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6 Secrets To Performing Better And Even Excelling At Work

6 Secrets To Performing Better And Even Excelling At Work

We’ve all read about the work hard vs. work smart dichotomy. Still, it’s difficult to get our heads around what’s more effective and why we aren’t able to do both. Every so often, we are caught in the dilemma of perception that if you choose either, you have do without the other.

In the early days when the work hard doctrine was ubiquitous and when most of our forefathers were blue-collared workers, all you needed to do to succeed was to put in long hours. However, it seems that the only way to succeed today is “working hard at working smart” and finding the right formula to get things done. Many times, we hear mentors and parents saying “practice makes perfect,” leaving out another important point that practicing the right formula makes it a perfect formula.

In this article, we will reveal 6 secrets that will surely help you increase your productivity and perform better at work. Here’s how to find that perfect formula for you.

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1. Ditch Multitasking

One of the most important things to note when trying to find a productive lifestyle is to ditch multitasking. You think you’re doing both — working hard and smart — while multitasking, but scientists are telling you that you’re doing it wrong. In fact, multitasking is counterproductive, not only resulting in lost time but also in lost productivity. Instead, try to focus on one task at a time before moving on to the next.

2. Cultivate Good Habits

Having an inventory of good habits is what sets a “supertasker” apart from an average worker in the office. If you’ve tried developing good habits but failed multiple times before, why not try out one of America’s founding fathers Benjamin Franklin’s method for developing good habits.

If there’s something you want to change in your life or you are simply trying to cultivate a good habit, try to focus on that area for one week and write it on a flashcard. For example, if you’d like to wake up at 7 AM every day, try turning in earlier and waking up at 7 AM every day for one week. The next week, move onto the next habit you’d like to cultivate.

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3. Block Out Distractions

A study done on “supertaskers” — people who seemingly have insane levels of productivity — showed that they are elite in blocking out distractions and they have the ability to interact with the world in a goal-oriented way. Yes, most of them are multitaskers, but they are extremely adept at juggling tasks without making mistakes because they have trained themselves to screen out useless information and distractions to give full focus to the tasks at hand.

The next time you are faced with a difficult task, block out any distractions from colleagues disturbing you or the ringing of your office phone. Let people know politely that you need just a moment for concentration. This is key if you want to perform better at work.

4. Start With Problems You Can Solve First

An interview with Keith Alvey, a Red Cross Relief Operations Director, shows examples of a “supertasker” at work. During the Katrina and September 11 disasters, Alvey had 100 over problems to address, but through experience, he understood that 75% of them were out of his control. So, what did he do? He pinpointed those problems that he could solve as soon as possible and tuned out the rest.

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5. Control And Maintain Your Emotions

In crisis mode, our emotions will get the better of us if we let them. As a result, we’ll take the stress out on others and we waste time getting into arguments which leave us ultimately feeling less efficient.

“Supertaskers” are extremely efficient at keeping their emotions in check, allowing them to make calculated decisions. The next time you’re caught in a crisis, look for humour or moral support from a co-worker and then tackle that problem.

6. Get Into “Flow” State Frequently To Perform Better At Work

The term “flow,” as described by Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is having the most productive and creative state of mind in which to work. Getting into the flow state has happened many times in our lifetime without us actually knowing it. Being in the state of flow causes us to be completely involved in what we do, so much so that we lose track of time and there is this feeling of losing your sense of self, including your worries and concerns.

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So, how do we get into this state? There are a few criteria scientists believe have to be fulfilled before going into flow. We must have sufficient time to do things, focus at one thing at a time, set very clear goals, and constantly develop our skills to meet the challenge.

Featured photo credit: productivity via fastcompany.com

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Last Updated on May 20, 2020

What Are Analytical Skills (And How to Strengthen Them For Success)

What Are Analytical Skills (And How to Strengthen Them For Success)

Everybody makes bad decisions. Some people, however, are more capable of making better decisions that inch them closer to success.

These individuals are not ruled by emotions, desires, or hunches. Rather, they depend on their analytical skills to overcome challenges regardless of urgency or complexity.

What Are Analytical Skills?

According to Richards J. Heuer Jr., a former veteran of the CIA,[1]

“Thinking analytically is a skill like carpentry or driving a car. It can be taught, it can be learned, and it can improve with practice. But unlike other skills, it is not learned by sitting in a classroom and being told how to do it. Analysts learn by doing.”

Analytical skills can be considered as one of the critical life skills that are not taught in schools. It comprises of visualization, critical thinking, and abilities for gathering and processing information.

Here’s a closer look at some of these abilities:

Visualization

Also tied to a person’s creativity, visualization is the ability to predict the possible outcomes of strategies and actions. In a professional setting, visualization involves the analysis of data – often through illustrations like charts, graphs, and detailed lists.

Critical Thinking

Simply put, a person’s ability to think critically can be measured by his or her consistency in creating reasonable decisions. It pertains to the ability to evaluate information, siphon what’s useful, and draw conclusions without being swayed by emotions.

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As a critical thinker, you’ll find yourself challenging assertions and finding loopholes in proposed solutions.

Computing

Whether you like it or not, you need to be comfortable with numbers if you want to sharpen your analytical skills. Bear in mind that computing encompasses other skills like cost analysis, budgeting, and performing general calculations.

In business, you need to use computations when weighing the risks and benefits of any given strategy.

Problem-Solving

Remember that analytical skills are used not just to understand problems, but also to develop the most suitable course or courses of action. This relates to your goal-setting skills, which involve breaking down and prioritizing between objectives.

Resource Management

Lastly, analytical skills involve some degree of resource management depending on the task at hand.

For example, professionals with a tight schedule must know how to effectively manage their own time – also known as one of the most important resources in the world.

Business leaders, on the other hand, must know how to manage company resources, including cash and manpower. Take note that the definition of analytical skills may change to match the requirements of a specific situation.

For example, upon hiring a web developer, analytical skills may refer to the ability to determine the needs of online users, understand web analytics for optimization, and identify visual elements that can match a company’s brand.

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The skillset above, however, should be applicable in most if not all scenarios.

Develop Your Analytical Skills for More Growth Opportunities

There’s no question that the right decisions lead to positive results. It doesn’t matter if you’re running a business or simply trying to climb the corporate ladder. By training your analytical skills, you position yourself for more growth opportunities while staying away from negligible actions you will regret.

For example, you plan to launch a new startup in your local community – but struggle to decide the niche you want to enter. Since you’ve been a technophile your whole life, part of you desires to invest in a gadget store. If you’re passionate about your business, success will come – right?

If you have sharp analytical skills, you begin to see your plans in whole new dimensions.

What are the possible outcomes of this venture? Does the local market have a need for a new gadget store? How much do I need to get started – and how much should I sell to make a profit?

Depending on your findings, you can determine the feasibility of your business idea without letting your emotions get in the way.

6 Ways to Strengthen Your Analytical Skills

There are several approaches when it comes to developing an individual’s analytical skills. For instance, psychologists agree that reading fantasy stories as a child can help sharpen critical thinking.[2]

Research also suggests that undergoing traditional education has a positive effect on a person’s IQ and analytical skills.[3]

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But as an adult, such opportunities to hone your analytical skills no longer apply. That’s why you need to devise a more deliberate, active approach yourself.

Below are a few strategies to get you started:

1. Ideate Business Ideas

Developing a profitable business idea, whether you pursue them or not, involves numerous challenges. You need a ton of research, computations, and problem-solving to create a tangible business plan.

You can organize your ideas with a note-taking tool like Microsoft OneNote or Evernote. Doing so will allow you to delve deeper into your analysis, organize your findings, and stay focused on roadblocks as well as how to solve them.

2. Leverage Analytical Tools

Aside from note-taking tools, you can also leverage other software that can help with analytical tasks. A money management app like Mint, for example, makes it easy to track your spending habits as well as manage your budget with visual tools. When it comes to prioritizing goals, you can use simple task management apps like Trello or Wunderlist.

3. Have a Personal Learning Library

Thanks to the internet, there’s a colossal amount of resources you can utilize to learn new skills, expand your vocabulary, and train your visualization muscles.

Social media networks like SlideShare and YouTube, for example, offer mountains of tutorials you can access to your heart’s content.

For a personalized learning library, you can download Instagram videos or GIFs from educational accounts like NASA Goddard and the American Mathematical Society. But if you prefer specific, technical skills, then a good place to start would be online learning platforms like Coursera, edX, and Alison.

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4. Participate in Online Communities

The internet is a great place to share experiences, opinions, and sometimes intellectual discussions with like-minded individuals. Reddit, for example, has a place or “subreddit” dedicated for every topic imaginable – from technology to entrepreneurship.

For structured debates, you can head to websites like Debate.org and let other users choose the winner via votes.

5. Seek Mental Stimulation

To keep your mind sharp, make it a habit to engage in mentally stimulating activities, such as chess, puzzles, and brain training apps. A great resource would be Lumosity, which contains dozens of cognitive games designed by teams of scientists and game designers.

6. Keep a Personal Journal

Finally, keeping a personal journal allows you to take a second look at everything that happened in your day.

Remember that writing about learning experiences lets you focus on the lesson rather than the emotion. It will help you analyze how you made your decisions, why you came to certain conclusions, and what you can do to improve in the future.

Here’s How to Create a Habit of Writing in a Journal.

Bottom Line

As an adult, you are required to face a myriad of challenges on a daily basis. Work, school, business, relationships – the list goes on when it comes to the sources of life’s problems. With analytical skills, you can confront and overcome any obstacle standing between you and your goals.

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Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] M. S. Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences: Analytical Thinking?
[2] KD Novelties: Why You Should Read Classic Tales to Your Children
[3] Economic Inquiry: The Effect of Education on Cognitive Ability

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