Developing good work habits is arguably the most important step towards building a successful career. As author Brian Tracy writes, “Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” While it’s tempting to set lofty goals, developing strong daily habits is a much more effective way to achieve productivity and success in your job.
It’s important to pick the right work habits in order to be successful. In my recent interview, the open source developer and author, Zeno Rocha, highlighted the importance of setting small, atomic daily habits that are achievable.
To that end I’ve compiled a list of 7 easy habits that you can incorporate into your daily routine to greatly improve your productivity and put you on the path to success.
1. Track your work habits
You can’t improve what you don’t measure. We say this a lot on this blog but only because it’s true. The first step towards building strong work habits is tracking those work habits. Keeping a record of your daily habits will keep you accountable and provide you the data to understand if you’re truly on track. Furthermore, when you first start building new habits they’ll be top of mind each day. You can also gamify the completion of your habits by creating streaks.
To track your work habits you can use classic pen and paper, a simple Google Sheets, or a paid app like Streaks.
2. Track your time
Time management is one of the most important aspects of being productive and (say it together now) you can’t improve what you don’t measure. Having a deep understanding of how you’re spending your time will ensure that you don’t develop bad work habits like procrastinating on social media or chatting in Slack. You can also ensure that you’re spending enough time on the right things and focusing on the most important work.
When tracking your time it’s important to use a specific time tracker and not just rely on your calendar. As Rahul Vohra writes, “your calendar records what you thought would happen” while a time tracker like Rize will show you how you actually spent your time.
3. Schedule tomorrow’s tasks at the end of your workday
End each workday by writing down where you left off and what you will work on first thing tomorrow. This small work habit will save you hours of time over the course a year. When you start work the next day, you’ll know exactly where to pick up.
4. Avoid multitasking
Study after study shows that multitasking reduces your cognitive ability which in turn damages your productivity. A great way to avoid multitasking is by writing down a to-do list with only a select few tasks of important work. Then go through the task list and allocate a certain amount of time to focus solely on completing that task. This methodology is known as timeboxing and can greatly boost your productivity. Focusing on completing a select group of important daily tasks pairs well with the opposite of multitasking, known as single-tasking.
5. Start your day with a morning walk
We’ve previously written about the science behind why taking a morning walk improves your productivity. Taking a morning walk after you wake up and before you settle into your workspace is scientifically proven to boost your cognitive performance and productivity. In addition to improving your brain health, a daily walk also has numerous other health benefits such as weight management, reducing disease, and strengthening your bones and muscles.
6. Stay off social media
We all know that social media is one the biggest time wasters out there. We recently wrote about how phones and distracting apps like social media reduce your ability to focus even when they’re not actively distracting you. So close your Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Better yet, move your phone into another room during work.
Studies show that brief, daily meditation enhances attention, memory, mood, and emotional control. Meditation provides clarity and calm so you can get to work with a clear mind. Furthermore, daily meditation will leave you with a more positive attitude which will improve other soft skills like teamwork. Your team members will appreciate it.
There are a multitude of free and paid meditation apps that can help you build this habit. Calm and Headspace are two most popular options.
Whether you work at a startup or a Fortune 500 company, good work habits will translate into improved productivity, strong career development, and more job satisfaction. Developing new skills and work habits is hard work that requires you to challenge yourself on a regular basis. But building good, healthy habits creates productive people.
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