People generally think of success as an instant occurrence, something that happens out of sheer good luck, or enabled by connections in high places. While those factors do come into play for some folks, most will find that constant hard work, sharp focus, and dedication are required to achieve (and maintain) real success.

Even then, we forget about the habits and routines that enable all that hard work, focus, and dedication. Review what you do every day, then try and implement the following habits in your regular work schedule. If you’re going to make major life changes, you might as well start with the so-called little things, right?

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Get it together
We mean this in two ways. Dressing better (or dressing up, for the work-at-home and freelance types) will definitely help with first impressions and image-building. But having a well-put-together look during work hours also gives you that boost in confidence needed to deal with the big players. You don’t have to be in a power suit every day or go with the latest Fashion Week styles, but people will notice if and when you ditch your usuals.

“Getting it together” also calls for a quick workstation cleanup. Throw away or shred paperwork you don’t need, or put it on the recycling pile. Wrangle all your stuff and give them their proper, permanent places. Do a wipe down of your desk and equipment to get rid of dust. And this isn’t a one-time thing; clean up regularly! You’ll find that working in a tidy and organized table—and having things exactly where they should be—will free you up to do what needs to be done.

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Know your peak hours
Everyone says you need to wake up early to make the most of your day (you know, studies and all), but we’ll go in a slightly different direction. Not everyone can be a morning person—oh, I’ve tried so many times—or even choose if they want to be on the day or night shift. Whatever schedule you’re on, figure out which part of your day you’re most productive in, and maximize that timeframe.

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Make it regular
Starting the day without a basic gameplan in mind? You’re in for a very rough day, buddy. Pro tip: Make to-do lists. They’ll give you a sense of order; you know exactly what comes next, and what must be done after that. They will also show you all the things that are non-negotiable for today—and what you’ve been postponing. We’ll take incremental progress over no progress, any day.
Here are a couple of suggestions for your to-do lists. Go for the big tasks first, with the smaller or less important ones reserved for the middle or end of the day. And don’t cram too many deliverables on the list! Know your capacity and speed per task, and include only tasks that you’re sure to finish on that day.

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Do it now (and from start to finish)
You don’t need Shia LaBoeuf to scream that in your ear, do you? Once you prioritize something on your list and begin working on it, make sure to finish it. Absolutely no excuses. Mamaya or bukas na lang will never do.

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Hash it out
Input from other people can help in some situations. If you have a difficult task or project at work, try sorting through it with friends and/or mentors. They will have insights that you may not have had or considered, tell you if you’re overanalyzing or oversimplifying things, and guide you through different scenarios and solutions. Don’t forget to pay it forward, and teach or assist others if and when possible.

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Take care of yourself
You know what’ll make success even better? If you’re in good physical, mental, and emotional condition; and have the time and ability to actually enjoy the fruits of your labor. Take regular breaks, and as far away from the desk as possible. Use your vacation leaves to go to places you’ve always wanted to visit; and sick leaves for days when you’re actually feeling under the weather. Get a good night’s sleep, although even that’s up for debate some need eight to nine hours (or more), while some can work with less. Exercise up to twice or thrice a week, and have a balanced diet. Go for regular medical checkups. And don’t skip meals!

Dish of broccoli and lemon pieces in tomato sauce

Go off the grid
Partly, at least. Put that smartphone or tablet down, and turn off that TV. Read a book, cook a healthy and filling meal, write in a journal, play a board game with your family, do crafts or other do-it-yourself projects… anything that gets you to create, think, and relax without Internet access or mass entertainment, do it. It’s an effective mood-booster, and it reenergizes you for the next work day or project. Your officemate’s latest social media rant, that “must-see” TV series, or the top viral sensation can definitely wait, and for as long as you please.