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:

  • Focus  Focus
  • Work Efficiently  Work Efficiently
  • Plan and Achieve Goals Plan and Achieve Goals
  • The icon representing the Quest Forward Learning Work Skill "Manage Time and Resources"  Manage Time and Resources
  • Organize  Organize
  • Document and Take Notes 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.

WORK SKILLS:  Focus  Plan and Achieve Goals  Work Efficiently  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.

WORK SKILLS:  Focus  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.

WORK SKILLS:  Plan and Achieve Goals  The icon representing the Quest Forward Learning Work Skill "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).

WORK SKILLS:  Focus  Work Efficiently  Manage Time and Resources


 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.

WORK SKILLS:  Focus  Work Efficiently  Organize


 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.

WORK SKILLS:  Focus  Work Efficiently


 7. Breathe.

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.

WORK SKILLS:  Document and Take Notes  Organize


 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.

WORK SKILLS:  Focus  Work Efficiently


 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.

WORK SKILLS:  Work Efficiently



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