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Then the worst happens. Ding. You get a notification on your phone. Your colleague pinged you on Slack, asking for a phone call. When you finish speaking, you try to go back to your work, but it takes you 15 minutes to remember where you left off. By now, your task is taking a whole lot more time than it should have.
How many times has this happened to you?
Distractions and interruptions can break your flow, and drastically affect your performance at work. Find out how to avoid these types of situations and several ways to improve your work performance.
What is work performance and why is it important?
“Work performance” is a broad term describing your ability to do your job well. Typically, people who perform well are more likely to receive pay raises and job promotions.
Managers can use any number of metrics to measure employee performance. The most common include:
Doing all three exceptionally is difficult. Plus, each position prioritizes these elements differently.
For example, a graphic design firm may value speed and quality so they can meet their clients’ tight deadlines. On the other hand, a construction company might aim for quality and efficiency. They’ll sacrifice speed in favor of reducing wasted raw materials.
Make sure you know which metrics matter most at your job. With that knowledge, you can work to improve the priority areas. Your efforts will show that you’re a valuable asset to your team, which could put you in line for a pay raise.
If you don’t know where to start, consider a professional coach. Together you can create a skill development plan to reach your career milestones
13 ways to improve performance at work
Completing tasks isn’t everything. In today’s complex work environment, workers should expect to use several soft skills in their day-to-day life. While they don’t directly relate to output, they do reflect on you as an employee.
Ready to get started? The strategies that can improve your workflow may be simpler than you anticipate. Here are some positive ways to improve work performance. — take a look at these tactics, and decide which ones apply best to you and your job.
1. Limit distractions
This is a tip many people know but rarely follow: limit your potential distractions. Of course, it’s impossible to remove distractions all the time. Instead, try scheduling focus blocks in your calendar. During this time, silence your phone, turn off email alerts, shut your office door (if you have one), and focus on the task at hand. You’ll be surprised how much you accomplish.
2. Set milestones
Large tasks often cause procrastination. But, if you break projects down into steps on a simple to-do list, they’ll often feel more manageable. Plus, once you start knocking things off the list, it’s easy to build momentum.
3. Set clear and achievable goals
Be realistic when it comes to your goals. We all want to be super-producers, but we should be mindful of our energy levels and what we can accomplish in a single workday.
Splitting large goals into several smaller, clear goals will keep you on track. Setting achievable goals is a way to be kind to yourself while doing what you can. No one wants you to burn out.
4. Avoid multitasking
Multitasking can feel efficient, but in reality, switching between tasks reduces your efficiency. That is, if you’re writing a report in between sending emails, chances are you’re not getting as much done as you think. Instead of juggling tasks, pick one thing to work on and stick to it.
5. Improve your time management
Plan your time ahead of time. If you know a task is due in a couple of weeks, work backward from that date and portion out your time accordingly. One hour of focused work per week is more effective than three hours of work at the last minute.
In fact, studies have shown that procrastination is associated with high stress, increased risk of depression, anxiety, and fatigue. It even leads to lower life and work satisfaction.
6. Do important tasks first
Prioritizing urgent tasks is an effective way to organize your to-do list. That way, if you’re pulled away from your desk, the only items left are those you can afford to delay. Try scheduling some time at the beginning of each day to work on what’s most important to ensure that it receives your best energy. Use tactics like the Pomodoro Technique to improve both the quantity and quality of your work throughout the day.
7. Delegate tasks whenever possible
If you’re a manager, it’s normal to have a lengthy to-do list. Look for opportunities to delegate some work tasks. Break projects into chunks and give clear instructions to team members. They can help you get everything done. Strong management skills include knowing when you’re doing too much.
8. Clear your workspace
A cluttered desk can be a distraction. Keep what you need for the task at hand and clear the rest. While you’re at it, close all those tabs in your web browser. Decluttering your computer can also do wonders for mental clarity.
9. Stay healthy
Exercise and healthy food are known for keeping your brain happy. Get your workday off to a good start each morning. A good breakfast and a walk outside can boost your focus, energy, and motivation.
10. Communicate clearly
When you’re working on a big project, everyone involved needs to know what they’re responsible for and when. Effective communication leads to great teamwork, which improves your collective performance.
Part of communication is also letting people know when you’re approaching capacity.
11. Take short breaks
Your body isn’t built for eight consecutive hours of productivity. If your attention drifts while you work, that could be your body telling you to take a break. Instead of working through it, take a break. Better yet: schedule downtime.
Carve out time each day to take a short walk, do some stretches, or grab a beverage at a nearby cafe. After a 15-minute break, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to focus again.
12. Prioritize self-improvement
We should evolve with the world around us. Work on new skill sets, read books, watch videos, and listen to podcasts that expand your mind. You might find useful information that you can bring with you to work.
13. Maintain work-life balance
We all have a personal life. It's important to disconnect at the end of the day. If you take care of yourself, you can be at your best while working.
2 things to avoid to stay productive
Stay on your game by limiting these two common distractions:
- Office gossip: It’s fun to get the latest news, but too much idle chat can take away from your work time. Be mindful of how much time you spend conversing with your colleagues.
- Smartphones: These revolutionary devices have done wonders to keep us connected, but they’re also designed to keep your attention. Turn off notifications and keep it in another room during work hours. This will prevent your phone from drawing you to your social media apps and away from your work.
When your performance at work improves, people around you will notice. Getting more accomplished puts you in line for raises and promotions. Plus, when you work productively, you’ll feel better.
But getting started can be daunting. To keep yourself accountable, find someone who can help keep you on task. A work buddy or a career coach can help maximize your productivity. BetterUp can work with you to find ways to improve your work performance and help you get started.
Content Marketing Manager, ACC