When it comes to having a successful career, certain work habits can make or break your professional development path.
Although it takes months to build and maintain them (between 18 to 254 days more exactly), good habits can boost productivity, foster a positive work ethic, and pave the way for consistent professional growth.
Every day is a new opportunity to develop good habits that help you succeed and become the person you aspire to be. Even seasoned professionals continually refine their positive habits, understanding that the professional development journey never truly ends.
There’s always room for growth.
What exactly are these work habits?
They’re repetitive activities that develop into specific patterns in time at work or at your home office. Like checking off emails first thing in the morning, sending your work for review before you finish a task, or even placing your bag in the same spot every day.
Yet, not all of these activities add value at the end of the day.
To further develop your career, I’ve compiled a full list of the most common good work habits you’ll need to master to stay happy at work. You may call these “effective work habits” for a successful career.
Examples of good work habits:
- Be proactive, anticipate needs
- Always be punctual
- Communicate effectively
- Always ask for help
- Take criticism well
- Keep a work-life balance
- Be organized
- Be a team player
- Use tools to save time
- Know your strengths and weaknesses
- Respect deadlines
- Don’t procrastinate
- Smile more and be positive
- Pay attention to detail
- Ask relevant questions
- Don’t gossip
- Don’t say, “It’s not my job”
- Dress appropriately
- Be kind
- Plan your day, set goals
- Always proofread
- Follow company beliefs and vision
- Keep learning
- Use habit management apps
- Resolve conflicts
- Have integrity
- Work on your emotional intelligence
- Use tools to make your life easier
- Never outshine your master
Now, let’s take a closer look at these good career habits. We’ll explain their meaning and show real-life examples of how they work.
Being proactive in an office work environment is like being a handy scout. You don’t just sit around waiting for orders. Instead, you’re always looking around, seeing what needs to be done, and then getting on with it.
Let’s say you’re an office administrator. A reactive worker would wait for their boss to tell them, “Hey, we’re almost out of printer paper.” They would then order more paper.
But a proactive worker won’t wait to be told. He’d notice that the paper was running low, and he’d go ahead and order more, even without the boss saying anything. They saw a potential issue coming—the office running out of paper—and took action to stop it from happening.
Being proactive is a good work habit that can help keep the office running smoothly and prevent headaches before they start. It’s all about staying one step ahead!
Being punctual means consistently meeting agreed-upon times for various obligations and responsibilities. It involves respect for other people’s time and an understanding of the professional dynamics of your work environment.
Here’s a concrete example:
Suppose you’re a project manager in an office and have a weekly team meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. every Monday. Being punctual means you are present, prepared, and ready to start the meeting at exactly 9 a.m. You’re not rushing in at 9:05 a.m., flustered and unprepared, delaying the start of the meeting, and wasting your colleagues’ valuable time.
In the context of tasks or assignments, let’s say you’re tasked with preparing a financial report to be presented to your supervisor by Friday’s end of the business day. Being punctual in this scenario would mean submitting the report well before the close of business on Friday, preferably allowing time for any necessary revisions.
Punctuality demonstrates respect for others and reliability, contributing to the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the workplace.
Communicating effectively means clearly and concisely sharing information in a way that others understand and can act upon. It involves speaking or writing clearly, listening well, and responding appropriately.
Here’s a relevant example of an office work environment:
Let’s say you’re a project manager and need your team to meet a deadline. Instead of saying, “We need to meet the deadline,” you could say, “We need to complete the project’s first phase by next Friday, May 10th. This includes finishing the design and the initial coding. Let’s discuss who can take on these tasks and if there are any roadblocks.”
This way, you’ve clearly stated the goal and the tasks involved and opened the floor for discussion, leading to effective communication.
Good communication skills also involve active listening.
Active listening is a small effort to understand your conversation partner and be genuinely interested in what they say. In a previous article, we discussed how effective active listening was in project management. However, its benefits apply beyond the scope of projects.
Active listening can improve how employees communicate with each other, make decisions, negotiate, and gain new insights. Listening and communication skills, in general, are things humans are still not that good at, though, as we remember only 25% to 50% of what we hear.
“I only wish I could find an institute that teaches people how to listen. Business people need to listen at least as much as they need to talk. Too many people fail to realize that real communication goes in both directions.”—Lee Iacocca, former CEO @Chrysler Corporation
Under these conditions, active listening becomes a skill you’ll have to develop over time and gradually become a good work habit.
If your mind often drifts away in the middle of conversations, here’s a brief list of actionable points you can practice to become an active listener:
- Do not interrupt the speaker.
- Try to remove any distracting thoughts that might be blocking your attention.
- Nod occasionally to show you’re listening.
- Restate the speaker with your own words to show that you’ve fully understood them.
- Get involved in the conversation by asking questions related to the discussion topic.
- Offer feedback on core statements.
Good communication skills and active listening are good work habits because they ensure a clear understanding of tasks, prevent misunderstandings, help in conflict resolution, boost team synergy, and enhance customer relationships, thereby driving overall productivity and business success.
Being able to ask for help in an office environment is an important skill, and it can become a habit through regularly acknowledging when you’re out of your depth and when you need to reach out to others for their expertise or assistance.
No one is expected to know everything. You’re assigned a task to create a complex financial report but must familiarize yourself with the software used. You might spend hours trying to figure it out, wasting valuable time that could be used on other tasks.
Now, imagine if you asked a colleague who is proficient with the software for help. They could show you how to do it in a fraction of the time, helping you learn a new skill and ensuring the report gets done more efficiently.
Asking for help when you’re stuck is a good work habit because it shows you value teamwork. This habit can save everyone time, help us learn new things, and make the office friendlier. By doing it regularly, we can work better and smarter together.
Learning to take criticism well involves three key things:
- Listening actively without getting defensive.
- Taking actionable steps to improve based on the feedback received.
- Understanding the feedback is about your work, not you as a person.
For instance, if your boss points out that your reports have too many typos, rather than feeling insulted, see it as an opportunity to enhance your proofreading skills.
Use a spell-checking tool or allocate more time for review before submission.
Embrace criticism as a tool for growth.
Each time you receive feedback, pause, analyze, and apply it to your work.
This can become a good work habit, as regular constructive feedback helps you continually improve your skills and performance. Over time, you’ll find that you’re more receptive to feedback and constantly improving, contributing to your personal development and the overall success of your team.
For instance, establish a routine where you end your workday at a specific time to engage in personal activities or spend time with family. This habit of clearly separating work and personal time helps manage stress and ensures you’re refreshed and ready for the next day’s tasks, leading to better performance at work.
Establishing an excellent work-life balance habit involves setting boundaries and sticking to them consistently. Here are some steps:
- Set precise work hours and stick to them.
- Take regular breaks during work.
- Make time for hobbies or relaxation daily.
- Switch off work notifications during personal time.
- Prioritize physical and mental health.
By consistently following these steps, you can make work-life balance a regular habit, improving productivity and well-being.
For more tips on tackling cognitive overload, check out this article on how to lessen your mental workload.
Does it often feel like you’re working chaotically? Especially if you adopted a working remote system for your freelance gig and you need to tap into different skills and requirements.
Here are the three most important things that can help you stay organized:
- Sort your work into lists
- Learn to prioritize
- Avoid multitasking
Let’s delve further and explore how these can evolve into good work habits:
Sort your work into lists
- Batch by form and structure: Consider how you will structure your tasks. For example, there are to-do lists, detailed task lists, online Kanban boards, Gantt Charts that help you work systematically—all of which I went into further detail in this guide to task management. Then put down all the things you have to do in a system or diagram to visualize them and prioritize them better.
- Devise your own approach: Behind the work habit of organizing your daily duties lies your mindset. There are different facets to this. For example, many people tend to postpone difficult or more critical tasks just because it takes them longer to complete or are not as enjoyable. Then there are specific time limits you can impose on your work, like spending no more than 1 hour daily responding to social media comments. Similarly, you can limit your time on activities that take too much time from your day, like responding to emails or looking for that perfect stock photo to include in your next post. Not sure if you’ve read Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog book, but it is an excellent way to understand why getting started with the most important task—eating the frog—is the key to improving your productivity.
Learn to prioritize
Many employees get to work on their tasks without paying attention to the order in which they tackle them. Certain tasks are better done before others, just like project planning is done before execution. Typically, a project manager would be the one to set priorities for team members. But in the end, it’s up to you to turn prioritization into your own work habit.
I went into full detail on how anyone can prioritize their activities in just a couple of steps in the web-based task management software I mentioned earlier. Check it out if you’re interested in using The Eisenhower Decision Matrix or The Pareto Principle.
Another method you can use to set your priorities is the GTD method. A framework invented by David Allen to store all your brain dump—the good and the bad—in a system through 5 essential steps:
- Capture – Write all ideas and tasks that require your attention.
- Clarify – Fully understand all ideas and how you can use them.
- Organize – Organize all activities into lists.
- Reflect – Systematically analyze what you’re doing.
- Engage – Work on the ideas.
Here’s a look at how you can use the GTD diagram to make the process work for you:
Oh, multitasking… That habit we all have in one form or another and even brag about to our friends and coworkers. In reality, multitasking is a myth. As Dave Crenshaw puts it in his book The Myth of Multitasking, it “gets nothing done.”
Multitasking reduces productivity by 40% and lowers your IQ by affecting your brain’s efficiency and comprehension abilities by 17%, even if you’re sitting next to someone who is multitasking—just like passive smoking does.
“We often think that combining tasks will save us time, but scientific evidence shows that it has the opposite effect. Even those who claim to be good at multitasking are not very productive. In fact, they are some of the least productive people. Our brains can take millions of bits of information but can only actually process a few dozen per second. When we say we’re multitasking, we’re really switching back and forth between tasks very quickly. Unfortunately, we’re not computers adept at parallel processing. We spend all our energy alternative between tasks instead of focusing on doing one well. Concentrating on one thing at a time may be the single most important factor in achieving flow.”—Hector Garcia Puigcerver
Here’s an exercise to try out if you’re a strong supporter of the multitasking work habit:
Being a team player is a good work habit because it makes work smoother and faster.
Use your strength to contribute to your team’s success. For instance, say a coworker is struggling with a task you’re good at. If you help, the job gets done quicker, and your coworker learns something new.
It’s essential to go the extra mile yet, at the same time, focus on shared interests and goals. You don’t want to take on your teammate’s workload all the time. Also, show empathy, support your teammates, and offer constructive criticism when asked for feedback.
To make being a team player a habit, consistently look for ways to help out and work together. Over time, this team-first mindset will become second nature.
Time management involves tracking, measuring, and analyzing your time spent working on a task, project, or application.
Many employees waste time on unnecessary activities like checking social media or aimlessly browsing the web. These harm the business process, so companies seek employees who can take control of their time and make the most of it. Knowledge workers and consultants should implement time-tracking software to make the best out of their skills and experience as they rely on hourly billing.
In my experience, whether you use project management software for creatives or other tools built for architectural use or suited for engineering work meant to review your project processes, what matters is to have an appetite for technology and keep up to date with the latest developments since AI and automation will help you save time in the long run. It’s all the more important when doing business in niche or established industries, such as construction or engineering, which need billing, timesheet capability, and cost estimation.
Anyway, if you’re a working professional, you should use digital tools in this hybrid workforce landscape.
Time management is one of the top soft skills workers must have and what works best toward their personal productivity. For people who tend to procrastiwork, check out these tips to stop procrastination.
Time-tracking tools allow employees to focus and work efficiently without having to be supervised by a manager at all times. Among other benefits, they help freelancers who get paid by the hour receive the accurate compensation they deserve for their work.
How does a time tracker work?
Using automated timesheet software is a good way to keep track of your hourly engagements—in or outside the office. Simply press the start button of your time tracking tool whenever you start work and stop it once done. For most apps, time entries will automatically be recorded in a timesheet, on top of which you can create time reports to monitor your progress.
Time tracker in Paymo
Check out this complete guide on how automatic time tracking can help you better manage your time, so it becomes a natural work habit.
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses at work helps you understand what you’re good at and what you need to work on.
For example, if you’re good at design but need to improve in math, you might excel in creating presentations but struggle with budgets. Recognizing this helps you play to your strengths (focus on design tasks) and improve weaknesses (practice math or ask for help).
To make this a good habit, constantly reflect on your work, ask for feedback, and take steps to improve. Doing this helps you improve at work and makes you more valuable to your team.
Respecting deadlines in a work environment is key because it keeps projects on track and maintains trust within the team. For example, if you’re part of a team working on a product launch, your task delay could push back the launch date, causing a ripple effect.
To turn this into a good work habit, plan your work, break tasks into manageable chunks, and set reminders for when things need to be done. Over time, being on top of deadlines can increase your efficiency, enhance your reputation as a reliable team member, and help the whole team succeed.
In the long run, postponing your duties will only add up and lead to burnout which is hard to recover from. Believe it or not, procrastination is a habit. A bad one, that is, deeply rooted in emotions and lack of boundaries.
Procrastination often comes together with a lack of discipline and motivation. A whopping 88% of all employees procrastinate in one way or another. Let that sink in for a moment.
To become a non-procrastinator and turn productivity into a work habit, you’ll need to muster up your motivation and build discipline first. There are a couple of good books to understand where the problem behind your procrastination lies and how to end it. The Now Habit, for instance, advises you to take well-deserved breaks, track your time, and uncover any hidden fears that might keep you away from doing your work.
“Your first step toward breaking the procrastination habit and becoming a producer involves redefining procrastination and coming to a new understanding of how and why we use it. Procrastination is not the cause of our problems with accomplishing tasks; it is an attempt to resolve a variety of underlying issues, including low self-esteem, perfectionism, fear of failure or success, indecisiveness, an imbalance between work and play, ineffective goal-setting, and negative concepts about work and yourself.”—Neil Fiore
For more digestible advice to gradually end your procrastination habits:
- Start by doing your most difficult tasks first
- Establish a goal and intrinsic motivation for each activity you do
- Prepare a schedule for the next day and stick to it
- Limit or remove the time you spend on menial activities such as checking the social media updates of your friends or the latest YouTube video from your favorite channel
- Avoid self-critique and stop putting pressure on yourself
You can read this guide to productivity at work for extra tips on staying productive and why maintaining your health is essential for work performance.
Some might think smiling and being positive at work is just about being nice. But it’s a key work habit that can make a big difference.
Smiling and staying positive helps everyone in the office feel better and work better together. Here’s a specific example.
Say you’re in a meeting, and your team is worried about a big project. If you come in with a smile and a can-do attitude, saying you believe in your team and view problems as chances to learn, it can calm everyone’s nerves and boost their confidence.
Genuinely smiling and taking on a calm attitude can help foster psychological safety so that your team can share their thoughts and ideas without judgment. The key is to be genuinely gracious.
Making this a habit can be as simple as staying positive and smiling more each day. Do it regularly, and it’ll become a natural part of your work, leading to a happier and more effective office.
Paying attention to details affects the quality of your work, which directly impacts your professional reputation, your team’s efficiency, and your organization’s success. Minor errors or oversights can lead to misunderstandings, rework, or incorrect decisions.
For example, let’s say you’re preparing a report for a client. If you carefully check all the data, ensure there are no typos, and everything is clearly explained, you’ll provide a report that’s accurate, professional, and easy to understand. This attention to detail can impress clients and build their trust in your company.
To turn this into a habit, always take a bit of extra time to double-check your work, whether that’s reviewing an email before you send it or proofreading a document.
Over time, you’ll find that this routine of careful checking becomes second nature, enhancing your overall performance and reputation for quality work.
Being able to ask good questions in a work environment means you seek clarity, encourage deeper thinking, and stimulate productive discussions.
Good questions are clear, purposeful, and open-ended, driving better understanding and collaboration.
For example, instead of asking, “Do you think this project will work?” you might ask, “What are the potential challenges we could face in this project, and how can we overcome them?”
Here is another example. Let’s say you’re on a software development team, and a new feature request comes in. Instead of asking, “When do we start working on this?” you could ask, “Can we discuss how this new feature aligns with our current development priorities and how it will benefit the user experience?” By asking this, you’re prompting the team to consider the feature’s impact and place in the overall project.
This kind of questioning promotes comprehensive discussion, helps anticipate issues, and fosters problem-solving. Over time, consistently asking insightful questions can become a good work habit, contributing to more effective communication and decision-making in the workplace.
Gossip can harm a workplace, eroding trust, creating a sense of division among teams, diminishing productivity, tarnishing reputations, and lowering morale. For instance, rumors about a colleague’s alleged mistake can create unnecessary tension and divert attention from important tasks.
Similarly, gossip spreading about potential layoffs can induce anxiety and uncertainty, deflecting focus away from work. These are just a few instances highlighting how gossip can profoundly impact the work environment.
An excellent habit to cultivate is focusing on positive, work-related discussions. Practice speaking constructively about your coworkers and avoid participating in gossip. Over time, this habit will help build a more supportive and productive work environment.
Overdelivering means doing more than what’s expected of you. It’s a good work habit because it shows dedication and can lead to better results. For example, if you’re asked to create a report, deliver it on time, and add valuable insights, you’ll likely impress your boss and colleagues.
To make this a habit, always aim to add extra value to your work. With time, this ‘extra mile’ approach will become part of your work routine, helping you stand out and opening doors for new opportunities.
Overdelivering at work is a great way to stand out and advance in your career. However, it’s important to avoid falling prey to overwork. Here are some tips on how to overdeliver at work without overworking yourself:
- Communicate with your manager or boss about your desire for work-life balance.
- Focus on deep work – those OKRs and goals that are important to the broader organization.
- Set realistic expectations and avoid over-promising.
- Understand that overworking is not always necessary for success.
Saying “it’s not my job” in a work environment can come across as uncooperative and may limit your growth opportunities. Show a willingness to step outside of your regular duties when needed, as this demonstrates team spirit, adaptability, and a commitment to the organization’s success.
However, this doesn’t mean you should always take on tasks outside your role. If you’re frequently being asked to work separately from your job and impacting your ability, it’s crucial to discuss it with your manager.
Instead of saying, “It’s not my job,” consider saying something like, “I’m currently focused on [your current task/project]. Could we discuss how this new task fits our team’s priorities?” This shows that you’re willing to help but also mindful of your responsibilities.
Turning this open and cooperative approach into a good work habit can improve your relationships at work, increase your value to the team, and lead to more varied and exciting opportunities within the organization.
How you dress at work is crucial because it can influence how others perceive you professionally. The appropriate dress shows respect for your workplace and can help you fit in with the company culture. It also communicates that you take your role seriously and are ready to work.
As for dressing for a “better job” than you have, the idea is about projecting professionalism and ambition. Dressing more formally or polished than your current role requires can signal your interest in advancing within the company.
However, this doesn’t mean you should come to a casual office in a three-piece suit. It’s about balancing respect for your current environment with a slight nod to the role you aspire to. Also, remember that fashion, attire, and dress codes are also influenced by countries and cultures.
Making this a good habit means always considering the appropriateness of your outfit for your workplace. Over time, this can contribute to a more professional image, aiding your career progression.
Being kind at work is crucial as it builds solid relationships, encourages teamwork, enhances the workplace atmosphere, and even boosts productivity.
For instance, imagine you have a colleague struggling with a task you’re an expert in. Being kind might mean taking a few minutes to explain a concept to them or offer help. Your act of kindness not only relieves their stress but could also encourage reciprocal kindness.
Now, let’s consider the opposite. If you were unkind and dismissed their struggle, they might continue to struggle, potentially delaying the project, and the negative interaction could strain your working relationship.
To make kindness a habit, practice small acts of kindness every day, like offering help, complimenting, or simply asking how someone’s day is going. Over time, this habitual kindness can make your workplace more supportive, collaborative, and productive.
Similar to setting company goals, you need to establish personal and work-related goals. However, these goals must be realistic to attain them successfully. To create goals that are both challenging enough to strive for and not overly ambitious to give up on, you can rely on the SMART goals framework:
- Specific. Keep clear goals in mind. We want to increase our blog traffic to create brand awareness.
- Measurable. Answer questions such as “How much?” or “How many?”. We want to increase our blog traffic by 3x each month to create brand awareness.
- Achievable. Have the right resources at hand to reach them within a set timeline. We want to increase our blog traffic by 3x by hiring a content writer to publish three articles/week and promote them via social media to create brand awareness.
- Relevant. Any goal you set should be tied to the general business goals. You’re not going to have a goal like becoming a global leader in an industry if you only sell locally. We want to increase our blog traffic by 3x by hiring a content writer to publish three articles/week and promote them via social media to create brand awareness and convert leads into customers.
- Timely or time-bound. It refers to the need to set a deadline or time frame. This ensures you will work towards your goal without postponing it indefinitely. We want to increase our blog traffic by 3x by hiring a content writer to publish three articles/week and promote them via social media to create brand awareness and convert leads into customers by the 1st of July this year.
Proofreading your messages at work maintains professionalism. It helps prevent misunderstandings, ensures clear communication, and shows attention to detail.
For instance, you rush an email to a client and accidentally include errors or unclear information. This could confuse the client or give them the impression that you’re careless, which could harm your professional reputation.
Nobody is perfect, and even the most professional individuals can occasionally make grammatical errors in their texts. However, consistently making such errors can be seen as unprofessional, as it may reflect a lack of attention to detail, carelessness, or inadequate communication skills.
However, if you take the time to proofread and correct any errors before sending the email, you ensure the message is clear and professional, reinforcing your and your company’s credibility.
This can develop into a habit by consistently setting aside a few minutes to review your messages before hitting send. Regularly doing this improves the clarity of your communication and shows your commitment to high-quality, professional work.
Following a company’s beliefs and vision aligns your work with its overall goals. It ensures that everyone is working towards the same end and fosters a sense of unity and purpose within the team.
For instance, if a company’s vision is to provide the best customer service in its industry, aligning with this vision might mean going above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction in your role. This could involve actively listening to customer concerns, promptly resolving issues, or proposing improvements based on customer feedback.
Not aligning with a company’s beliefs and vision can negatively impact the work environment.
Let’s say your company’s vision is to promote sustainability in all operations, but you consistently disregard this by wasting resources or not following recycling guidelines. This behavior not only goes against the company’s beliefs but could also cause friction with colleagues trying to uphold the company’s vision. Your actions could even jeopardize relationships with partners or clients who value sustainability, potentially leading to financial loss for the company.
Reminding yourself of your company’s vision regularly and incorporating it into your daily tasks ensures your work continuously contributes to achieving the organization’s goals. This habit can make your work more meaningful, increase your job satisfaction, and improve your career progression within the company.
Continuous learning at work helps you stay current with industry trends, expands your skill set, and can improve your ability to contribute to your team and company.
Let’s take a specific example.
Suppose you work in marketing and decide to learn more about data analytics in your spare time. As a result, you could start analyzing customer data to inform your marketing strategies, leading to more successful campaigns. This could increase your value within the company and open up new career opportunities.
Or, if you’re a project manager by chance, consider taking certification exams to further your career.
To make continuous learning a habit, dedicate a set amount of time each week to learning something new related to your field. It means reading industry news, taking online courses, or even asking a coworker to share their expertise. Over time, this commitment to learning can enhance your professional development and standing within the company.
Most people think of forming habits as a matter of willpower, but it’s also about structure and tracking, which is where habit management apps come in handy.
A habit management app is a tool that helps you develop, track, and maintain good habits. It can provide reminders, motivational prompts, and ways to track your progress over time.
For example, you want to improve your time management at work. An app like Loop Habit Tracker could help you break down large projects into manageable tasks, set deadlines, and prioritize work. It sends reminders for upcoming tasks and lets you track your progress visually.
If your work involves more complex or collaborative tasks, you can use advanced task management software like Paymo. These platforms offer more specific features like project timelines, team collaboration tools, and progress reports, providing comprehensive support for managing your tasks and enhancing productivity.
By using the app daily, you’re completing your tasks and developing the habit of effective time management. Over time, this can increase productivity and make your workday more structured and less stressful.
The ability to effectively resolve conflicts in the workplace is a valuable skill that can be developed into a positive habit. Unresolved conflicts have the potential to cause stress, diminish productivity, and strain relationships among team members.
On the other hand, actively addressing and solving conflicts can lead to improved work dynamics, enhanced productivity, and stronger relationships within the team.
For instance, suppose two team members disagree on the direction of a project, causing tension and stalling progress. Instead of avoiding the issue, you could facilitate a meeting where everyone can openly express their views. You can then help them find a compromise or a new solution that respects both perspectives.
To make conflict resolution a habit, start by regularly practicing active listening and empathetic communication.
In situations of disagreement, avoid immediate judgment and instead seek to understand the different perspectives. With time, these actions can become second nature, helping you to effectively manage and resolve conflicts and fostering better collaboration and a healthier work environment.
Having integrity in the workplace means consistently demonstrating honesty, ethical behavior, and moral principles in all professional interactions and decisions. It’s all about having a strong work ethic.
Honesty and trustworthiness have long been two highly valued human traits. The same characteristics are sought after in the workplace, where integrity is a must to maintain a healthy relationship with coworkers, managers, partners, and clients.
“The glue that holds all relationships together—including the relationship between the leader and the led—is trust, and trust is based on integrity.”—Brian Tracy
Like with personal relationships, honesty goes a long way in the office. In the absence of honesty, employees will build up frustrations and disappointments to which they are too afraid to give voice. This will only lead them to develop passive-aggressive behavior or, even worse, switch companies.
Research shows trust starts with upper management. The link between workplace honesty and work happiness is evident, with 63% of employees being more satisfied with their work and likely to stay at their current job since leaders trust them by either giving praise for an achievement or owning up to a mistake.
The good news is that most organizations are already successful at displaying and maintaining trust. 78% of the survey respondents state that honesty is regularly practiced in their company, with a higher percentage in countries such as Ireland (88%) or Portugal (85%).
While it may seem like the company is in charge of building an honesty-based work culture, it’s the individual who is ultimately responsible for nurturing trust. So next time you’re given a chance to speak your thoughts but are too afraid to do so, keep these items in mind:
- Be honest, then allow others to state their needs and opinions frankly
- Admit to your mistakes
- Communicate openly
- Offer constructive feedback whenever possible
- Make sure your actions are consistent with your statements
- Don’t lie
Emotional intelligence is any person’s ability to understand, manage, and control their own emotions and those of other people.
The “emotional intelligence” concept was made famous by Daniel Goleman, who ties it to the workplace and its importance for guaranteeing the success or failure of a person in a professional environment:
“The interest in emotional intelligence in the workplace stems from the widespread recognition that these abilities – self-awareness, self-management, empathy, and social skills – separate the most successful workers and leaders from the average. This is especially true in roles like the professions and higher-level executives, where everyone is about as smart as everyone else, and how people manage themselves and their relationships gives the best edge.”—Daniel Goleman
Intelligence quotient (IQ) and emotional quotient (EQ) are among the most researched topics that predict whether a person will be successful or not. But while everybody is crazy about finding out their IQ score, studies show that emotional intelligence (EI) has the final say in improving job performance and job satisfaction.
This survey from CareerBuilder found that 71% of employers are more likely to value people with high EQ scores, with 75% opting to promote workers with strong emotional intelligence.
The Great Resignation of 2021 proved how job dissatisfaction in a toxic environment and job performance in an expanding talent pool were among the leading factors that actuated change in the work culture at large.
We are now part of a digital workplace in every sense. People use technology to get to work and do chores, with some even working entirely in the digital realm, so it’s only natural that we rely on tech for good.
I’ve already mentioned time-tracking tools, but there are other apps you can use to automate your work. This leaves us more time to focus on those activities that require our creativity and emotional intelligence, traits no software can replace (at least for now).
Must-have tools like Google Drive or Dropbox keep your files stored securely in the cloud so you can access them from anywhere (or create backups for the files on your computer). Evernote and Google Keep, on the other hand, organize your ideas or web pages of choice so you can check them out later when you have enough patience.
Grammarly underlines your writing mistakes and suggests possible corrections in real-time, so you’ll save time when doing the proofreading. Is Photoshop too time-consuming for you? Try Canva. Need a quick list of keywords? Try keyword generator tools.
The right project management tool bundles several features you need to handle your work, including task management, resource scheduling, file storage, and even time tracking.
Paymo, for example, is one such tool that lets you track time on each task you’re working on and even invoice clients based on it. To read more about the benefits of invoicing, check out our invoicing guide to learn what is an electronic invoice and all about the standard invoice format.
The project management tool of your choice will send you notifications so as not to forget about deadlines and important milestones.
For an in-depth review of the best free tools you can use, check out this guide in which we analyzed their pros and cons to help you pick the best ones for you.
“Never outshine your master” is a phrase coined by Robert Greene in his book “The 48 Laws of Power“. The principle suggests that making those above you feel superior is crucial for maintaining good relationships, as appearing too competent can induce feelings of insecurity and trigger adverse reactions.
For instance, suppose you have a manager who’s proud of their Excel skills. You might be more proficient, but constantly highlighting this could make your manager feel threatened, potentially damaging your relationship. Instead, use your skills subtly to support your manager’s work, like offering help when they struggle without bragging about your abilities.
To develop this into a habit, practice humility and respect towards those in higher positions.
This doesn’t mean suppressing your talents but presenting them in a way that doesn’t threaten others’ status.
Show your competence through your work results and let others acknowledge your skills rather than overtly showing off. Remember, your goal is to be a valuable team player, not to outshine your superiors.
Now, you can think of many more good work habits. However, the ones we’ve discussed are a great starting point for you to begin practicing. Developing new habits takes time, but if you start focusing on them now, you’ll notice improvements in your daily work productivity sooner rather than later.
Remember to keep going, or else you won’t see the results you’re hoping for and might feel disappointed.
When it comes to developing good work habits, there are so many valuable practices to choose from that it can feel overwhelming. But don’t worry! The list of 30 good work habits mentioned above gives you plenty of options. Decide to start now and have the determination and persistence to keep going. Remember, success doesn’t just come from knowing the habits, but from taking that crucial first step and staying committed throughout the journey.
And to give you that nudge to start now, I’ll leave you with a joke:
Why did the procrastinating accountant struggle with adopting good work habits?
Because he was overwhelmed by the sheer multitude of advice out there!
He started reading books on time management but needed help deciding which method to follow. He attended productivity seminars but needed help with the endless Post-it notes and productivity apps.
One day, a wise mentor approached him and said, “Listen, my friend, you need to simplify things. Focus on one strategy at a time. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day but with consistent effort and a clear plan.”
The procrastinating accountant pondered momentarily and replied, “You’re right! I’ll start tomorrow.”
Alexandra Cote is a SaaS content writer and strategist with a passion for workplace productivity, social media marketing wonders, conversion rate optimization, artificial intelligence, and keyword research. Reach out to her via LinkedIn.
Drawing from a background in cognitive linguistics and armed with 10+ years of content writing experience, Alexandra Martin combines her expertise with a newfound interest in productivity and project management. In her spare time, she dabbles in all things creative.