How To Improve Your Performance At Work In Just 10 Minutes A Day

If like me, your job comes under the umbrella of knowledge work (typically an office job when your knowledge is what contributes most to your job such as procurement, admin or accounting) then it can be difficult to objectively measure your performance from day to day. You could even go months or years and not have a real understanding of how or if your performance has improved.

It turns out, there is a solution that takes just 10 minutes a day, a Work Journal. I’m not talking about “dear diary, today at work I blah blah blah…”, I mean spending 10 minutes at the end of the day, reflecting on what went well and what did not go well that day and how you could possibly make improvements. There are several benefits that come from keeping a Work Journal.

You Will Learn More About Yourself

If you build a habit of taking notes what you did well and what you did not so well, you will start to see common themes in your journal. These themes can then be categorised into strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes.

If you focus on your strengths and do less of the things you are weak at, you will start to see your general performance at work increase. By figuring out what you like and dislike doing, you can let your boss know what kinds of projects you enjoy and hopefully they will let you do more of the work you like, so your work itself will be more enjoyable. If you tell your boss that you dislike keeping track of what work you need to bill for or how many hours you worked, they will probably tell you to piss off. No job seems to be free of admin. Maybe instead, you can say “I really enjoyed getting stuck into that problem the other day, I’d like more complicated projects like that”. Sounds much more proactive than whining about admin.

You Will Become More Patient

Learning happens gradually, but it builds. It’s is like compound interest, it keeps building at a faster rate, the more you do it, so it’s a great investment of your time. If you progress just a tiny bit each day, when you look back a year from now, you will see a dramatic increase where all those tiny improvements from each day have added up. This will inspire you to keep learning more, so you get even better. It’s a cycle of improvement.

You Will Learn To Plan better

If you start the journal today, then check your progress tomorrow, you will likely see no result. But, if you are keeping tabs on yourself each day for a few months or years, you can look back over your notes and see progress. You will be able to predict problems that used to seem random. As you look back over your journal entries, you will see that for example the phones go crazy at the same time everyday, so you can make sure to have a clear schedule and be ready for the ensuing chaos. Being prepared for a problem will make it so much easier to handle.

You Will See Personal Growth

Memory is imperfect and completely subjective. Things recorded in ink (or pixels) will stay the same forever. Having this objective record makes observing your patterns of growth that much easier. You will be able to read old journal entries and see how you overcame issues, you will see tasks you used to dread that you now handle with ease. Being able to re-read your own thoughts and feelings from the past will allow you to see how far you have come since then.

If you know of any more benefits of keeping a work journal, please let me know in the comments below.

The Worst Way To Start Your Day

I personally hate the news and tend to avoid it when I can. It just brings me down, makes me feel like the world is in a terrible state and that everything is awful. I suddenly realise how dangerous it is to be alive and that is only a matter of time before we are all killed off by superbugs, the NHS collapses and Brexit tears our country apart.

I used to think I was being overly sensitive and maybe things weren’t that bad after all. Then I would catch the news just before a show I wanted to watch and suddenly the world was ending, people were dying and the internet wasn’t safe anymore.

It turns out, I am not alone, watching just 3 minutes of bad news in the morning makes you 27% more like to report having a bad day up to 6-8 hours later. Sadly, most news we receive is bad news as this sells better and most news outlets aim more to sell than to inform, they’re businesses after all.

How Can You Stay Informed Without The News Getting You Down?

If you feel it is your duty to stay informed, I respect that. But if you want to stay truly informed, you may have to balance your news sources a bit. The news on TV, the web and newspapers is up-to-date, but it isn’t an accurate portrayal of the events around the world. It is mainly the worst parts of what is going or can even be skewed to make it seem more negative than it actually is.

Try Reading a Book

David Cain recommends not watching the news at all, but rather he recommends taking deep dives into books, that offer more balanced viewpoints. The news can give you wider coverage of the worlds events, but you only ever get surface level knowledge that can be explained in little segments. If you read a heavily researched, unbiased book, you could critically analyse the information and create your own informed opinion.

You don’t need to know everything that is happening in the world at any one time and it would be impossible to do so. Better instead to actually understand fewer topics more deeply than hear about many stories without actually understanding the big picture.

Add Some Positivity To The Mix

If you still like to get your news in small bites but don’t want the negative mental health effects of the most common news outlets, you can combat the negativity with a little positivity. Some news sources prefer to focus on what good we can do for the world, rather than the classic British attitude of moaning and getting on with your day. Vox’s Future Perfect offers stories on how we can do better for the world in real actionable ways, see their introduction here and feel inspired.