Shalom Lamm, the New York Real Estate mogul, believes in working hard at his job. In fact, when he was younger, it was not hard to find Lamm working 70 hours per week and more.
And what is true for Lamm is true for the vast majority of upper-level executives. Statistics show the average upper-level ex-works nearly 10 hours per day during a normal work week and puts in nearly 4 hours or more on the weekends. Many even work a few hours per day during vacation days.
Naturally, Shalom Lamm doesn’t expect younger, less entrenched workers to work as hard as an exec, but appearing to work hard is not enough. As a worker, you’ve got to be efficient.
One of the keys to working effectively is known as MIT, managing important tasks first. Many junior workers simply do not learn to prioritize tasks. They just take them one at a time, as they come up. By prioritizing your tasks, however, you put your greatest efforts into the tasks that are most important to the company. And by tackling these tasks first, you become a bigger asset to the company.
Too many junior workers spend up to 50 or 60 percent of their day working on minor tasks, and then when it comes to the really important tasks, they treat them like a freshman college student cramming the night before for a final. Prioritizing is more than 50 percent of the battle.
Another important factor that junior workers need to learn is to be comfortable with boredom. Although it sounds contradictory, many of the most important tasks you will be called on to do involve deep, concentrated work on tasks that are important to the company but may be quite boring. Learn to concentrate no matter how boring the task.
Another is to keep distractions to a minimum. Many workers find dozens of small and large distractions to keep them from working on the hardest tasks. One way to handle this is to take a notebook and jot down how much time you spend on less important tasks. Use the 80/20 rule to stay focused.It’s true, 20 percent of your tasks will produce 80 percent of your results. Don’t forget this.Also, learn to say no.
Coworkers are often the biggest distractions of all. While you don’t want to be anti-social when invited to participate in less than productive events in the office, learn to say no and explain you have a very important task you are working on.
Also, learn to break tasks down into smaller steps. By breaking down a project into different steps, they do not seem so daunting.
Ultimately, workers who learn to prioritize, break tasks down into smaller parts, focus on the 80/20 rule, and who learn to say no when required, get ahead.
These are workers that are extremely valuable to the company and will be first in line for both raises and promotions. Meanwhile, workers who don’t learn these skills are often passed over or even let go.