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High performance on demand is not a trait that most people possess from birth. However, just as is the case with sports, it is less about genes but mostly regular practice that leads to success. We have a few tips on how to bring out the best in you and as a result increase the efficiency of your work.
You probably know the feeling when you’re totally gripped by a good book and you’re fully immersed in it? This feeling is also called ‘flow’ and describes the state of complete concentration. In this state you’re so focused you completely forget everything around you. In everyday work this means that you enjoy your work and complete your tasks with more ease than usual. But how can you actually get into the flow?
A well-thought out procedure gives your work structure and also makes it easier for you. You can do this with simple to-do lists. This helps you get an overview of future tasks anditallows you to see how much you have achieved by the end of the day. There is nothing more satisfying and motivating than checking off a finished task. You should also immediately jot down flashes of inspiration into a note book – just as the Romans said: Verba volant, scripta manent. (translation: Spoken words fly away, written words remain.)
Plan the next day ahead as far as possible. Don’t forget to include buffer times for unforeseen events. This way, every task has a clear time frame. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking actually hurts your productivity more than you think. If you constantly switch from one task to another you’re not fully committed to any of them and you’re unable to get into the flow because you can’t concentrate on one task.
It is also useful to have a clear structure for effective communication. Try to keep your statements short and concise: give a brief outline at the beginning, then present your arguments and end the conversation with a short conclusion or summary. This way, your listeners can remember the essential points more easily, which is particularly a challenge in long meetings. For meetings, it is worth considering having short pre- and post-meetings to make sure that you have effectively communicated the important contents.
Find the most suitable way of working
Besides these general tips, it’s important to highlight that not everything can be generalized. Everybody has their own individual way of working that matcheswiththeir personal strengths and weaknesses. Which is why you should be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses to find the best way of working for yourself. This includes deciding whether you can do a specific task better alone or in a team. Always try to find a balance between under- and overworking and try to plan tasks according to your performance highs and lowspointsof the day.
Make Space for Creativity
There are always several approaches to successfully finishing a task. Most people use the method they are most familiar with and which has worked for them before, but this approach can cause you to get stuck on a problem. This is where you should turn to more creative solutions.
In practice you can stimulate creativity with this small trick: Try to activate both brain hemispheres at the same time. You can achieve this by visualizing mental images during the reading of a text, for example. Or add a few doodles to your notes. On the other hand, repetitive tasks and being under-challenged are creativity killers.
An even more comprehensive method to get to the solution of a problem is the Walt-Disney-Method, which looks at a problem from different perspectives. It’s an interesting alternative to the well-known brainstorming technique. So how does the Walt-Disney-Method work? First, each person gets one of three designated roles. One person takes on the role of the Dreamer who contributes more visionary ideas. Another is the Realist who thinks more pragmatically. The last person can be the Critic who gives constructive criticism to the other two. In the ensuing discussion the team has to combine all three approaches and opinions to find suitable solutions. It is also possible to add a neutral role.
Take a break
Our brains need a break after a certain amount of time. Try to experience these breaks consciously. It will help you make space for new things and recharge. Most of the time your work day might be so hectic that you take breaks too late or even skip them entirely. To avoid this, you need to plan breaks beforehand and include them in your daily schedule. In most offices a closed door is enough to indicate that you don’t want to be disturbed. Make use of this when you need a short break or want to work undisturbed.
(Written by Klara Obermair, translated by Linh Tran)