Here at The Execu|Search Group, we often touch upon the importance of soft skills. While it’s difficult to rank them in order, there are a couple of key qualities that stand out to employers: self-motivation, accountability, and time management. These skills are not only indicative of someone who is hardworking, but more importantly, of someone who is willing to take the initiative to push business forward in times of change.
In other words, your level of productivity isn’t necessarily measured by your ability to get more done in less time. Instead, it is ultimately defined by your propensity for looking at the big picture. Since it takes time to develop this type of strategic thinking, here are 5 small steps you can take to get there:
Create daily to-do lists
Since getting started is the hardest part, being able to visualize what you need to accomplish each day can be especially helpful in meeting a long term goal. To do this, set aside five to ten minutes every morning to map out what you should be working on throughout the day. If something takes longer than anticipated or you unexpectedly receive an urgent request, this list, at the very least, can help you prioritize your responsibilities.
Turn off notifications
Reacting to all your incoming text and email messages can make it difficult to keep your focus on certain projects. To minimize these distractions, make an effort to turn off your email and/or phone notifications for an allotted amount of time each day.
Set personal deadlines
Many professionals are guilty of procrastinating when it comes to open-ended projects without pressing deadlines. To help keep these tasks top-of-mind, try setting self-imposed deadlines and sticking to them. Being proactive not only shows your manager that you take ownership of your work, but also allows you to make a greater impact on the organization.
Take strategic breaks
Though it may seem counterintuitive, taking small, scheduled breaks can actually boost your productivity. Whether you do this by taking a short walk, grabbing some coffee, or reading an interesting article, this break should leave you feeling recharged and ready to see your work from a new perspective.
Establish weekly/monthly goals
Although your daily responsibilities are absolutely important, reminding yourself of your long term objectives can be an excellent motivator as well. After ensuring your goal is specific, measurable, and realistic, break it down into weekly or monthly stepping stones. Being able to track your progress can make your long term objective feel more attainable.