Performance at the workplace is one of the key dimensions for professional success and growth. Usually these expectations revolve around quality of the output, consistency in quality & improved productivity over a period of time and last but not least, to bring additional value to the table – for customers, partners, colleagues and the organization itself.
In this blog, I am listing 5 LITTLE SECRETS which I have applied successfully to improve my own work performance and I have observed these in several high performing individuals as well.
Sharing them with the intent that they may help you in more than one way
SECRET 1 – BEFORE YOU START YOUR WORK FOR THE DAY, LIST DOWN THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT TASKS FOR THE DAY
We all have a zillion things which need to be done at work. But they are all not important enough to be done today. Listing down the 5 most important tasks for the day will give you phenomenal clarity and enable you to focus on what needs to be done first and what can wait. Most of us are guilty of spending the most productive hours of the day (usually as soon as we start work) in doing tasks which can wait until tomorrow. And then we rush to do the important things (when we are not the productive best) and never seem to get them done! From experience, I can vouch for the fact that adopting this one practice will make an ocean of difference in your work performance
SECRET 2 – BEFORE YOU START ANY WORK, THINK ABOUT THE MOST EFFECTIVE AND OPTIMAL WAY TO DO IT
Again, sounds like common sense. But most of us tend to start working on tasks as soon as they are assigned to us. While this may be purely due to our enthusiasm and eagerness to finish the work assigned to us, it may not necessarily be the best approach. Personally, I am able to complete work effectively if I spend time mulling over the best, most effective and optimal way to finish it. Usually, most tasks which have been assigned to you have already been done by someone somewhere before (either in your own organization or the world at large). So it helps to understand “How did others do it?“,”What were the mistakes they made? And hence how can I avoid them?“, “Can I replicate some of their best practices?” and then define a personalized workable approach for the task. Not only does this help you think through possible challenges, but it also helps you define a practical approach to complete your work. Generally if you think through at the outset, you will also be able to unearth possible gray areas and get them clarified at the start (Trust me! This minimizes re-work significantly). And if you are unsure about the overall approach itself, you can easily get someone to review your approach or ask them for guidance on how to go about the task at hand.
SECRET 3 – TIME-BOX NON PRODUCTIVE HOURS DURING A BUSINESS DAY
One of the key deterrents to work performance is the “intended and unintended” breaks that are an integral part of our working life. Intended breaks (For e.g.:Coffee, Walking, Chatting, Reading, Lunch, FaceBook, Twitter, Meditation, Power-Naps,etc.) are good because they re-energize you. But in several instances the intended breaks extend way beyond your intentions [For e.g.: So you start with promising yourself that you’ll log in to Twitter for 10 mins and before you know 30 mins has elapsed 😦 ]. Unintended breaks are those you don’t plan or intend, but they just happen (For e.g.: You get a call from a good friend when you are in the middle of an important task and you pick up the call. You feel happy about this break, but the conversation goes on for a good 15 mins and once you disconnect – You need to switch context to re-focus on your work. Usually this takes a few minutes; and overall you could have lost about 30 mins of precious working time. So the key take-away is to Time-Box non-productive activities. Within limit, they do enhance work performance. But when they cross the limit, they become serious inhibitors to work performance. To start with, be cognizant of these of try to limit them during your working hours.
SECRET 4 – IF YOU DON’T KNOW, ASK
Another important aspect to improve work performance is to Ask if you don’t know or understand something. While it is great to discover answers to questions by yourself, it is also OK to re-use the lessons from the experienced. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel always. Be judicious here lest you be branded as someone who never asks for help or someone who always asks for help! But if do ask when you need to – Your work performance is significantly improved!
SECRET 5 – EAT HEALTHY, SLEEP WELL, LAUGH AND DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE EVERYDAY
Firstly, Eat healthy and right, i.e.,Well balanced meals at regular intervals. From my own experience I can say that if you eat right you are more efficient, productive and creative at work – All of which are positive indicators of work performance. High fat and calorie rich food teases and pleases you, but makes you sluggish at work. It’s OK once in a way to indulge, but if you make it a habit it will definitely impact your work performance.
Secondly, sleep well and ensure you get adequate rest regularly. And this may not be feasible everyday (depends on your personal and professional context), but if you don’t catch up on sleep over a period of time it is bound to impact your work in more ways than one (For e.g.: Slow performance, More errors, Unable to collaborate, etc.)
Thirdly, Take the time to laugh everyday. In fact, I recommend a laughing break everyday when you read a joke, listen to something funny, watch a hilarious video or talk to someone who makes you laugh. Laughing everyday is a golden mantra for feeling good and positive
Last but not the least, do something you love for a few minutes everyday – Reading, Writing, Listening to Music, FaceBook, Twitter, Walking, Running, Cooking or spending time with those you love.
These are my SECRETS! Would love to listen to yours. Leave a comment to let me know…