This post originally appeared on Lindsey’s “College to Career” blog for Manpower.
Exercise for 30 minutes a day. Sleep eight hours a night. Floss. Good habits are the building blocks of a healthy life.
The same goes for your career: small daily habits add up to big success. The earlier in your working life you develop smart daily practices, the easier they will be to maintain and the more overall impact they’ll have.
Here are 5 important career habits to cultivate:
Keep up with the news. We live in the Information Age, so there’s no excuse for not being informed. Whether you read a news site every morning, watch the headlines on TV or subscribe to a major news outlet’s e-newsletter, you have to know what’s happening in the world. Pay particular attention to any articles relating to your profession. This will give you topics to discuss at networking events, articles to discuss on Twitter and LinkedIn and a base of knowledge to apply to your current and future career decisions. I landed my first job at WorkingWoman.com because I learned about the site from an article in a news magazine!
Share. You know those little “Share” icons that appear next to almost every video and blog post these days? Imagine that “Share” button everywhere you look. One of the best ways to maintain a strong professional network is to share articles, job leads, book recommendations, etc. with the people you know. For instance, if you read an article about grad school scholarships, forward it to your friend who is applying to PhD programs. If you come across a video of an interview with Bobby Flay, send the link to your former internship colleague who loves to barbecue. A small, kind, helpful gesture is a great way to keep in touch with people in an authentic, professional way.
Learn. I recently switched from a PC to a Mac and I swear I am learning how to do something new every five minutes. I can feel my brain expanding in new ways, and it feels great. Successful people are always looking to learn, from taking a tutorial on a technology product, to looking up a word they don’t know on Dictionary.com, to asking a question at a meeting. There is a saying to do one thing every day that scares you. I would add: do one thing every day that teaches you.
Write a to-do list at the end of each day. This is a habit I’ve only begun recently and I wish I’d learned it years ago. Take a few minutes at the end of each workday to write a list of priorities and to-dos for the following morning, including anything you didn’t accomplish that day. It’s a great opportunity to set yourself up for success in the morning and to make sure you don’t let anything fall through the cracks.
Relax. College is certainly a time of staying up late, running from classes to extra curriculars to the gym to parties, and surviving on coffee and Ramen noodles. But those habits are not sustainable over time. No one can work 20 hours a day for weeks at a time and perform at peak levels. No one can go 10 hours without eating and concentrate completely. Take time now to figure out what kind of relaxation is most effective for you. It might be yoga, power napping, playing video games, zoning out to music or something else. What matters is that you take time to recharge your batteries when you need it. Remember that your career is more like a decathlon than a sprint.