10 good work habits for a successful career

By Mary Stern
10 good work habits you need for a successful career
As millennials question their college degrees and whether they were really worth it and Gen Z struggles to find meaningful employment, competition is fierce for the rarest and most elusive of treasures: the upwardly mobile career path. 

But what does that mean for today’s young hopefuls? While your co-workers are “quiet quitting” and going home to a healthy personal life, should you be working nights and weekends, killing yourself in the rate race for your dream of a successful career?

Thankfully, no.

These simple workplace habits of successful people will help you reach your career goals with plenty of time left over for friends, family, and even a few hobbies along the way.

10 good work habits for job satisfaction and career success

1. Stay curious

It doesn’t matter if you want to become a blockchain developer, a marketer, a journalist, or even a CFO – every company needs more people who want to know how things work, why they work, and how they could work even better. So, a good work habit for a successful career is to keep an open mind and stay curious!

Here are just a few ideas to help you stay on top of your industry, learn new skills, and expand your professional development opportunities:

  • Follow content by successful professionals in your field
  • Follow industry hashtags on LinkedIn
  • Attend industry conferences and meet new people
  • Get a news subscription
  • Explore new technology

You don’t have to do them all. Find the ways that work best for you. In fact, that’s one of the most important healthy habits you can follow, not just in your workday but in your life: don’t strive to be anyone else — strive to be more authentically you.

2. Value great feedback

Believe it or not, one of the biggest challenges we face in life is transitioning from a school-based mindset to a workplace mindset. In some ways, they’re very similar, but in others, school and work are two completely different worlds.

Yes, many productive work habits are the same: practicing time management, applying good communication skills, and completing assignments on time, just to name a few.

But there are three critical differences:

  1. School teaches you to do everything yourself. Help is “cheating.”
  2. School asks you to strive for perfection in a highly controlled environment.
  3. In school, feedback is presented as what you did “right” or “wrong.”

In the workplace, these ways of thinking immediately become bad work habits. Try to break them as quickly as possible.

  1. Being a team player is essential.
  2. There’s no such thing as perfection, and the real world is full of uncertainties.
  3. Constructive criticism is an opportunity to discover new perspectives beyond your own.

Stop thinking of constructive feedback as being about right and wrong. Instead, welcome it as a way to learn new things and see the world through new eyes.

3. Remember to have fun

Daily tasks turn dull fast, and difficult tasks can easily feel overwhelming. A healthy sense of humor is a great work habit because it breaks the fight-or-flight patterns of stress in the workplace, making it essential to a long, prosperous career.

Your workspace (or home office) might not be a pet-friendly startup with a ping-pong table in the break room, but you can still find a few friends and have some laughs. Being too serious is a bad habit that can lead to burnout faster than you might think.

While you should always be professional, applying yourself to important tasks and doing your best work, remember to share a few memes along the way!

4. Speak (and write) like everyone can hear you

This is one of the most basic work habits for success, but it can be a tough one to follow: don’t say anything at work — or on social media — that you wouldn’t want everyone at work to hear, up to and including your CEO.

It’s tough because we’re creatures of habit, and one of our most human habits is sharing our feelings and personal problems with the people we feel close to. When we feel stressed, we complain to blow off steam. And that’s fine — at home.

But when you’re in a work environment, even on your lunch break, pause before you speak. Give yourself ample time to think about the consequences of what you’re about to say if the leadership team overheard you. Or if it got back to the wrong person.

5. Respect other people’s time

This is an example of a good work habit that can take time to fully internalize, especially when you’re feeling the stress of your own job. And doing it well requires more than mere punctuality.

In fact, one of the most common bad work habits is to “toss work over the fence,” passing problems along because you’re too busy to follow through by offering solid information and directions.

Let’s face it — effective communication is hard. It takes time, and a talented team doesn’t need that kind of help, right? They can figure out some chicken-scratch notes.

The truth is, they probably can, but by making your own job easier, you just made someone else’s harder. Instead, make their job easier with a quick team meeting. Ask them what they need from you.

Of course, respecting other people’s time means meeting your own deadlines too. That’s why teamwork is so important. If you work hard to make other people’s jobs easier, they’ll be happy to return the favor when you’re feeling that deadline crunch and need a hand.

6. Treat your boss like a customer

On a similar note, do your best to make your boss’s job easier too. Treating your boss like a customer is a good work habit to develop. That starts by completing your tasks on time, doing great work, and meeting the expectations of your job description.

Beyond that, you don’t need to stay late or work weekends to go the extra mile. It just takes a little extra thought. Can you format that report in a way that would make it easier to read? Can you offer up a positive attitude on a tough day? Bosses are people too!

Paying attention to details in what your manager needs from you is an essential practice that can make getting raises and promotions look easy.

7. Treat your coworkers like customers too

Team leaders aren’t the only ones who need help with their busy schedules. While this principle goes hand-in-hand with respecting people’s time, treating coworkers like customers includes applying emotional intelligence in a broader way:

  • Be an active listener
  • Be thoughtful and considerate
  • Make kindness a personal practice

These “soft skills” matter and are great work habits to develop. When everyone at work has wonderful things to say about you, choosing you for the next career development opportunity is a no-brainer.

8. Don’t jump around, jump around

This is one of those healthy work habits that productive people may take too far from time to time, but the essential idea is a great one — try not to jump around too much from one task to another.

In other words, don’t stop in the middle of writing a report to answer an email, then stop in the middle of the email to check a Slack notification, then stop in the middle of that, and so on. It’s called context switching, and it’s a lousy habit. It wastes time, and it’s mentally stressful.

The truth is, working like that is usually a sign that you need a break. If you’re feeling pressure to get that report done, you won’t want to take a break, so you bounce around instead. But that’s just a kind of procrastination.

One of the greatest secrets of productive people is that they take regular breaks when they need them. Go get a cup of coffee. Or brew some tea. Or take a short walk. Do what you need to do to clear your head, then come back to it.

On the same note, try to organize your schedule to do one thing at a time. Handle all your emails. Then go through your Slack messages. Then spend some dedicated time on that report.

The less time you spend jumping back and forth, the more effective you’ll be — and the calmer you’ll feel all day long.

9. Add DND work blocks to your day

One of the toughest things about the digital workplace is how accessible we all are, all the time. Slack notifications and emails come in constantly. Before you know it, that hour you were going to spend on employee evaluations somehow disappeared.

Even worse, our calendars are public — Google, Outlook, and the rest give team members the ability to commandeer our time. They schedule meetings without bothering to ask because they can see that we’re free.

The solution? Get your to-do list done by scheduling “do not disturb” work blocks for yourself on your calendar. Whether it’s at the beginning of the day, at the end of the day, or maybe a mid-afternoon window, mark yourself busy to make sure you have the time you need.

10. Schedule time for surprises

Last but not least, don’t schedule every minute of your day — leave room for surprises. How? By blocking off 30-minute windows to answer those random questions and requests for help that come in throughout the day.

This simple, consistent work habit and practice will improve your job performance and earn positive performance evaluations without any need to work late or give up your weekends. Plus, by making sure you always have time to offer a helping hand, you’ll always have one in return when you need it.

How to help your team adopt positive work habits and professional values

The first step in helping a whole team (or company) adopt these simple but important work principles is to lead by example. In the modern workplace, “Do as I say” is out. “Do as I do” is in. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done, especially in large organizations.

Changing a team of five is relatively simple. How do you change a team of thousands? Or tens of thousands?

To solve that problem, Simpplr’s AI-driven intranet was built to measure and steer corporate culture and employee experience  in any organization of any size, even one that’s distributed around the globe.

If you’d like to understand the heartbeat of your organization in real-time, you can explore the capabilities of our Live EX™️ employee experience management platform.

Dont forget to share this blog!


Connect with Simpplr