Many people work at a dizzying pace, to the point that they feel that they don’t have time to fulfill all their obligations. The rush to finish projects translates into pressure and fatigue. When this happens, you tend to lose your way. You forget who it was you were meant to write to, what task you were meant to prioritize, and even what agreement you came to earlier in the day.
When we talk about direction at work, we mean orientation and hierarchy with regard to escalating activities. If both aspects are under control, you’re more efficient. In other words, you do things better, in less time.
There are some habits that help keep you on track at work. They’re based on common sense yet are often overlooked. They’re well worth bearing in mind and employing. If you do, you’ll really notice the difference. Here are three of these key habits:
“A good archer is known not by his arrows, but by his aim.”
1. Evaluate your productivity
One habit to help you stay on track at work is to carry out a weekly self-assessment of your activities. It should include what you’ve done and what you haven’t. It should also cover how much progress you’ve made in certain tasks.
However, the most important thing is to carry out a qualitative self-assessment. In this activity, you don’t measure your progress as such but reflect on the way in which you carried out your work. Here are some of the key questions to ask yourself:
- Did I waste time? If so, on what?
- Were there any distractions? If so, why?
- What prevented me from moving forward in this task?
- What tasks didn’t I prioritize enough?
- Am I satisfied with my performance? Why?
- What could I immediately improve? How?
2. Evaluate your consistency daily
Knowing how to set priorities is a skill that can help you stay on track at work. Some activities are essential and you must identify them. In fact, you should put them down in writing and have them close at hand.
Once you’ve done this, ask yourself every day how you’ve progressed on those priority tasks. Your answer will be a really valuable indication as to whether or not you’re on the right path. It allows you to make any necessary readjustments and change plans or recognize other priorities you hadn’t considered before.
At this point, you must be clear about the concept of ‘priority’. As is often said, what’s urgent isn’t always what’s important. For example, if you’re an accountant, your priority is to make accurate and timely records, not to deliver a report at the end of the month. If you meet your priority, the rest follows naturally as an effect of it. In fact, in any kind of work, there are essential aspects and others that originate from them.
3. Stop and think in emergency situations
Urgent situations are unavoidable. They also contribute to you going off track. They involve pressure and stress, in the face of which it’s extremely easy to lose your perspective. They also tend to undo all the plans you previously formulated and threaten to create chaos in your work situation.
The most advisable thing to do in an emergency situation is to stop for five minutes and think. Firstly, you should determine if it’s actually an urgent situation or rather a ‘false’ emergency. For example, maybe a colleague has asked you for a piece of information or for you to do something ‘urgently’, but their perception isn’t correct. Therefore, your question should be, can it wait?
If you figure out that postponing the ‘urgency’ won’t generate any negative consequences, you should take it as a false alarm. In this case, you can wait and you don’t need to lose your focus on your own work. On the other hand, if it’s a real emergency, the best thing to do is calm down, try and finish what you’re doing in the best way you can, and draw up a quick plan of action to deal with the emergency immediately.
As you can see, these three habits to help you stay on track at work are simple and applicable to any type of job. You just have to remember them and apply them repeatedly until you internalize them.
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