You're in luck -- contrary to what popular ads and movies often suggest, you do not need a designer handbag, expensive gadgets and a personal assistant to be successful at work. In reality, the keys to success at work come at no cost, except for your time and devotion. Just a few easy-to-follow tactics can help transform a hard-working woman into a successful, savvy professional.
Fill your time, don't let your time fill you. That's a tenet that the most savvy professionals swear by, and time management is key for staying on top of your game. According to the Forbes article "9 Unconventional And Low-Tech Time Management Tips," sometimes going back to the traditional pen and paper is better than trying to juggle calendars and to-do lists on your smartphone and computer. Experiment to find the best system for tracking your appointments, scheduling tasks and catching up on email. Start by writing down daily tasks and appointments on a calendar or digital planner, then, get creative from there. Maybe you need to set alarms for yourself and or have a daily session when you write down your progress. Whatever it takes, the system is all yours to craft, but you may find that nothing beats a simple hand-written list of must-do tasks for the day.
The Forbes article also suggests writing down everything that competes for your time during the day -- from big projects to tasks as small as eating lunch or running to the cleaners. While these tasks might seem menial, they eat up time just as much as the larger tasks. At the end of each week, assess your time management by reviewing your calendar and determining which tasks were completed and which tasks still need attention. Remember: time management is not a talent -- it's a learned skill.
Staying positive in the workplace pays big dividends. Make every effort to maintain a smile, a can-do attitude and an upbeat demeanor. The Career Success for Newbies article titled "5 Effective Work Habits For Fresh Graduates" says that many employees, especially new ones, find it easy to grow dismayed in the workplace when challenged by a tough workload, new systems to learn or the new dynamic of working in an office with others for most of the day. But positivity helps you stay focused on the bigger picture rather than stuck on difficulties and annoyances.
Focusing on strategy and solutions, rather than problems and blame, are the most important features of teamwork. Active listening and open communication also helps each team member feel important, heard and understood. Keeping sight of your overall goals is a great way to stay positive at work; employ a permanent reminder, if necessary, like a desk sign or an inspirational computer screen background. Whatever you can do to keep the small things from getting in the way of the bigger, more meaningful goals, the more you'll be able to project an infectiously positive attitude to your peers and bosses. Employers rarely underestimate the value of a positive employee that helps keep morale high.
Most people, at some point in their working lives, face situations that leave them feeling angered, upset or frustrated. Sometimes, it's the boss himself who makes us want to storm out of the office, fume at home and shed the suit once and for all. It's important to remember etiquette during these times. Your decorum and attitude always speak to your professionalism and character, and unfortunately those negative moments will shade the positive ones. For example, one negative day in the office where you lose your temper can be more powerful in characterizing you than weeks of kind, professional behavior. If you face a frustrating situation, excuse yourself to your office or to a private place like a restroom if you need time to calm down before addressing coworkers.
Equally crucial is your communication via email in the workplace -- always use neutral language and proper salutations in workplace email. An example of neutrality is to avoid any hyperbolic adjectives, exclamation points or attacking phrases such as "you said" or "you did." These words are widely bristled at because when a person hears "you," she immediately tunes in and if criticism follows, she often throws up a wall of defensiveness. No one likes an attack. Instead, focus on the situation, not the person you're addressing, and request a face-to-face meeting to deal with a problem or misunderstanding. These techniques can help you save face and avoid unintended conflict in the workplace. After all, a hard day's work is hard enough. Avoid those things that make work life that much harder!
According to an "Inc." article, titled "8 Things Your Employees Need Most," one of the key motivators for a working person is a sense of mission. Feeling like you're a part of something bigger helps you engage in daily tasks and activities that help the company without feeling like you're doing "grunt work." Keeping your company's overall goal and mission in mind each work day will help make even the most menial tasks seem important and worthwhile.
Most employees really want to work for the betterment of the people around them, not for a paycheck. Work Simple's "Top Qualities of Successful Employees" article postulates that successful employees lend a helping hand to coworkers, taking a share of the extra work when a coworker is buried. Connecting with your coworkers helps you feel like you're part of a team. When you finish your work and pull your weight, you help everyone around you live a professional, fulfilling life at work.
Remember to stop and say hello to your coworkers, partake in lunch outings, and encourage those around you. Managing relationships with your coworkers is just as important as the work you do for the company. Using positive communication shows your coworkers that you value their happiness in the workplace environment. Work is work, but there is no rule that says that it can't be fun too. Find out what kinds of activities are going on outside of work and commit to spending at least a small amount of time getting involved. You don't have to order a round of shots to show co-workers you're into making friends; simply reach out, engage in a few activities and wear a smile. You'll see that it makes work life feel much more balanced if you establish a friendly culture with your fellow employees. If you're going to spend 40 or more hours per week with this crowd, you might as well enjoy yourself.
Jan Archer holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a master's degree in creative writing. Roth has written trade books for Books-a-Million and has published articles on green living, wellness and education topics. She taught business writing, literature, creative writing and English composition at the college level for five years.