Top Five Ways to Improve Your Work Performance

Career or business growth is usually linked to work performance. In today’s fast-paced professional landscape, you need to continuously improve yourself in order to stay ahead of the competition. Whether you’re seeking career advancement, own a business, or are new to the workforce, you need to take actionable steps to develop a work strategy that allows you to perform optimally. In this article, I discuss six proven ways to improve your work performance. 

Set Clear and Realistic Goals

Going with the flow or seeing how things go is a recipe for poor work performance. Goals give you specific targets that you can work towards. This helps you focus on what is important and this way, you can channel your efforts towards your objectives. 

Good goals share five characteristics:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based

For instance, if you are a freelance writer, rather than aiming to write a lot of articles, give yourself a specific target and a time frame. So, you could aim to write a particular number of articles weekly. What this does is that it gives you something tangible to work towards. This allows you to plan and strategize on how best to achieve your aim. 

While setting your goals, you need to take your capacity, strengths, weaknesses, and limitations into consideration so that you do not overwhelm yourself with immoderate expectations. 

Differentiate between short and long-term goals and set them accordingly. You should also review and modify your goals in line with changes in your organization and professional dynamic. 

Break Down Goals and Projects into Milestones

Jumping head-first into a project can leave you overwhelmed in no time. For optimal performance, break down projects into milestones with specific timeframes. This makes it easier to keep track of what has been done and what needs to be done. 

After a long day at work, I’ve heard people complain that it didn’t seem like they got any work done, although they worked for hours non-stop. This often leaves people frustrated and reduces their energy levels. 

Rather than tackling a huge project, you should divide it into milestones and focus on finishing one milestone at a time. For instance, if there are five milestones, you’ll know that you have four more steps to go once you are done with one. Completing a milestone lets you know that you are making tangible progress and energizes you to tackle the next task. 

Another advantage of dividing projects into dated milestones is that it increases your chances of completing the project on time. 

Prioritize Tasks According to Order of Importance or Urgency

You could be a dedicated worker and it wouldn’t reflect in your performance because you are unable to prioritize urgent and important tasks. Prioritizing allows you to focus your efforts on what matters most. 

People approach projects differently. Some like to start with the most difficult tasks, while others like to perform the easiest tasks first. While this is great, you need to consider deadlines and the impact each task has on the overall success of the project.

It’s very easy to get overwhelmed with a project, especially if tasks are not properly organized. Prioritizing helps you identify high-priority tasks so that you do not waste your time working on projects that are not time-sensitive or do not add much value to the success of the project. 

Prioritizing also helps you manage your time properly. It allows you to focus on the most urgent tasks, thus reducing the risk of missing deadlines. 

It’s recommended that you use project management software tools like Trello, Asana, ClickUp, and airfocus to manage tasks. While it’s great to use a calendar to keep track of project deadlines, project management tools provide a visual representation of your projects and help you organize tasks more efficiently. 

Avoid multitasking

The ability to multitask is an exceptional skill and is required for most jobs. However, multitasking involves juggling multiple tasks at a time. Thus, it would be impossible to give each task your hundred percent. A study by the American Psychological Association reveals that multitasking can reduce productivity by up to 40%. 

So, while it might seem like you are getting things done faster, you might actually be slowing yourself down and also reducing the quality of your output. 

A proven way to avoid multitasking is prioritization. Prioritize tasks and stick to the order of prioritization while working. 

Limit distractions

A huge part of time management is proper planning and limited distractions. There are distractions all around us and once your attention gets diverted, it might be difficult to refocus on your task. According to a study by the University of California, Irvin, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to refocus after getting distracted. 

This might seem like a short time, but if you are distracted on multiple occasions, it adds up and makes for a significant amount of time spent on activities that are unrelated to your task. 

Distraction does not only affect your speed, it also affects the quality of your output. Constant interruptions disrupt your thought process and workflow. This can lead to errors and hampered creativity.

The first step to minimizing distraction is to identify the source(s). It could be your mobile device, noise from your coworkers, or even desk clutter. Next, make conscious efforts to get rid of or limit your exposure to distracting agents. For instance, if your phone is the primary distracting agent, you could switch it off, put it on silent mode, or place it somewhere you cannot reach easily.