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5 minute read

5 Positive Work Habits to Master for Career Success

Having the right habits can make or break your professional development. If you’re not sure where to start, here are five key habits you should master first to succeed at work.

A study found that people attributed 46% of their career success to having the right work habits, as compared to natural talent (24.6%) or even the decisions they make (22.5%). In short, whether good or bad, your habits can have a big impact on your productivity, and in turn, your chances for success.

The importance of good habits

Habits don’t just affect you directly. They can and will affect your relationship with your colleagues, supervisors, and anyone else you work with.

If you have positive work habits, you’ll likely find it easier to work with others and be perceived more favourably. Adopting good habits will only serve to benefit you in the long run, as they build good character and resilience.

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It can be overwhelming if you’re not sure where to start, so here are a few common habits that you can consider working on first:

1. Minding punctuality and timeliness

This habit can effectively make or break others’ impressions of you, making it an important starting point. After all, an employee who’s always late and rushes through deadlines often lacks preparation and is a big red flag to companies.

Ways to improve:

Time management will be your best friend here, but it’s also important to consider other factors that might affect your timeliness. For example, if you notice that you take extra time to complete certain tasks, you should take it into account when establishing deadlines and planning out schedules by adding buffer time for it.

2. Being a good communicator

How you communicate, whether verbally or through non-verbal modes like emails, is just as important as what you communicate. In good communication, it’s also crucial to fully understand what someone is saying before you respond – simply skimming through a response to save time can result in more problems than before.

Ways to improve:

A good chunk of communication is to utilise a ‘listener-first’ mindset’, which can help you better structure your responses. But ultimately, if you want to get better at interacting with others, you’ll need the courage to get yourself out there and speak up more frequently in the workplace to get more practice!

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3. Taking control of your self-development

It’s good to have role models that you look up to and aspire to become, but if all you’re doing is admiring without taking any action, the odds of improving yourself are as good as none. Identify your skill gaps, then take the first step towards your own career development.

Ways to improve:

Taking the initiative is key here – rather than quietly waiting for your supervisor to delegate tasks to you, speak up and ask for additional responsibilities, even those beyond your job description. If your workplace provides learning and training programmes, consider signing up for them, or even sourcing for courses on your own that your company can subsidise.

4. Adopting a growth mindset

Taking in constructive criticism isn’t always easy. But the truth is, no one knows everything from the get-go and are bound to make mistakes while growing into the role. However, those who are willing to learn from their missteps will come out as better employees.

Ways to improve:

One of the best ways to start is to change how you view failure. Rather than a sign of inability, see it as part of the process of learning. After all, it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to get something right the first time, so be kind to yourself and take it as an opportunity for improvement.

5. Practising wellness and self-care

While it’s great to be a self-driven and hard worker, it doesn’t mean that you should sacrifice your health for it. Even the most efficient and enthusiastic workers can grow exhausted and stressed out if they don’t take care of themselves. In fact, a survey found that 92% of Singaporeans find themselves stressed, with 13% finding it difficult to manage. Knowing how to manage your work-life balance is key to working and living well.

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Ways to improve:

It can be easy to go into non-stop work mode, especially if you’re going through a busy period at the office. However, it’s absolutely possible to take plenty of breaks without compromising on your work efficiency if you know how to utilise your time at work.

For example, there’s the Pomodoro technique, which measures blocks of time in ‘Pomodoros’ (the Italian word for tomato) of 25 minutes, with a 5-minute break in between. By splitting up your work into short tasks and taking deliberate breaks, it can help make even the most daunting tasks more manageable.

While there are plenty of positive habits you can integrate into your work life, don’t feel pressured to adopt them all at the same time. In fact, trying to do so can backfire, leaving you overwhelmed and unable to master any of it.

Instead, focus on one area that would impact you the most. For example, if you find yourself having trouble expressing yourself to your colleagues, you’d likely want to start by working on your communication skills. Eventually, you can start to expand your repertoire and pick up other habits.

It may be tough at first, and some habits might take some time to stick. So long as you keep at it consistently, these habits will be with you for the rest of your career journey.

This article was first published on gradsingapore.

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