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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 September 17, 2020

      5 Practical Ways to Get Over a Mental Block

      5 Practical Ways to Get Over a Mental Block

      There’s nothing quite like a state of “flow” when you’re working. The rare moments when your inspiration aligns with your motivation likely lead to some of your most creative work. Plus, it feels great to actually check a task or project off the list so you can move on to the next thing. Meanwhile, a mental block — its opposite — can cause work to feel laborious and uninspired. Forget creativity when you have a mental block — it makes it difficult even to start working on what you need to do.

      A mental block can manifest in several ways. Perhaps your imposter syndrome is squelching your creative ideas, for instance, or you’re overwhelmed by the breadth of a project and its impending deadline. Maybe you’re just tired or stressed.

      Either way, having a mental block feels like being trapped in your own head, and it can seriously dampen your ability to think outside the box. The problem is, you’re so locked into your own perspective that you don’t see more innovative approaches to your problems.[1]

      Luckily, jumping over these mental hurdles is simpler than you think. You just need the right strategies to get your flow back.

      Try these five practical ways to overcome a mental block.

      1. Break Your Project Down

      A few years ago, I was working on changing a company product that I believed would hugely benefit our customers. Sounds great, right?

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      As inspired as I was to make people’s lives easier, though, the sheer magnitude of the task at hand felt overwhelming. Every morning, I cracked open my laptop to work and felt totally paralyzed. I loved the idea, yes, but actualizing it felt risky. What if it didn’t turn out the way I pictured in my mind? More importantly, where would I even begin?

      A former colleague gave me great advice over coffee:

      Change how you think. Start by breaking the big project down into small tasks.

      When a major project overwhelms you, you only see the entire forest instead of the individual trees. And as you stare it down, you start to feel discouraged by your own lack of progress, thus slowing you down further.

      Breaking down a massive task into smaller chunks makes the work feel more manageable. You’ll have multiple clear places to start and end with, which will lend a motivating sense of productivity and mastery to your process. Learn more about it here: The Motivation Flowchart: The Mental Process of Successful People

      Think of it as accumulating small wins. When you realize you’re more capable than you have once thought, you’ll develop the momentum and confidence needed to get your big job done little by little.[2]

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      2. Change Up Your Scenery

      Of course, there’s a time and place for sitting down to get things done. But if you’re experiencing a mental block, switching up your surroundings can make a big difference in your output.

      Have you ever noticed how your environment directly impacts your performance and mood?

      Your brain associates your physical surroundings with certain feelings and activities. So, if you feel mentally stuck, your mind may need some new sensory stimuli.

      During this time in your life, it may not be possible to set up shop at a cafe or move from your cubicle to a conference room, so you may need to think outside the box. If you’re working remotely in a home office, try going to your dining table or couch. If the weather cooperates, sit outside for a bit with your computer or take a walk around the block.

      You can also simply rearrange your workspace. Not sure where to begin? Try decluttering. Some studies show that an organized desk enhances productivity.[3]

      The point is to stimulate your brain with new sounds and sights. You may find a much-needed dose of inspiration when you work while breathing in the fresh air, listening to city sounds, or staying in the comfort of your own living space.

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      3. Do an Unrelated Activity

      When it comes to productivity, a bit of distraction isn’t always a bad thing. That’s especially true if your chosen distraction helps you get things done in the long run.

      Have you realized how your most creative thoughts tend to bubble up when you’re, say, lying in bed or taking a shower? In their research of the “incubation period,” scientists have discovered that people’s best ideas seem to surface when they aren’t actively trying to solve a problem.[4]

      In a 2010 study, participants needed to look for a roommate or new employee based on the profiles that the researchers gave. The people who had a brief “incubation period” — in this case, working on an anagram — consistently made better choices than those who spent more time weighing their options.

      If you can’t seem to prime your brain for a project, try doing something completely unrelated to work, such as washing your dishes, working out, or calling a friend. Some experts say finding another low-stake project to work on can help jump-start the creative part of your brain and activate your flow.[5]

      The key is to allow your unconscious mind to do its best work: eliciting the new knowledge your conscious mind may be ignoring or suppressing.[6]

      4. Be Physical

      Feeling antsy? When your mind won’t seem to settle into a state of flow, it may help to swap out your mental activity for a physical one and see how it impacts your perspective.

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      While any physical activity is beneficial for your body — and getting up to move can serve as a helpful form of distraction — certain forms of exercise can more directly impact the mind. To be specific, relaxing, flow-based exercises like dance, yoga, or tai chi can create a gentle sense of momentum in your body, which can prime your brain for the same state.

      Stress-reducing activities may also be necessary. Meditating or taking slow, deep breaths will also calm your nervous system if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Evidence shows that the logical, creative part of your brain essentially shuts off when you’re stressed.[7]

      On the flip side, when your mind and body are relaxed, you can think more clearly, be more creative, and focus for longer periods — all of which will help you overcome a mental block.

      5. Don’t Force It

      It can be frustrating to fight against your own mind. If your mental block won’t go away after some effort, it may be time to take a break. Forcing creative thoughts only adds to your stress levels, which in turn inhibits your ability to think creatively. And if you sit and stare at a project for too long, you’ll not only waste valuable time but also begin to associate this specific work with frustration and produce work you’re not proud of.

      “I know that forcing something is not going to create anything beyond mediocre, so I step aside and work on a different project until it hits me,” the artist Ben Skinner said about his creative process.[8]

      If your work isn’t time-sensitive, then it may make sense to step away for a while to focus on something else, be it an administrative task that requires less creativity or a project that you feel motivated to work on.

      When the time is right, you’ll find your way back to the original task with a fresh, creative perspective (hopefully).

      More on Getting Rid of a Mental Block

      Featured photo credit: Jonas Leupe via unsplash.com

      Reference

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