Day #571:What the Most Successful People Do At Work

If you are interested in understanding how to maximise your time this new year to become more productive at work, you should read Laura Vanderkam’s What the Most Successful People Do at Work. Unlike most productivity books, advising you on different tools and methods to use to “become more productive’, Vanderkam’s book is highly practical and you will find useful information you can apply immediately.And it is just 60 pages long.Something you can read in one sitting.

In What the Most Successful People Do at Work, Laura Vanderkam writes a short but highly useful guide to maximizing your productivity, effectiveness, and happiness with your work.  Whether you work full time in an office, have a flexible career, or are a stay-at-home parent.

Vanderkam’s shorter pieces, because the writing is excellent and insightful and I get more out of her e-books than I do out of many full-length books on similar topics.  If you’re pressed for time and need some work-related time management help, you’ll definitely want to invest in this one.

What the Most Successful People Do at Work is geared not only towards traditional 9-5 jobs, but also to the broader concept of “life’s work” in the sense of work that challenges you and brings you joy.

This may coincide with your 9-5, or it might be the work you do in the margins of your main responsibilities.  Either way, Vanderkam writes, “the secret to astonishing productivity lies in a handful of daily disciplines.”

Based on her research, Vanderkam identifies seven disciplines that characterize people who are successful at their work:

  1. Successful people are mindful of how they spend their hours.  Being aware of how you spend your time helps you see where you’re over- or under-investing and figure out how long tasks truly take.
  2. Successful people plan the hours they have.  Once you have a handle on how much work time you have and how you currently spend it, you can identify more strategic ways to allocate that time, and plan those tasks into your schedule.
  3. Successful people prioritize to do lists.  Rather than a long list that tempts you to do the easy stuff and ignore the impact items, prioritizing and committing to completing important tasks sets you up for more success.
  4. Successful people know that what looks like work often isn’t, and what doesn’t look like work often is.  Checking email and “looking busy” for face time is not effective work, but sometimes visiting a museum or going for coffee with a contact is.
  5. Successful people practice their tasks.  Every form of work has core skills, and successful people practice and work at improving on a daily basis.
  6. Successful people invest in career capital.  Building up your network, improving your skills, and documenting your achievements will help you build the career you want.
  7. Successful people find joy in their work.  Joy does not come from workplace perks like free M&Ms (although I personally find fancy cheese platters absurdly motivational), but from making progress in important goals.

The e-book goes into far more detail on each of those points, including helpful applications from Vanderkam’s research and interviews that readers will find inspiring and illuminating.

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