Going to work for five straight days each week can become monotonous. You can feel like you’re running on a treadmill and it can take all of your energy to just get through the workday — only to do it again the next day.
If you’ve reached that point, it’s a good sign that you need a vacation. But vacation time can be hard to come by, and there’s never enough of it.
A better solution, I think, is to keep yourself refreshed by continually improving your work skills. Doing this has two big benefits: job satisfaction as you enjoy improving the work you do each day, and a better chance at a pay raise.
Just like exercising and regularly and eating well, improving your work skills is a process that needs to be done regularly. Here are three of the biggest ways I’ve found to improve your skills at work continually:
Sharpen the saw
This skill is from the Stephen Covey book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” It’s a great book and one worth reading for your personal and professional life.
Sharpening the saw means renewing yourself in four areas:
- Physical: Eating, exercising and resting well.
- Social/Emotional: Making connections with others.
- Mental: Learning, reading, writing and teaching.
- Spiritual: Being in nature, meditation, music, art, prayer or service.
These are all big steps, but can be done continually at work and away from work to put balance in your life.
Take for example, self-development expert Trevor McClintock, who writes on his blog about how taking care of yourself will lead to being more productive. Making time for social interaction in your workday is important, McClintock writes, as is having time to daydream to spark creativity.
Attend a seminar
Another way to improve your skills at work is to attend a seminar or similar function. It can be at the workplace or away at a retreat or conference. It doesn’t even have to be long — such as a few days out of town — but can be an hour or so at the office.
Most businesses offer some type of seminar, training or other event at work each year, if not every few months or more, to keep employees sharp and help them develop new ideas.
If you have an idea for a seminar that isn’t offered, ask your boss or human resources manager if one can be arranged. They may know someone who could teach it, or you could teach a class yourself.
Value your time
If your time isn’t valued at work — either by you, co-workers or your superiors at work — then the work you do can become a waste of time.
To improve your skills at work, your work time must be important and used to its fullest potential throughout the workday.
Sure, there are times when you’ll want to daydream or you may not be feeling at your most productive — and that’s OK. But for most of the day, you want people to value your time and not waste it so that you’re working on things that are meaningful to you.
Here’s an example: A coworker visits your desk at semi-regular intervals to chat. This is fine with you once or twice a day, but it can come at times when you’re busy with a deadline or important task.
Instead of allowing this to happen again and again, tell them that visits to your desk to chat anytime after 1 p.m. are counterproductive for you and that you’d like to limit them. Suggest that it’s easier for you to talk when they see you in the breakroom or plan a 15-minute walk at 10:30 a.m. so both of you can clear your minds and discuss things.
By placing a higher value on your time, your time at work will be used better and you’ll feel more satisfied with what you accomplish each day. Managing your time is a skill that you have control over, and can only lead to better work and hopefully to a happier life overall.