Info & Advice - Smart Work Habits

One of the most important skills you can have at work is to listen and retain what you hear.


You’ve got to listen at work. Not just sit there and nod your head, but really absorb what your boss and co-workers are saying.  Head doctors call it “active listening,” and it’s useful everywhere in life, especially on the job.  You won’t know what is going on or be able to answer the unexpected question if you can’t listen correctly.  That “deer in the headlights” look is the last thing you want to give your boss when they pop a question your way.


Things to help you listen, actively:


Take Notes – A valuable tool in active listening is taking notes.  Use whatever style of note-taking that works best for you.  For example, you might use a flow chart to keep track of the conversation or an outline might be more your style.  Write down questions that come to you while the other person is talking.  That way you can stay with the conversation and keep up on what is going on. 


Ask Questions­ – Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  If you don’t understand a point or concept, speak up.  Rephrase and repeat what you are being told to make sure you get it right.  Actively engage the other person.  This will show that you are making the effort to understand. 


Don’t let the conversation just pass you by, actively listen and you’ll stay in the loop.

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By kathrynpless

Make a To-Do List
Don’t get overwhelmed at work.  Never underestimate the power of a simple to-do list.

Organization at work is key for time management and keeping yourself on schedule.  Breaking your workload down into simple to do lists helps you get things done in an orderly fashion.  And nothing is more satisfying than crossing tasks off your list.  Check!

The Daily List – Compile those repeated tasks that you do every day (P/U Mail, Do Time Sheet) into a simple Daily To-Do List.   A word processing or spreadsheet program like MS Word or MS Excel can do the job.  Save it to your desktop so you can quickly review the tasks for completion.  Go through your list throughout the day and especially before going home.  “Did it, did it, did it, oooh almost forgot that one!” and you will never overlook anything.  

The Project Specific List – It’s easy for long-term projects to get buried in your overwhelmed schedule.  Keeping a Project To-Do List will keep you on track.  Spend a few minutes at the start of a project breaking it down into milestones.  Record them in Microsoft Outlook using the Calendar and Tasks features for scheduled reminders. Automated reminders like, “Initial figures due to client” assigned for Wednesday at noon help prevent you from falling short on big projects.  

The Non-Repeating Task List – This regular To-Do List includes things that are your responsibility, but aren’t part of your daily routine.  Record them together so you never forget anything.  There are some fun desktop post-it note applications that allow you to quickly record and color code such tasks.  And they stay bright and colorful right on your desktop.  Then delete them when they are complete.    

The Monday Morning List – You may have been organized and efficient all week long.  But certain days are heavier than others, and perhaps need a list of their own.  Monday mornings, for example.  After a weekend spent partying with friends, your tired and your brain is clouded while you wait for the first cup of coffee to kick in.  Make a standard Monday To-Do List to use repeatedly.  Or take the last few minutes of your Friday afternoon to scribble down a quick list of what you need to tackle first thing on Monday.

Staying organized in a busy work environment can be a major feat, but if you enforce To-Do lists, you can always see what needs to be done at a glance.  This not only keeps you on schedule and manages your time, but keeps you from going mute when your boss asks the dreaded “did you get that report done?”

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By stacymorgan

Work Fast… Without Killing Yourself
Manage your time and stay focused.


We all know that one co-worker who just looks drained.  Time management is not their strong point and they’re looking massively exhausted.  Don’t become them!  You can work fast without killing yourself!


Take Care – If you’re going to work hard, you’ve got to get your rest, no questions asked.  And no, two hours of sleep is not enough.  Some people are six-hour sleepers, others are eight.  You have to find which hour-sleeper you are and start passing on those bar hop invites. That way you can get into work refreshed and ready to go at it full force each day.  Also, be smart about what you eat.  That lunchtime super size burger meal or afternoon doughnut will never deliver the energy your body needs to keep going.  If you don’t care of yourself, how are you going to do your job?


Come In Early – We all need a little time to get in the zone each morning.  Coming in to work just ten minutes early will give you the moment of peace you need to get organized and start right in on all that job stuff you’ve got to do.  A moment of piece is a precious commodity on the job, so grab it.


Organize Your Tasks – You’ve got a lot to do, and you want to work fast.  But you won’t be able to if you don’t work smart, too.  You need organized work habits and the holy grail of the efficient worker: the to-do list.  Multiple to do lists! The more detailed they are, the more they’ll help you with time management.  Think of it… “Today’s To-Do List, Tomorrow’s To-Do List, Daily To Do List, Weekly To-Do List, Meeting To-Do List, Monday Morning To-Do List”… you name it, it could go on and on with your on-the-job creativity.  Use it as a tool to always stay on track.  Couple that with smart and organized work habits like taking notes, asking good questions, multitasking, prioritizing, etc and you’re golden.  Plus it just feels great to cross things off your list!


You don’t have to be a work casualty.  Remember, it’s all in the details.  Get your rest so you’re reasdy to start your days off right, and eat right.  Try getting into work early for that extra edge.  Create and use your to do lists and start smart work habits.  Soon you’ll be knocking out tasks at lightning speed. 

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By davidporter

Prioritizing at Work
You’ve got what seems like a hundred fires burning on your desk. Your to do list looks like a roll of toilet tissue and your boss just plopped down a stack of files to be done.  Now what?


One of the hardest things about a new job is learning to prioritize. Good time management is the key to staying on top of your workload and getting things done.  First, relax--you can’t concentrate if you’re stressing out.  Next make a to do list. List what needs your immediate attention. Then separate the remaining tasks by order of importance


When you’re making your list, try to remember what your boss would want first.  If you’re not sure, ask.  Your boss will appreciate that you want to get the most important job done, and that you know enough to ask what they consider most important.  If your boss isn’t available, did they give you any due dates or times the tasks need to be completed? If so, then you have your answers already. If they’re not available, then think of the projects, meetings, appointments, etc that are in the near future and if the tasks relate to any of those items.  Then that might give you a clue on what’s priority until you can touch base with the boss.  Plus, never underestimate the power of asking a co worker. 


Being organized and on task at work isn’t hard. It is more knowing what goes first and what can wait.  Clean out your inbox before you go home, and have the “ ‘Tomorrow’ To-Do List” ready.  That way, when you arrive back at work, you can hit the ground running and not get behind. Once you learn to prioritize at work, you’ll be more productive and sail through the day.

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By kathrynpless

Take Notes Quickly

To succeed at work you must be able to take notes quickly, and…be able to read them later!  Bosses and meetings won’t slow down, so you have to keep up.

These tips should help...


  1. If you can write fast, jot down as much as you can, so it will make sense later. The more information the better when taking notes.
  1. If you are slow, don’t just jot down random words. You will have no clue what it means later. Get the main points down and when there is a lull in the meeting or conversation, go back and fill in with important key words to jog your memory later.
  1. If your notes are sketchy, find some quiet time soon after you take them and make more comprehensive notes. Write out as much of the instructions or information that you can remember, and in great detail.
  1. If you are not good with writing, try doing a mind map. Write the main idea in the center of the page and circle it. Draw lines going off in different directions (like a sun) to other circles with other ideas in them.  Branch 'sub' ideas off of those ideas. This is a simplified way of doing an outline.
  1. If you know shorthand, by all means use it for note taking or taking minutes.  Then type them up later.
  1. Practice in your off time if necessary. It will definitely pay off at work.
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By chrisjanzen

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