Here's how to improve 10 essential skills:
1. Ability to focus — Devote yourself to one task at a time. Set a timer for anywhere between a half hour and two hours, which is the maximum time most of us can stay focused on a task. Don't take a break for anything less than an emergency.
2. Problem-solving — Think about the solution, not the problem. When you focus on what went wrong, you're stopping yourself from considering how to make things right.
3. To-do lists — Break big projects into small, actionable tasks. Make the first one something that can be done quickly, so that you feel a sense of accomplishment before moving on to the next issue.
4. Ability to keep a clean desk — File (or toss) papers as soon as your work with them is done. The cleaner your desk, the less time you're likely to waste trying to stay on top of things.
5. Time management – Set a time limit for each task on your to-do list. Try your best to eliminate distractions in order to stick to that limit.
6. Verbal communication — Should you "space out" when talking to someone, ask questions and/or repeat the other person's last few words or phrases. That shows you care about the conversation and lets you see if you've understood the person correctly.
7. File organization — Establish clear categories for each file (never "miscellaneous"). Use a marker, or better still, a labeler, for writing file names so that they're easily read.
8. Ability to prioritize — Take the first 15-30 minutes of every day to plan your day. List all tasks and prioritize them based on deadlines, timeframe, and input and materials needed from others.
9. Delegation — Be crystal clear about your expectations. Put guidelines in writing, along with deadlines. The better your direction, the more likely an individual will successfully complete his or her assignment.
10. Self-motivation — Banish negative thoughts by reviewing your successes in your job and/or in your life. Visualize future successful outcomes, and tell yourself you can and will shine!
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