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How to Make Yourself More Efficient and Maximize Your Skills

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Managing your time in the workplace can be difficult sometimes. Quite often, your typical work day will not allow for you to have enough time to get everything done.

In order to remedy this situation, you need to take positive steps towards improving your abilities so that you can be more productive and accomplish an even greater amount of tasks during the day.

The first thing you need to do is identify all of the areas where you may need improvement in order to become more efficient.

Here are the fundamental basics you need to consider:

  • Scheduling
  • Ergonomics
  • Communication
  • Skill Development

Scheduling

Scheduling is planning your activities, so you can complete your tasks within a reasonable amount of time.

It allows you to increase the number of things you can accomplish during the day and makes it possible for you to improve your ability to make room for appointments and upcoming events in the weeks ahead.

Activity and Routine

Identify tasks

First and foremost, you need figure out the tasks and assignments that are the most important to your work. You need to be honest with yourself and select the things that will benefit your career.

Ideally, if you have chosen the right career path, then the things that are the most fun will also be the things that will help you get ahead with your goals and expectations.

Develop a routine

Next, you need to develop a routine based on the time you have available and the time it takes to complete the things you need to do. After that, you should figure out how you should plan for each hour, each day, and each week.

You need to schedule your calendar by combining these factors into the most sensible arrangement for your particular situation.

Taking these steps can revolutionize both the quality and amount of your productivity. Of course, you will probably have to adjust this schedule until it works perfectly for you.

Once your routine becomes more permanent, you should notice improvements in your efficiency. Developing a steady routine is crucial for success.

Prioritize

One of the more popular methods of determining the levels of priority of any task involves two things: urgency and importance. By using these two concepts, you can place your tasks into one of four distinct categories.

This system has several names but is usually referred to as either the Eisenhower matrix or the ABCD matrix:

  • A. When something is both urgent and important, then do it immediately.
  • B. Whenever anything is important and not urgent, then figure out when you can do it.
  • C. Whenever something is urgent but not important, then it should be delegated.
  • D. Whenever anything is neither urgent nor important, then remove it from your to-do list.

You can use this system to better determine what level of priority you should assign to your various tasks; however, it should only be used as a general guideline and not as a strict set of unbending rules.

Daily and Weekly Schedules

Daily schedule

Your daily schedule is important because there are certain things you do better during different times of the day. There are also many other things to consider, like appointments, exercise, meals, and sleep.

You also need to carefully schedule your breaks at strategic times during the day, so you can avoid overworking yourself and stressing your physical and mental systems beyond their limits.

Weekly schedule

Your weekly schedule is just as important because it overlaps your daily schedule and will determine the effectiveness of your overall output. There are certain things you can do on different days of the week, and this includes weekends.

You may want to pack your weekends full of work that is not urgent and has only a small amount of importance but would still give you benefits that would improve your situation.

Leisure time

You don’t have to have to relax and indulge in leisurely activities during your vacation time, holidays, or weekends if you don’t want to.

You can use your spare time to catch up on things that have importance and/or urgency so that you can begin the new week with a fresh start and not have to worry about the things you didn’t complete in the previous week.

The main thing to remember is that your overall schedule needs to remain somewhat flexible, so you can deal with emergencies and unexpected events.

Now that we have discussed the main aspects of scheduling, let us examine the various features of ergonomics…

Ergonomics

The science of ergonomics increases efficiency by helping you find better ways to enhance your comfort and safety. It also suggests techniques that help you reduce the amount and intensity of any errors that you might make.

Ergonomics does this by concentrating on the interaction between you and the various components of your workspace.

We will now deal with the following aspects of ergonomics: the organization of your workspace and the environment around it.

Organizing Your Workspace

Having everything in its proper place is vital. Whenever you have to search for any item you may need throughout the workday, you lose valuable time, and if your setup is not perfectly placed, your posture may suffer.

So let’s take a look at the various aspects of organizing your workspace, so you can identify any adjustments that might need to be made.

In this section, we will discuss the following items:


Desk height

First, let’s start with getting the right desk height. You should be able to type to type with your arms parallel to the floor while your feet are flat on the floor. The height of your desk will also determine the height of your chair.

Chair requirements

You need to have a chair that has adjustable height options. You also need to make sure your chair has lumbar support, a comfortable seat depth, and armrests that allow you to keep your arms parallel to the floor without having to hunch your shoulders.

Your chair should also be made of a material that you prefer, whether that be leather, fabric, or mesh. You may also want to consider a chair with a high back design.

Monitor placement

Your monitor should be 18 to 42 inches in front of you, and the top line of the screen should be just below eye level. If the glare from a window is causing difficulty then you should place your monitor perpendicular to the window.

A monitor elevation stand may come in handy if you want to take a few “standing up breaks” during the day. These sort of breaks allow you to stand up and remain productive at your screen, so you don’t have to sit for extended periods of time.

Keyboard and Mouse

The keyboard and mouse should be close enough to your body so you can hold your elbows comfortably by your sides, preventing strain on your shoulders.

You should also get a keyboard and mouse that are right for your size requirements. Comfort is the key, and if your equipment is too big or too small, you may have difficulties.

Remove Clutter

The surface of your desk should be free of clutter, and all of the physical items you will need throughout the day should be with arm’s reach.

Place only the things that you need every day on the surface of your desk. Everything else should go in your desk drawers, so you can get to these things without having to stand up or walk around.

Environment

Having a good working environment is critical and will allow you to operate with more efficiency. There are several things you should consider when you are taking steps to improve the atmosphere of your workspace.

These are the things that need your attention:

Lighting

The quality of lighting in your workspace will affect you on many different levels. Not enough light can cause eye strain, and too much light can raise your levels of stress. You should experiment with different levels of light so you can figure out what works the best for you.

Many people prefer natural light over artificial light because some experts claim that these types of light sources will improve your mood and increase your ability to concentrate.

This is why you may want to consider experimenting with natural sources of light in order to see if they give you any sort of benefit.

Plants

Another way to make your workspace more enjoyable is to add a plant or two. Some psychologists claim that plants may give a creativity boost for certain individuals.

However, it really isn’t necessary to have a scientific reason to have plants in your office. Just having them around is so pleasant that you should seriously consider adding them to your workspace, even if it’s just for fun and entertainment.

Temperature

Everybody has different preferences, so you should experiment with your temperature levels, so you can find the best setting for your work environment.

You may prefer the thermostat at 74 degrees, or you may do better at 68 degrees. Just keep adjusting until you find the sweet spot that really allows you to take off and get a ton of work done without having to take quite so many breaks.

Sound and music

There are some people who work very well when they hear certain kinds of music, and there are others who are far more productive when they can work in absolute silence. There are also individuals who prefer nature sounds like rainforest and ocean soundscapes.

Whatever you like the best, do it. If you share a workspace with others, you can always wear earphones or earplugs. You could also take turns listening to each other’s favorite tunes. Who knows? Maybe you’ll discover a new musical artist that you really enjoy.

If you’re interested in making extra money listening to music, check out our article about getting paid to listen to music online.

Volume

It is also important to remember that volume plays a huge role, and music that is too loud may distract you or add to your stress levels in a negative way. Sometimes, turning down the volume could do wonders for your productivity or vice versa.

Color

Color affects your moods and emotions. You can adjust many subtle psychological and aesthetic elements in your work area by merely shifting or changing colors of various physical objects as well as the items on your computer screen, including the screen color itself.

For instance, maybe you would like your computer screen to match the color of your curtains, or maybe you would like your desk and chair to match your filing cabinets. Find out what works for you, and you will have a more positive work environment.

Communication

You need to improve your communication skills so that you may become a more efficient worker. By increasing your communication skills, you will improve many things, including better relations with coworkers, managers, and clients.

You will also create more opportunities for your business, increase the probability of closing deals, and be more successful at satisfying your customers.

Here are the main areas of communication that need to be analyzed and developed:

  • Availability
  • Effectiveness
  • Listening

Availability

You need to always be available. This means using notification alerts and constantly checking your mail and messages.

Don’t ever go for too long a period of time without making sure you have checked everything, so you can respond immediately to any communication or notification you receive.

You should already be doing this, and if you are not, then you are shooting yourself in the foot because you never want anyone to wait too long before they hear back from you. Delayed responses can cost you sales and cause you to miss opportunities.

Increasing the Effectiveness of Your Messages and Responses

Perfect writing abilities

Your language skills need to be flawless. If you cannot create an error-free message or response, then you must absolutely take training courses and practice until your grammar and syntax are perfect.

In the meantime, you should delegate your writing tasks to someone who does have good language skills.

Poorly written prose will greatly decrease the effectiveness of your messages and cause a large number of people to downgrade you as an ineffective communicator.

Focus on the recipient

One of the biggest mistakes made by a lot of people is that they do not concentrate on the needs of those with whom they communicate. Instead, they focus on themselves, and this is a foolish thing to do in almost every circumstance.

By focusing on the recipients of your messages, you create stronger bonds between them and you because they know you are willing to consider their needs before yours, and this can be a very important factor when they are ready to make a decision.

They are far more likely to respond positively to your requests if they feel like you are legitimately concerned with their welfare and not just going through the motions.

Listening

This is a weakness with many people. Most people just don’t know how to listen. This is because most people do not care. They have not developed the sensitivities required to understand the subtleties of what other people are telling them.

If you don’t listen, then you should begin to do so. In addition, you need to develop your empathic sensibilities, so you can sense the wants and needs of others. Learning how to do this will also enhance your sensitivities in many other areas.

Maximizing Your Skills

You have a certain number of skills, and they are invaluable to your career. That’s why you should take your existing set of skills and find what needs to be improved and see if there are any new skills you should consider learning that would complement your existing skill set.

Once you have pinpointed the exact areas of improvement that need your focus, there are three simple steps that you need to take, so you can improve your unique set of skills:

  1. Learn
  2. Train
  3. Repeat

By constantly performing these steps in their proper order, you can add extra layers of experience, knowledge, and expertise to the skills you already possess.

Learn

Always be learning. This is the golden key of wisdom passed down from generation to generation over the centuries. There is always something new to discover.

There are many sources where you can gain more information about a skill. You can learn from books written by masters of a skill, or you can learn directly from an expert who possesses more expertise and proficiency in the skill than you have.

Generally, a combination of these two things will produce the best results.

Separate the wheat from the chaff

One thing you need to focus on is your ability to sort the wheat from the chaff. It is critical that you do not waste your time on any irrelevant material that will not provide you with any benefits and only consume your valuable time.

However, this sort of critical thinking and analysis is a skill all by itself, and the quicker you learn how to use it, the more time you will have to spend gaining only the relevant knowledge that will genuinely help you.

In order to determine the relevancy of any aspect of information, ask yourself, “Will this particular information truly help me improve my situation or will it be nothing more than mental clutter?”

Oftentimes, there are elements of knowledge that will not be of benefit until you have a certain amount of familiarity and mastery of another aspect of the skill. If this is the case, then save the acquisition of this kind of knowledge until you are ready for it.

Training

At a certain point, your acquisition of fresh information will enter a stage where you will need to begin applying it. This is where information becomes knowledge that is converted into expertise.

Practice

Usually, it is best to practice and gain experience with new information in a place where there is no pressure, and you can experiment and make errors without any harm being done.

However, this is not always the case, and sometimes, circumstances may not allow you to practice.

If you are thrown immediately into the fire and have to perform professionally with new knowledge you have recently acquired, at least try to exercise prudence and make every attempt to avoid having to rely exclusively on any recent additions to your skills.

Always remember that you still have the strength of what you have already mastered. Sometimes, these aspects of the skills you possess can ride in as members of a heroic cavalry if you should find your new acquisitions of knowledge being surrounded by danger.

As you become comfortable with new acquisitions, you will be better prepared to use them properly in real life situations.

Real life

This is where the real training begins. Once you begin accumulating experience in the real world, the levels of your newly acquired knowledge and expertise will start to expand exponentially.

When you first begin to apply your new expertise on the job, make sure that you have your notes and instructor’s contact information handy in case you run across any problems.

Once you have experience with the newly acquired aspects of your skills, you will eventually enter the zone where you are more attractive as an employee, worker, consultant, advisor, or trainer.

This is why companies looking for new talent are interested in candidates who have actual work experience in a field. This is especially true in the more specialized fields of expertise.

Repeating the Process

Wash, rinse, and repeat. Learn, train, and repeat. This is the continuous cycle that is found in the acquisition of maximizing your skills. Usually, this sequence of events becomes more intuitive once you have performed it multiple times.

Summary

Here are four takeaways for you to remember:

  1. Scheduling – Identify and prioritize your tasks and establish daily and weekly routines.
  2. Ergonomics – Make sure your work tools are within reach and be comfortable.
  3. Communication – Be a professional quality writer who is always available and listens.
  4. Skill Development – Learn, train, and repeat.

Now here is the most important wisdom of all. It has been saved for the very end because it is that important: practice does NOT make perfect, only PERFECT practice makes perfect.

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