1. Set and exceed expectations. First and foremost, complete your existing tasks and responsibilities. Once you've mastered your basic task list, start exceeding expectations. If you know you can get a project done by Monday afternoon, tell your manager you'll hand it in on Wednesday. Give yourself enough room in case something goes wrong or comes up, but make every effort to hand in the project on your internal deadline. This makes you look good, and lets you get ahead of schedule to boot.
2. Ask, "What would make me an invaluable employee?" Stop guessing how to get a promotion and instead ask your manager what you need to do to become a top performer. Outline specific goals with your team, and decide how to quantify those goals. When you reach a goal, make sure to tell your boss and record the accomplishment in an ongoing document so you have all your good deeds in one spot when it's time for your performance review.
3. Automate your work. You can't take on more responsibility if you're drowning in your existing responsibilities. Batch and automate your to-do list for effective time management. For example, let's say you're in charge of the company blog. Create an editorial calendar of content three months in advance, write all of the blog posts in one day, and then schedule the posts, along with the social media updates on Twitter and Facebook to finish the project in a short time period.
4. Focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking will get you nowhere but a frenzied state. Instead, prioritize your tasks. The Daily Muse recommends structuring your to-do list with one big, three medium and five small tasks. Once you've separated your tasks into each category, focus on your one big item for each day. As long as you complete the main priority, you can sustain your productivity over long periods of time.
5. Delegate. It's OK to ditch lower-level responsibilities, so think about hiring a freelancer or intern. If you're getting paid a salary of $70,000, it's often more cost-effective for a freelancer to write the company blog posts, for instance, at a rate of $50 per post, so that you can focus on higher-level strategies. Outsource work you don't enjoy or work that is easy but time-consuming.
6. Ask, "Can I take on additional work?" There's no better way to get on a team member's or manager's good side than asking for more work. Keep an eye open for new opportunities and places for growth. And take on projects and things that you aren't asked to do. While it may be more comfortable to stick to your job description, you become invaluable when you make others look good.
7. Send regular updates. Try sending or scheduling a weekly update with your boss and a monthly update with your company, so others know what you're working on. It helps to increase communication and collaboration, and makes it clear the value you provide to the organization. Keep it fun and informal by explaining how you really enjoyed working on the last project, and store the updates as reminders for when you're ready to move up in the company.
Doing great work is satisfying by itself, but it's also rewarding for your career. By the time you're ready to ask for your next raise or new title, you can be sure that you'll get it.
Rebecca Thorman's weekly blog Kontrary offers tips to create the career, bank account, and life you love, and is a popular destination for young professionals. Her goal is to help you find meaningful work, enjoy the heck out of it, and earn more money. She writes from Washington, D.C.