truth is, if there was an easy recipe for success, we’d all have it in a flash. But each person’s career success is unique and so, there are no quick steps to get there.
Having said that, there are a few habits and routines you can incorporate into your day that will help you on the road to career success, no matter what role you have.
The following is a mixture of day-to-day productivity tips that will help you achieve success in the short term, and also more long-term skills you can actively develop for your career.
1. Create a daily schedule
Having a daily routine doesn’t mean making your working day boring and monotonous. It’s simply a way to help you stay on track and to get through everything you need to do.
While the time for best focus can vary depending on the type of person you are and the environment you’re in, a good general rule is to put tasks that require high levels of focus in the morning, while creative tasks or idea generation is best left to the afternoon.
Once you stick to a daily schedule, things will become easier and you will become more productive without overworking or burning out.
2. Include quiet time
You should consider quiet time an essential part of your day if you want to achieve career success. We have previously discussed the importance of mindfulness and switching off from work.
If you have trouble mastering the art of mindfulness, taking a break every day away from your desk and devices to embrace some quiet time will be key to keeping you productive and healthy.
This shouldn’t just be something you try to do, it should be written down on your daily to-do list as something you have to get done and it should be considered as important as any of your other tasks.
3. Establish time management routines
Creating daily routines and to-do lists isn’t as simple as that. You need to look at the way you manage time on a regular basis and see if this can be improved upon.
Think of your time management system as a leaky pipe. You might not be as productive as you could be, not because you’re not working hard, but because you’re unknowingly losing pockets of valuable time due to bad time management.
Take between two and four weeks to monitor and log how you use your time. At the end of the experiment, you will have valuable data to analyse and you might figure out the best way to restructure the same level of work to make you more effective.
4. Set goals and monitor progress
Similar to learning how to manage your time better, setting goals and monitoring their progression is a solid step towards achieving career success.
It’s important to take the time to make short-term, medium-term and long-term goals that are realistic and achievable, but also challenging enough to push you to become more successful.
Write them down, either on a simple piece of paper or a virtual notepad such as Evernote or Trello, and give yourself deadlines to check in and achieve these. The deadlines will give you something to focus on and help you progress your own career.
5. Solve problems
It would be good practice to try to solve one problem a day, but sometimes there isn’t a daily problem to solve. However, it’s good to get into the habit of training your brain in the art of problem-solving, even when it’s not your job to solve those problems.
If a question comes up in a meeting, or there’s a new project on the horizon, train yourself to think about how you would solve that problem if the job lay with you.
Having strong problem-solving skills is not only highly valuable in almost any job, but it will be vital as we head further into the future of work.
Being able to look at abstract problems and figure out innovative solutions will become essential, and practising this skill on a daily basis (or as often as possible) will fine-tune it for when you really are faced with problems.
6. Practise active listening
Finally, one of the most powerful soft skills in your arsenal is your ability to listen, and it will strongly improve your chances of career success.
No matter how good you think you are at listening, take the time to learn to listen more because almost everyone could do with improving these skills.
Shut down your inner dialogue, ask questions of the other person and be able to paraphrase what that person said to show them (or just yourself) that you were completely present and actively listening.