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How to Be More Productive at Work

Updated on February 8, 2018
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Sally is a business communications coach who gives workshops on how to keep your professional reputation squeaky-clean and drama-free.

Do you know what it takes to improve your chances of getting a pay raise? It starts by learning how to increase your on-the-job performance and productivity.

How to Increase Your Productivity and Performance at Work
How to Increase Your Productivity and Performance at Work

Signs that tell your boss you’re a productive employee:

  • You are polite and courteous to everyone no matter who they are. From the janitor to the CEO of the company, you treat people with respect.
  • Your boss hears good things about you from other people without even being asked.
  • You aren’t a pushover. Showing that you can assert yourself sends a message that you manage your time well and won’t get sidetracked.
  • You delegate tasks well in advance of deadlines so that there is no last minute scramble to get a project done.
  • You listen to your boss’s feedback thoughtfully and ask appropriate questions that help you clarify goals and objectives.

Improving your performance and productivity at work can give your organization a boost. It will also improve your own on-the-job satisfaction. People who do well at work tend to get better performance reviews, strong letters of reference, and higher pay. High-performers also tend to be very self-confident because they get consistent feedback about how well they’re doing. They are frequently acknowledged for the valuable contribution they’re making to the organization.

If you want to be a model employee, ask yourself this question: Would you hire yourself if the payroll was coming out of your pocket? If the answer isn't a resounding yes, then try a few of these suggestions for how to improve your performance at work.

Be a source of positive energy. Although we hear this over and over again, staying positive is the key to your career success. Positive energy is magnetic. It draws people to you. And that means you’ll have more people around you willing to help you achieve your goals. People want to be around other people who always have good things to say. Productive and high-performing employees are the ones who find solutions rather than create problems. Negativity slows down your work performance and makes the day drag on.

Be a social butterfly, but listen more than you talk. Being sociable at work is not only good for your mood, it will strengthen your conversational skills and give you valuable information about other people's skills and interests. Networking improves your productivity at work because if ever there’s a problem you can’t solve on your own, you’ll have a vast Rolodex of people with diverse skills you can call on for support.

Dress for success. People who take pride in their appearance send a strong message about who they are. You don’t need to go out and buy a new wardrobe of the latest trendy styles, but you do need to make sure that the clothes you wear look good on you. Keep clothes fresh and well-cared for. Dress as if the media could show up at any moment to do an interview at your workplace. Be mindful of how body art (nose rings, lip rings, and tattoos) might affect how people perceive you. Yes, it would be nice to work in a world where we weren’t judged for how we express ourselves. But if you want to do well on the job, maintaining a professional appearance at all times is essential. Leave the flip flops, spaghetti straps, and spandex at home and wear it on your time off.

Always be on time. Being late for work or showing up after a meeting has already started is not only inconsiderate of your co-workers needs, you could be missing out on vital information that you need to perform your job correctly. Don’t be that irritating person in the meeting who asks a question about something that has already been covered (but you missed it because you were late!).

Take care of your health. If you want to maximize your productivity at work, make good health a top priority. Get plenty of rest. Stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet of wholesome, nutrient-rich foods. Exercise regularly (walking to work is a great way to increase your daily exercise). Find a healthy balance between your mental, emotional, and family needs and your need to make a good living.

Address difficult issues as they arise. Don’t let disagreements or hurt feelings fester in the workplace. If your boss yelled at you and you’ve been left feeling dazed and confused, find a way to address it as quickly as possible. Find ways to move past the hurt feelings so that you can focus on the job at hand.

Look for creative ways to update your skills. When it comes to improving output at work, many people often focus on developing more of the skills that they already have. Some people also tend to go for things that will look good on a resume. For example, if you’re job is to manage publicity for your organization, you might think that taking professional writing courses will improve your press release productivity and boost your career credentials. Maybe they will. But is writing press releases really what is slowing you down? Or is it something else? For example, perhaps the problem isn’t your writing; perhaps it’s how you are managing your database of media contacts. Are you missing key media opportunities because your contacts are disorganized? If so, then improving your writing skills won’t solve the problem. But perhaps a night course in spreadsheets and database management will help.

A positive attitude makes all the difference in how well you perform at your job.
A positive attitude makes all the difference in how well you perform at your job.

Interesting study on work spaces and productivity: Maybe it's not you, may it's your office layout that is preventing you from maximizing your productivity at work. Researchers have conducted studies that challenge the efficiency of open concept office spaces. It turns out that working in an open office lowers employees' productivity and impacts their job satisfaction. If you work in an office concept office and don't have a place to find a bit of peace and quiet, you may find that working from home is a solution. But you'll have to convince your boss first that you'll be able to get more done at home.

You can read more about the findings here: Open Offices Bad for Productivity, Study Finds.

Do you want to increase your productivity at work? Then make sure you are a team player! Collaborate with others. Delegate effectively. Be a positive team player.
Do you want to increase your productivity at work? Then make sure you are a team player! Collaborate with others. Delegate effectively. Be a positive team player.

Here are some quick tips on how to improve your networking skills so that you can let the higher-ups know you're ready for the spotlight!

  • Ask people what you can do to help them reach a goal they’ve shared with you. Then, make sure you follow through on the offer to help. If you don’t have the skills or qualifications to help them at the moment, don’t say you can’t do it. Think of someone you know who can help them and then offer to connect them.
  • If someone gives you an innovative idea during your conversation, tell them you think their suggestion is brilliant. Ask them if you can use it in your next project. Offer to give them full credit for the idea. By showing that you're not afraid to share the spotlight with others, you'll create an aura of quiet confidence all around you. Generally speaking, people are more willing to work with folks who can be trusted not to copy their ideas and steal the credit.
  • Stay in touch with new and old contacts, even when you don’t want or need anything from them.

Planning is a key component to being more productive at work.
Planning is a key component to being more productive at work.

What do you think is the most valuable thing you bring to your current job?

See results

Video Inspiration: Why happiness is the new productivity.

© 2013 Sally Hayes

What other things help you perform well at work?

Submit a Comment
  • artdivision profile image

    Art Division 

    7 years ago from London

    Great tips! A positive attitude is really key when it comes to working well and productively.


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