Four Ways to Get Better at Your Job Right Away: Stepping Up to Boost Your Productivity

“Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy.”–Saadi, ancient Persian poet.

It should go without saying that one of your primary goals as an employee is to improve at your job, and most of us set out to build toward peak performance using time-tested, long-term methods that produce over time. We’ve all heard about the 10,000-hour rule, and how it gradually lifts us toward expert status; and you’ve probably seen it at work in your own career. I certainly have. Most improvements are gradual like this.

That said, there are things you can do today that will noticeably improve your productivity within 24 hours, if not right away (← click to tweet). They’re not magic—just common-sense ideas you may have lost track of as you hustled to get your job done. And while these tactics may not have as great an effect on your productivity as your long-term efforts, they’ll push you further up the productivity slope.

Taking Back Your Productivity

Let’s take a quick look at four easy productivity tips. You may be surprised at how basic some of them are—but they work.

1. Get some sleep. In a world where we’re constantly on the go, there’s only so much time available for work and all the other things we have to do. Therefore, many of us encroach on a time-block we mistakenly believe is at least partially optional: sleep. It’s not unusual for busy professionals to get five hours of sleep or less per night as we try to keep up. Don’t. A sleep deficit leaves you fuzzy-minded, less intelligent, and less creative, and it can be dangerous in some situations. You’ll get more done and have to repeat less if you’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed all day. A good night’s sleep can make a big difference.

2. Clean up and organize. An hour spent organizing your physical and electronic files, as well as office supplies, your desk, and your office in general, may result in an hour’s saved time the next day alone. Your goal should be to find the resources you need within less than a minute, rather than spending 20 minutes figuring out which pile you’ve put something in. While you’re at it, implement my 6-D Information Management System. Apply one of six actions starting with a “D” to every bit of information that comes your way: Discard what you can live without; Delegate it to someone else; Do it now, if it takes just a few minutes; Date it, putting it off until you have time for it; Drawer or store it if you don’t use it but can’t toss it; or Deter it by ensuring you no longer receive the information.

3. Think like your manager. If you can adopt your supervisor’s mindset and his or her favorite form of communication, you’re less likely to make errors based on assumptions or different styles. If you can’t establish how they think based on observation, request a brief appointment, and ask them directly about how they do things. Then organize your task lists, priorities, and responses based on what is needed from you first.

4. Stop trying to multitask. There’s a 97% chance you can’t do it well. Most of us function best by committing totally to one task at a time, while blocking all distractions until we’re done. Moving back and forth from one thing to another keeps you constantly confused as you switch gears.

Managing Yourself

Adopting these and other basic time-management techniques will keep your feet firmly on the productivity road, helping you boost your performance in ways both small and large even as you work your way up the learning curve of the harder, long-term productivity techniques. Keep it up, and in time, you’ll hit the master level where it all becomes easy—an indicator that it’s time to start stretching yourself toward the next plateau of productivity. Like all the best journeys, there’s no preset destination. Whenever you get where you’re going, just set a new goal.

Want to be even more productive?

If you liked these 4 tips, you’ll love our 30-Day productivity challenge! Each day you’ll receive a short video along with a worksheet to help you step up your productivity game. Topics cover all manners of productivity using Laura’s unique P-R-O-D-U-C-T-I-V-E Model™ and are a great way to start the new year on the right foot!. Ideal for leaders, managers, high-achievers, or any individual looking to tackle their personal productivity goals. Click here for more information.

© 2017 Laura Stack. Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on employee and team productivity. She is the president of The Productivity Pro, Inc., a company dedicated to helping leaders increase workplace performance in high-stress environments. Stack has authored seven books, including Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (January 18, 2016). She is a past president of the National Speakers Association, and in 2015 was inducted into its exclusive Speaker Hall of Fame (with fewer than 175 members worldwide). Stack’s clients include Cisco Systems, Wal-Mart, and Bank of America, and she has been featured on the CBS Early Show and CNN, and in the New York Times. To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401 or visit her website.