Getting ahead is easier than you think. But it requires courage. The kind of courage it takes to act like an executive or CEO.
Here are a couple simple rules to follow to get ahead without becoming a workaholic:
1. Understand what’s most important.
In order to get the big picture of the company’s goals and directions, you may have to think outside your department. Research your company’s goals and initiatives. Find out what’s important to them, what kinds of things they publish in press releases or the kind of image they promote in advertising. Learn how your role promotes the overall company initiative.
2. Pick one project, and be willing to let others slide.
Select a project of yours that, if completed, would have the most impact. It is better to have one project produce a solid, impactful result than to have many important projects that bring mediocre results, or worse, never reach completion.
Since the goal is not become a workaholic, you will have to decide that everything on your plate is just not going to get done. An executive makes tough decisions daily. By devoting himself to the success of the most important projects, he agrees to failure lesser ones.
3. Move the needle on lesser projects.
List your top projects on a piece of paper. Then, list one or two things you could reasonably accomplish in a day that, if completed, would move each project forward just a little. Just enough to show some progress each day. The secret on the lesser projects is to not neglect them altogether but apply a ‘slow and steady’ chipping away, moving that progress needle just a little bit forward every day.
4. Manage your day better, around that main project.
Get to work one to two hours earlier. Far better than taking work home in the evening when you are exhausted or when you should be spending time with family. Not only will you beat traffic, you’ll create a solid block of uninterrupted time to hash out important deliverables. I’ve used this in my corporate role, and still use it in my real estate business today. When your most important work is done before your phone starts ringing, it’s easy to fit in meetings, appointments, and time in front of people.
If you find yourself too tired to arrive early, make sure you’re going to bed earlier and getting eight hours of sleep. In the morning, fuel your body correctly with lots of water and a healthy breakfast, then go straight to work on your project with email closed. Take your coffee break and check your email AFTER your time block is done, and when everyone else is arriving and creating distractions.
5. Just say no.
You can’t please everyone and you can’t spend all day responding and reacting to other people’s requests in your email inbox. The new you is not a message-taker; you are a leader directing the activities of yourself and others. As long as you take a reactionary approach you’ll never be able to get ahead.
When it’s time to check email, decide who you need to reach out to and whose response you need to look for before you even open your email inbox. Send your message, search for the response you were waiting on, then shut it down! Don’t open your email until the next designated break. If something arises that truly can’t wait one hour, that person will likely call you or visit your desk.
6. Get out of the box.
In order to have the kind of creativity that gets you ahead without becoming workaholic, you’ve got to get outside the office. With only one main project (and a commitment to merely move the needle daily on the lesser projects) this should be easier now.
Use lunches to network or hang out with neglected friends. Plan a fun and engaging activity every single weekend. When you are out of the office, be out of the office. Try new things, take a class, read a book that challenges you, take your kids to the zoo, book a night away with your spouse in the neighboring town.
On Monday morning, you’ll be relieved to know that you haven’t forgotten anything and that your work is still there. You may even find yourself eager to work, and your confidence soaring because of the quality time spent with family and friends.
More importantly, the way you challenged your brain by experiencing new things and allowing yourself to “play” has actually boosted your brain’s ability to think creatively. Don’t be surprised if a light bulb goes off on an old problem you struggled to solve or if a book you’re reading gives you an idea for a new angle on your project.
There is no separation between work and home life. What happens at home affects you at work. Time at work affects relationships at home. Use these principles to do better at work and at home!
This post was originally published at an earlier date.
About the author
Sandy Neumann is an entrepreneur and published writer. She is Marketing Director for the real estate firm she and her husband have run since 2009. Sandy’s passion is helping professionals and small businesses leverage ‘Words + Internet Marketing’ to stand out in crowded markets. Her unique story shows people how to get free from the “grind” and become entrepreneurs.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.
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