If the only time you think about your work performance is at your annual performance evaluation, you’re not alone. Sometimes, it’s easier to wait for someone else to tell you what things you should be working on than it is to constantly assess yourself.
No matter how well you perform any task, you can always do better than you did yesterday.
The same goes for your work performance.
Focusing on continuously improving your skill set and learning new things is a great way to boost your confidence and help you become the best version of yourself.
That’s why we’ve gathered 10 tips that’ll go a long way toward helping you improve your work performance and professional development.
10 Tips for a Better Work Performance
Setting milestones can help you achieve both personal and professional goals.
We have a natural tendency of shooting for the stars and establishing challenging goals.
It’s okay to be bold when setting goals to improve work performance. The problem is that big projects can become overwhelming. By breaking those big personal and professional projects into smaller sections, you’ll stay motivated during each victory you achieve.
Setting individual success metrics to analyze your goal is also very helpful when it comes to keeping morale and energy levels up. Keep track of your progress, allow yourself to enjoy your success (as small as it may be) and share it with your team.
Organize, Plan and Prioritize
If it seems like I’ve mentioned this topic before, you’re right, I did. Several times, actually. Organizing, prioritizing and planning your daily schedule is essential for improving work performance.
Break down big projects into small tasks, establishing a due date and priority status for each one (want to learn how to prioritize tasks? click here!). Combine the most urgent and essential tasks, taking into consideration how much time it’ll take to finish each one (click here to learn how to estimate time for a task) and set your schedule for the next day.
When making your to-do list, be reasonable. Make sure you can do everything you set yourself out to accomplish – it’s much better to establish realistic goals and overachieve than the opposite.
Making a detailed plan in advance is also very useful for identifying which tasks you can postpone (to free up time for more urgent, valuable tasks) and which ones you can delegate without affecting the result.
Never forget that in order to be able to prioritize tasks, you must learn how to say no.
Our working hours are limited and as much as you’d like to make everyone happy by doing what they ask you to, you can’t fit everything into a limited period (unless you have a time-turner, of course).
Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions
The most productive professionals in the world have named distraction as productivity’s number one enemy. I’ve already written an entire article dedicated to avoiding distractions at work (click here to read it), so I won’t dive deeply into this subject.
Never lose sight of your goals along with your journey. Every time you feel tempted to waste some time checking out your Facebook feed or watching your favorite YouTube channels, remember what’s at stake.
Sustainable continuous improvements are part of a slow evolutionary process. It feeds off consistent progress. Make sure you remember that. Focus on taking one step at a time and completing the previous task before starting a new one.
Do you know how many times during the day you’re interrupted? Interruptions come in many different sizes and shapes and learning how to avoid them is vital for improving work performance.
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been interrupted by a colleague coming to your table, by your boss on a Slack chat or by your family knocking at your home office’s door. Interruptions are dangerous. They make you lose focus and waste time you’ve previously allocated to a task, increasing the risk of running late.
Do one Thing at a Time (Don’t Multi-task!)
Most people (especially women, myself included) claim they’re experts at multi-tasking. They may think so, but the only thing multi-tasking actually does is compromise the quality of the work.
I’m guilty of this, I’m always working on two or three tasks simultaneously, stopping what I’m doing to help a colleague out. Even though it feels like multi-tasking allows you to accomplish more, it actually does quite the opposite.
Whenever you start working at more than one thing at a time, take a step back and determine which task is more important and focus entirely on it. Working on one task at a time makes you faster, less stressed and less prone to making mistakes.
Don’t Leave Things Unfinished
Another thing I’m guilty of, and it’s very likely a consequence of trying to multi-task.
Do you remember how many projects you’ve started only to abandon them shortly after?
New Year’s resolutions, diets, a new sport…they’re all great for a while, and then they start to slip straight back to your to-do list. Don’t let that happen. Make it a habit of recording every project you complete and rewarding yourself for them.
Read Something New Every Day
I’m an avid reader. Even though I’m most prone to reading books for teens and young adults (everyone has their guilty pleasures), I try to read at least one relevant article regarding the SaaS industry every day.
I have many reasons for doing that. First of all, English is not my native language, and I do my best to stay updated and improve my vocabulary continuously. I also love learning new skills, hence the second reason why I read so much.
Change is happening all the time, all around us. I find that reading is the best way to learn about new tools, trends and technologies in my company’s industry so that we’re always updated and remain competitive.
That’s mostly why reading plays such an essential part in improving your work performance.
Communication is a two-way street. Whenever you’re feeling uncertain about anything, ask someone. Whether you’re a manager or not, make it your ultimate goal to establish a consistent communication channel among your team members.
Evaluate your work performance on a frequent basis and keep your goals and responsibilities in mind every time you have to make a decision.
Talk to your colleagues. Listen to what they have to say.
Find new and improved ways to achieve better results. Make sure everyone knows their opinion matters.
Don’t ever settle for underperforming. Stay restless and always believe that everything can be at least 1% better than it was yesterday.
Acknowledge Your Weak Spots
There’s no way for a person to be good in everything. We all have strengths and weaknesses. The great thing about acknowledging your weak spots is identifying easy improvement opportunities.
Getting better at something you’re already pretty good at is a lot more challenging than improving something you’re not satisfied with. Even though you can always improve at everything, focus on identifying the things lowering your work performance and remember: stay restless. Don’t settle for “quite alright” when you can achieve “awesome.” Read, learn, listen. Do whatever you can to be the best version of yourself, every day.
Take a Break When you Need One
Admitting you need a break is not a weakness, it just means you’re aware of your limitations, and you’re wise enough to admit it. You don’t need to be at your peak productivity each day, but if you feel like you’ve reached your limit, stop.
Stress and burnout levels are increasing at alarming rates. It will do you no good to keep pushing after you’ve reached your limit. Your productivity levels will suffer from it. You’ll get even more stressed for underperforming and so on. This is a vicious cycle you don’t want to get trapped into.
Rest time is just as important to your professional development as any other aspects I’ve mentioned before. Go away for a weekend, change your scenery and always remember to keep a healthy work-life balance.