Advertising
Advertising

Published on April 15, 2020

5 Ways to Improve Your Work Performance Drastically

5 Ways to Improve Your Work Performance Drastically

Before you continue reading this article, stop and ask yourself this question: Why is it important for you to find areas of improvement at work? If you know the answer to that question, it’s a good start as you will be able to assess quickly which strategies that I suggest in this article will best help you to improve your work performance.

For those of you who are struggling to answer the “why” question, I will discuss the 2 reasons as to why work productivity drops, and this will hopefully help you answer your why.

Why Is It Important to Know Your Why?

If you don’t know the reason as to why your work performance has dropped, then it is really hard for you to know what strategies are going to help you improve your work productivity.

When your work performance is falling, then your personal life is certainly affected. This means that you are not only dealing with the issue of poor work productivity, but you are also having to deal with the personal challenges you are facing.

A Word of Caution

There is no quick fix to improving work productivity.

Whether you have the answer to the why question or not, everyone has to deal with the personal impact, and this is where the hard work comes in for everyone.

As a career coach, I spend the first 3 sessions with my clients working through their personal issues that sit around career change. The feelings of frustration, confusion, fear and low self-confidence need to be addressed before any practical work, such as working on their CV’s or Linked In profiles, can be done. Every time I try to speed through the personal stuff going on with my clients, I struggle with the coaching, and so does my client.

Advertising

Why Work Productivity Can Drop

There are generally two main causes to a drop in work productivity. Read about them below.

1. Challenging Work Conditions

There are many challenging work conditions that can impact work productivity: constant change and moving goalposts; ineffective leadership and poor management; lack of acknowledgement; low staff engagement; low morale; workplace bullying. The list goes on.

If you are having to deal with challenging work conditions[1], my suggestion is that you consider getting another job where the work conditions are more aligned to your needs and support your productivity.

If you aren’t able to change jobs, this article can help you learn how to cope with a difficult work environment.

Once you have a job where your work conditions have improved, then you can focus on applying the 5 strategies that are presented in this article.

2. Challenges in Your Personal Life

There are many challenges in our personal lives that can impact our work performance and productivity. Some of these challenges are events that are out of our control.

For me personally, the sudden loss of both parents at the same time was a life challenge that had a huge impact on my work performance. All I could do was take one step at a time and just keep moving forward. If you do find yourself in a situation where your world is suddenly turned upside down, be kind to yourself and remember to move forward one step at a time.

Advertising

Jenny Blake, the author of Pivot, wrote that:

“The only move that matters is your next one.”

And this is so true.

If you find yourself having to deal with personal challenges that you do have control over, where you have the choice as to how you react, then all you have to do is to choose to take action and then go do it!

5 Strategies to Improve Your Work Performance

There is no magic formula for improving work performance. However, here are 5 strategies that high performers use to maintain consistently high levels of work productivity. I am confident that if you commit and consistently apply these 5 strategies into your life, your work performance will improve.

Your job is to work out which ingredients (strategies) and how much you need to create the right recipe for you to improve your work performance.

1. Get Clear on Your Goals

Having a clear idea of what you want to achieve gives you direction and purpose.

Advertising

With this clarity in your mind, you are more likely to take action. Write down the goals you want to achieve in the short and long term. For each set of goals, decide your own time frame. Refer to these goals on a regular basis, and make sure you are noting the progress you are making.

2. Plan Each Day the Night Before

What can often happen at work if you have no daily plan of action is that you tend to be more reactive and can end up fighting lots of small fires at work. Firefighting at work distracts you away from important tasks that need to be done, and as a consequence, your work productivity suffers. Take the time each night to plan for the next day.

3. Create a Daily Action Plan

Once you have taken the time to plan what you need to do each day, write your action plan detailing the time when the key tasks need to be completed.

A word of advice: don’t spend 100% of your time on the goals and tasks you have to complete each day. Allocate time to relationships and taking time out to spend with your work colleagues. The last thing you want to do is to become so focused on your goals and tasks that you end up disconnected from the people in your work life. Having great relationships at work contributes significantly to you being able to improve work performance.

4. Be Accountable for Your Actions

Our subconscious mind does not like change and will do everything in its power to distract us away from turning our life around. All those self-limiting beliefs, fears, and negative thoughts that you have within your subconscious mind will fight hard to stay. Don’t listen to them.[2]

Use your power of accountability to keep you on track. Share with your team and work colleagues your goals, ideas, and experiences on ways to improve work performance. Model the behaviors that you want to have as a high performer at work. Watch for the signs that threaten your progress and shut them down quickly.

5. Celebrate Your Success

Managing your mindset is key to you staying on track and moving forward. The best way for you to keep the momentum is to celebrate your achievements. I suggest that you do this on a regular basis as this keep your motivation up.

Advertising

Your motivation level is the key factor to you wanting to continue to keep going and succeeding the next day and the day after.

Final Thoughts

Improving your work performance doesn’t mean you have to get up at 4 am and work 14-hour days. These are not the behaviors of a high performer at work.

A high performer is focused, has a clear action plan, and knows what needs to be done and how it should be done. A high performer has great work relationships, is a good communicator, and works efficiently.

You can become that high performer, and the 5 strategies above will enable you to improve your work performance dramatically.

More Tips on Improving Work Performance

Featured photo credit: Bruce Mars via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

I Don’t Know What to Do With My Life! 5 Steps to Get Unstuck 10 Things You Can Do Now to Change Your Life Forever What It Really Means to Seize the Day success and failure quotes 30 Powerful Success and Failure Quotes That Will Lead You to Success 8 Powerful Mood Boosters to Lift Your Mood And Energy

Trending in Smartcut

1 How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day 2 How to Start Delegating Tasks Effectively (Step-by-Step Guide) 3 27 Strategies to Achieve Your Goals Fast 4 A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success 5 22 Best Habit Tracking Apps You Need in 2020

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 22, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed, and exhausted. Therefore, if you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, it’s time to do something about it.

Here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm, leaving you calmer, in control, and a lot less stressed at work.

1. Write Everything Down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when work feels overwhelming is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s occupying your thoughts[1].

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind, write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind.”

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will help you stop feeling overwhelmed at work. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have emptied your head, go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

Advertising

As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. You can learn how to create a more meaningful to-do list here.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago to help when work feels overwhelming. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and we humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take[2]:

When feeling overwhelmed at work, use Parkinson's Law.

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad. It’s more wishful thinking than bad judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage when we’re feeling overwhelmed at work. If you have estimated that to write five important emails will take ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is that you put yourself under a little time pressure, and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

    Advertising

    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time, so it plays tricks on us, and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our team members to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening, and we get more focused and more work done. This will help when work feels overwhelming.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos to avoid getting overwhelmed at work. Schedule time for each task, especially high priority tasks, while also grouping together similar tasks. This will help relieve stress and anxiety in your daily work life.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done, and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer, and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one[3]. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend, or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

    Advertising

    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss or a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away and will only make you feel more overwhelmed at work. You need to make a decision to deal with it, and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved.

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed, and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend about the problem.

    He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem, and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I pay a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first was: don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second: there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we are feeling overwhelmed at work (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    Advertising

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

    It also means that, rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible, and you can make decisions about what to do about them.

    Often, it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be that you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    When work feels overwhelming, it’s not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work. It can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    It’s easy to feel like you have too much on your plate, but there are things you do to make it more manageable. 

    Make a decision, even if it’s just talking to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution.

    When you follow these strategies, you can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Josefa nDiaz via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next