How to Work Effectively
Being effective and productive is important in both your work life and your apprenticeship studies.
Effectiveness is demonstrated when you achieve your intended purpose, or when you complete an activity or task to the required standard, for example, an assignment or portfolio for your apprenticeship.
Efficiency is demonstrated when this is achieved whilst minimising or maximising the time taken and other resources.
So how can I be more effective?
- Develop habits of effectiveness – and implement them in your work and study
- Be more organised – keep a to-do list, diary or use a calendar
- Know your goals – what are you working towards?
- Set SMART objectives – set daily, weekly and monthly objectives for yourself
- Use planning techniques – use a to-do list or mind-map
- Constant and ongoing professional development – keep a record of the all training and things you learn during your apprenticeship
The seven habits of highly effective people
“The seven habits of highly effective people” is a business and self-help book written by Stephen R. Covey. He presents an approach to being effective in attaining goals. The seven habits are:
1. Be proactive
2. Begin with the end in mind
3. Put first things first
4. Think win-win
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
6. Synergise (the idea that “two heads are better than one”)
7. Sharpen the saw (think “charging your batteries”)
So what do they mean?
Being proactive means determining what is important to you, and that you take the initiative to act before you are acted upon. From this you will move from being dependent, to being independent and then to being interdependent. As an apprentice, you are learning how to be independent and make decisions for yourself, and in a busy working environment, it is important to be proactive.
Begin with the end in mind focuses on how you should develop your own mission statement, so that you can determine your long term goals and challenge yourself. You need to focus on what is important to you and what you can excel in. Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time? Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time? With the skills and qualification you gain as an apprentice, there are plenty of opportunities for you to aim for.
Put first things first is all to do with time management. This is the ability to control the amount of time spent on specific activities. To help with this, you could create a master list of all the projects you are working on, and from that, create a daily to-do list. Using a calendar can be useful in keeping track of dates, meetings and deadlines. It is key to focus on those tasks that are of high importance.
Time management is a key factor in making sure that you are working effectively. As you continue your apprenticeship journey, you will learn how to adapt and prioritise and time management will become crucial as your workload increases.
Thinking win-win isn’t about being nice, nor is it a quick-fix technique. If you approach a conflict with a win-win attitude, it is important to show integrity, maturity and cooperation. Your aim should be to seek mutual benefit from everyone involved, whether that is your line manager, a colleague or a client.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood refers to empathic listening. You will probably want to get your own point across, and in doing so, you may ignore the other person completely or selectively hear parts of the conversation and miss the meaning entirely. Remember to listen and understand the other person’s message, before you try and reply.
Synergy means “two heads are better than one”. It is teamwork, open-mindedness and the adventure of finding new solutions to old problems. This could be you and your manager or another apprentice. Struggling with a new project? Try and bounce ideas off your colleagues, which can help with creativity.
Sharpening the saw is all about renewing yourself in four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual. As an apprentice, you are working full time whilst studying for a qualification so it’s important to take breaks, drink water, relax and make time to see your friends. In doing this, you can “recharge your batteries” which will ensure that you are working efficiently.
What is one thing that you can do differently to improve your effectiveness in the workplace? It could be how efficient you are in completing your daily tasks or your apprenticeship, or how you will tackle a new and exciting challenge.
If you feel that you are struggling with your work load or time management, please speak to your manager, Skills Coach and Assessor or your Performance Support Team. They are there to help and support you throughout your apprenticeship.
If you are enjoying our Soft Skills Sessions, then you can find a full schedule of upcoming dates here.