How to develop a strong work ethic: 10 habits of highly effective people

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So someone has told you your work ethic needs improving?

…Or maybe you’ve just decided you want to be considered a highly effective person? 

Whatever your reason for wanting to develop a strong work ethic, it’s something that’s worth your time mastering. 

Truth is, a strong work ethic can lead to more opportunities and greater fulfillment! You’ll find that more people want to work with you as you develop your work ethic.

So how can you do it? These are 10 habits of highly effective people.

1) They never miss a deadline

How to spot a person with a strong work ethic?

They never miss a deadline.

In fact, their work will likely be filed some time before the deadline! 

Talking from experience as someone who places great value on being an effective worker, missing a deadline is something that I never let happen.

You see, missing a deadline is tardy…

…It shows that you don’t know how to manage your time!

What’s more, it will look like you don’t care and that’s not going to result in climbing the ranks at work or gaining more projects.

In our competitive world where many people are keen and willing, chances are that someone will prioritize the next person if you miss a deadline.

Simply put: if you want to be a highly effective person in the workplace, take your deadlines seriously!

It’s important to remember that there’s a reason you’ve been given a deadline… You’ll be affecting someone else’s workflow if you fail to meet it and that’s not going to sit well.

2) They have initiative

People with high work ethics have a lot of initiative. 

This means they’re self-starters.

In other words, they get things done off their own back!

Unlike someone who doesn’t have a high work ethic, highly effective people are the type to roll up their sleeves and get on with jobs without being told to do so.

Here’s the thing: 

People with strong work ethics don’t waste time waiting for someone else to give them a job to do…  

…Instead, they create jobs! 

Let’s take someone who works in a cafe as an example:

While it’s probably very easy to do nothing when a cafe is empty, a person with a strong work ethic will find jobs to do in the quiet moments.

For instance, they might fold napkins or wipe down the menus if they know these jobs will inevitably need to be completed. 

They won’t wait for someone to ask them to do it; they’ll just take the initiative to get on with it.

On the other hand, a person with a low worth ethic might use a quiet moment as an excuse to go on their phone or slump against the counter. 

Do you see the difference? Being highly effective comes down to the ways in which you do things without being prompted. 

Having a strong work ethic means just doing something because you know it needs to be done!

3) They have a high work quality 

There’s a correlation between hard workers and a high work quality.

It makes sense:

People who put time and effort into something are rewarded.

You see, you get what you give…

…And when it comes to a piece of work or a project, if the care is given to something it’ll be felt by others!

But if you haven’t put the work into something, there’s no way of hiding it!

Simply put, people know when you’ve cut corners because the work will be sloppy.

What’s more, it will sound worse if you lie about the effort you’ve put in and it’s not up to scratch.

The best thing to do in any scenario is to develop a strong work ethic and to put a lot of effort and thought into your work. 

…In my experience, it’s always rewarding!

Not only will you feel good about it, but you’ll likely get a lot of praise and recognition for all that you do.

4) They are masters of their time

Highly effective people are absolute masters of their time.

Not only do they know how long things take and get it on point, but they make their time work for them!

You’ll notice that a lot of highly effective people work for themselves. 

It’s not only because their high work ethic means they can get on with things without being prompted, but they do a good job of designing their schedule.

As they’re so effective at managing their time, it means they can get more done in less time. 

In other words, they’re not slaves to their work but incredibly clever with how they go about working!

They work quickly and smart.

What’s more, people with strong work ethics never put off the important tasks…

…And they take the approach that a little bit is better than nothing if they’re not feeling particularly motivated.

Truth is, people with strong work ethics can see that anything they do will help them in the long-run to help them achieve their goals

5) They are consistent 

A massive indication that someone has a high work ethic is if they’re consistent.

You see, consistency is key to anything in life.

And it’s especially true in the world of work!

Consistency means showing up for whatever it is you’re working on, and bringing your A game. 

It means keeping the standard high you’re known for and committing to what you set out to achieve. 

Now, if you want to be considered a highly effective person, you’ll need to prove to those around you that you’re consistent by always seeing things through.

Simply put, don’t just do something well once; always show up the same way.

In my experience, being consistent has meant that I’ve not only retained opportunities, but the opportunities around me have grown into even bigger and better things!

Being consistent has the possibility of having such a massive positive knock-on effect to different areas of your life.

6) They’re always reliable 

Going hand-in-hand with consistency is being reliable

You see, similarly to being consistent, being reliable means you’re someone that others can count on time and time again.

Being reliable means that if someone asks you to get something done, they know you’re going to do it!

In other words, they have no doubt that you’re going to deliver on what you’ve said you’re going to do… 

…Instead, they’ll put a lot of trust in you, and not second guess your work. 

In my experience, people who are reliable get greater opportunities in the workplace: 

People move up the ladder to more senior positions and are given more responsibility because they’re trusted.

This happened to me in my previous job when I showed my colleagues that they could count on me.

You see, I would always do the things I said I would – and I would do them well! This is the key to being a highly effective worker.

7) They have clear goals

Goals are the cornerstone for people who operate at a high level.

Truth is, without goals we’re aimless… This applies whether this is in the realm of professional work or things we need to do around the house!

Here’s the thing:

Goals help us get clear on what’s required and the steps we need to take. They’re like a compass!

Now, our goals can be set hourly, daily, weekly or for the next 10 years…

…Or all of the above!

I personally like setting goals for the month ahead and slightly longer-term goals for my future.

You can do whatever you like… But if you want to be highly effective, what’s important is to know why you’re setting goals and to what end.

In my experience, it pays to have short- and long-term goals that can guide your work efforts and whatever it is you want to achieve.

For me, goals give me motivation when I’m feeling a little bit uninspired or I’m struggling to get going.

What’s more, I find it helpful to create goals using the ‘SMART’ framework. This means my goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable 
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

For instance, using the SMART approach, I would say that I want to write a 20,000 word book in three months, working on it for a few hours each day.

This is instead of saying ‘I want to write a book this year’.

You see, the SMART approach helps us get really specific about what it is we want and to map out our goal in a time-sensitive manner.

It means we have actionable steps to actually reaching that goal…

…And this is what you need to be highly effective!

8) They are professional 

A massive difference between highly effective people and people who, well, aren’t, is that effective people are professional.

Simply put, they always maintain a level of professionalism and are good ambassadors for the company’s they work for and themselves.

This means they present themselves in a way that’s respectful and they talk highly of the company they work for.

In other words, you’ll never hear them talking badly about their boss to a client!

You’ll also not hear them complaining about the work they have to do, and moaning for moaning’s sake!

You can always count on a highly effective person to put their best foot forward…

…And not only when they need to, but always because like we discussed: they are consistent!

This means they’ll have a good reputation amongst others they work alongside, creating even more work opportunities!

9) They have a lot of self-discipline 

We live in a world of temptations and distractions.

If it isn’t watching the television and doom scrolling on social media, it’s going out to party and socialize.

Now, it’s not to say that a highly effective person doesn’t go out to socialize. But it is to say that a highly effective person goes about things in a different way.

You see, what separates a highly effective person from others is that they have a lot of self-discipline

…This means they are not easily persuaded by others.

For instance, a person might have a bunch of things to do but be invited out by a group of friends that won’t take no for an answer.

There are two responses: 

  • The person things ‘screw it, this can wait’ and goes out but let’s a list of things pile up
  • The person completes what they need to in order to stay on top of things

It’s pretty clear which response is that of the highly effective person!

The self-discipline kicks in when the person has to be honest with themselves about what they need to do.

You see, no one else has to walk in another person’s shoes and if you know you have a lot on your plate and your deadline is looming, only you will suffer if you don’t enact self-discipline.

In my experience, being self-disciplined serves you well in the long-run!

10) They are punctual 

By this point you’re probably not surprised to hear that highly effective people are punctual.

They aren’t the kind to be late…

…Especially if it’s for something work-related!

Being late is a highly effective person’s worst nightmare as it gives the impression that a person doesn’t care.

You see, they take pride in doing what they’ve said they’ll do, including meeting at the time they said they would.

Simply put, if they’ve said they’ll be somewhere then you can bet they will be. There’s no waiting around for highly effective people!

Instead, they’ll be exactly where they said they would and they’ll be on time.

In my experience, highly effective people are usually the ones who are early!

If you want to be more like this breed of people, always plan to get places five minutes earlier than you said you would.

This means that you’ll always leave enough time for things to go wrong – like the weather or traffic putting a spanner in the works!

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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