5 Ways to Build Better Work Habits

To build a good work ethic, you need to develop strong work habits. Order, consistency, and timeliness are all virtues that help you to stay focused on the job. With practice, these virtues will become an essential part of who you are as an employee, someone your boss and supervisors can count on to communicate clearly and who can be trusted to follow through with whatever assignment you are given.

Get Organized

While it never hurts to utilize imaginative options that make your workspace more efficient and free of clutter, being organized means more than having a having a place for everything. It also means keeping track of your deadlines so that you know to be prepared for the upcoming meeting and on top of your assignments. Don't leave deadlines to memory. Keep careful records in whatever method works for you. Some people use bright post-it notes; others use calendars or software applications. Knowing when your assignments are due lets you prioritize and keeps you focused on the task at hand, which leads to less stress and greater productivity.

Know Your Limits

It's easy to get overextended, especially when you are new to a job. There is a perception that you have to say "yes" to everything. But far worse than saying "no" is taking on a task that you can't handle and needing to bail on it last minute. Knowing your limits also means being able to delegate responsibility and share the work load when possible. Keep in mind what is known as the "Ben Franklin Effect." When a person does you a favor, they are much more likely to do you another favor than they if you did a favor for them. The moral of the story is, Don't be too self-reliant. You could end up without the support you need when things get busy.

Be Consistent

You not only need to develop good work habits; you need to develop regular work habits. However, it isn't necessary, or even desirable, to aim for an immediate overhaul. This TEDx talk by B.J. Fogg of Stanford University advocates using immediate positive reinforcement to reward yourself every time you take a small step in the right direction. The principle of is to build a foundation of sustained and consistent behavior by implementing "tiny habits." For instance, if you eventually want to be able to work for two hours without checking your email or social media sites, you might start with five minutes. Building habits in small steps makes the process less frustrating and facilitates long-term success.

Avoid Procrastination

Procrastination "represents a profound problem of self-regulation," according to this article published in "Psychology Today" by Hara Estroff Marano. She identifies three main types of people who procrastinate: thrill seekers, who like to push things to the limit; people who fear either failure or success and therefore tend to avoid tasks; and individuals who have trouble being decisive. The tendency to put things off is made, not innate, and it affects roughly 20 percent of the workforce.

If you genuinely want to stop letting your life be ruled by the crippling effects of procrastination, short-term cognitive behavioral therapy can help you to identify the underlying problem that is leading you to put things off and retrain you to tackle things head-on. Because the tendency to procrastinate develops when individuals are still young, it is harder to change the behavior on your own, but becoming actively aware of your motives may help. Keep a journal in which you note whenever you find yourself postponing a task and describe what you are feeling at the time. You will come to develop a better understanding of how you feel about working and why you tend to avoid work. This information can help you

Take Responsibility

We live in a world in which people seem to fear being called on a mistake more than they mind making the mistake in the first place. This leads to many undesirable work habits, the foremost among them being a lack of clear communication. When you cannot own up to a mistake or acknowledge not knowing something, you turn every conversation about the task into a miscommunication. This can lead to resentment on the part of coworkers and anger on the part of your supervisors. By denying that it exists, you are also missing an opportunity to learn from the mistake. Understand that everyone makes mistakes and own up to it gracefully. Never put the blame on others. Offer to fix the mistake immediately and use each error you make as a chance to improve your future performance.