12 Ways To Improve Your Performance at Work

By Jamie Birt

Updated March 9, 2021 | Published December 12, 2019

Updated March 9, 2021

Published December 12, 2019

Jamie Birt is a career coach with 5+ years of experience helping job seekers navigate the job search through one-to-one coaching, webinars and events. She’s motivated by the mission to help people find fulfillment and belonging in their careers.

Top-performing employees are often the ones who receive raises and job promotions. You can take certain actions to improve your work performance and help your supervisors think of you as one of their best staff members. In this article, we list 12 tips to improve your work performance immediately.

What is work performance?

Work performance refers to your history of responsibilities and ability to complete your job well. Employers can measure your performance based on a variety of factors, including whether you complete tasks on time and according to expected standards. Considerations for pay raises and promotions are often based on your performance metrics, so improving your productivity is an effective way to advance your career. 

No matter where you are in your career, you can set goals to improve your work performance. Doing so can help you to have more career options, give you more job security and possibly lead to higher compensation. Improving your work performance can make you a more valuable employee and an asset to any company. It can also help you achieve a sense of satisfaction about the work that you do.

Related: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career

Work performance tips

Consider using some of the tips below to improve your work performance:

1. Focus on one task at a time

There is a belief in some work cultures that the most productive people multitask and complete several things at once to get things done. The truth is that when you multitask, you keep redirecting your attention from one thing to the next. It isn’t really possible to give your full attention to two things at once. Instead, it is better to give your full attention to one task before moving \to the next. You’ll likely finish both tasks faster and with fewer errors than if you try to multitask.

2. Become more organized

It is easier to stay on top of your tasks and find the things you need to do your job when you’re organized. This means setting up your desk, inbox, file storage, computer’s desktop and smartphone in a way that is most productive for you. It is important to be able to quickly find a file or an app without wasting time searching around.

Being organized takes time and persistence. If you dedicate time to organizing in your work life, you will cut down on the amount of time you take to find things when you need them. Reducing the number of possessions you keep can streamline this task. This includes creating guidelines for what emails to keep in your inbox. Strive only to keep emails that need action, and file or delete everything else.

Read more: 7 Steps to Organize Your Paperwork and Declutter Your Desk

3. Limit distractions

You can limit your exposure to distractions with a few simple steps, such as:

  • Turning off your smartphone or moving it further away from your workspace

  • Working in a quiet space or use headphones

  • If you work from home, establishing a dedicated office or workspace

4. Improve communication skills

Whether you’re working with a team or by yourself, communication is essential for the overall performance and success of the project. You must be able to let others know what you need and understand what they require. Improving your communication skills can help eliminate confusion, prevent errors and improve productivity.

5. Set stretch goals

A stretch goal is a goal that isn’t the next logical step in the process. It is something you’ll have to work toward, and challenges you to do something you may not otherwise be able to complete. In fitness, a stretch goal might be to lose 25 pounds, with regular, incremental goals of losing five pounds per month. At work, it could be as simple as committing to doing something that’s outside of your normal job description and comfort zone, such as planning a department party or giving a presentation to new hires.

6. Use an hourly planner

Sometimes, to-do lists grow too long. If you use an hourly planner, you can assign each task an amount of time to complete and note when you are going to complete it. You can then see if you have more tasks to complete than time in a day, and arrange your schedule accordingly. This will limit delays in work, as you’ll be able to give managers and clients more realistic deadlines from the beginning and therefore, meet them.

7. Schedule vacation days

It might seem counterintuitive, but vacations make you more productive. The mental break from work can give you more energy and focus for when you come back to work. Even short breaks can increase your focus, morale and productivity, which, in turn, can drive company morale and productivity. 

8. Show up early

Consider developing the habit of arriving at work 15 to 20 minutes early. This extra time can help you avoid the stress of traffic, give you time for coffee and help you to relax and prepare for the day, so you can work effectively. Also, supervisors are often impressed with employees who arrive ready to go.

Related: Tips to Demonstrate Work Ethic

Work Ethic
Image description

Ways to demonstrate work ethic:

  1. Put away distractions

  2. Ask for help to identify areas for improvement

  3. Spend your time wisely on tasks that align with goals

  4. Organize your notes, inbox and workspaces for increased focus, motivation and time management

  5. Take breaks throughout the day to avoid burnout

  6. Identify motivators such as tasks, goals or colleagues

  7. Practice time management to complete quality, on-time work and be more present in meetings

9. Set productivity challenges

To foster more engagement and energy toward your work while improving your performance, set your own productivity challenges. Strive to do just a bit more than you already do, without compromising quality, during the same amount of time. 

For instance, if you typically write four blog assignments each day, see if you can write five or even six in the same amount of time. You might need to find more efficient ways to research, outline and write the assignments to get it done in a day. This little challenge can give you something to work toward and can make a difference boosting your morale. Plus, your employer will likely notice the slight increases in productivity.

10. Use online productivity tools

Online productivity tools can help you keep track of all your tasks and make progress toward bigger goals. Some software tools have free features that are easy to use on your own. You can organize and plan each of your goals in the system to see them visually. 

Related: 13 Work Organization Tools To Improve Your Productivity

11. Learn more about top performers

Consider the people in a similar role or in your workplace who are constantly getting praise or reaching top metrics. Try observing their strategies and implementing new strategies to improve your own performance. You could ask them to discuss the challenges you face in the role and as a team. Find experts in your industry and read their blogs, watch their videos, listen to their podcasts or read their books. It is possible that you will be able to get some insight on how to become one of the top performers, too.

12. Use feedback

If you’ve received any constructive criticism during annual reviews, performance reviews or other settings, implementing this advice should be your first step in improving your work performance. Feedback based on your performance is very useful not only, to identify what you need to work on; but also, to understand what your employer values and how you can become an indispensable employee. Criticism is a measurement of your performance and can give you a place to focus your efforts.

Read more: 20 Areas of Improvement for Employees

Explore more articles