To keep your mind fresh and open to new ideas, try to learn something new every week. This can be done in a formal or informal setting. There are lots of ways to accomplish this.
Ask your supervisor for an explanation of why the tasks and projects you complete are important. Where do they fit into the company’s overall operations? Why are they done a certain way? What policies drive them? Can they be streamlined to increase your productivity?
When you attend meetings, pay particular attention to information that relates directly to your position and duties. Think about how the information can help you do your job more effectively. Listen also to information that may not be directly related to your job as you might acquire some useful tips you can transfer to your own responsibilities. Be open-minded when ideas are proposed. Even if the idea does not pertain directly to you and your job, there may be a way the idea can be adapted to your situation. You may be able to adapt someone else’s idea to fit your circumstances.
When engaged in casual business conversations, even around the water cooler, listen. You never know when someone will suggest an idea that you can apply to your job or that will spark a comparable idea in your mind. A casual comment could turn out to be the solution you have been seeking. Engage in conversations with coworkers who are more intelligent and experienced than you are. Ask questions to absorb some of their knowledge. Associate with other people who like to learn and trade ideas.
What you learn for the week does not necessarily have to be academic or even job related. You can learn personal skills that will help you get along with coworkers or relate to customers and clients. You can learn something fun just to keep your mind agile. You might learn a new exercise technique, cook a new recipe, or learn the rules to a new card game. The possibilities are endless.
Here are some other ways to learn new things:
■ Join professional organizations that teach skills through workshops and speakers (Toastmasters, Women in Business, Sertoma, and college and fraternal organizations).
■ Subscribe to and read magazines in your profession so you can stay in touch with the latest trends.
■ Research online companies that offer products or services similar to yours.
■ Research online to find better ways to perform your job duties (i.e., organization and time-management tips, new product developments, and so on).
■ Listen to coworkers explain how they solve various work related problems.
■ Listen to customer/client feedback.
■ Ask coworkers about their jobs and how they perform their tasks; be attentive.
■ Listen to news program segments about product development.
■ Read a good newspaper.
■ Thoroughly read your company’s newsletters.
■ Read newsletters published by other companies who offer products or services similar to yours.
■ Read online e-zines and informational blogs pertaining to your field or skill area.
■ Do something you have not done before (i.e., learn another language, build a computer, parachute from a plane, etc.).
■ Always be on the lookout for information you can use.
■ Search for ways to make your job more challenging or more effective.
A wealth of information is contained right in your company files. Learn as much as you can about your company and its products and services. Although you do not want to rummage through confidential materials, the general files can provide the following useful information:
■ Customer/client names and business contact information.
■ Customer/client purchasing information—what products and services they use on a continuous basis.
■ Products and services your company offers and information about them.
■ New product and service developments.
■ To whom the bulk of your company’s products and services are sold.
■ Sales and marketing figures.
■ Minutes from previous company meetings.
101 Ways to Make Yourself Indispensable at Work. 101 Ways to Make Yourself Indispensable at Work, ISBN: 9781435454323
Prepared for firstname.lastname@example.org, Joanne Hale
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