If you are looking for ways to improve work your performance, you are in the right place.
Improving your work performance leads to becoming more productive, earning more money, being more respected by your peers and boss, and advancing your career.
In this article, we will cover the best nine practical ways to improve work performance and everyday productivity so that you can achieve your goals and move your career forward.
Let’s discover practical ways to become better at your job today.
1- Define your goals then prioritize
Establishing goals at work is, unsurprisingly, one of the most important things you can do if you want to achieve things and improve productivity in your personal or business life.
Setting goals at work is a good act for balancing. And one of the best practice is to make goal-setting an ongoing practice. Goals give you direction and a way to track your progress for your career. They are also considered motivations that help along your way to achieving your dreams.
As it’s important to know what your goals and priorities are for work, it’s also important how you set them.
One effective technique you can use is SMART. The SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. To have SMART goal for your work, the goal needs to fit all of the five criteria.
- Specific: Your goal should be clear. “make money” is a useless and ineffective way to set a goal instead, it needs to be something like “learn some new skills so I can freelance and make money”.
- Measurable: Can you quantify the success of the goal? Losing an ounce is technically losing weight. Getting paid a penny is still earning money. Goals need to be measurable, so you know where exactly you are and what needs to be done.
- Achievable: The worst goals you can set are the ones that can’t be attained and achieved for your work. Like “I’m 29—it’s time for me to start a career in NASA as an astronaut. And it doesn’t matter what goals I set”. Make sure the goals you set are attainable and possible to be achieved in your future.
- Relevant: To broader your aims and big goals, small goals and milestones should drive you towards these targets. If you want to get a promotion at work, then you should look for ways to take on more obligations. And don’t pick goals that get you in the wrong direction.
- Time-Constrained: Your goals can’t be open-ended and vague. They just won’t happen. Instead, you need to put realistic time periods like when to start and when to end achieving any goals you set for your work. It all depends on the goal.
2- Focus completely on one task until it’s done
Staying focused can be hard with a continuous stream of clients, employees, phone calls, and emails demanding your attention.
While multitasking is a great skill, it also has a downside on your performance. As David Rock, the co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute, says “It decreases our intelligence, literally dropping our IQ. We make mistakes, miss subtle signs, fly off the handle when we shouldn’t, or spell things wrong”.
To stay focused on one task at a time first you need to answer the question: what task is the most valuable to you and your goals, what task has the most impact on your work? This is the question of prioritization.
It’s better to know your priorities and to know what things don’t deserve your focus, waste your time and limit your productivity. You should spend most of your time on the right thing.
After you know the tasks where your focus should remain, find concrete steps which will lead you to successfully accomplish the tasks.
3- Take breaks
At some point, you need to stop working to recharge your battery. Short breaks during the workday can actually boost mental resources for better work performance such as attention.
For example, The Draugiem Group installed time tracking software on their computers and found that their top 10% of producers didn’t work more but took more breaks. They worked 52 minutes then took a 17-minute break on average.
One common technique is the Pomodoro Technique which can improve your work level.
It can help maintain focus and improve productivity and performance during the day.
Pomodoro Technique is about breaking down tasks into short time intervals.
Before you begin working on a task, set a timer to 25 minutes. Then, work and avoid checking the time remaining. Take a 5-minute break when the timer goes off and a longer break of 20 minutes after 4 cycles.
4- Manage distractions
If you want to improve your work performance, you need to learn how to manage and minimize distractions.
Reduce or control self-distractions
The ones that are interrupting you aren’t only your colleagues. There is the possibility that you interrupt yourself, too! Are you often distracted by the internet, your phone, or social media? Set limits on when and how frequently you’ll use these things.
Do the most important tasks first
Work that is less important can distract you from doing your most important work. People often think that by adding a lot of small easy tasks off their to-do list, they’ll feel productive. Don’t let these little tasks interrupt your progress toward your bigger goals.
Handle email efficiently
Email can be both a help and a barrier according to your work. It can help you because it’s a great way for communication and management and to keep a record of what people sent you. It can be a barrier because it’s tough to control when the notifications distract you and you’re handling another task.
If you’re working on a significant task and you need your focus to be on it, don’t be shy! Let others around you, know this in advance. You should make it clear that you don’t want to be interrupted. As you want to keep your performance at its best levels.
You can wear headphones if your task involves nobody that is talking directly to you. If noise makes you lose your focus, see if you could work with headphones on. If music with lyrics distracts, try, playing some nature sounds or classical music.
5- Learn to say “no”
The word no is often related to negativity, but sometimes saying yes to everything at work can lead to more problems than a no. Of course, the way you phrase your reply makes a big difference in your performance.
As Steve Jobs said, “Focusing is all about saying no”. Meaning, in order to be successful you must focus on what has to be done, rather than of adding more to your to-do list and therefore, you lower your work performance.
With that in mind, here are three types of people you need to say “no” to at work—and the proper ways to do it.
1. To Your Boss
It can be a little hard to push back when your boss asks you to do something. You should not say no in an aggressive way.
Instead, try to thank him for thinking of you for this, but you were planning to work this week on a certain task or project.
This method works for a couple of reasons. First, because it’s flattering that your manager thought of you. Second, if your boss knows this new task or project is significant and more important, he will tell you that. As far as priorities go, make sure you’re on the same page.
2. To Your Co-worker
Your co-worker asks you to help her with a project or a certain task. Now, if you have time, you might consider helping her anyhow, because you’ll strengthen your relationship with your colleague at work and be seen as someone who gives help.
But if you’re set on turning the opportunity down, just don’t use a fake excuse about how you would help if only you weren’t so swamped. If you say that, but then take on other new projects, your colleague will know you were uninterested.
Instead, try something closer to the real reason. By telling your colleague that you appreciate asking you and It sounds like an exciting initiative. Then try something closer to the real reason whether if you are busy or have little expertise in that matter.
3. To Your Employees
When it comes to generating new ideas, you will want to encourage brainstorming and appreciate your employees for the ideas. However, there are times when you have to strict to a certain plan or have a clear plan in mind and you want your employees to execute and follow it.
For sure, it’s better not to say “we’ll be doing it my way” to them directly.
Thank them for sharing their suggestions but you need to follow the directions exactly as they’re outlined to meet the deadline and finally ask them if they have any questions.
6- Get consistent feedback
Getting feedback about your job performance on a regular basis is essential for your growth. You should ask for feedback often. But you should be prepared for receiving criticism for your work. To ensure you receive useful feedback, there are four criteria contribute to the effectiveness of the feedback at work:
1- The feedback provider is credible in the eyes of the feedback recipient.
2- The feedback provider is trusted by the feedback recipient.
3- The feedback is conveyed with good intentions
4- The timing and circumstances for the feedback provider are appropriate.
You can start by preparing some open-ended questions specified to those who know you well and you can trust their words. Here are some great questions you can use:
- If you had to mention two ideas for improving my work, what would they be?
- How could I deal with my projects more effectively and increase my productivity?
- What should I do to make my job easier and optimize my performance?
- How could I do a better job on the following tasks?
- When should I let other people involved in my decisions?
- How could I prioritize my activities?
So, let the feedback provider finish completely and try to carefully listen to what he says. Then ask questions thoughtfully depending on what you’ve heard.
7- Stay out of conflicts
Workplace conflict is sometimes inevitable but what really matters is how it is handled rather than trying to avoid it all the time. It’s crucial to manage conflicts carefully, so it doesn’t affect your job performance at work. Some conflicts are useful for resolving problems and setting up a workplace where there aren’t people who are either playing yes-persons or are disengaged. Here are some ways to improve your conflict resolving skill and avoid any unnecessary conflict that damages the cohesiveness of the workplace.
- Recognize the conflict: Dealing with a conflict at work can be hard. The goal is to to get your way but not at the expense of professional relationships at work that you are going to need to rely on later. Resolving conflicts is better than trying to win the situation because this helps people on both sides feel as though their concerns were valid and considered. Reaching a fair solution will help to eliminate the stress that will lower productive performance.
- Find out the reasons: People are inevitably constrained to have a disagreement on how things should be done which can lead to a lot of issues between those who have different opinions. You might also find that certain people in your work environment are simply difficult to get along with or like to cause trouble for their own delight and satisfaction which can lead to conflict.
- Identify the type of conflict: A very common conflict in the work environment because of the feeling that their work is being under-appreciated. Especially when someone takes credit for your efforts or your suggestions are being ignored it can lead to conflict with the person who causes this disagreement.
Frustration is also a very common reason for conflict. If someone received a bonus or promotion it can lead to jealousy, especially if others feel as the benefits were earned unfairly.
- Avoid the conflict completely: It’s always best to face a conflict sooner rather than later as it affects your performance. This helps to avoid excess tension and pressure that can be built up over time. Start by asking carefully if you don’t understand why someone has behaved this particular behavior or if they can change their way.
- Don’t make accusations and work to keep your manner neutral: In many cases, people do not recognize they are the cause of offense when conflicts arise. In this situation, you should apologize for any role you may have played in the situation.
Try to find out what is the goal of resolving the conflict with the other person. Perhaps you want to communicate better, get more personal space or have quiet when on the phone. If both sides understand the goals, it will be much easier for everyone to work toward common ground. Cope with the stress caused by the conflicts.
Dealing with conflicts at work can be incredibly stressful but you can eliminate its impact on your ability to do your job. It is perfectly healthy to release your frustrations but only do this away from the office where there is no risk of negative comments being overheard or passed back to others. This will only make the conflict worse.
If you are having trouble finding a solution to the conflict and it has gone on for some time, consider working with a mediator to help dissolve some of the tension.
8- Continuous learning
The benefits of continuous learning are abundant. Employees who regularly evolve their skill sets are able to have an advantage over others. That interprets to better productivity and innovation. So, how can you begin effective continuous learning?
Be accountable and self-direct your learning process
Encourage yourself to self-direct your learning process. Not only will you have a better sense of your own learning needs, but you will also know what kinds of learning experience or training work best for you.
Your learning goals are important as your work performance goals
We all know that you have limited time. You should see learning as a critical part of achieving performance goals. Without the association between learning and work performance, your business will never release the benefits of continuous learning.
Make learning goals realistic by considering individual learning milestones. Aim to set at least two learning goals per quarter.
Find inspirational mentors
Learning isn’t always easy. Getting motivated to take on useful learning challenges can be tough and lonely. So, how can you make yourself feel supported in your efforts? Finding a mentor can help you and share their hard-won wisdom.
Read every day
Reading is one of the top goals that many people set for themselves. A good hugely satisfying book can teach you about things beyond your daily horizons which in turn affects your job performance in a positive way.
If you would like to get into the habit of reading, there are a number of different ways to cultivate it.
- Set your schedule: You should have a schedule or set times during every day when you’ll read for at least 10 minutes. Make it a regular habit to read during breakfast and lunch ( if you eat alone). And it’s also a suitable time when you go to bed. You can start reading for about 10 minutes to 30 minutes a day. That’s a good start, and by itself would be a great daily reading habit.
- Always carry a book:Wherever you go, take a book with you. When you leave the house, make sure to have your book with you. You can leave the book with you in the car, and take it into the office and to appointments and pretty much everywhere you go unless you know that you definitely won’t be reading.
- Make a list : Keep a list of all the great books you desire to read. Be sure to add to it whenever you hear about a great book, whether it is online or in person.
- Find a quiet place : When you start reading, it’s better to find a quiet place. If you are in your home, sit in a comfortable chair and don’t lay down because you don’t want to sleep while you are reading and have a great time reading without interruptions. There should be no computer or television near the chair to reduce distractions, and noisy family roommates or members.
- Keep a
record :Have a log and record any books you have read with its author, title and the dates you start and finish them. It is remarkably satisfying to go back over this list a couple of months to see all the good books you have read.
- Make it
pleasurable :Enjoy your reading time and make it your favorite time of day. Have some coffee or good tea while you read. Get a comfortable chair with a good blanket.
- Set a high goal : Tell yourself that you want to read a certain number of books this year. Then put your mind to accomplish it. Just be sure you’re still enjoying the experience and don’t go hard and set a realistic goal.
Create a satisfying experience from the learning process
Ongoing growth and personal development require persistence and curiosity. If you get it right, a culture of continuous learning can strengthen your career’s growth and work productivity for years to come.
9- Time management
Having a Good practice of time management gives you the ability to accomplish more in a shorter period of time, which leads to more productivity which lets you take advantage of learning opportunities and increases your focus in your work environment, which contributes to more success in your career.
Find out how you spend your time
If you’re going to optimize your skill to manage time at work, you first need to find out where your time is going in the workplace. Try tracking your daily activities. As you conduct this tracking process, it will become clear how much of your time is spent on unproductive tasks, activities, and conversations.
Create a daily schedule
This step is absolutely essential to managing time at work and it has a lot of benefits that will be reflected in your job performance. It’s better to start your day with an organized to-do list and to improve your task management. Before you leave work for the day, create a list of the most important tasks for the next day. This step enables you to get going as quickly as you get to the office. If you can’t do it the day before, make sure you put your list on paper first thing in the morning.
Writing out everything will prevent you from lying awake at night turning over the work and tasks running through your brain. Instead, your subconscious goes to work on your planned tasks while you are asleep, which means you can wake up in the morning with new insights.
As you make your list, prioritization is a crucial key for managing time successfully at work. Start by removing tasks that you shouldn’t be performing in the first place. Then identify the three or four most significant tasks and do those first—that way, you make sure you complete the essentials.
One of the best tips for managing time at work spotted in Stephen Covey’s book First Things First. He gives the following matrix as an organizational tool for prioritizing tasks based on these ideas of urgency and importance.
Here’s a closer look at each of these quadrants:
- Important and urgent: These tasks have important and significant deadlines with high urgency—complete them the first thing.
- Important but not urgent: These tasks are important but don’t require immediate action and should involve long-term development strategizing. Try to use most of your time in this quadrant.
- Urgent but not important: These activities are urgent but not important. Minimize or eliminate them because they don’t contribute to your productivity. They are generally distractions that may result from the poor planning of others.
- Urgent and unimportant: These activities hold little value and should be removed as much as possible at work.
Here’s a look at what types of activities fall in each quadrant. Try making your own matrix and adding items from your list and day-to-day activities to evaluate how you are currently spending your time.
Set time limits to tasks
Your schedule should involve time limits on tasks instead of working until they’re done. After tracking your activities, estimate how long an activity will take you. Once you’ve spent the specified amount of time working on that task, move on to the next important activity. You’ll find your productivity improving and your list shrinking when you have these practices done in your work environment.
As we have mentioned taking breaks is one of the best ways to improve your performance at work. Also, it’s one of the more enjoyable tips for work. Make breaks a part of your schedule as in step 3.
Organize your workspace
For managing your time efficiently, this tip needs to actually go on your list. If you have collections of papers scattered all over your desk, finding the one you actually need will be like finding a needle in a haystack. There are few things as frustrating as wasting your valuable time looking for lost items. Not to mention how hard clutter can make it for focus.
Little things can make a big difference. Create a filing system for documents. Unsubscribe to emails you no longer need. Just think, you get the benefits forever and you only have to do it once.
Follow the following steps to help improve your workspace:
- Put Everything You Need Within Reach.
- Get Rid of the Non-Essentials that don’t provide you with any benefits.
- Oragnize and put Paperwork in Its Place.
- Organize your virtual workspace like your email.
You may simply want to become a better version of yourself so that you can be the best employee possible or you may need to enhance your job performance and move your career to the success you want. You can improve your job performance if you begin making changes and improvements today, evaluate your performance, and keep up the process of becoming better over time. Following the steps in this article is the best investment you can make and gain its returns on the long-term.