At one recent job, my co-workers debated for hours about whether a hot dog is, or is not classified as a sandwich.
In that research, he asked people to check off the character traits of people they find stressful. Lo and behold, they clustered around common personality disorders like narcissistic, borderline, paranoid and antisocial personalities.
Open offices have only exacerbated this trend, says Michael Kerr, business consultant and author of The Humor Advantage. It got me thinking, how can people get out of distracting work conversations without seeming like… well, like a jerk? I have to get this done right now. Wear headphones. People can also bother you in the virtual world!
Maybe you think that you can pop in, offer your salient point about the ballgame then quickly duck out. Probably the most crucial thing that you can do to become more effective at work is to learn how to manage your time.
How to Make the Most of Your Workday
Without this skill, your days will feel like a frantic race, with every project, email, and phone call competing for your attention. Start by looking at your daily schedule. Do you know how you spend your time every day? If not, the answer might surprise you! It can be an eye-opening experience to look at this objectively, especially if you discover that you're spending lots of time on tasks that don't help you meet your objectives.
If you know which jobs are important, and which can be rescheduled or delegated, you'll be able to focus on the work that brings the most value. Being effective at work means you use time to your advantage. Schedule your highest value work for the times of day when you're feeling the most energetic. Our article, Is This a Morning Task? Once you've done a Job Analysis see step 1 , you should have a clear sense of what your role is all about. Use this information to set short and long-term goals. The advantage of doing this is that your goals act as a roadmap — after all, you'll never get anywhere if you don't know where you're going!
If you're disorganized, you can waste a huge amount of time just looking for lost items. Think about just how often we communicate every day. We make phone calls, attend meetings, write emails, give presentations, talk to customers, and so on. We can seem to spend all day communicating with the people around us. This means that you're making a concerted effort to really hear and understand what other people are saying to you.
Don't let yourself become distracted by what's going on around you, and don't plan out what you're going to say next, while the other person is talking. Instead, just listen to what they're saying. You may well be surprised at how much miscommunication can be avoided simply by listening actively. Next, look at your writing skills.
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How well do you communicate in writing? Start with your emails.
Where Do You Do Your Best Work?
Most of us write dozens of emails every day. For instance, always keep to one main topic when writing an email. Putting several important topics in one message will make it difficult for your colleague to prioritize and sort the information. If you do need to bring up several different points, then number them sequentially, or split them into separate messages, with relevant subject headings.
Of course, we do a lot more writing than just email. You'll be more effective in your role if you learn how to communicate better across all these media, and your boss and colleagues are bound to appreciate your skills, since they'll be the main beneficiaries! A little bit of pressure can be a good thing. But when pressure exceeds your ability to cope with it effectively, your productivity goes down, and your mood suffers.
You also lose your ability to make solid, rational decisions; and excessive stress can cause health problems, both in the short and long term. No matter what you do, you'll likely experience stress numerous times throughout your career, perhaps even on a regular basis. It's also important to relax when you get home in the evening. Always follow your organization's dress code. Most companies no longer require employees to wear suits to work, but it's still essential to have a neat and clean appearance. If you're allowed to wear jeans and t-shirts, make sure they're in good condition.
Your shoes should be in good shape as well. You usually can't go wrong if you follow your boss's lead when choosing your work attire. When coworkers respect one another they usually get along better—and few things are more important to a boss than that. No one wants their employees fighting. Always avoid acting in an uncivil manner toward any of your coworkers. Be on time to work, especially if you are relieving someone from their shift. Don't ever take credit for another person's work.
2. Set Maker Time
Always share the workload. Apologize if you ever manage to offend your coworker. When you attend a conference or large business meeting on your employer's behalf, it's your job to make a good impression. It will reflect well on your organization, and your boss will appreciate your efforts. Make sure to bring back information to share with your boss and coworkers if they could not attend the meeting.