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8 Ways To Keep Your Career Skills Useful And Fresh

8 Ways To Keep Your Career Skills Useful And Fresh

It’s really easy to get behind on the newest trends in your field. Some careers demand constant refreshing due to updates in technology and information, while others evolve more slowly. Identifying how often and how much your career field changes is the easy part, however. Actually keeping up is the hard bit. But never fear! Here are eight ways to keep your skills up to date.

1. Stick with your skill set.

There is a difference between staying with one particular skill set and sticking to an old version of that skill set. Don’t refresh yourself on skills that you don’t really use that often. Identify what you work on specifically and try to stay within that. You’ll want to keep the scope of skills that need updating small. That way, it’s easier to manage.

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2. Make a plan.

You’ll need to make a plan for how to update your skills. With work and everything else going on in your life, it’s important to schedule your refreshers into your routine. Once you’ve scheduled it, you’re more likely to actually get it done.

3. Surround yourself with positive people.

There will always be a group of people at any given job that won’t believe in updating their skills. Some professionals are simply old fashioned and don’t believe their skills need updating. Others choose to forgo refreshers because they think it’s a sign of weakness. Make sure that you surround yourself with people who feel the same way that you do. It’s helpful to have a support system.

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4. Learn by observation.

It’s possible that the people around you might know things that you don’t. Ask others what they’re doing or what they think about a particular problem at work. You might just learn something new without ever having to leave the office. Take advantage of the opportunities around you.

5. Stay focused.

Try not to get distracted by other things at work. It’s hard to keep freshening your skills, so make it as easy on yourself as possible. Don’t attempt to do too many things at once, because that will just leave less attention for each thing on your plate. Pace yourself and focus on one thing at a time. Use your schedule to guide you.

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6. Take classes.

There are a lot of classes available for professionals looking to update and improve their skills. There’s no shame in needing a little extra guidance. Plus, classes are great because you’re guaranteed feedback from the instructor. That way, you know you’re on the right track. If you don’t have enough time to take a full course on the subject, consider signing up for a conference or seminar. You can get a ton of information in just a few days (or only one).

7. Catch up on your news.

Often, trends in different fields make the news. Check up on print and online sources for the newest information in your career field. It’s a great way to quickly learn about new ideas in the area without committing to something long term. It’s also something you can do in your free time or as a leisure activity.

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8. Practice.

If you encounter something new that you’d like to try or research, go for it. Learning by doing is one of the most effective ways you can update your skills. Whether this means testing out a new software, experimenting with a modern management style, or practicing a new piece of music, tailor it to your interests and have fun with it. Just because it’s work, doesn’t mean it has to be…work!

Featured photo credit: Mo Riza via flickr.com

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Maggie Heath

Maggie is a passionate writer who blogs about communication and lifestyle on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.

How on earth do you get out of that spiral?

Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.

So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:

1. Improve Your Time Management Skills

Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.

For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.

Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.

“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery

2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts

These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!

This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!

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But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.

For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.

There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.

3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools

It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.

Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.

4. Use Your Phone Wisely

Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.

If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.

5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs

If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.

In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.

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One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.

6. Use a “To Don’t” List

We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.

But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.[1]

Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.

7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia

When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.

Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson

And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.

8. Be Concise

Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.

One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,”[2] which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

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Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:

  • Making new contacts
  • Talking about yourself at a job interview
  • Meeting people at conferences or parties
  • Phone calls to new clients

9. Ask the Right Questions

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz

How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.

When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.

Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions.[3] When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

10. Learn as Much as You Can

You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.

Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

11. Look After Your Greatest Resource

No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.

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If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.[4]

Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.

12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder

As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.[5]

But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!

The Bottom Line

The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.

Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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