People have their routines when it comes to the work day: Get your cup of coffee, check your Instagram notifications, look up pugs wearing bandanas... all critical stuff to get the day started. But in between all that, chances are there are some things you should do every day at work that you're opting out of, whether it's because you have a hectic schedule, feel burnt out, or are just trying to coast. But if you want to jump-start your career and put yourself on a path that will kick all your career goals' butts, it's time to shake some things up. Mainly, you need to focus on a new routine every day that will keep your eye on growth and progression.
But how do you squeeze that in between all the dog pictures you scroll through? You don't have to give up the pugs, but you do need to create a checklist that will help you stay focused on advancing. Whether that's something easy like speaking up during meetings or something non-obvious like using those water cooler talks to your advantage, your day is full of opportunities to build. Below are seven things you should be doing every day at work, but probably aren't.
1. Set Yourself Goals For What You Want To Achieve That Day
And I don't mean something regular like, "Hand in spreadsheet report," or "Finish up the project that's due." Rather, keep in mind how you'd like to get noticed at work. For example, do you want to be seen as reliable? Then put something down like "Finish all promised tasks 15 minutes before schedule." Or do you want your current project to beat a personal best? Then write down something specific that will ensure that.
These might sound arbitrary, but having these kinds of goals on you to-do list or in your planner will push you not only to finish tasks that you have that day, but will also make sure you're pushing yourself to build your career and skills in a forward motion.
According to lifestyle writer Kye at self development site Keep Inspiring, "S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely. The acronym pretty much says it all. These are goals which are concrete, narrowly defined, and which you can measure your progress towards." Keep on building!
2. See How You Can Push Yourself That Day
It can be easy to get to work and coast, but it'll be a much more rewarding work day if you find ways to push yourself. Whether that's polishing a skill, working on something you're weak at, offering to take on a project you're not 100 percent comfortable with, or putting something extra on your plate no one expected you to, you'll help yourself grow.
According to career writer Emmie Martin at Business Insider, "If you're waiting for other people to encourage you to go after your goals, you're not showing that you want success or putting yourself on a path to find it. Rather, you must push yourself every day and actively look for ways you can improve." It might make your work day tougher, but if you want to flourish in your career you have to be willing to make those eight hours count.
3. Slowly Become An Expert In Something
You know who's absolutely indispensable at the office? The one that's an expert in their field. Because once they go, we're all doomed. So every day, do something little by little that will slowly make you more of an expert in your topic of choice. Are you excellent at research, at putting together presentations, at finding the holes in a proposal? Pin down what it is that inspires you at work and what you contribute to, and take the proper steps to become more well versed and strong in it.
Career writer Lisa Quast at Forbes offered, "People turn to the experts for advice and to solve problems. Look for areas in your business where you can put your skills to use and become an expert. Then, volunteer for projects that will allow you to use these skills and show them off." Whether that's taking classes, listening to seminars, reading industry articles, etc, dedicate time in every day to brush up on your skills, and then swoop in when a project demands for it.
4. Be Mindful Of Your Conversation
You might have a best friend at work or even a Dwight Schrute mortal enemy, but your work conversations hold so much more potential than just asking what the other was up to last weekend. Kye pointed out, "realize that every conversation is an opportunity, and could hold the seed of potential for a new business relationship or venture. When they find themselves facing harsh times, they reach out to others for ideas. When others in their networks struggle, they offer solutions."
While you should still be friendly and invested in your work pals, also don't forget to put your best professional foot forward. You want people to keep in mind that you're brilliant at what you do and can handle progressing further, so show them!
5. Be Critical
No one likes hearing that they're doing "meh" work, but if you want to be the best professional version of yourself, sometimes you're going to have to be hard on yourself. And the way to do it is to take a moment every now and then and look over what kind of work you produced, and gauge if it's the best you can do.
Martin recommended, "As much as you should focus on moving forward, it's also important to take a step back at times and review your own work. Take time every day to analyze what you've done, how well it worked, and where you can improve." By pointing out your holes to yourself, you ensure that you do a better job the next time around. It's an excellent motivator and keeps you on your toes.
6. You Have A Voice — Use It
Whether you're shy, self-conscious, not sure if your ideas are any good, or are burnt out, sometimes it can be easy to stay quiet all through work meetings or through golden opportunities that allow you to voice your opinions, but if you're doing that you're really doing yourself a disservice.
According to career writer Ashlet Stahl at Forbes, "The standout employees are the ones who behave like leaders, even when their title is Intern. The irony is that when you’re more focused on the results than the promotion, your title will change faster than you can even imagine." So the next time you get an idea or see a flaw in a project or proposal, speak up. Speak up every day, even if it means you'll get more work as a result. It'll be remembered when the time counts.
7. Do More Than Your Job Description Asks
I'm not telling you to grab coffee for the office and then also butt into everyone else's tasks, but be willing to go above and beyond a little bit every day. Whether that means staying a couple hours longer to really polish the hell out of a project, step up and help a struggling co-worker, or take on an extra project even though that inbox is looking pretty full, people notice those kinds of things in a star worker.
Leadership writer Glenn Llopis from Forbes pointed out, "Always look around, beyond and beneath the opportunities that you seek. Those that get noticed at work are those who approach each day with wide-angle vision...Employees that know how to get noticed quickly have mastered the ability to maximize the value of their workplace dot and are continuously looking for ways to expand their sphere of influence throughout the organization."
So what can you take away from this? Try not to coast through your work day and instead constantly keep moving forward. Everything you do is a chance to build your career, so take those opportunities, from sharing with co-workers what you're working on to using projects to build your skills and portfolio. The day is chock-full of chances!