Basic Skills for Improving Your Professional Performance

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We all want to do the absolute best we can in life. We want jobs that we find fulfilling, and that pay well. We want to have good relationships with the people we care about. And, of course, we want to have fun, and feel that we are living in a meaningful and uplifting kind of a way.

When it comes to professional success, there are a lot of factors to consider. Sometimes, a certain qualification or degree will be essential for “making it” in a given field, or even just for getting a call back for a second interview.

Ultimately though professional success is largely a matter of being consistently excellent at the work we do. Of course, that’s not always easy to achieve.

Here are some basic skills you should develop, in order to improve your professional performance, and fulfill your potential in your career.

Focus on doing the best you can, even in the small things

It may seem self-evident, but in order to perform to the best of your abilities in your profession, you need to actually focus on doing the best you can – even in the small things.

The thing is, although this makes sense intuitively, many people nonetheless find themselves coasting through the work day, and doing “just enough to get by”, instead of enough to really thrive.

It’s easy to see why this would be the case, as well. It’s not always immediately apparent what the benefit is of dedicating a significant amount of additional time and energy to a given task.

Excellence, however, is a habit. If you routinely put in your best effort – even in terms of such things as finding the right tools to ensure that you have professionally designed presentations at your fingertips – it becomes almost a given that you will be a high performer in other domains of your professional and personal life, too.

Reduce distractions (including things like email) and emphasize “deep work”

One of the big authors in the productivity sphere in recent times, has been the academic Cal Newport.

In one of his hit books – titled Deep Work – the author argues that it is the ability to focus your attention for long periods of time, in an undistracted manner, that allows for the kind of “deep work” that maximizes productivity, develops advanced skills, and turns out a quality end product.

According to Newport, it is essential to reduce distractions in your life in order to facilitate this deep work.

Among other things, this can mean checking email only once or twice a day, and leaving your phone on silent while you work.

The more you focus – the better you can expect to do.

Always be on the lookout for new opportunities – never get too comfortable

Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comics, has shared an anecdote from the early days of his professional life in business, where he encountered a CEO, who told him that in order to be successful, he should consider his “real job” to be always finding the next, better job.

To really perform to the peak of your ability – and to rise in your professional dealings – it’s important to always be on the lookout for new opportunities.

If, on the other hand, you get too comfortable, the odds are significantly higher that you will stagnate.