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There are countless things we do every day that hold us back at the workplace. Career success is not all about working hard and working smart. There’s also the aspect of career building that is a game, and games have rules, winners and losers. Here are just a few of the things you need to stop doing immediately.

  1. Doing Other People’s Small Work

I used to do this a lot at my entry-level job, partly because I didn’t want my bosses to find the work undone, and also because in my mind, the more work I did, the more valuable I would be to my employer. Unfortunately, I ended up doing their low-profile, low-impact work for a long time, and not getting any extra remuneration for it! If you keep doing what your colleagues have been neglecting to do (and what they are getting paid for), they’ll gladly let you keep on doing it.

Stop doing others’ work especially when it’s not a high-profile assignment that will increase your visibility and add to your skillset. When people delegate inappropriately to you, learn how to say no.

  1. Not Using a To-Do List

There’s a difference between being busy and being productive. Many times we spend our day doing this and that, and then end up feeling unproductive at the end of the day despite working long hours. If you get to work before everyone, spend all your time working and zero time “playing” and still leave the office last, you’re doing it all wrong. Without a to-do list, your work is undefined and then there’s room for others to dump their work on you (see Point 1 above), leaving you overworked with little to show for it.

Write a to-do list before you sleep and start tackling it as soon as your day begins. Ticking off items as you go along will make your workday significantly better. You’ll feel more accomplished at the end of the day, do list

  1. Not Speaking Up

Years ago, at a brainstorming session, I had an idea that I thought might work, but I was too unsure of myself to speak up; what if it didn’t work? I casually whispered it to my colleague beside me, and before I knew what was happening she had made it her contribution and everyone was cheering her, totally in love with the idea. Let’s not go into how I felt. I learnt that day what she probably already knew: it’s best to always contribute.

Don’t hold your tongue. Even if not all your suggestions are accepted, some certainly will be, and more importantly, you’ll become known as a creative person who always has ideas.

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Remember, it’s how you play the game. Know the rules and draw up your strategy, so that you can make them work for you. Once you adjust your mode of operation at the workplace, you will immediately notice the small results that lead up to big ones!

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This article was first published on 30th August 2016


Joy Ehonwa is an editor and a writer who is passionate about relationships and personal development. She runs Pinpoint Creatives, a proofreading, editing, transcription and ghostwriting service. Email: pinpointcreatives [at]

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