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11 Ways To Work Smarter at Your Computer Job

11 Ways To Work Smarter at Your Computer Job

Computer technology is changing the way people work and live at such a fast rate that it can be difficult at times to keep up with an increasing load of job expectations, especially at computer-based jobs. If you are one of those people facing hundreds of emails in your inbox every day and you have dozens of projects to complete, try some of these simple steps to help manage your work time at your computer job.

1. Take care of yourself

Above all else, the most important thing is simply to take good care of yourself. Get plenty of rest, eat healthy, drink plenty of liquids during the day, and make sure you get enough exercise. These are common sense ways to stay healthy, and the healthier you are, the better you are able to cope with any added work responsibilities, as well as the potential for increased stress. This also means taking care of yourself at the end of the day by finding ways to reduce your stress outside work, such as massage or aromatherapy.

2. Set a regular routine for your daily tasks

In any job, it is necessary to set a regular routine, so you can plan out how to address your daily tasks. Decide what your priorities are and go from there. Things that need doing first will get done first, and other tasks can be done in the order of their importance. If you have a daily routine set up for tackling the workload, it will seem easier if you break it down into bite-sized pieces. This will allow you to focus on one thing at a time, instead of being overwhelmed projects as a whole.

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3. Develop a method to help you track your progress

The planning process of any job means finding how best to do what is expected. Only you know what works best for you, so you should devise your own way of managing your time. You need a process that allows you to see what needs to be done and track what you actually accomplish every day. You need to be able to see not only what you have done, but also set a plan for accomplishing what you need to do. This plan can start with what you expect to accomplish and fill it in as you go with what you actually accomplish. Like an athlete in training for a race or competition, you will gradually prepare to meet your goals.

by Osseous on Flickr

    4. Take regular breaks from the computer

    With a full workload, it is easy to become absorbed in your work and forget everything else. It may seem easier to stay focused, but it is actually bad for your health (both mentally and physically) to stay seated for long periods of time. It is important to remember to just take breaks throughout the day. Stand up and stretch, walk around, do what you can to release the pressure from time to time. This should be a part of your regular plan each day.

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    5. Gather feedback from other employees

    Any job is better when you can get feedback on what you are doing from other people in the office. Rather than just staying focused on your own responsibilities, it helps to engage in conversation with others around you. Everyone has something to contribute in a workplace, so don’t underestimate the value of feedback. You always gain from the input provided by those who work with you. If you need ideas or feedback on what you are doing, the people next to you are your best source.

    6. Spend time helping or promoting others

    Even in job situations where the emphasis is on individual performance, you should still reach out to other workers for support. This can go both ways. When you make time to help other people, or take note of what they do well, it can increase your job satisfaction greatly. Everyone appreciates gaining support from coworkers. When you contribute to the training and support of other people, you also gain personal satisfaction that comes back to you in immeasurable ways.

    Rowan University Publications Flickr

      7. Set aside a day for catching up

      No matter how complex your job is, everyone needs a break. If you are under a lot of pressure, you need to feel like the pressure is off some of the time. Coping with work stress is not easy, so you need time to relax. Choose one day of the week to allow yourself to regroup, or just catch up on tasks you may be falling behind in. It will give you the time needed to face unexpected problems that arise and to solve them. This can be your designated non-stress day.

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      8. Find ways to reward yourself

      Work can seem so difficult that it can rob you of the feeling that you are making any progress. It’s a great idea to find some way to personally reward yourself when you complete something, no matter how small. Pick something you enjoy, like a special food, or treat, or anything else you enjoy. Rewarding yourself is a great way to stay motivated and feel better about what you are doing every day. There are always ways that you can find small rewards in whatever you are doing. These can be small things that others might deem insignificant, but rewarding yourself is essential to job satisfaction.

      9. Make time to evaluate your  progress

      Every job has its challenges, but it is important to set aside time to evaluate the progress you are making. On a weekly or monthly basis, you should plan to spend time looking at what you have been able to accomplish and how successful at it you have been. You should be able to look at your own strengths and weaknesses, rather than depend solely on the evaluations of your supervisor. Be honest with yourself about how well you are doing. Evaluating your progress will help you look forward and plan ahead.

      10. Take time to relax and think creatively

      Everyone needs time to unwind, even during the work day. It’s a good idea to set aside some time for yourself, even short amounts to relax and take a break from your normal routine will be beneficial. This is extremely important, especially if you are in a position that requires some creativity. Being relaxed is the best time to come up with new ideas. While stress can reduce your ability to get inspired, the lack of stress will stimulate your creativity. Simply getting up and just going for a short walk can spark your imagination.

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      11. Expand your knowledge through courses or classes

      Furthering your education is something that can be overlooked in work environments. It may seem easier to just learn the job you have and settle into a routine. However, everyone needs to be able to expand their knowledge. Take an online course, or just read about new subjects in your spare time. Even the so-called experts in any field, spend time learning. Continuing to read more and study up on a variety of topics related to your job will help you stay well-informed. Being empowered with greater knowledge will help you move ahead in your career and prepare you for possible career changes that may lie ahead.

      Featured photo credit: by Eef Ink at Flickr Creative Commons via flickr.com

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      Karen Bresnahan

      Photographer/Writer/Artist

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      Last Updated on June 18, 2019

      The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

      The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

      No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

      Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

      Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

      A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

      Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

      In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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      From Making Reminders to Building Habits

      A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

      For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

      This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

      The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

      That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

      Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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      The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

      Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

      But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

      The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

      The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

      A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

      For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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      But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

      If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

      For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

      These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

      For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

      How to Make a Reminder Works for You

      Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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      Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

      Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

      My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

      Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

      I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

      More About Habits

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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