How To Be More Conscientious in the Workplace in 7 Steps

Updated October 10, 2022

A person works on a laptop while sitting at a shared workstation table in an office setting.

Conscientiousness is a valuable quality to show in the workplace. It involves working diligently to complete your expected tasks to a high standard. Understanding how to be more conscientious in the workplace can help you work more efficiently and show your team that you're a talented employee.

In this article, we explain how to become more conscientious in the workplace and provide tips for evaluating this quality in yourself as an employee.

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What is conscientiousness?

Conscientiousness is the quality of being careful, thoughtful and thorough. It's one of the five fundamental personality traits that are a part of the  Big Five personality trait model.

People with high conscientiousness are aware that their actions have an effect on others, and they feel a sense of duty to other people. They're diligent in their work and strive to perform well in their roles. Conscientious individuals take their obligations to others seriously and do everything they can to comply with regulations.

Related: 15 Top Character Traits To Demonstrate at Work and in Resumes

What to consider when evaluating conscientiousness

It's possible to evaluate one's conscientiousness on a spectrum, meaning that an individual may have high, medium or low conscientiousness. Determine how conscientious you are at work by gauging how you employ these common traits of conscientious people:

  • Reliability: Conscientious people are good at creating reminders of their tasks and responsibilities. They can also communicate well and accept assignments to help their teams succeed.

  • Work ethic: You may show high levels of conscientiousness if you persevere through challenging tasks and attempt to reach your desired end goal. You can also delegate tasks, assume leadership roles and seek help when necessary to complete high-quality work.

  • Organization: Conscientious people understand what tasks they need to work on each day. They also keep their email inboxes orderly and file documents and downloads on their computers using clear, logical systems.

  • Punctuality: Punctuality is another trait that conscientious people exhibit. They are timely in showing up to work, attending meetings, submitting projects and responding to inquiries.

Read more: Conscientiousness: Signs You Have the Big 5 Personality Trait

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How to be more conscientious in the workplace

You can become more conscientious at work by changing certain habits. Here are seven steps you can take to be more conscientious:

1. Be reliable

You can be reliable at work by completing tasks with a consistent level of quality, actively communicating with team members and practicing self-management. Conscientious employees are aware that the quality of their work reflects the organization and that other people depend on them to do their job.

For example, if you encounter an issue that may prevent you from submitting work on time for a group project, you can communicate proactively with team members and let them know about the issue right away to allow them time to adjust accordingly.

2. Develop a strong work ethic 

You can improve your work ethic by focusing fully on each current task, managing your time so that you can complete tasks and creating a plan for more difficult or complex projects. Eliminating distractions can help you make meaningful progress in your work and focus more fully so that you perform a thorough job. For example, if you work on a computer, you may consider adding an extension to your browser to block yourself from accessing distracting websites during the day.

Related: Tips To Demonstrate Work Ethic

Work Ethic
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Ways to demonstrate work ethic:

  1. Put away things that might distract from your work, such as your cell phone.

  2. Ask trusted colleagues or mentors to help you identify areas for improvement and set SMART goals.

  3. Spend your time wisely on tasks that align with goals and prioritize tasks by impact.

  4. Organize your notes, email inbox, and workspaces for increased focus, motivation and time management.

  5. Take breaks throughout the day and practice a healthy work/life balance to avoid burnout.

  6. Identify aspects of your work that motivate you such as tasks, goals or colleagues.

  7. Practice time management to complete quality, on-time work and be more present in meetings.

3. Prioritize organization

You can prioritize organization at work by recording upcoming deadlines on your calendar. You may also approach each workday with a to-do list of essential tasks and daily goals and plan to work on specific tasks at scheduled times.

You may also schedule time as necessary to organize your emails, papers and workspace to make files and messages easy to find. If you're aware of what you need to prioritize each day and gauge how much time your responsibilities may take, you can better avoid distractions and make meaningful progress in your work.

4. Remain punctual 

You can practice punctuality by being on time or early for work and meetings. Ensure that you have reliable transportation to work, and create reminders 10 minutes before a meeting so that you have time to get to it or log on if it's a virtual meeting.

You can also practice punctuality by setting reminders on your work calendar for upcoming deadlines. This initiative can help you allocate the time you need to work on projects. Practicing punctuality indicates professionalism and shows that you value other people's time.

For example, you may consider allowing extra time for your commute to ensure you stay punctual even if you encounter a delay. If you have several meetings in a row, you can try to leave additional time between meetings to be on time for your next meeting even if one finishes later than you expect.

5. Reframe the way you view tasks 

It's easier to shift your behavior if you think doing something is important and enjoyable and it aligns with your values. For example, if answering emails seems like a trivial part of your job compared to tasks that require more time and deep thought, think of how answering emails is an important task and how it could align with your values.

If responding to general inquiries promptly reflects positively on the company and may bring in potential new clients, you can view it as an important task that can provide you with satisfaction to complete.

6. Create realistic goals

One way to set realistic goals is to imagine the steps toward achieving the goal, plan out the necessary steps and identify any obstacles. When you set realistic goals, you're practicing conscientiousness by being mindful of where you spend your time. If the path to achieving the goal seems challenging, you may re-evaluate how you can get to your final step before you start working toward it. For example, you may initially invest time into gathering necessary materials and planning out the individual steps before executing your plan.

Related: How Do You Set SMART Goals? Definition and Examples

7. Build relationships with colleagues

You can build a stronger connection with your colleagues by interacting with them regularly and positively. Practice mindful communication by using active listening, paying attention to your tone and communicating your thoughts clearly and respectfully. Ask your team members questions about how they're doing, what they're working on and what they enjoy doing outside of the workplace.

These kinds of conversations can help foster beneficial working relationships where you support each other's goals and share ideas. You can establish trust and empathy so that everyone can rely on one another and help each other complete challenging tasks.

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