In last week’s First 5 post, we touched on three bad office habits that employees need to break. Just in case you didn’t see your worst habit on the list, here are a few more to think about:
We all have strengths and weaknesses, which means that some tasks take us a little more time and effort to complete than others. But, if it takes you twice as long as your peers to finish a similar assignment, that may be a sign that you’re not working efficiently. If you want your supervisor to stop bugging you to finish your project, here are a few ways to work better and faster.
- Get organized. It will take you significantly longer to finish a project if you can’t immediately access the information you need. If you remain organized, you can take the time you would usually spend looking for important items and dedicate it toward completing a task. You don’t have to color coordinate all of your folders, but small efforts like organizing your desk, creating folders for emails or throwing out old files can decrease your stress level and increase productivity.
- Stop “multitasking.” Studies show that it is impossible to multitask, but that doesn’t stop most of us from trying. Juggling numerous tasks, however, can lead to mistakes, slow progress and overall poor outcomes. The solution to this problem is simple: focus on one task at a time. At the beginning of the workday, dedicate a specific amount of time to a small number of tasks throughout the day. For instance, after spending 40 minutes on one task, take a 15-minute break and dedicate the next 40 minutes to a different project. This way you can give each project your full attention and make progress on numerous tasks in one day.
- Plan ahead. Knowing how to organize your time is critical to being efficient and professional in any workplace. Pay attention to your work style and take note of how long it takes you to complete certain tasks. If you don’t have any immediate deadlines, tackle the most time-consuming projects first to ensure that they will be completed before close of business. The smaller tasks can usually wait until the end of the day or you can disperse them throughout your workday as you take breaks from the bigger projects.
College may provide us with the skills necessary to tackle office projects. But what school doesn’t teach us is how to comport ourselves around the office. While work environments can vary greatly, here’s how you can make sure your behavior isn’t getting you the side eye in the workplace.
- Keep things work-focused. Having work friends can be a lot of fun, but socializing too much at work can impede productivity. Also, if you’re socializing too much, your higher-ups may begin to think that you don’t take work seriously. Make sure you’re getting your work finished in a timely manner and try to limit your social activity to breaks. While friendships are definitely encouraged, gossiping and playing favorites around the office is never appropriate.
- Accept constructive criticism. Receiving criticism is never easy, especially if you feel you have reason to be proud of your performance. The pang you feel in your chest in response to criticism is completely normal, but it is imperative that you suppress your initial, negative reaction. Take a step back and think of the criticism as an opportunity to take control and improve your performance. Remember that your supervisor’s comments are not personal – they are only doing what they think is best for you and the organization.
- Give credit where it’s due. One of the most unprofessional things an employee can do is take credit for someone else’s work. It makes you appear dishonest and it can create tension between yourself and other employees. Unfortunately, it happens often, because most people don’t know that they’re failing to give proper recognition. Regardless of how small, your colleagues’ contribution deserves to be acknowledged. So next time you have a meeting, give the coworker that helped you with your PowerPoint a shout out.
Let’s face it, most of us would much rather check our social media feeds or create a new Spotify playlist than address those pressing work emails at 8:30 in the morning. But once you start procrastinating it is hard to stop. Next thing you know, there are two hours left in the workday and some of your most pressing projects remain untouched. So how can you prevent yourself from falling victim to the procrastination cycle?
- Break it down. A lot of people procrastinate because they feel overwhelmed. When faced with a long-term project, it can be difficult to decide where to start. Instead of looking at your assignment as one huge mountain to climb, break the project into smaller pieces so you can decide what to tackle first. As you finish each part of the assignment, remember to reward yourself! Feeling accomplished along the way will make you feel more prepared to take on the next piece.
- Create a culture of accountability. It’s easy to procrastinate when you feel like no one is watching you which is why personal deadlines are difficult to meet. Instead of putting all of the pressure on yourself, find someone in your office who can hold you accountable. If you’re friendly with some of your fellow employees, share your personal deadlines with them so they can check in as well. Informing other people of your goals will help you keep yourself on track.
- Get to the bottom of it. Everyone procrastinates on boring, menial tasks. But if you notice yourself avoiding important projects, your procrastination may be a symptom of a deeper problem. Sometimes we defer tasks out of laziness but other times we procrastinate on high-stakes projects out of fear of rejection or failure. The first step to overcoming these anxieties is acknowledging them so you can face them head on. When you think about where these anxieties come from you may realize that your concerns are not career threatening. Remember that small mistakes and missteps in the workplace are more common than you think.
By now, you should be aware of a few bad habits you need to work on, so get to it!
For more reading on better workplace habits, check out these articles:
This post is part of GovLoop’s millennial blog series, First 5