I've spent a bit of time researching this as a career coach and workplace behaviour consultant, and i believe there are three things you need if you want to drive your career forward: focus, recognition and techniques for working smarter.


Without focus, chances are you have too many ideas about where you want your career to go, or you're simply getting through day to day. You might be focusing on the easy option of being the senior version of whatever you are now, or are jumping between staying or going depending on your boss's mood that day.

You need to focus to guide your career where you want it to go. It doesn't have to be a 'rest of your life' plan, it can just be the next 12 months but you need to be able to focus on the path, choices and opportunities ahead of you.

Picture the scene. in 12 months' time, what needed to have happened for you to be really happy in your career? Literally, close your eyes, or write it down.


If you jump from one place to another in a fight or flight mode (we've all done it), without a clear vision for what you want out of the next 12 months there's a very good chance you'll end up in the same boat as the one you're in now.


A strong profile or personal brand is paramount to promotion. If you are not consciously making sure you and your work are being noticed by the right people in the right way, you're a workaholic at worst and a quiet achiever at best.

You need to position yourself in a way that gets your efforts rewarded.

Knowing who you want to be, and how you want others to see you is a key part of getting the career you want.

Don't fake it, it will be obvious and exhausting. it's got to be a personal brand that is authentic and sustainable.

But make a decision and then focus your efforts. base it on your strengths and what you enjoy doing.

Then research it, write about it, talk about it, offer your help and expertise in that area, ask for the projects where you can show your skills and most of all ... act like it.

Online and offline, be the person you have decided you want to be and you want others to see you as - walk the walk, talk the talk.

It doesn't have to be loud, you don't have to be extrovert. Be authentic, be focused and take ownership when that recognition is given.

Working smarter

Successful people are focused. they are productive, not just busy.

They concentrate on their main goals and objectives.

They don't get sidetracked and don't procrastinate. They work on the projects that are important, and don't allow those projects to sit until the last minute.

There are a million apps that help us work more productively depending on your role (unroll.me, lastpass, evernote, slack...) ... and a million more that encourage procrastination (facebook, insta, pokémon go!) but you can find all those online.

Let's kick off with five techniques:

1. Have a plan

If you don't know where you're going, how will you ever get there or get the right people on board to help?

2. Do one thing at a time

Contrary to popular belief "multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time," according to forbes.com. Remember our focus? Follow one course until successful.

3. Learn to say no

Or at least 'sure, give me five'. What do they need? by when? how long will it take? Is it a priority over what you're doing right now?

4. Manage your time

Set realistic timings and deadlines and put them in your diary. If necessary, put time in your diary just to actually 'do' your work!

5. The most dangerous acronym in business

Asap. Don't accept it, don't use it. It's impossible to manage or prioritise and 100 per cent open to interpretation and miscommunication.