SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / 24 July 2020Soft Skills: Why They are Harder Than You Think and How You Can Acquire Them
Unless you’re one of the very lucky few people who has never had problems with their focus and productivity, chances are you have had days that have ended with the feeling that you didn’t really do much. If you’re as conscientious as me, such days feel like an absolute waste and leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. If you’re one of those people that subscribe to the maxim that time is money, then you probably want to make the most out of your time, which means you want to be as productive as you can every day.
Most of the time, it doesn’t even have to do with your planning. You probably drafted a solid plan for the day ahead of you; you might even have done it the night before. You had solid goals for the day and lay out the tasks you were supposed to carry out to accomplish those goals so that your day was well decked out. The problem is that, at the end of the day, you find that not only did you not complete your tasks or accomplish the goals you set out to accomplish but you also ended up with more on your to-do list than you had at the start.
It doesn’t matter how much time you have on your hands; time management and how to boost your productivity are important skills you need to learn. Whoever you are, you have the same 24 hours every day that everyone else has. How you manage those 24 hours is crucial to your success in whatever you set out to achieve.
That said, here are some tips that will help you become more productive at work.
Drop the Multitasking Habit
Multitasking is overrated; it really is. You will often feel the temptations to do a lot of things concurrently. You might even be proud of yourself when you can check your email, write that report, and schedule your meetings for tomorrow, all at the same time. Multitasking has gotten so in vogue that it is not uncommon for some candidates at interviews to tout the ability to multitask as one of their skills.
The interesting thing about this phenomenon is that, as much as many of us like to say we can do it, it is actually impossible for a human being to multitask. What really happens is you spend a little bit of time doing one thing, then quickly jump to the next and spend a little bit of time doing it then do a back and forth between the two, all the while fooling yourself that you are doing both at the same time.
The problem is that your attention will be divided between the multiple tasks you are trying to carry out and you won’t do as good a job as you would have done had you given each task your full attention. If you really want to complete your tasks faster and do them in the best way you possibly could then focus on them, one at a time. You’ll be surprised at how much work you get done.
Breaks are good for you
The idea sold to us by society at large is that working long hours without taking breaks is the key to getting a lot of work done. That’s simply not true. The human body does not have an infinite store of energy, and our work tends to decline in quality when we’re burned out.
Taking a break is actually good for you and will boost both your mood and your ability to concentrate. Those little 5-minute breaks really do help. Try to intersperse your work hours with as many such breaks as you can.
For every one hour of work you do, take a 5-10 minute break and get your productivity juices replenished. You can even take longer breaks after working very long hours, like a half hour break to grab some coffee in the afternoon. You’ll see a drastic increase in your productivity that way.
Brent from Debt & Cupcakes gave his advice saying:
“If you're able to take a 5-10 minute break every hour, you'll find a deeper focus during the remaining 50-55 minutes. It's similar to physical interval training, but for your mind and work. Set a schedule and stick to it. Hours and hours of computer work will not only make you miserable, but your work will also suffer.”
Break your Goals down
We all love to set lofty goals for ourselves, and there’s really nothing wrong with that. They motivate us to do more and be more. They are the guiding lights that show us the way to greatness. And yet the truth is that sometimes just looking at our goals can leave us feeling intimidated. That intimidation can lead to stress when we contemplate the stress that comes with trying to achieve those goals.
The trick to getting over this hurdle is to break those goals down into smaller, more manageable goals. That way you feel like you have more control over the process of actually achieving those goals.
Don’t leave that gargantuan goal whole in your notebook. Rather than leave it at “land big client,” try to break it down into smaller tasks that you can carry out day to day and even hour to hour to eventually snag that golden client you want. Smashing those little goals keeps you motivated and builds up nicely into the achievement of that one big goal.
One way to keep track of your goals is to first write them in your schedule. Mikaila Turman, VP of people at GoodHire said that:
“Excellent time management skills are key to being productive. However, if you’re challenged to find time to finish projects or are distracted by competing priorities, block scheduling can be really helpful. Block scheduling can help you allocate part of your day to focus on accomplishing priority tasks. Use your calendar to block off the hours you need to work on a specific project and let others on your team know that, unless it’s urgent, you’re not available for calls or meetings during this time”
Do the Hard Work at your Peak
Many of us like to put away the hard stuff because we are intimidated by them and instead start with the little things. By the time we’re done with those little tasks, we’re so tired that the hard stuff looks even harder than it did when we started. The problem is that most of the time the hard stuff is also the important stuff.
The first step is to understand yourself, and how you work so you know when you’re most alert. We all have limited willpower reserves to carry us through the day, and we should use it as efficiently as we can. Some people are most alert in the morning; others are most alert in the evening; the rest are most alert somewhere in-between.
Whatever your peak times are, do your biggest tasks then. Alternatively, try to outsource the little tasks that aren’t that important and let someone else worry about them, especially if they involve a lot of writing. Writing services like EssayMama, Edu Birdie, and assignmentholic.co.uk can help handle your essays, reports, emails, and other jobs easily for you so that you can focus on what matters.
Don’t neglect your Health
You are what you eat, so you should be very particular about the kind of food you allow into your system. The food you eat has great implications for how well your brain performs and can even make you more productive.
For starters, stay as far away as you can from junk food because it decreases your productivity. Try to stick to more wholesome and nutritionally balanced foods. Your body will thank you for it.
Ultimately, productivity isn’t about the big changes you make; rather it’s about the little ones. Take those little steps to improve yourself, and you will reap big rewards from it all. You can also check out Prosky for more tips on being productive!
Kurt Walker is a prolific writer and editor and has worked as an essay and copywriter for services like edugeeksclub, college-paper, and Ninja Essays over a span of 5 years. He is also a professional journalist that focuses on topics like productivity, inspiration, technology, and education.