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How to Hack Your Job

How to Hack Your Job

If going in to work is starting to feel like a depressing chore rather than something enjoyable and challenging, you’re not alone – almost ¾ of employees are reportedly unhappy with their jobs. Maybe it’s time for you to rethink where you’re at in terms of your career and your chosen job – and fortunately, there are more opportunities than ever for a job that’s unique and customized to you. Many companies are beginning to realize that the current workforce isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation; many valuable employees are eschewing the traditional 9-to-5 office cubicle and searching for a way to create their best work on their own terms.

As a sea change occurs within traditional office roles, many industries may be left playing catch-up when it comes to attracting top talent. With freelancing and small business becoming lucrative options, and more workplace environments becoming receptive to innovative alternatives, there’s never been a better time to figure out just how you can make your job work for you.

Why the Modern Job Needs to be Hacked

There’s something to be said for the status quo – it keeps things in line; it offers stability; people know that it works. And in the case of the workplace, it can be hard to let go of the status quo – that is, the methods and processes that have gotten a company this far. However, as the workforce becomes upended by new expectations and innovations, many employees are beginning to want something more.

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As seen in The New Face of the American Workforce, with the rise of the Internet has come a wave of outsourcing and collaboration. Companies have begun to realize that they can attain solid work from outside parties, which saves them the costs that would normally go towards fully tenured employees. These outside parties – many of them freelancers – have also benefited from this arrangement, because it offers them more freedom and creativity than being constrained by the traditional employment situation.

Simply put, if you’re a business owner and you want your company to thrive, it’s a good idea to start adapting creative solutions to ensure that your staff is happy to come to work. And if you’re currently an employee stuck in a job that isn’t moving the way you want it to, then it’s time to take action and figure out what you can do to keep yourself motivated. After all, you spend much of your life at your job – you want it to be something you enjoy doing.

The Inside Job

This article from BBC.com defines hacking your job as “breaking the rules, typically in small ways, to net you greater efficiency from the working systems you’re stuck within.” If you’re firmly set inside the working world and want to look for ways to improve it – and your workday as a whole – here are some job hacks you can try:

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Invest your time in learning new software solutions to make work easier. This is one of the top workplace hacks to help make you more efficient, as well as removing an obstacle that can drag your day down. If you find that certain work programs are slowing your progress, start looking for similar alternatives that you can switch to. The BBC.com article uses the example of much-maligned office software like Microsoft Excel and Sharepoint, and suggests using Google Docs and Dropbox instead. If you step away from standard software, you might find your productivity increasing.

Outsource tasks you hate. In many positions, there will be a certain amount of drudgery that you’ll have to undertake. But in a lot of areas, you should feel free to delegate or outsource tasks you dislike doing unto other people. This article emphasizes the need to “relinquish control” and spread the work out so you’re not overloaded, and a similar piece at Entrepreneur agrees that if you choose to outsource, you can free up your schedule while maintaining quality control.

Make time for individual side projects. The Entrepreneur article author has this to say, and he’s not wrong: “Side projects are fun. They’re passion projects. They help me stay creative, empower me to make mistakes without consequence and provide me new opportunities to learn.” If you’ve got enough time on the side, try devoting yourself to learning new software, attending a class online or in the evenings, finding initiatives to give back to the community, or simply putting aside the time for a separate creative pursuit.

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Maintain regular office hours. Be strict about when you will and won’t be in the office. It’s all too easy to come in early or leave late, but that just creates the perception – for both yourself and others – that you have no other life besides your job. Put in your hours of hard work, then clock out and spend your off-time with family or non-work passion projects. This balance will help put an even priority on both your work and your home life.

The outside options

As the workforce continues to change, ideas about staffing changes with it. Although most companies do have a roster of full-time employees, many are continually searching for a more cost-effective alternative. This is where you can come in: If you’re having a difficult time hacking the modern-day office to make it work for you, perhaps it’s time to hack your job into a position where you work for yourself.

Freelancers are without a doubt one of the fastest growing segments of the working population. For many, the idea of getting away from full-time employment, making one’s own hours and choosing one’s clients is irresistible – and becoming more of a potential reality than ever. This Intuit report on business trends states that contingent workers will make up more than 40 per cent of the workforce by 2020, possibly in response to full-time and full-benefit jobs becoming scarce. The time might be right for you to move away from the office and start channeling your skills into freelance work, particularly if you look to the technology, journalism, and marketing sectors. And with the growing popularity of co-working spaces, freelancers can still feel like part of a social office environment without the obligations.

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Startups and other small business ventures is another route you can take. If you have vision that has outgrown being a side project, you may want to consider going forward with bringing it to life as a legitimate business. If loving what you do means never working a day in your life, maybe having your own small business or startup is the key to making your passion into something bankable.

Don’t Be Complacent With A Stagnant Job

With so many options and types of employment currently available, there’s no need to feel stagnant at a job that doesn’t feel satisfying. Instead, try hacking your job in small, manageable ways to make your day more fulfilling and productive, or else go in a new direction entirely and create a job situation where everything is in your own hands. Hacking your job is something that may just be vital for anyone in the modern-day workforce, and it could just make you a better employee in the process.

Have you ever performed any job hacks?

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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

Reference

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