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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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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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