If you don’t love what you do, you may feel you are giving your employer some of the best days of your life. Whilst this article may not change this feeling, it is designed to give you some self improvement ideas that you can do at the office. In my opinion, self improvement is something that can be done anytime and anywhere. And as this article will hopefully demonstrate, working on yourself in the workplace results in “win-win” outcomes for both you and your employer.
1. Be Self-Disciplined
For many people, discipline is a dirty word. They equate it with an absence of freedom, with coercion or duty. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. According to Stephen R. Covey, “only the disciplined are truly free. The undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites, and passions.”
The workplace is the perfect environment to work on your self-discipline. Take, for example, what has become the drug of choice for the modern office worker: email. Not only is email addictive, but it is also the “largest single interruption in modern life” according to Tim Ferriss. So do both you and your boss a favor, and become disciplined with checking your email. How often you check it will obviously depend on your job, but try perhaps once every hour or twice per day.
If this idea doesn’t appeal to you, there are many other ways to exercise self discipline in the workplace. For example, try to control your urge for snack food and pop. Ultimately the point of this exercise is to commit to something, and then follow through on it.
2. Implement a Productivity System
A productivity system such as Getting Things Done (GTD) is not just a system for working, it is a system for living. If you begin to incorporate to the behaviors associated with GTD into your professional life - collection, processing, organizing, reviewing, and doing - these will naturally flow into your personal life. After all, if you can teach yourself to be maximally efficient and relaxed in the workplace, why wouldn’t you also replicate this at home?
3. Develop Your Interpersonal and Networking Skills
Does a room full of strangers at party intimidate you? If so, try developing your interpersonal and networking skills in the workplace. The following are exercises that are sure to build both your skills and confidence in dealing with people:
- Initiate conversations with co-workers
- Master the art of “small-talk”
- Make an effort to remember peoples’ names
- Listen attentively
- Take a genuine interest in people
4. Commit to Excellence
If you have a job you don’t enjoy, it is easy to fall into the “I don’t care” trap. Signs you have fallen into this trap may be that you are indifferent to customers or your quality of work is average. Apart from hampering your career, I believe an indifferent attitude to work is dangerous because it can become an attitude towards life. If you commit to excellence at work, even for the smallest of tasks, then it will become a habit. And as Aristotle once said: “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
5. Exercise Your Brain
A strange phenomenon I have identified, both in myself and other work colleagues, is “lazy brain”. This is where you do things in such a manner that you avoid exercising your brain. For example, do you ever use a calculator to perform a sum you could easily do in your head? Or, do you ever ask a co-worker about a policy or procedure without first attempting to remember it yourself or using your own ingenuity to find the answer? The solution to these lazy practices is simple: make an effort to exercise your brain throughout the working day.