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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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      Last Updated on February 18, 2019

      How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

      How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

      These days, in a world with cognitive, AI, and extraordinary advances, we have failed at the most basic stimulus: motivation. Why do I say so? Just take a look at these statistics:

      58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training as per a CareerBuilder.com survey. Only 12% of employees leave their jobs because of more money. Research indicates that around 80% of employees leave their jobs due to “lack of appreciation”. Due to fear of failing, more than half of American workers don’t take their paid vacations. 53% of Americans are unhappy at work (not engaged). And 1 in 3 are working in a field they don’t like.[1]

      Archaic people management and HR structures are the root cause.

      “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

      So how to motivate employees and boost team productivity?

      Here are 3 key things that you can do to motivate your employees and boost team productivity:

      1. Run Your Team/Group/Company like a Lean Startup

      The Lean Startup phenomena by Eric Ries has been socialized across millions all over the globe. In a nutshell, it is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.[2]

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      Encourage Your Employees

      When you empower your employees (or family members) to do what they deem to be best for a particular roadblock, idea, or improvement, you create magic. You create genuine trust. You enable innovation. The result is happy, inspired employees who feel they have a say in the grand cosmic stage at work.

      Note that increasing the competency level of employees and coaching and mentoring them along the way is key. You yourself, need to do the same. Nourish your brain – and get a mentor that will keep you at the edge of your game.

      Offer Rewards

      Motivation is also intrinsic. The startups I have worked at offered instant rewards — not just fat checks or equity increments, but Oscar-style nominations.

      The non-monetary rewards were actually more coveted, and grandiose: lunch with the CEO, tickets to an Obama fund-raiser, horse-back riding with a world-class equestrian.

      Compare this to a dodgy, corporate, white-cubicle dinosaur that had a “yearly performance review” where both parties dread the conversation. In a world of instant WhatsApp messages, having a conversation about performance, likes and dislikes cannot just happen annually in 60 minutes. Employees need to be rooted in the belief that their manager genuinely cares about them.

      Give Autonomy

      Another key attribute is autonomy. Most employees start brushing their resumes and cruising LinkedIn when their hands are tied in their current positions: approval forms, long meetings, escalations, and more meetings. In the world of agile and scrum masters, deliberating for the sake of deliberating is poison. You will choke the very employees that giddily accepted the job initially to “change the world”.

      Within a reasonable realm of assessment and deep-dives, trust your employees to do the heavy lifting. Give them access to the knowledge, people and resources that help them directly make the choices that will shape the future of your team, and your company.

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      Eliminate yourself as the bottleneck – and interject yourself as a benevolent, servant leader that is the symbol of high-performing organizations.

      2. Apply the 90/90/1 Rule

      I recently saw a video by Deepak Sharma (a leadership adviser) about productivity and this principle stuck with me. Here’s what it’s about:

      Devote the First 90 Minutes of Your Day to Important Project

      For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your day to your most important project—nothing else. Do this for yourself and your employees.

      We usually get sucked into the most wasteful, operational activities in the morning which robs our focus, and steers us into an unwanted rabbit hole. So mute your notifications, avoid the temptation to check your exploding inbox, and scroll your Instagram feed later. Instead, focus on that ONE thing that will provide real value to you, your team, or your business/company/home.

      Apply this rule to yourself – and your team. Your team will thank you. Note: If you’re feeling really stretched for time, you can always hack the rule by testing out a “45/45/1” version.

      A To Do Scheduling System

      Another version of this is to use the Kanban concept, developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. Kanban is a scheduling system employing boards and cards.

      The most basic version is a canvas with “To-do”, “Doing”, and “Done” boards (or columns). Each activity or task is a “card” that moves from one column to the other. I use Trello (a Kanban-inspired app) that is a key system for my personal and professional life. It allows me to understand my workload, their priority, and due dates.

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      I use importance and effort metrics (scores) for each task to understand what is truly necessary in my life to work on. It negates the FIFO (first-in, first out) paradox that has plagued millions of people. Instead, it allows me to take stock of what is on my plate, and then bite on what truly will move the needle for me, my team, my life, and my company.

      With a limited appetite (at least for some), would you eat the veggies, fries, mashed potatoes and leave the sizzling steak? No, you wouldn’t (unless you are a vegan and ended up in the wrong restaurant).

      Approach your work with a weighted vengeance – and encourage your team to do the same.

      3. Align Passion and Skills to Purpose

      The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion.

      “The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are—that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” — Richard Leider

      An ace team-member once told me that while she enjoys working for the company we both used to work at, she really hated anything to do with technology. She was more of a “people” person, and did not want to sit behind a desk sifting through lines of code.

      What struck me was that she was in that role for more than a decade and had just spoken up. The good thing is she spoke up. She expressed her desire and interests. And it allowed her to get into a role of her liking within 30 days.

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      Ask If They like What They’re Doing

      If you, or a team member is frustrated, demotivated, or not performing at their best – one of the questions you should ask is whether they like what they are doing. Then genuinely try to help them get to the role they should be in (whether in the same team/company or not).

      There’s a reason why 53% of Americans (and perhaps more or same across the globe) are unhappy at work. A butcher cannot be an ace salad maker. Pursue your passion – and help pave the way for your team. Unlock your potential and theirs. You will command and lead a supercharged team.

      “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

      The Bottom Line

      Sometimes, passion has to be ignited. It is dormant, clouded by busy-ness, buried by wrong career choices, and plagued by non-supportive eco-systems. Some will climb out of it, but we as society — and in the case of business teams — incumbent upon the manager/CEO/leader to foster, grow, and nurture the employee.

      Teach her the ropes. Show her the path. Advise him as you would yourself. Let them lead, and make mistakes. Do not fear them, rather make them the leader you would want to become.

      For your not-so-great team members, understand that it is not personal, it is just not a good fit. Help them move on to the pastures they would be fit to graze on. Hence, hire slow (and fire fast).

      Your team is a reflection of you. Boosting their confidence and helping them achieve the impossible is motivation. Focus on that, and you will have a productive team that you and your company will be proud of.

      More Resources About Team Management

      Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

      Reference

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