No matter how small or big a company is, its success depends on the people working in it. Naturally, any business will hire, retain, and promote professionals who can prove that they perform well. Now, if you want to gain a competitive edge, you need to take the initiative to sharpen your skill set.
If you want to become more efficient at your job, you need to learn how to work smarter—not harder. So, we’ve gathered the best ways to improve work performance and boost your productivity.
1. Eliminate Distractions
Udemy’s 2018 Workplace Distraction Report reveals how distractions affect people in the workplace. According to the study, 54% of the employees could not perform as well as they should. Moreover, 50% admitted their productivity significantly dropped. Meanwhile, 20% reported that distractions prevent them from advancing in their career and reaching their potential.
Now, if you want to stay focused while working, there are plenty of strategies you can try. For instance, if your smartphone is not essential to your duties, you can switch it to flight mode. This way, you won’t get distracted by the constant notifications from your phone. Now, if you find this difficult, you can set up rest intervals wherein you can check your phone. Let’s say you’ve been working for an hour. You can take a quick 5-minute break to look at your phone.
If you get distracted from the chatter and noise around you, find a quiet place to work. Dedicating a space for focused work in your home can be difficult, especially if you have a small house. However, you can use headphones to keep the distracting noise at bay.
2. Use the Right Tools
One of the reasons why employees cannot work efficiently is because they lack the tools and resources necessary to perform well. Usually, companies are responsible for equipping their workers with programs or apps that will enable them to do their job the best way possible. However, if you want to step up your game, you should take the initiative and look for programs that can boost your work performance.
For example, if you want to eliminate time wasters, we recommend using Traqq. Once you install this free screen tracker, the app will monitor your web usage and computer activities. At the end of the day, you can go to the dashboard and check what’s eating up the biggest chunks of your time. This way, you will know if you’re spending an unholy amount of time on activities that don’t matter. In a way, Traqq will work as a tool for tracking your productivity.
Your productivity also sometimes depends on your team members. Instant messaging solutions can help you reach your colleagues fast and get updates on your joint projects. Browse from these team chat apps made for hybrid teams to communicate more easily with your team.
3. Avoid Multitasking
Working in the office is difficult enough, but when you start working from home, the tasks become even more demanding. You’ll need to develop excellent time management skills if you want to go far in your career. Instead of trying to do everything at once, you should learn to focus on one task at a time.
According to a Stanford University study, heavy multitaskers have a hard time identifying relevant details. What’s more, the research revealed that those trying to juggle several activities at once were less mentally organized. Now, there are plenty of ways you can organize your tasks, and we’ll discuss them further in this article. However, if you want to improve the quality of your work, you must focus on one task at a time.
You may be tempted to switch from one task to another. However, doing so will cause you to lose your momentum and focus. So, instead, we recommend that you complete the task at hand and, during the process, refrain from switching to a different task. This can be challenging, especially when you don’t have an interest in the work you’re doing. However, do your best to stay focused on the task until you complete it. Once you’re able to cross it off your list, you will feel a sense of achievement. Consequently, you will have enough motivation to start working on your other goals.
4. Prioritize Your Tasks Properly
Naturally, your company would want to maximize your talent and skills. So, you’ll often be assigned several tasks that you should complete within a particular deadline. Sometimes, you may even be given more tasks than you can handle. Now, one of the best ways to ensure quality work is by prioritizing your tasks according to their importance.
There are various methods for prioritizing tasks. For instance, you can use the Eisenhower Matrix, where you identify tasks according to four categories. You classify each item as Urgent and Important, Important but Not Urgent, Urgent but Not Important, or Neither Urgent nor Important. Another example would be dividing your days into blocks of time. This method, known as chunking, can help you focus on the task at hand instead of constantly distracting yourself with anything that comes up.
5. Create Project Milestones
One way to measure an employee’s performance at work is by checking if they’re meeting deadlines or falling behind. Now, if you want to ensure that you complete your tasks on time, you should try breaking down your projects into smaller, easy-to-achieve milestones. By doing so, you’ll know where to begin, and it will be easier for you to follow deadlines. What’s more, it will help you overcome procrastination because the task intervals are shorter.
There are best practices when breaking down your projects into smaller chunks. For instance, you need to ensure that the workload within every milestone is achievable. Moreover, you must allocate enough time for each milestone.
6. Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Yes—you can also perform a SWOT analysis on yourself to discover areas of improvement at work. Moreover, conducting a self-assessment will help you identify skills that will let you shine. If you want an unbiased look at your performance, you can also ask a credible colleague or a trusted supervisor to give you feedback. Ask them for appropriate employee performance improvement suggestions.
Once you’ve uncovered your strengths and weaknesses, monitor and assess your performance regularly. Document your failures and successes, but remember to become your own advocate. When there’s a performance review in your company, you will be ready to show your job improvement over the year. If everything lines up, you may get promoted based on your work performance.
7. Learn to Manage Time Wisely
We’ve already provided tips on creating milestones, but a critical aspect of that is proper time management. You’re likely allowed to work on a project for about 35-40 hours per week. After all, you should avoid abusing your overtime privileges. Since you only get a limited number of hours every week, one of the skills to improve at work is time management.
Again, a tool like Traqq will help you allocate your time efficiently. This time tracker will monitor your activity levels and let you identify your peak productive times. On the dashboard, you will see high activity levels in green. Now, if there is little to no activity on your computer, the period will show up as red. This way, you will know when you’re most productive, allowing you to schedule your cognitive-heavy tasks around those times.
8. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance
When talking about the top ways to improve work performance, anyone would agree that maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial. Just because you want to move higher in your career, that doesn’t mean your job has to be your life. Find hobbies outside your work and get enough rest to avoid burning out. There are plenty of self-improvement activities that you can do after office hours or during weekends. For instance, you can perform some meditation exercises, engage in sports, or join social events. These are just some of the activities that will lower your stress levels and help you unwind.
If you want to enrich your professional skills, you can also find interests and hobbies that relate to your work specialization. Let’s say you want to become a better problem solver and an excellent team player. In this case, organize game nights with your friends. You can reserve escape rooms or join trivia games in your local pub.
9. Develop Your Communication Skills
If you’re working in a team, especially one that’s geographically spread out, communication will be a key component of your success. So, one of the things to improve on at work is how you talk and collaborate with your colleagues. You need to ensure that you properly discuss everything—from good to bad—with your co-workers.
There are plenty of ways you can improve your communication skills, but the first step is to become an active listener. This involves acquiring information and reflecting on your intentions before responding to a conversation. In a way, active listening helps you build lasting and meaningful relationships in the workplace. When you’re paying attention to what the other person is saying, you are able to provide quality contributions to conversations.
10. Don’t Participate in Drama, Gossip, and Idle Chat
It’s only natural for us to crave human interaction. However, if you frequently chat with your colleagues, it can have a negative impact on your job. While developing your relationship with your co-workers is important, you should avoid engaging in gossip or drama. If you get too involved, you may lose focus on your work, which can be harmful to your productivity. What’s more, your professional image will be tarnished by all the drama people attach to you.
11. Learn to Delegate
There are plenty of opportunities for improvement at work, but you shouldn’t try to do everything on your own. Unless a project is straightforward and simple, it’s likely to require the expertise of several people. You may be the master of one or two skills in that project. However, you’ll still need the help of other people.
Let’s take a fully functional website as an example. For it to work, you’ll need front-end and back-end developers, copywriters, UI & UX designers, SEO specialists, and marketing experts. It’s nearly impossible to find a person who can perform all of the duties listed. So, when it comes to handling projects, you should learn to allocate some specialized tasks to your colleagues. If you force yourself to work on a task that you don’t specialize in, you’ll end up delaying the project’s completion.
12. Follow a Routine
If you want to learn how to improve work performance, you must train yourself to follow a schedule. Doing so will significantly affect how productive you are. So, if your job offers some flexibility, try creating a routine for meetings and completing tasks. At the end of every workday, create a to-do list for the following day. If that’s not possible, at least do it at the beginning of the day. Another option would be blocking out your calendar to help you keep track of your tasks.
When there’s so much to do, we can easily get carried away and forget about our health. So, don’t forget to schedule your breaks and strictly follow them. Even if you don’t feel tired or hungry, once it’s time for your break, you should stop working and start taking a rest. Doing so will keep your energy levels balanced throughout the day. Now, if you cannot follow a fixed routine, do less challenging tasks during your slump times. Alternatively, you can take short breaks after completing tasks throughout the day.
13. Work on Your Health
You won’t be able to give your best at your job when you feel unwell. So, to boost your productivity in the workplace, you also need to take care of your health. Even if you feel demotivated at the end of the day, you should still exercise or go to the gym. You don’t have to do it every day, but make sure you try at least twice or three times a week. If you cannot do that, you can bike or walk to work. Moreover, eat healthy foods that can boost your focus and concentration.
If you’re working in a stress-intensive environment, it can be detrimental to your health. Now, if quitting your job is not an option, look for ways to relax and unwind. For example, you can perform some breathing exercises throughout the day. Breathing is indeed something that we naturally do. However, once you become anxious, you may start taking rapid, shallow breaths. Consequently, this can cause an imbalance in your body’s carbon dioxide and oxygen levels. So, to release the tension, we recommend performing some breathing exercises.
14. Invest in Continuing Education
Another great way of improving your work performance is by investing in your professional development. Learn as much as you can about your job, your company, and the industry you’re in. Investing in continuing education will help you acquire new skills or sharpen existing ones. What’s more, it enables you to fill up your knowledge bank—a resource that you can tap into for future roles.
Since most people are working from home these days, it’s easy to find institutions that offer online classes. If you want to gain a competitive edge in your industry, spending a few dollars on these courses will be beneficial to you. You can also ask your employer to sponsor your courses. In most cases, companies have a budget for such initiatives. After all, your workplace will also benefit from what you’ll learn. Even so, learning is not limited to the classroom. You can also listen to podcasts, watch videos, and read self-help books.
15. Join a Mentor-Mentee Program
You can study on your own, but one of the best ways to learn insider tips is by joining a mentorship program. Even if you have some years of experience under your belt, wise advice from a field expert can fast-track your education. What may take several years to learn will only take you a couple of months.
If you want to take this path, ask the HR department for mentorship opportunities. If there aren’t any programs established in your company, there are still some ways for you to learn. For instance, you can approach some senior employees. You can ask them if they are willing to supervise your performance for some time and give you some advice. You can also become friends with industry experts. Most of the time, they are willing to share their knowledge with their peers.
16. Seek Constructive Feedback
Whenever you complete a project, do you always wonder how well you completed the tasks? If you’re uncertain about your performance, you can ask your supervisor for constructive feedback. Don’t be afraid to do this because usually, managers appreciate it when their employees care about their job. They will gladly show you areas of improvement at work. Moreover, if you’ve executed certain tasks excellently, they may compliment you. You can use this as motivation to keep on giving your best.
17. Be Accountable
Whenever Murphy’s Law seems to take full effect, it’s easy for us to blame everyone else apart from ourselves. In reality, avoiding accountability won’t take you far in your career. If you want to perform better, you need to take responsibility for your decisions, actions, and behavior in the workplace. It’s not all the time that a manager will motivate you to be productive. If you don’t want to help yourself, there’s nothing much you can do.
Evaluate your workplace behavior and identify the things that you know you shouldn’t be doing. As much as possible, try to avoid them. Also, make it a habit to be punctual. Remember that whatever you do will affect everyone on the team. So, if you come late for work, you’re also delaying other people’s tasks.
18. Know When to Say “No”
Aside from understanding when your peak productive and slump times are, you should also recognize your limits. You may think that you have all the time and energy in the world, but that’s never true. If you notice yourself getting distracted or feeling sluggish more frequently than usual, then you may be nearing your personal limit. If you don’t address this issue, you may end up running out of energy and getting burned out.
Don’t feel guilty about taking a vacation. From time to time, it’s alright to refresh your mind and body by visiting beautiful places. Indeed, working on weekends will give you bonus points for your job performance. However, that’s not going to get you far, especially if you’re not putting in quality work. When you’re exhausted and tired, you cannot give your best at your job. So, instead of always accepting the tasks thrown at you, learn to say “no” when you’re about to reach your limit.
19. Create a Plan for Your Personal Development
Of course, you need to determine where you want to see yourself in the future. When you have a strong sense of direction, you can remain aligned with your goals and work towards performance improvement. Reflect on your ambitions and determine how you can use your strengths and weaknesses to achieve them.
Once you’ve identified your areas for improvement, it’s time to create a personal development plan. Make sure that your goals are time-bound and achievable. Moreover, look for opportunities that will help you contribute to your company’s future. This way, you can make some personal progress while taking initiative in the workplace.
20. Grow Your Professional Network
John Donne may have said, “No man is an island,” centuries ago, but his poetry stands true to this day. If you truly want to grow, you’ll need the help of the people around you. Meet people, engage in conversations, and try your utmost to develop professional relationships. Building your network is one of the best ways to exchange ideas and knowledge with other professionals in the same field.
There are plenty of ways you can create new connections. For instance, you can join professional group meetings or sign up for conferences. Another example is creating an account on LinkedIn and actively engaging in conversations on the platform. Always be open-minded about meeting other people in your field. You will always be surprised to discover that there are lots of new things you can learn from other professionals.
Start the Change Today
You are not the victim of circumstances—you are always in control of your effectiveness and productivity at work. It is time to visualize your goals and use them as inspiration to improve your job performance. Today is the day you commit to following the tips we shared in this article.