Setting yourself up for success at work is critical to maintaining your position, lining yourself up for promotions, and preparing for future job opportunities. Not only that, there’s a sense of satisfaction that comes when you know you’ve done your job to the best of your ability. Improving your work performance, however, doesn’t always come quickly. By focusing on a few actionable steps, you can set yourself up for better performance at work and prepare to have a more positive impact on your daily schedule.
Focus On One Task at a Time
Simply put, it’s time to stop multitasking. It’s tempting, in today’s fast-paced and highly technological society, to feel as though you have to be connected to everything, all the time. That may mean that you’re answering a text message, checking your email, and working on your latest presentation, all at the same time. There’s just one problem: in all that busy-ness, you aren’t giving your full focus to any of those tasks. That can lead to greater problems than simply the lost time you spent switching back and forth between tasks and trying to convince your brain to refocus whenever you go back to your intended task. When it takes as much as 25 minutes to get fully back on task when you’ve been interrupted, that alone is a big problem! Multitasking can also lead to:
- Higher stress levels
- Decreased quality of relationships—both business and personal
- Problems thinking creatively, especially on the fly
- A greater likelihood that you’ll make mistakes whether firing off a personal text to a business contact or sending an email with the wrong information
When you focus on a single task at a time, on the other hand, you’ll discover that you’re much better able to complete the task at hand. You’ll also learn to pay more attention to what’s going on around you—and that can lead to more opportunities in the workplace, too. It can be helpful to develop a schedule or routine that allows you to focus on one task at a time, compartmentalizing your day so that you’re better able to concentrate.
When was the last time you sat down and made a serious list of the things that you’re hoping to accomplish in the foreseeable future? Do you have a ten-year plan? Have you set out goals that will get you through the next five years? If you haven’t taken the time to create those goals, it’s time to get on it! Setting goals has many key benefits.
Goal-setting allows you to develop a picture of where your life is heading and work toward it in a focused, concentrated way.
Setting goals allows you to use your time and resources more efficiently. Instead of jumping at every opportunity that comes along, you’re able to guide yourself toward those big-picture goals more effectively.
Clear goals make it easier to make decisions, whether small ones about what you want to accomplish day-to-day—you don’t choose the doughnut for breakfast or the burger, fries, and shake for lunch when you’re trying to lose weight!—or bigger ones that concern the way you want to direct your future. From the classes you want to take and the certifications you want to gain to the new jobs you pursue or the projects you want in on, setting goals will help create a roadmap for your decisions.
Give goal-setting a try. Take the time to sit down and decide where you want to be and what you want to accomplish. Paint a broad picture: what are you hoping to accomplish over the next month? The next year? When you set goals, you’ll be able to move toward them. Even better, ultimately, you may find that you surpass your initial estimates and accomplish more than you dreamed possible.
Learn the Value of Teamwork
When you have a weak relationship with your colleagues, coming into work every day is a chore. You dread getting up in the morning, you drag you way through the day, and when the end of your work day finally rolls around, you can’t wait to get out the door. On the other hand, when you develop positive relationships with your colleagues, you’ll be able to see plenty of benefits: greater overall morale, improved productivity, and a better ability to work with your colleagues. It can be difficult to find a place to begin those relationships, especially if you’ve worked for a particular company for a long time without feeling as though you fit in. Developing those teamwork skills, however, can greatly enhance your performance at work.
- Share accomplishments, not blame. Look for ways to share appreciation with your colleagues, not to point fingers when something goes wrong.
- Pay attention. Keep an eye on what’s going on around you and look for ways to make things easier for your colleagues. Be the one who sees and hears what’s going on.
- Develop more effective communication skills. Look for ways to enhance and improve your communication with individuals within the office, and be honest whenever possible.
- Be courteous. Simple common courtesy often makes all the difference in a traditional office relationship.
- As your relationship with your coworkers improves, both you and your workplace will reap the benefits. Even better, as you become known as a people person and a team player, you’ll find that it opens doors for you across both your workplace and your industry.
One of the best ways to set yourself apart as an employee is to seek new knowledge continually. Check out the latest certifications in your field and develop a plan for studying that information and taking the tests. Since you’ve developed a series of goals for your future, you should be able to explicitly choose the direction you need to take with new classes, certifications, and seminars. It’s also critical to understand the “why” behind decisions, protocols, and technology, not just the “how.” When you figure out why something is done a certain way, it’s easier to follow it, uphold company policy, or help customers make better decisions.
Even if you aren’t in a workplace where new technology or changing information is standard, you can continue learning and grow in your position. There’s always new information out there. Seek out how to be a better employee, learn how to do another job in your department, or develop your skills to their highest possible level. Whatever you do, commit to doing it to the best of your ability and look for the information that will help you accomplish that. The more you know, the more you’ll be able to accomplish!
Every day at work, you have a choice. You can spend the day just getting by, performing the bare minimum to get through the day and keep your job, or you can put forth your best possible effort to showcase the full range of your skills. The satisfaction in a job well done is well worth putting forth the effort to improve yourself. If that isn’t incentive enough, keep in mind that your job is never certain, and the better you are, the better your chances of keeping your job or moving successfully into a new position. Whatever the reason for your goals, personal improvement at work is never wasted.