Whether you’re just starting out in your career or already a manager in charge of a team, constantly improving your work performance will help you rise higher up the corporate ladder and achieve success in your professional and personal life.
In this guide, we’ll share seven crucial tips to help you improve your work performance. We’ll also share additional resources, including tools, online courses, and books that will help you take your work performance to the next level.
Let’s jump in!
The 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, states that 80% of your results are driven by 20% of your action. For instance, if you’re an entrepreneur, you might have noticed that 80% of your income comes from just 20% of your clients.
According to the 80/20 rule, most of your actions don’t drive any significant results. Therefore, the key to improving your work performance is identifying the 20% of actions that drive the most results and focusing on them.
Meanwhile, you should also delegate or eliminate the 80% that don’t drive significant results. Doing this allows you to achieve more while doing less.
Action Tip: Write down all the tasks you need to complete in a day or week and identify the tasks with the biggest impact. Prioritize these tasks, and develop a plan to reduce or transfer tasks that don’t have much impact.
If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning – Mark Twain.
The wisdom behind this inspirational quote by Mark Twain is that when you have a difficult thing to do, it’s advisable to do it as soon as possible. This way, it becomes easier for you to handle anything else that comes your way since you’ve already overcome the biggest challenge you’ll ever face.
At the workplace, frogs are big, challenging but important tasks that are not very urgent. Such tasks come with a lot of mental resistance, and a lot of times, we procrastinate until the very last moment. Unfortunately, this often means that we do the task in a rush, which affects our performance on that task.
Instead of pushing your biggest and most challenging tasks to the last minute, a better approach is to handle such tasks first thing every morning. This does two things.
First, completing the big task makes a huge impact and significantly reduces your workload. Second, it sets you up to win. Having completed the biggest task on your to-do list, it becomes easier to work on the other smaller tasks on your to-do list.
Action Tip: Identify the biggest task you need to complete each day, and dedicate the first 2-4 hours to this task. Once you’re done eating your frog, you can then work on other tasks.
Distractions are one of the biggest contributors to reduced work performance. They increase your likelihood of making errors, affect your ability to engage in deep work, and even lead to stress and anxiety.
Some of the common causes of distractions at the workplace include co-workers, your smartphone, pointless meetings, hunger, emails, social media, and a cluttered workspace.
Eliminating or minimizing distractions at work can do wonders for your work performance. According to a Udemy report, reducing workplace distractions made 75% of workers more productive, 57% more motivated to do their best, 51% more confident in performing their jobs, 49% happier at work, and 44% more capable of producing higher quality work.
Action Tip: Avoid unnecessary conversations with coworkers during work hours. Turn off notifications on your phone. Only respond to emails at specific times. Organize and declutter your workspace. Work in a quiet environment.
Most people believe that multitasking helps them achieve more in less time. However, multiple studies have refuted these claims. According to research by Brain Rules author John Medina, multitasking lowers your productivity by 40% while increasing the time it takes to complete a task by 50%.
Multitasking also increases the chances of making errors, lowers your IQ by 15 points, impairs your memory, and can lead to increased stress levels.
Instead of trying to juggle multiple tasks, you can greatly improve your task performance and productivity by simply focusing on one task at a time.
Action Tip: Prioritize your daily tasks by order of importance or urgency, then focus on one task at a time until you complete the task or hit your desired milestone. Only then should you move to another task. Refer to another article: how to improve time management
Automation is another very effective way to improve your workplace performance. Automation simply means using technology to handle mundane and repetitive tasks with minimal human intervention. An example of automation is using chatbots to answer common customer questions.
Automating your tasks improves your workplace performance by freeing up the time you’d have spent on mundane tasks. It also increases efficiency and minimizes error, allowing you to get more done with minimal effort.
Action Tip: Make a list of your regular tasks and processes, and identify those you can automate. After identifying potential automation areas, research tools you can use to automate these tasks.
Picture this: You’re working on an article or a design project when you get an email notification. You leave your article or design project for a moment, read and respond to the email, and then get back to what you were doing.
A couple of minutes later, a colleague brings you a document they want you to sign. Again, you stop what you’re doing, take some time to read through the document, sign it, and then return to your work.
Most people won’t find anything wrong with this. However, switching from one task to another can take your mind as much as 20 minutes to fully focus on what you were doing before. You might not realize it, but this wastes lots of time and decreases your productivity.
Instead of switching from one task to another whenever something comes up, a better approach is to group similar tasks and perform them together. This makes it easier for you to focus on each task since similar tasks require the same kind of mental focus. In addition, you won’t keep getting distracted from what you’re working on.
For example, instead of responding to each email when it comes in, you can wait and respond to multiple emails at the same time.
Action Tip: Break down your day into several periods and dedicate each period to a certain type of task. For instance, you can schedule 8 am to 11 am for deep work, 11 am to 12 noon for calls, 12 to 1 pm for checking and responding to emails, and 2 pm to 4 pm for meetings.
Even if you implement all the tips I’ve shared in this guide so far, you’ll eventually get to a point where you have too much work and not enough time. Once you get here, it’s impossible to improve your performance while doing everything by yourself.
The key to improving your performance beyond this point is to delegate some of your tasks to other people. This frees up your time and allows you to focus on high-impact tasks while still getting all tasks done.
Action Tip: List down your regular tasks and determine which of these can be effectively handled by someone else. Find a person with the right skills to handle these tasks, let them know the required outcomes, and then transfer the responsibility for these tasks to them.
Pointless, ineffective meetings are a great time-waster that contributes to poor performance at work.
Airgram helps you run more efficient and engaging meetings by streamlining the whole process - create meeting agendas collaboratively, time discussions in meetings, transcribe meetings, and take note of action items. Airgram even allows you to record HD videos, which you can share with the stakeholders in the future.
It helps save 1 day every week, isn't this a breakthrough?
Smartphone notifications and social media are huge causes of distractions at work. The Freedom app allows you to block notifications, alerts, and even entire websites, allowing you to focus wholly on your work without worrying about digital distractions.
This innovative productivity app uses music to help you focus on your work. It works by stimulating your cognitive state using music and even allows you to choose different types of music depending on the mental mood you want to create.
RescueTime helps you minimize time wastage and develop strategies to improve your productivity by analyzing how you spend your time. It tracks time spent on different apps and websites and breaks down the activities that take up most of your time.
The PomoDone App runs on top of your current task management app (such as Basecamp, Slack, Trello, or Asana) and allows you to track your flows. It has an interruption shield that blocks websites that cause distractions when working and even notifies your time members that you are in Do Not Disturb mode.
Created by Richard Feenstra, this course teaches you how to become more productive through SMART goal setting. It also teaches you how to assess your progress against your goals. The course consists of ten lectures, with each lecture lasting about 3 minutes.
Productivity Hacks is an audio-based online course that shares the top work habits of 10 of the world’s most successful people, including Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, Arianna Huffington, Howard Schultz, Marissa Mayer, and Oprah Winfrey. The course has ten audio lessons lasting 5 minutes each.
This is another audio-based online course that teaches you 18 useful ideas and tools to help you achieve more in your life and work while working less. The course has 18 audio lessons of 5 minutes each.
Creating a productivity system is one of the most effective ways of boosting your performance. This course teaches you how to develop your own productivity system, allowing you to spend more time getting work done instead of organizing and planning. The course is delivered through email over ten days.
In this course, William U. Peña teaches you how to manage time by focusing on high-value tasks that deliver the highest return on your invested time and effort. The course consists of 9 lectures taking about 5-7 minutes.
Author: Morten T. Hansen
This book explores seven productivity practices common to most top performers in the corporate space. It also offers self-assessment tools that help you tap into your unique abilities and boost your performance.
Author: Charles Duhigg
The author examines eight key productivity concepts and explains how you can implement these concepts to make better decisions, set goals, manage other people, and keep yourself motivated.
Author: Cal Newport
In this book, Cal Newport shares ideas on how you can do away with distractions and get into a state of deep work that allows you to unlock optimal productivity and excel in your work.
Author: Brian Tracy
This book shares interesting ideas on how to overcome procrastination and achieve the greatest impact in your life and work by focusing on getting the right things done.
Author: Peter Drucker
Drucker teaches you how to streamline your productivity by eliminating things that don’t matter and, at the same time, teaches you how to break habits that keep you from reaching your highest potential.
Ranee has worked in the SaaS industry for nearly ten years. She loves working with, learning from, and helping develop effective leaders and is willing to share her thoughts through words. Outside of work, you can find her dancing, hiking in the mountains, or reading in a cafe.