However, Laura Vanderkam, an author who, in her book, 168 Hours, has investigated how people actually use their time, would probably beg to differ. Her precise and honest time logging technique has enabled her to identify seven common habits of successful people, which she has revealed in her new e-book, titled “What the Most Successful People Do at Work”. Here is a summary of her findings.
1. Be aware
Use time logs to identify how you really spend your hours. Becoming conscious of exactly how much time you are spending on your daily activities is the first step to change. Only a few days can reveal the time wasting culprits amongst your habits.
2. Make a plan
You may find that you spend all your days on the urgent tasks, yet push the important, life-changing ones to the backburner. Combat this by committing to regular planning sessions which evaluate your progress against long term goals. Set yearly goals, and break these down monthly, weekly and even daily. A weekly planning session to hold yourself accountable should enable you to stay on track and weed out the distractions.
3. Practice accountability
Don’t overwhelm yourself by overreaching your goals. Break your projects down into manageable tasks, and meet with a trusted friend or mentor regularly, to hold you accountable for your goals. You could also use a site like stickK, where you can publicly promise to meet certain goals, with punitive consequences if you fail. It’s not for everyone, but it certainly keeps you on your toes.
4. Build your career capital
This is possibly the most important method you can use to ensure your career will be both successful and flexible. Career capital is Vanderkam’s term for the skills and attributes which get you headhunted. There are three aspects to this concept. Firstly, you need to expand your skillset, wherever and however possible. Secondly, you need to find a way of expanding your presence in your field. This could be by offering a service such as coaching, or writing a book or blog, which speak for you even during periods of absence from the workplace, such as parental leave or a career break. The third aspect to creating career capital is the development of a network of loyal supporters and collaborators.
Spend less time on email, and don’t hold or participate in pointless meetings. Meetings and communications need to be specific, controlled and goal oriented, in order to earn their place in your working life.
Don’t just do your job. Try and get regular feedback from mentors on every aspect of your performance, and treat your job as a huge learning curve. Don’t get stuck in a rut. Change and improve everything that isn’t working.
7. Find Joy
Try to pursue pleasure in your work, wherever possible. Seek ways to spend more time on tasks you love. Try to weed out or delegate ones you hate. The sweet spot for career enlightenment is when you find yourself able to make measurable progress in an area that fills you with inspiration. If you do work you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.
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