In today’s corporate world, professionals need to stay on top of their game at all times. They have to constantly strive to improve work performance as it may mean a pay increment or a promotion. As a manager, you also have to strive to improve your team’s work performance, else it will reflect poorly on you.
Improving work performance means improving how you do things at work and the rate you get things done. Do you find you have not done half the things you set out to do at the end of a workday? There are numerous ways to improve your work performance, get more done and not feel exhausted at the end of the day.
Focus is essential if you have to get things done and up your productivity. Sometimes we find ourselves all over the place trying to multitask and getting nothing done. Remember the adage Jack of all trades and master of none? This is what you are when you try to get multiple things done at the same time. You will be a jack of all, but you will master none of the tasks.
Avoid multitasking and focus on one task, finish it, then move on to the next one. You will discover that it saves you valuable time and allows you to minimize errors. Make a daily schedule every evening for the next day, and set a time limit for each task. This will help you to focus better on the task at hand.
2. Avoid Distractions
Distractions at work are productivity killers, and they come in many forms. One of the worst distractions is the temptation to catch up with office drama and gossip, especially when you make it a habit. While relationships at the workplace with your colleagues are essential, they should never be at the expense of your productivity. Avoid gossiping and getting involved in office drama as it affects your productivity and your reputation.
Another productivity killer you should avoid is the internet and primarily social media check-ins. Install apps on your PC that block social media sites and take short, timed breaks. Some programs allow you to set the amount of time you can spend on a website. Avoid looking at your phone every five minutes as it’s another distraction, and only check messages during your short breaks. You can also download time management apps online that help you in prioritizing your tasks.
3. Set Personal Goals
Setting goals is easy, but accomplishing them is a different ball game. Most of us set a new year or new month resolutions, but most often than not, we never achieve them. The best way to accomplish these goals is to set realistic metrics and break them into smaller, achievable ones.
Every year, you can set three or four significant goals you intend to accomplish. Every week and every month, set milestones to help you get there. It is easier to attain these smaller goals one at a time, and that cumulatively will help you achieve the bigger goals.
For example, suppose you are a sales executive who wants to make $1 million in sales by the end of the fiscal year. You can set weekly and monthly benchmarks to help you get to the ultimate goal. Calculate what you need to make per week and month to achieve your goal at the end of the year.
4. Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Every human has its strong and weak points. To help you become more productive, you need to ascertain what yours are. A self-assessment allows you to determine your best skills that can help you improve your job performance. Find out what you are not good at and find ways to improve. Since you cannot do this assessment on your own, ask a colleague or your immediate boss to help you make an unbiased assessment.
Keep a regular record of your successes and failures. Perform periodic job performance evaluations and list them down. During your annual performance review, list these successes. They might be a stepping stone to your raise or promotion.
5. Be Clear on Your Job Description
To improve your job performance, ensure you are doing what you are supposed to be doing. People often spend a long time working in a specific capacity but have no idea what that role appertains.
Ensure you are clear on your job description from the get-go. Know what you were hired to do and what your principal role is. If the job description is not clear, have a chat with your management. Avoid getting caught up in sideshows and doing things that are not in your job description, neglecting the essential tasks and what you are employed to do.
6. Run Effective Meetings
Meetings are inevitable, and your bottom line improves if your meetings are held effectively. Sometimes meetings become long and winding, with people deviating from the agenda. For those in management, you need to ask yourself if this meeting is necessary enough for you and your team members to interrupt their workflow for it.
Is the issue something that you can address via phone calls or emails? If the meeting is important and needs the involvement of various stakeholders, keep it short and sweet. Create an agenda and a timeline, or make it a standing meeting which takes a short time.
7. Schedule Vacations
Burnout is a major productivity killer. We all have limits to how much stress we can take. You need to be careful not to get lifestyle diseases brought on by too much pressure. If you feel you have reached your stress tolerance limit, take a well-deserved vacation.
A few days away will rejuvenate your body and mind, and your productivity and energy levels will go up. Take a weekend off and de-stress. It’s a way of maintaining a healthy work-life balance and allows you to reach your full potential. You have to work smarter, not harder.
8. Identify and Fix Bottlenecks
Bottlenecks are the things that slow us down at the workplace. There are two types, short-term bottlenecks caused by temporary setbacks, such as when the workflow is interrupted because someone is sick and no one qualifies to do their tasks. Long-term bottlenecks are more common such as when your end-month reports are delayed every month because you have to wait for one person to finish some time-consuming tasks.
If you do not streamline, bottlenecks can cause waste of time, poor work quality, dissatisfied clients or stressed team members.
9. Make Use of Physical Organizational Tools
Physical organization is a great motivator and improves job performance. Write down physical to-do lists, use hanging mail holders or use wall calendars if need be. Tidy up your workspace. Clear clutter from your desk and use the traditional in/ out trays. These indicate what you have done and what needs to be done. If a task is not due in a hurry, get a folder marked To-Do and file the tasks according to their timeline. This allows you to be more focused and productive, and you won’t waste time going back and forth doing nothing useful.
10. Finish What You Start
Do not attempt to start on a task unless you intend to finish it to avoid piling up unfinished work. There is a “one touch” policy that ensures you only touch a task once- and finish it. If you open an email, read it and respond to it, shoving it aside for later only means you will forget about it.
11. Apply the 80/20 Principle
The 80/20 principle or the Pareto principle states that 80 percent of our results come from 20 percent of the effort we put in. This means that what your 80% of effort produces does not make much difference to your bottom line.
12. Batch Important Tasks
The hours in a day are constant, and productive people work smarter to capitalize on their work hours. One way to work smarter is to batch or group tasks. Instead of reading emails all day, set a time you can do this and make sure you read and reply to all the emails before moving on to another task. You can use this approach to all your essential tasks that have to be done daily or weekly, including client follow-up phone calls, analytic reports, emails, data entry, etc.
13. Request Frequent Feedbacks
You do not have to wait for your annual performance review to know how you are doing at the workplace. You need to be proactive and request feedback on a regular basis from your superiors and colleagues. This allows you to know how well you are doing and what you need to do better.
14. Learn to Communicate Better
Learn how to communicate better. Effective communication allows you to understand and delegate more efficiently. Poor communication leads to misunderstandings, and when communicating verbally, phone calls or emails, be careful about the words you use. Sometimes your comments may be misconstrued, or your point not clear enough. Make sure you are clear about what you mean to say and that all parties understand.
15. Don’t be Afraid to Say No
Working in an office work environment or as part of a team means you are always around people. They may need to come to you to help solve a problem or just a chat. As much as this might be okay sometimes, it might interfere with your productivity and negatively impact your job performance.
Try to avoid these interruptions by managing them and learning to say no to offers like catching up on a project or a quick meeting that you can afford to miss. Ask if the issue is resolvable via email or if it can wait another time. Never be afraid to say no to things that do not contribute to your goals.
16. Learn to Prioritize
Human behavior is predictable, and we tend to put off doing undesirable tasks until we have no option, even essential tasks. The best approach is to get these tasks done first, and you are left with more manageable tasks that you can do faster. Prioritizing these critical tasks first demonstrates your sense of responsibility and focus.
17. Get to Work Early
Getting to the office a little earlier than everyone else guarantees you some quality quiet time to finish your tasks. If you had some unfinished tasks from the day before, you could quickly get through them before the hustle and bustle that is the office environment starts.
If you come in early every day, you are sure to be done with your tasks by evening. This leaves you with a lot of time to make a to-do list for the next day.
18. Learn More
An excellent way to improve work performance is to put more effort into your professional development. Learn more about your company, your role in the company, your industry and any other preferred topics.
Learning allows you to learn new skills, improve your other skills. Learning builds up knowledge and makes you a valuable employee. The knowledge you acquire can also come in handy for a promotion. If you are a junior and take a management course and a position comes vacant, you are likely to be at an advantage over your peers.
19. Break Down Tasks
Huge, time-consuming tasks can be very daunting. If you want to tackle such a task, break it down into smaller, manageable tasks. This reduces your stress levels and makes the job less of a mountain. When you get things done, albeit little by little, it motivates you to do the rest and get the task done.
20. Do Periodical Self Check-ins
Do periodical check-ins to see if you are on track with your goals. Sometimes we get caught up with day-to-day activities and get distracted. Set a daily or weekly reminder to self-evaluate and see if you are still on track with the 20% principle. If you find you are focusing more on the 80%, try to delegate, delay or eliminate the tasks that are derailing you.
21. Practice the Two-Minute Rule
Practice the two-minute rule, which states that you need to immediately perform any task that only takes two minutes or less. This rule helps you get over any sluggishness you might be feeling when starting on a project.
22. Work While Commuting
You can still improve your job performance if you go to work via train or bus. You could take advantage of that time and read, plan your day if you did not do so the previous evening or watch videos. If driving to work, listen to audiobooks or podcasts.
23. When are you most Productive?
No two people are alike. However, for most people, their energy levels rise and fall over the day. Generally, the focus is at its peak in the morning, but as stated, everyone is different. Find out what time of the day you are most productive and schedule your day based on these hours. Some people work best in the morning, some in the afternoon, some in the late afternoon.
24. Stay Healthy
Our life outside the office affects our job performance. You need to ensure you maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep. If you get to the office very early, do short workouts between the lunch break and go to bed early to ensure you get enough sleep. Avoid taking too much alcohol during the week as it interferes with your day at work. Save partying for your weekend off.
25. Build a Network
We often work towards improving our performance with our current organizations, but we have to think broader. Forge relationships with people from other companies in both your industry and other industries. The connections do not necessarily have to be in person but can also be online relationships. You never know when these networks will come in handy in the future.
26. Set personal Productivity Challenges
To improve your performance:
- Set personal productivity challenges to push yourself to do better.
- Work a little more than you already do without compromising your work quality and in the same amount of time. If you read and reply to five emails in half an hour, try to do seven or eight emails simultaneously.
- If you are a writer and write three blogs in a day, try to do four or five.
- Look for ways to do your job in less time but better, and your superiors are bound to notice the improvement.
- Use Templates
Use professional templates on apps like the Evernote app that allow you to create notes quickly. The app templates figure out the layouts and formatting of your notes, making work more accessible. All you do is click on the Template button for a new note and choose from your preferred template collection.
27. Training Never Stops
As a project management manager, you need to remember that training never stops for your team members. When employees come in as newbies, they need the initial onboarding training and continual training afterward that keeps them motivated. The initial onboarding might be overwhelming for most, so refreshers and continual training help employees perform their tasks better and improve their skill sets.
28. Personality Traits
We all have different personalities and differ in how we interact with people and the environment, both at work and home. To improve your job performance, especially when managing other individuals, you must consider each one of their personalities. When you learn each person’s temperament, you can leverage that knowledge and know-how to make the best of each person’s skills.
A mentorship will go a long way in helping to improve your and your mentor’s work performance. The mentor in this situation gets personal fulfillment, and the mentee learns old, tried and tested solutions. If you are the mentor, you get to self-evaluate and hold yourself to a lot more self-critique. You have to work hard to ensure you are setting an excellent example to the mentee.
The work environment can be exhausting for a disorganized individual. Everything moves at a faster pace than you can handle because your priorities are skewed. You never seem to finish your tasks on time and are always in trouble with your supervisor. To improve your job performance, you need to take a step back, re-evaluate yourself and how you do things. By following these tips, you may well be on your way to that promotion you have been eying for ages.