10 habits all hard-working individuals have in common (that many people lack)

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Are you looking for ways to improve your work ethic and improve productivity?

Perhaps you feel you’re not working to the best of your ability?

Or maybe you’ve always considered yourself hard-working, but want to make sure you’re giving it 100%?

In this article, I’m going to share 10 habits hard-working individuals tend to have.

And this comes from my own experience as someone who has always worked hard at whatever I do.

1. They act as if what they are doing is the most important thing in the world.

You might think this is an odd one to start with.

Perhaps you were expecting to see prioritizing, goal setting, or focus as the top habits.

But the way I see it, if you don’t believe what you’re doing makes a difference, you’re unlikely to work as hard as you can, no matter how many good habits you employ.  

Let’s face it, it’s easier to find the passion to work hard when you’re doing your dream job.

But the reality is that most of us aren’t in our dream jobs (or maybe like me, you don’t even know what your dream job is), and we may not have the luxury of leaving our current employment.

That doesn’t mean we can’t find purpose in what we do.

I’ve had a variety of jobs in my life, from retail to running clinical trials. I don’t think any of these were my dream job. However, I always tried to treat each job as if it really mattered, and as a result, I did it to the best of my ability.

Seeing the fruits of my labor then fuelled my passion for the work, even when I knew it was just a short-term stopgap. This passion then reinforced the desire to work hard and do well, and so the positive cycle continued.

I once read some great advice from Susan Jeffers in her book ‘Embracing Uncertainty’ about “acting as if”.

She says that no matter what you are doing, ‘act as if’ you are truly making a difference.

So even if you’re stuck in a job you hate, or if you feel like your work isn’t important, act as if it is.  

2. They prioritize.

So, on to the more practical habits.

Yes, you guessed it, prioritizing is up there.

You’re never going to get the important stuff done if you can’t separate the, “I need this done today” from the “Only if there’s time”.

Of course, hard workers do want to get it all done (and get it done well), but they know there are only so many hours in a day and they accept that some things will have to be left for a quieter time.  

If their boss asks them to do a task, they aren’t afraid to ask, “When do you need this by?” and if it’s not urgent, they add it to the back of the queue.

They work through their to-do list based on priority, not based on who gave them the task or when it appeared on their desk.

And as a result, they consistently meet deadlines and successfully deliver projects.

Extra reading: How To Prioritize: 5 Steps To Getting Everything Done On Time

3. They make a plan, and they stick to it.

Hard-working individuals know the value of thinking things through.

They don’t make slapdash decisions and rush a task.

They have an end goal in mind, they assess what they need to do to achieve that goal, and they draw up a realistic schedule to help them achieve it.

They use their time management and prioritization skills to stick to the plan, and they don’t let unexpected interruptions get in the way of their delivery.

That’s not to say they are rigid and can’t handle change.

Hard workers know that a good plan always allows some time and space for things to go wrong, and they factor in contingencies for this to their schedule.

4. They stay focused.

Part of the reason hard workers can stick to their plans is their ability to focus.

When the time comes to knuckle down, hard workers zone out of the office chit-chat and get stuck into the task at hand.

They aren’t distracted by the ping of WhatsApp messages, and they don’t have a problem ignoring emails for the next few hours.

Unless the situation calls for it, they say no to multitasking.

They know that the most efficient and productive way to work is to focus on one task at a time.

5. They take breaks!

Yes, you read that right.

Perhaps you think that a hard worker is a person who never takes a lunch break and is still hunched over their desk long after their co-workers have left.

And they can be if the need arises.

But a truly productive worker knows that to work their best, they need to have rest.

They know that if they don’t take breaks, their body and mind will suffer. They’ll get fatigued, hungry, and achy. None of which are good for focus, decision-making, and productivity.

So, the hard-working individual factors break time into their schedule, which keeps them functioning at their best.

They also maintain a healthy work-life balance, which ensures they are loving their work, not living their work.

As a bonus, this healthy balance means that when a situation occurs that does call for pulling a late one, they have the mental reserves to deal with it as they aren’t already operating on a deficit.

6. They accept responsibility.

Diligent workers aren’t interested in the blame game.

They know that mistakes happen, and they hold themselves accountable when they do something wrong.

Of course, they are annoyed when they mess up because they truly care about their work, but they don’t let it hold them back.

They are resilient and use the setback as an opportunity for growth and learning.

And as a result?

They rarely make the same mistake twice.

7. They welcome constructive criticism.

Because they genuinely want to do the best they can, hard workers are open to feedback.

In fact, they aren’t just open to it, they actively seek it out.

They don’t want to live in an echo chamber surrounded by yes-men (or yes-women).

They listen to the views of others and take on board constructive opinions.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy for them to have their efforts criticized, but they don’t let their ego get in the way of achieving their goals.

Extra reading: How To Handle Constructive Criticism And Be Receptive To Feedback

8. They are proactive.

People who work hard are self-motivated.

Once they’ve finished a task, they don’t sit around waiting for someone to tell them what to do next.

They don’t see a lull in their workload as an opportunity to do some online shopping or catch up on social media.

They seek out the next priority, and if there is no one available to direct them, they use their knowledge and experience to make an executive decision themselves.

They know that when they’ve worked through their to-do list, there is always something else to be done, even if it’s sorting out the messy stationery cupboard or cleaning out the kitchen drawers.

Extra reading: 13 tips to help you become a proactive go-getter (stop waiting and start doing!)

9. They are organized.

Industrious workers don’t waste time searching for missing files, lost keys, or forgetting appointments.

They are the ones you go to when you’re not sure what time the team meeting starts or if you need to track down an old email from Accounts.   

Organization might not come naturally to them, but they use a variety of tools or systems to ensure their day runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible from start to finish.

You may be imagining the classic tidy individual, with an immaculate desk and everything in its place.

Whilst it does help to be able to see the keyboard on your desk, some highly organized individuals are outwardly messy but use a variety of online apps, spreadsheets, and planners to help them quickly and easily find the information they need.

10. They evolve.

It’s easy to go along with a way of doing something just because that’s how it’s always been done.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Right?

Hard workers don’t tend to see it this way.

Their determination to get a job done, and get it done well, means they are open to innovation and change.

They can see that although the old way may be working well, it could be working better.

Their minds are always looking for ways to make a process more efficient or to improve the final result.

When they start a new position, they don’t accept the already established procedures at face value. Yes, they listen to the advice of the people who came before them, but they take the job and make it their own, keeping what works and changing what could work better.  

This goes for their own processes too. What worked perfectly well for them 3 months ago may no longer be the best way, and they aren’t embarrassed to admit that.


Whatever you do in life, you can do it to the best of your ability if you choose to.

Regardless of whether you love your work or not, if you adopt these 10 habits, you’ll almost certainly find your productivity, success, and enjoyment increase.

These habits don’t need to stop at your work life either.

Let’s face it, our personal lives could often benefit from some hard work too!