Conscientiousness is about how a person controls, regulates, and directs their impulses. Standard features of conscientiousness include high levels of thoughtfulness, good impulse control, and goal-directed behaviors.
Highly conscientious people tend to be organized and mindful of details. They plan ahead, think about how their behavior affects others, keep schedule and meet deadlines.
Conscientiousness is one of five dimensions of personality described as the Big Five. The other traits are openness to experience, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
- Spends time preparing
- Finishes important tasks right away
- Pays attention to detail
- Enjoys having a set schedule
- Dislikes structure and schedules
- Makes messes and doesn’t take care of things
- Fails to return things or put them back where they belong
- Procrastinates important tasks
- Fails to complete necessary or assigned tasks
Facets of Conscientiousness
- Self-Efficacy (high score – confidence in own ability to reach goals and succeed; low score – feeling of ineffectiveness and absence of control of own live)
- Orderliness (high score – love of lists, routine and schedules, high level of self-organization; low score – disorganization, habbit to be late)
- Dutifulness (high score – a strong sense of duty and moral obligation, reliability; low score – feeling of confinement by rules, laws, contracts and regulations, lack of responsibility and reliability)
- Achievement-Striving (high score – high orientation on achievements, striving for excellence; low score – lack of ambitions, laziness)
- Self-Discipline (high score – strong ability to persist when doing unpleasant or difficult tasks, staying on track despite distractions; low score – procrastination, often fails in completion of tasks, even those personally desirable).
- Cautiousness (high score – making of deliberate decisions, taking of consequences and alternatives into consideration; low score – impulsiveness, lack of thinking things through)
1. Show Self-discipline
Individuals with a high level of conscientiousness prefer their surroundings to be tidy and presentable. Their organized tendencies also extend to other areas of life: a conscientious person will often be careful to be reliable, and to be on time for important meetings and appointments. They are keen to keep to their schedule, often maintaining a diary and making plans for the future, as well as budgeting for events well ahead of time.
2. Act Dutifully
Conscientiousness involves being mindful of those around you. High scored individuals feel a sense of duty towards others. They are aware of the effect that their words and actions can have on people in everyday situations. These individuals take care not to inadvertently offend or upset others by either their words or actions. They are less likely to be involved in accidents.
3. Demonstrate Planned Rather Than Spontaneous Behaviour
Conscientiousness also leads people to care about the potential consequences of their actions. They prefer to deliberate over the options available to them rather than making impulsive decisions. A conscientious person may be slower at making choices, but he or she will be more confident that the decision that they have made was correct.
4. Are Aimed at Achievement
The behavior of conscientious people is often driven by their personal goals. They use their own initiative to set long-range goals, organize and plan routes to these goals, and work consistently to achieve them. This can translate into higher ambitions and in finding their desired career. In order to achieve their goals, a conscientious person will be willing to be hard-working, devoting much of their attention and energy towards a specific aspiration. They are more willing to persevere through difficult circumstances. Whilst tiring, this goal-oriented behavior can pay high rewards.
Many studies have found that highly conscientious people pay more attention to eating healthily and taking exercise, and tend to live longer and to avoid cognitive impairment later in life. So, the biggest benefit of being conscientious is to one’s health.
Down Side of Conscientiousness
Conscientiousness can become perfectionism and workaholism if you fear neglecting your responsibilities and can’t contain your drive to deliver. You’ll likely take failure badly and worry how others view you. You might find it hard to be creative, spontaneous and flexible. You can also become too serious and may need some help lightening up and having fun.
Individuals highly scored on conscientiousness can become overly rigid or inflexible. In extreme cases, they can make poor decisions after unanticipated changes in the context of a task. Being too conscientious could lead to taking too much time for making urgent decisions, working too attached to the rules, and lack innovation.
Although conscientiousness is seen to be primarily positive, there are possible negative effects on life satisfaction: failure is a bigger threat for such persons since achievement is their central life goal; job loss can cause loss of a central identity part.
Ways to Increase Conscientiousness
Since being conscientious can make a positive difference to one’s life, it’s important to develop and sustain it. The good news is that you can change your level of conscientiousness by trying the following strategies:
Our lives are so full of demands – colleagues clamoring for our attention, mobiles ringing, social media profiles that won’t update themselves – that, no matter how hard you try, being conscientious can feel like an impossible dream.
In this context, there’s much to be said for slowing down and not trying to do everything. In particular, look out for unreasonable requests and deal with them assertively. Even if your to-do list is long, be sure to avoid multitasking. Instead, focus on one challenge at a time and you’ll likely become more thoughtful, more productive, and less harassed. The quality of your work will rise and you’ll get a chance to relax for once.
Order is central to conscientiousness, particularly when people make a lot of demands on our time and we have heavy workloads to manage. Without order, it’s easy to fall prey to distraction and procrastination. Instead of putting things off until later, take care of them when they first arise. This keeps your to-do list from getting too long while also helping you work on your self-control. Take time once a week to plan the following week. Put scheduled events on your calendar and note the tasks that you want to get done each day.
You can create more order in your life by using key time management tools such as an Action Program and to-do lists. Work to your strengths by finding out your most productive time of day and scheduling your most important activities to fit. And remove anything that will make your work more difficult or cause delays: it’s time to get on top of your filing and to back up your data so you can find what you need when you need it.
Cultivate Conscientious Habits
Creating good habits can improve your life enormously, as you’ll need less thought and effort to consistently deliver important responsibilities. Consider which behaviors would benefit you the most – such as punctuality or formality – and turn them into regular, repeated actions.
Train Your Focus
Distractions don’t just lower our productivity; they increase our stress levels, too, as they force us to keep switching our attention and make it harder to achieve our goals. By improving your ability to concentrate, you can lift the standard of your work and focus more clearly on your responsibilities. Try training your attention through meditation and mindfulness, and by improving your environment, nutrition and mindset.
Being conscientious isn’t just about looking inwards. It’s also about your responsibilities to others and how you interact with them. So, take the time to understand other people’s needs and to put more thought into how you communicate. This positive and open attitude will likely boost your reputation, and could protect you from isolation and workaholism.
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