GET AHEAD, FAST

Do­ing well in your ca­reer is hard work but form­ing the right habits in your job can al­most guar­an­tee that you’ll move up.

Simply Her (Singapore) - - Cover Reads - SH

What you can do to be­come more ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive at work.

We all have our own meth­ods for get­ting tasks done at work. But the most suc­cess­ful women tend to have sim­i­lar habits – so says Laura Van­derkam, au­thor of a new mini e-book, What the Most Suc­cess­ful Peo­ple Do at Work.

• Mind Your Hours

Know how long your work ac­tiv­i­ties take, so you can fig­ure out ex­actly how much you can com­plete dur­ing of­fice hours. Laura rec­om­mends keep­ing a time log for a full week – even the weekend.

• Plan

The next step: Plan out your hours, so you can strate­gise about how best to spend your time at work, and not end up only tack­ling ur­gent mat­ters all day. As Laura writes: “Peo­ple lament that they’d love to have strate­gic - think­ing time, but they’re just too busy!” She rec­om­mends a plan­ning ses­sion at least once a week.

• Make Suc­cess Pos­si­ble

Set doable tasks for your­self – and be ac­count­able for them. First, break down big projects into small steps, and limit your­self to tack­ling three to six steps a day. Then get to them. Laura has an ac­count­abil­ity part­ner, some­one she has weekly check-ins with, to en­sure she’s on track. You can also take a more pub­lic ap­proach, such as mak­ing a prom­ise on Stickk, a web­site on which peo­ple set goals and prom­ise to do some­thing dreaded – such as do­nat­ing to an or­gan­i­sa­tion they loathe – if they fail.

• Know What Work Is

Many of us spend in­or­di­nate amounts of time an­swer­ing e-mail. In her book, Laura men­tions a re­port which found that “knowl­edge work­ers spend 28 per cent of their time wad­ing through their in­boxes”. But check­ing e-mail is not the same as “work” – which Laura de­fines as the core of what you’re try­ing to ac­com­plish.

She sug­gests wean­ing your­self off by be­ing on e-mail for 20 min­utes, then us­ing the next 40 min­utes to fo­cus on a task with­out in­ter­rup­tion. Grad­u­ally ex­pand the times be­tween e-mail check-ins.

• Prac­tise

Laura points out that while pro­fes­sional mu­si­cians or ath­letes spend time prac­tis­ing their craft or sport, many peo­ple with other jobs don’t. “Yet, if you think about it, your job is a per­for­mance of sorts, too,” she writes. That means you can also con­sciously prac­tise your job skills to im­prove them.

Af­ter you com­plete a task, ask your su­per­vi­sor how you can do bet­ter next time. Or, have a friend in the same pro­fes­sion look over your work be­fore you send it to your boss, or watch you prac­tise giv­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion.

• Pay In

Suc­cess­ful peo­ple tend to pay in to their ca­reer cap­i­tal ac­count reg­u­larly. Laura says: “This is the sum to­tal of your ex­pe­ri­ences, knowl­edge, skills and re­la­tion­ships.” There are three main ways to cre­ate ca­reer cap­i­tal: • Im­prove your skills and adopt new ones im­por­tant to your work. Take pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment classes, or have a men­tor help you fig­ure out what you’ll need to learn to suc­ceed five, 10 or 20 years from now.

• De­velop a port­fo­lio of your work.

And get it out there. Do­ing work

that has any kind of vis­i­ble, tan­gi­ble out­come will have a pos­i­tive ef­fect on your ca­reer. • Build up a net­work of peo­ple

loyal to you. You can do this by in­tro­duc­ing your col­leagues to oth­ers who could be help­ful to them, pro­vid­ing ref­er­ences for peo­ple, and stand­ing by as­so­ci­ates when they’re down. “Any­one can have lunch with some­one who is suc­cess­ful,” says Laura. “Real ca­reer cap­i­tal comes from hav­ing lunch with some­one who just lost the job she loves.”

• Pur­sue Plea­sure

Laura found that the suc­cess­ful find joy in their work. Many jobs have el­e­ments we like less than oth­ers, but she rec­om­mends tweak­ing our time to spend more hours do­ing the things we love and fewer hours do­ing the things we don’t.

She also found that joy comes from feel­ing a sense of progress in our work – which is even more ef­fec­tive than en­cour­age­ment from a boss. So, fo­cus on the parts of your job that give you the great­est sense of ac­com­plish­ment – this will fur­ther fuel your de­sire to work.

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