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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 March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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