Yourself at Work

5 Ways to Work on Yourself at Work

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.

Peter writes about personal growth and self awareness at The Change Blog. If you enjoyed this article, you may wish to download his free e-book, A Year of Change.

32 Responses to 5 Ways to Work on Yourself at Work

  1. I would also recommend you get a mentor. Get someone who has a positive reputation and who has a great network within the company.


  2. Ravi Vora says:

    Before any of this, you should find a job you love. Even if it takes some extra time, it’s more important that you love what you do than to trudge through a crappy workday.

  3. Erik Karey says:

    I agree with Ravi. Having a job you love, doing something you love, will allow you to take more of an interest in your work and inspire you to do more and be more.

  4. Bubs says:

    I agree that doing what you love is the first step. Most of these ideas can also be applied to someone that is their own boss and works from home.

  5. John Wesley says:

    I agree — finding a job you love is extremely important. But there are also other factors, like expenses and responsibilities, that can necessitate keeping a job that you aren’t in love with. In a sense, liking a job is a conscious decision. You choose to focus on the good parts and develop yourself, or you can dwell on the bad. I think Peter has provided some great ways to make the best of any situation.

  6. Peter says:

    “Doing what you love” – it’s the ideal situation to be in, no arguments there. Realistically, though, some people take time to work out how to do this.

    My approach is that anyone who is consciously focused on their own self improvement will surely move themselves closer to doing what they love.

  7. I think managing stress is a big part of it too. Even if you’re in a job you would normally love, overwhelming stress can make it completely unenjoyable. Learning how to cope with stress can help put joy back into the job. Of course, implementing all of these things will ultimately help reduce stress I think.
    Great post!

  8. Mostly, it’s about having priorities. If something isn’t important, don’t waste your time doing it. And limiting time online is another big plus. I’m down to checking email only once a day. It’s amazing how much of it can wait!

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  10. It took me three years once to switch when a job stopped being a good match. It was a strategic decision to stay for a while, and it was the right one. I didn’t waste those three years by any means. As Peter suggests, I prepared for the next job by making the most of the opportunities to learn and grow in the existing job. Patience plus preparation is often more powerful than precipitous action.

    Thanks, Peter. :)

  11. Oops, wrong link in the previous comment. The comment was more relevant to Transforming Stress than to Cheerful Monk.

  12. 6. Know your outcome (your goal) and follow it.
    7. Do the things. Thinking is not everything! :)

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  17. jared says:

    its good
    but am not working yet lol
    lazy ass mofo

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  24. karen says:

    I agree being able to prioritize your time is incredibly important. Even if you have a job you love it can be incredibly stressfull so making sure you dont burn out is important

  25. Patt says:

    If you cannot find a job you love, love the one you’re with. This can be transformational.

  26. prom gowns says:

    i will try my best to achieve that,thx

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  30. Karl_crampton says:

    I have tried these and they work. I am happy in my job but sometimes it gets hard and I did fall in to bad habits. This is a great page thankyou

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