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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

8 Things You’re Doing Well in Your Career That You Could Be Doing Better

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If you’re reading this, you’re probably doing A-OK in your career. You’re getting stuff done, you’re learning, and your team is happy with you overall.

But you also know you’re not perfect. Everything you do leaves room for improvement, and as someone who’s driven and cares about growing, you’re always interested in ways you can continue to excel.

Well, we’re here to help! Here are eight things—if we were to guess—you could be doing even better.

1. Managing Your Time

You’re rarely one to miss a deadline and you feel like your days are well spent. But, sometimes you find yourself spending more time on a project than you’d like, or getting distracted and having to stay in the office later than usual. And, you don’t actually have a “formal” time management strategy in place, which makes it tough for you to always stay focused and efficient.

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Have you thought about aggressively blocking out times on your calendar to ensure you’re doing everything exactly when you want to? Or, taking short breaks more often so you don’t find yourself scrolling through social media for an hour? Or, how about trying the Research-Plan-Connect strategy perfect for those who love to kill time? Sometimes the solution is as simple as strategic planning.

2. Staying Organized

Unlike your deskmate whose mountain of stuff is slowly tipping into your territory, your space is fairly neat and clean. Your inbox and desktop aren’t super terrifying to look at, but occasionally important notes get lost in the shuffle, to-do items are forgotten, and files become difficult to uncover.

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These desk hacks will keep your space forever manageable.

As for your inbox, you may want to consider using filters to keep different kinds of messages together. Or, taking advantage of Gmail’s new features to stay on top of everything.

How about your desktop? Check out these fast fixes that’ll transform the way you work on your computer.

Finally, if you don’t have one, consider investing in a stellar planner to organize every part of your life.

3. Having Meetings

Your meetings tend to be somewhat productive. But you’re no stranger to the brainstorming session that ran 30-minutes over or the one-on-one where you left feeling just a little confused.

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A meeting agenda can go a long way in helping your meetings stay on track. And learning how to talk to someone who constantly runs late may help you avoid the problem of extra-long meetings. Finally, make sure you’re doing some prep beforehand so your conversation is as efficient as possible.

Or, consider not having a meeting at all and sending out an email instead—this can immediately turn unproductive meetings into productive next steps.

4. Working With Your Co-workers

In general, you and your colleagues tend to get along. But sometimes you get into rifts or have to deal with them slacking off on something—and wouldn’t we all want to avoid these moments more often than not?

Do it Better

Practice how you’ll talk to a co-worker who’s condescending or being lazy so you can solve any issue effectively and professionally. And, up your game by using one of these tips to get people to respect you more.

5. Working With Your Boss

You’re cordial with your boss, if not friendly. But you’re always looking for ways to get on their good side.

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Don’t have regular check-ins with your manager? You should if you want to always be on the same page (here’s how to set one up). These four sneaky habits are sure to impress even the toughest managers, along with this 15-minute one. And the best employees ask their boss these questions on a regular basis.

6. Giving Feedback

You think you’re good at letting people know when you disagree, but sometimes your feedback just doesn’t stick. How can you give constructive criticism that’s both motivating and respectful?

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Learn how to give tough feedback to people you like (this article will help), as well as to people who don’t want it. Muse columnist, Sara McCord, lays out the best way to give that kind of advice here.

7. Networking

Sure, you sometimes grab coffee with an old colleague or comment on a past boss’ LinkedIn update. But you’re not doing much more than the bare minimum of acquaintanceship—and yet you know having strong professional relationships is key for your success.

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If someone looks at your LinkedIn profile, don’t just stalk them—respond! And make sure you’re sending out a thoughtful thank you note whenever someone does something nice for you.

Remember that the little things go a long way. So use this 15-minute networking tip and these smart ways to keep your network warm—and always available in case you need them.

8. Thinking Long-Term

You have a vague idea of where you want to go in your career. But you don’t really have a concrete plan laid out for how you’ll get there.

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First, understand what makes a good career goal—otherwise how else are you going to accomplish it?

Then, define success for yourself. What does it look like? Feel like?

After you do that, use this exercise to outline your ideal future and how you’ll reach it.

Moral of the story? There’s always progress to be made on even the highest of achievements. The best employees don’t let their growth stagnate, but rather understand that there’s always more to be done and learned.

What sorts of things are you looking to get better at? Ask us on Twitter @TheMuse!

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