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Kill those sloppy habits!

Overcome self-sabotage while you still can

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in Office Communication,Office Management,Office Organizer,Workplace Communication

An informal survey of Working Smart readers indicates that even the hardest workers with the best attitudes get tripped up by two poor work habits:

1. Weak listening skills that result in misunderstandings and botched opportunities.

2. Haphazard organizational skills that waste time and undermine productivity.

Here are some techniques to upgrade your skills and clean up bad habits:

Listening. Rather than tell yourself that you’re a bad listener, think, “I’m an excellent listener, and here’s why.” Then commit to following certain rules, such as allowing for at least two seconds of silence before you address a speaker’s comments or summarizing what you hear before you dive in with a response. Also remember that the brain can process what you hear about four times faster than the average rate of speech; this means you need to harness all that extra mental energy and concentrate 100 percent on a speaker’s remarks.

Organizing. Poorly organized managers merely react to events. Crises overtake them, and they rarely have time to prioritize. Sharpen your organizational ability by devoting at least 15 uninterrupted minutes a day to thinking through the past-present-future status of projects. Divide a piece of paper into three columns and assign priorities to old assignments that require follow-up, current tasks that demand your attention and upcoming events or deadlines that involve preparation. Beware of equating a sloppy desk with a sloppy mind: Some of the most organized executives maintain perpetually messy desks. They know exactly where to find what they need.

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