Developing Positive Work Habits for Success

Having the right habits can make or break your professional development. With so many good habits to adopt, which ones should you master first this year to succeed at work?
The gradsingapore Team
Dawn Yip
Writer, gradsingapore
Developing Positive Work Habits for Success

We all have our own habits – patterns and routines that we do on a regular basis subconsciously as we go about our day. But did you know that they can play a part in your career, too?

A study in 2019 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 made (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

In fact, they don’t just affect you directly. Although they’re your own, your habits can and will affect your relationship with those you work with, such as your colleagues and supervisor. Think of it this way – if you have positive work habits, you’ll likely find it easier to work with others and be perceived more favourably. Ultimately, adopting good habits will only serve to benefit you in the long run in building good character and resilience.


What to pick up on

There’s a lot of good habits to pick up, which can be overwhelming if you’re just trying to pick out a few. So here’s a few common ones for you to consider:

Minding punctuality and timeliness

This can effectively make or break other people’s impression of you, so this is a good starting point to work with. After all, an employee who’s always late and rushes through deadlines often lacks preparation, and it’s basically a big red flag to companies saying ‘Hey! Don’t hire me!’.

Ways to develop it:

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.


Being a good communicator

A key part of the working world, how you communicate, whether verbally or through other means like emails, is just as important as what you communicate. At the same time, however, it’s also crucial to fully understand what someone is saying before you respond – simply skimming through a response in an effort to save time can result in more problems than before.

Ways to develop it:

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 to be willing to get yourself out there in the workplace and speak up!


Taking control of your self-development

It’s fine to look up to someone and aspire to be like them, but if all you’re doing is sitting there and admiring them, the odds of anything changing for yourself is as good as none. If you’re aware of the skills you don’t have, then take the first step and work on your own career development.

Ways to develop it:

Taking initiative is key here – rather than quietly waiting for your supervisor to delegate tasks to you, speak up and ask for additional responsibilities yourself, even if it’s not in your job description. Plus, if your workplace has access to learning and training programmes, consider signing up for them, or even source courses on your own.


Adopting a growth mindset

Receiving constructive criticism isn’t always the easiest thing to do. But the truth is, you won’t know everything from the get-go, and as you grow into your role, there’ll be times where you’ll make mistakes. But remember, it’s those who are willing to learn from those missteps that come out as better employees.

Ways to develop it:

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


Practising wellness and self-care

While it’s great to be a self-driven and hard worker, it doesn’t mean that your health should be sacrificed 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. So knowing how to manage your work-life balance is key to working and living well.

Ways to develop it:

It can be easy to slip up and 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 of tasks more manageable.


While there’s plenty of positive habits you can integrate into your work, don’t feel pressured to adopt them all at the same time. In fact, trying to do so can end up backfiring on you, leaving you overwhelmed and all over the place.

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 slowly expand further and pick up other habits you want.

It’ll be tough at first, but remember this: although it might take some time to stick, but so long as you keep at it, these habits will be with you for the rest of your career journey.