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The Productivity Skills
That Are Key to Career Success

See also: Continuous Professional Development

As anyone with experience in the modern workforce can tell you, your value to an organization is ultimately measured not by what skills you bring to the task, but by how productive you are in the position to which you have been assigned. In short, you can be the smartest worker but still get passed over for promotion if you are not productive.

That means that it's essential for today's workers to master the type of skills that help them to be more productive, as that's the real key to success. The good news is that skills that enhance productivity translate well across almost any industry or area of expertise. This means that anybody can improve their career prospects by mastering a few, relatively simple productivity skills.

Here are the keys to career success.

Solid Decision-Making Skills

It's not uncommon for people to believe that the ability to make quick, sound judgments is something that certain people are simply born with. In fact, that's not true.

There's a science behind making good decisions, and it's possible to learn it. To do this you can take a course, which will help you to apply specific guidelines to your decision-making process. They include:

  • Limiting options
  • Limiting time spent deliberating
  • Making choices based on minimum requirements (i.e. a decision that works, but isn't necessarily perfect)
  • Applying lessons from past experiences

Cutting down on the time you spend making decisions is a key factor in increasing your productivity, so gaining such skills is a great first step.

Time Management Skills

No matter what job you have, there's a good chance that you'll never run out of tasks to complete. In fact, it's likely you'll have more to do than you can even handle on your own.

To get everything done without breaking down or making mistakes, you need a good time management strategy. That's because no matter your job, there's a good chance that you're wasting a great deal of time adhering to inefficient processes or by failing to prioritize your work in the best way possible. Sharpening your time management skills can help you to be more productive by eliminating distractions and allowing you to get more done in the same amount of time.

One great time management technique that should be in every professional's tool kit is the Pomodoro Technique. It's a comprehensive task planning and execution strategy that helps you to break up tasks into manageable parts and get it done without procrastination. It's a technique that's simple to learn and adapt to any kind of work imaginable and can increase your productivity, even if you make no further changes to the way you do things.

Another very simple step is to write down your tasks for today on paper, and carry it with you. Yes, we all have smartphones, but notifications get swiped away and alarms get muted without even looking. There are still benefits to using pen & paper, and it’s a great way to stay organized.

Clear Communications Skills

Another skill that's essential for boosting your productivity is clear communication skills.

That's because your productivity is inextricably linked to your interactions with others, be they co-workers or managers. If you're unable to send and receive critical work-related information to the people you work with, your own job will grind to a halt.

To keep that from happening, you should master essential communication skills such as:

With those abilities in your arsenal, you will be able to effectively communicate with those around you and minimize work disruptions due to misunderstandings and other communication breakdowns. It will also help you to function better as part of a team, which is often a requirement in many situations. If you're adept at communication, there's also a high likelihood that you will find yourself in a leadership position, owing to your ability to keep everyone on the same page and get the necessary work done.

Problem-Solving Skills

Throughout your career, you will inevitably need to deal with problems that arise unexpectedly in the course of your work.

Those problems can either become insurmountable obstacles, or short diversions – if you possess the right problem-solving skills. There are a variety of schools of thought about how to approach problem-solving, but they all tend to revolve around a similar set of steps, which are:

  • Defining the problem that needs a solution
  • Listing possible solutions
  • Evaluating the options (using your decision-making skills)
  • Putting the solution into action

Once you develop your own, reliable approach to problem-solving, you'll be ready to tackle everything that comes your way – and drive your personal productivity to new heights.

Stress Management Skills

Let's face it. No matter how good you are at your job and how well you apply the preceding skills to your work, there will always be a factor that continues to sap your productivity: stress.

According to a study of workers in the US, stress costs 70% of those surveyed at least an hour of time they'd have otherwise spent working each week. For a full 20%, the number of hours lost exceeded five. That means developing your stress management skills could be the most important thing you can do to enhance your productivity.

It's also among the most difficult types of skills to develop because it's such an individualized subject. Depending on your stressors, you might find that tactics like journaling or meditation work to alleviate your stress. For others, nothing short of dedicated rest and relaxation time will do the trick. No matter what works for you, though, it's important to figure it out and be ready to apply the right stress management techniques to maintain a high level of workplace productivity.

The Skills You Need Guide to Personal Development

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Personal Development

Learn how to set yourself effective personal goals and find the motivation you need to achieve them. This is the essence of personal development, a set of skills designed to help you reach your full potential, at work, in study and in your personal life.

The second edition of or bestselling eBook is ideal for anyone who wants to improve their skills and learning potential, and it is full of easy-to-follow, practical information.

The Keys to Success

Anyone who makes the effort to develop the skills set forth here will be in a great position to succeed in any career they're trying to pursue. Of course, you still have to make sure you're qualified and knowledgeable in your line of work, but these productivity skills will help you to thrive once you get your foot in the door.

Again, modern businesses prize productivity above almost everything else – so these skills just may be the keys to success you've been looking for.

About the Author

Philip Piletic closely follows the impact of technology on education, and its evolution from traditional to modern methods that include e-learning, courses, gamification, and others. He has also helped the Sydney-based IT & Business school in developing their IT courses.