THE BLOG

6 Ways to Improve Your Performance at Work

03/14/2015 05:41 am ET | Updated May 14, 2015

This is part of the "Increased Productivity" series where experts in productivity, brain training, and business success share the techniques and tools they couldn't live without. An interview with Dr. Albert C. Mak, M.D. made this article possible.

One of the great things that set people apart from animals is that people have to go to work and be productive. Animals can hang around the jungle or forest or beach all day never worrying about an office deadline or Powerpoint presentation.

2015-03-14-1426325918-5887484-ProductivityatWork.jpg

But once a human being is at the office, productivity does not automatically happen. There are numerous distractions, even obligations, that can keep a person from performing their job duties to the best of their ability. This, in turn, can prevent salary raises and promotions.

It's time to use your brains to figure out how to perform better at work. We really do use most of our brain most of our lives and not just 10 percent as the movies often state. Here are some suggestions on how to get better at your job, using your brain power:

  1. Be positive
  2. First of all, it's important to realize that you can build mental strength, just like you can build muscle strength. So start with a positive attitude about your work. Go in everyday, rain or shine, with a positive thought even if it's only that at least you didn't get stuck in the elevator on the way up today! Positive energy attracts more positive energy around you, like a magnet. When you're positive about your work it shows in your performance.

  3. Strengthen your memory

  4. Your memory is a key element of your brain. To exercise your memory and build new neural pathways, try listening to an unfamiliar song and memorize the lyrics to it. Don't rely solely on your Google calendar or smartphone to remind you of everything to do with your job. Keep your memory working to remain sharp and alert in your career. Don't let office senility set in by the age of thirty!

  5. Exercise regularly

  6. The benefits of physical exercise to your brain are numerous. Even moderate exercise, such as going up or down a flight of stairs in your office building will help relieve unproductive stress and give you a better night's sleep. A little color in your cheeks is a good thing for the boss to see, and the circulating blood will help keep your mind alert and attentive so you can stay on task at work.

  7. Lengthen your attention span

  8. Your attention span is vital to your career. Expecting a child to do an adult's mental work would be ludicrous; and yet adults often don't know how to concentrate on getting a project done without becoming distracted and unfocused.

    Try this experiment:

    Pick a simple mental task that won't take more than five minutes; then time yourself to see if you can complete it in the allotted five minutes without breaking away to do something else or start thinking of something else. Gradually increase the time and see how long it takes you to stay focused and on-task for a full 20 minutes. You may be surprised!

  9. Improve your language

  10. Language is a key to all communication, especially at work; whether it be the language we speak, the language we use to program computers or a foreign language we are learning. Whatever the case, improving your language skills improves your mental skills. Learning a second language costs virtually nothing today; the internet offers many free tutorials in everything from Spanish to Thai. Knowing a second language is ordinarily a good career boost in almost any field.

  11. Keep your sense of humor
  12. And don't forget to keep a sense of humor about bettering your job performance. As the poet Robert Frost said: "The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office."

What habits have you developed that help you increase your productivity at work? Share them with us in the comments below!