When you look in a classified section for employment opportunities, a large number of the ads will ask for candidates that can adapt to a fast-changing, challenging atmosphere, and for those than can handle more than one task at once. You rarely see (serious) ads, on the other hand, former employees who want to work in a "laid-back" atmosphere and can do one thing well—even though these types of jobs exist. The point is that in the mind of many employers, this is one of the most important qualities in a potential hire; managers fear hiring someone who won't keep pace with the level they have in mind. With this in mind, this section focuses on improving that agility.

This is what agility is all about, one's ability to adjust to new challenges and unexpected developments. Having this agility is part personality, part organizational habits, and part attitude. The people who don't have agility often like to do things slowly and surely and don't deal well with change, and these people aren't necessarily all that bad (and I hope there are jobs open for them). What employers want during a time of strong competition for jobs, however, are people who do things quickly and surely—the best of both worlds. The key to working on agility then is to change your habits and attitude which will then help you work on the personality you keep at the office.

Changing your habits is will help a lot in this virtue. In fact, you may not be all that agile but you can still come across that way with strong organization habits. If you keep to-do lists, double-check on your accuracy, and develop time-management skills, then it will seem like you are the type of person who can juggle everything at once without getting overwhelmed. You might not be the type of person who enjoys that environment, but good skills will help you keep you from being crushed under a mountain of stress.

Attitude is also an important part. If you don't know this already, you should never turn down an assigned project simply because you "don't want to do it" or because "it's not my job". While it is important to stand up for your rights (and the reality of the situation), you can't expect to be valued if you can't be depended on when unexpected challenges arise. You should develop an attitude of both the willingness to be flexible and the enthusiasm to learn new skills. When you do need to suggest a project be given to someone else, talk in terms of the importance of your other projects and the full work-load you already have.

Lastly, personality might be the most difficult thing to improve on—we are who we are, isn't that right? Not exactly, as it turns out (being "what you are" is more of a right rather than something written in stone). I have said this elsewhere throughout the site, but smiling more often, just the physical act alone, will make you more happy. Likewise changing you attitude, like mentioned above, will eventually make you more open to new ideas and challenges that your superiors will want to spring on you. This will make you seem like a prize employee even if you are not the most skilled worker in the office.

Down below are some activities that will help you get started:


  • Make Lists and Use Them: Even the best of us work better when we have a to-do list or a planner. Writing your tasks for the day will make them more ingrained in your mind just by itself, but actually checking on the list will help you keep on track and get to everything you were supposed to do. Even if you don't usually forget your tasks for the day, referring to the list will help keep you from procrastinating because your work will be foremost on your mind; this way you will actually have the time to get everything done.
  • Time Management: Make a plan of attack on how you will get things done—and follow up on it. While you are still developing this skill, you are likely going to underestimate the time that some tasks will take you or make some poor decisions. Divide each responsibility into a series of separate tasks, and make a plan to get them all done, focusing on the most important issues first. If you follow up on your plan and assess what worked and what went wrong, then you will not only be a better time-manager but you will also educate yourself about your responsibilities. This goes hand in had with the Efficiency virtue, so you may want to work on that (efficiency does help you juggle more responsibilities).
  • Get More Involved: Whenever you are assigned to a project or go to a meeting, make an effort to get directly involved. You may want to sit back until you are told what to do or until the meeting ends, but try to actively participate in the discussion and volunteer for various assignments (when appropriate, of course). Try to develop an attitude where you want to get things done and do them well. The physical act of getting involved will also help change your personality into one that is more open to the work and culture at the office.
  • Educate Yourself About Your Field: There are likely different aspects of your field of work that you don't know about. Learn about them and develop new skills. It's possible you don't have the formal education or certification to do certain things, but even learning about those subjects will make you a better asset when you assist others to with their work. There may also be different aspects to running the office that aren't a part of your responsibilities, but may be something you are asked to do in the future—or ssomething you can use to impress management by volunteering to do them when the time is needed.

Your Record

If you ever try to get out of work because it's different or unusual for you, then mark yourself at "fault". If you forget one of your tasks for the day then mark yourself at fault. If you get overwhelmed in a situation that you could have prevented, then mark yourself at fault. Make new goals based on the activities up above. If you fail to follow through or fail to meet your goals, then mark yourself at fault.


You will never "find" time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.

Charles Bruxton, English Writer, Philanthropist, and Member of Parliament

Dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of.

Benjamin Franklin, Renown Founding Father of America, Statesman, Inventor, and Writer

Take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves.

Lord Chesterfield, Statesman and Writer

Golden Mean

Rigidness, stubbornness, inflexibility, slowness

Recommended Reading

Time Management from the Inside Out: The Foolproof System for Taking Control of Your Schedule--and Your Life — by Julie Morgenstern

The Foolproof System for Taking Control of Your Schedule—and Your Life: The author compares a disorganized schedule to a cluttered closet just filled with random junk. She reassures the reader that one can be free and creative while organizing their life.

Successful Time Management For Dummies — by Dirk Zeller

Here is the time-management book from the popular "For Dummies" series for those of you that enjoy their format.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity — by David Allen

This book is about taking those things you have to do that are floating around in your head and transform them into a framework of files and action lists that will help you focus properly as you turn to each task.

General Rules

Practice virtues daily so that they become ‘habits of the heart’.

Don‘t strive for perfection.

Never give up! Remember: even the greats have off days.

Rely on your intuition.

Avoid extremes. Strive to achieve the golden mean between excess and deficiency of a virtue.

Have fun and enjoy the program with humor and optimism.

I love working quickly. I don't like to do thousands of takes, and I don't want to do thousands of set ups. Sigourney Weaver