10 Strategies for Developing Work Skills
The Quest Forward Work Skills are processes and skills that will help students to be successful in their courses, future academic pursuits, careers, and life:
- Work Efficiently
- Plan and Achieve Goals
- Manage Time and Resources
- Document and Take Notes
In my last post, I described these skills and how Quest Forward Learning supports students in developing them. Here are 10 additional evidence-based strategies for helping students (or anyone else!) practice and develop these skills.
1. Identify priorities.
We all have long to-do lists, but prioritizing just 1-3 goals each week and day can help students to Focus, Plan and Achieve Goals, Work Efficiently, and Manage Time and Resources.
2. Break tasks or projects into manageable steps.
Smaller steps are less overwhelming and easier to Focus on. This is also a great strategy for helping students to Plan and Achieve Goals.
3. Keep a calendar with events and target dates for tasks.
Students will benefit from using a digital calendar or physical planner to keep track of daily schedules and tasks. This is a way to Plan and Achieve Goals and Manage Time and Resources.
4. Remove distractions.
Remind students to log out of social media sites, turn off notifications, put their phone away, and turn videos/tv off. Also remind them why they should do this. These are all immediate distractions that keep students from being able to Focus, Work Efficiently, and Manage Your Time. Social media phone usage, watching tv, and other sedentary activities are also linked to mental health issues that can affect a person’s ability to focus (among other things).
5. Tidy up.
Encourage students to tidy up their room and/or work space. A clean, organized space can help them to avoid distractions and make it easier to stay Organized, Focus, and Work Efficiently.
6. Take a productive break.
Breaks can actually help students to be more creative and productive. They also improve memory. Help students identify how and when to take productive breaks. They could go for a walk, do some jumping jacks, or do some other physical activity. Students should drink water and nourish their body with healthy foods. This will help them to Focus and Work Efficiently when their break is over. They might also want to change where they’re working after their break is over.
Even short breathing exercises (1-2 minutes) can slow the mind and help students to Focus.
8. Keep a notebook or journal.
It can be an old-school paper version or an app on their phone. This way students can log ideas when they come to them, freeing up their mind and memory for other things. Writing information down helps people to remember it. This is a great first step in developing the Document and Take Notes skill; It can help students to Organize their thoughts.
9. Identify your “why.”
Encourage students to remind themselves why they’re doing something. This can help them to stay motivated and thus more likely to Focus and Work Efficiently. Even if students are completing a requirement for school, they can still come up with a motivating why statement.
10. Don’t try to be perfect.
No one is perfect and it’s an unrealistic goal. Many of us need this reminder and so do students! Encourage them to work hard and put forth effort, but help them to know when to draw the line. They shouldn’t let perfectionism keep them from sharing their ideas or spending too much time overthinking something. While the desire to improve is fantastic, the desire to be perfect can make it hard to Work Efficiently.
Jolene Zywica, PhD
Dr. Zywica is Opportunity Education's Senior Director of Learning Strategy. She ensures that the resources, tools, and experiences designed for teachers and students effectively support teaching and learning. Prior to joining the team in 2014, Jolene dabbled in teaching both high school and college students, was a high school literacy coach for 5 years, and has spent over 18 years designing and studying the impact of learning programs aimed at engaging students through active learning and technology.