Dodging a layoff feels good, until you’re saddled with extra work. In a CareerBuilder survey, 37 percent of workers said they were handling the work of two people, and 30 percent felt burned out. Here’s how to handle the load and move ahead.
Don’t throw a big report together.
Present five pieces of key information. “You’re much better off being an expert, even on a few points, than trying to be a generalist,” says Randall Hansen, Ph.D., author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide: Study Skills.
Bonus: Don’t compensate with PowerPoint pap. People learn better from animation-free presentations, according to a recent study from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
AN IMPORTANT MEET AND GREET
Don’t try to just memorize names.
Focus on facial features. This may feel superficial, but it’s a great memory device: In a 2006 study in the American Journal of Psychology, participants were able to remember about 25 percent more names when they listed as many of the people’s facial characteristics as they could.
Bonus: Build a backup plan and find something you have in common with every new person you meet, says Hansen. If you blank later on, it’s better to call a guy “that Lakers fan” than “the dude with the big ears.”
LEARNING A NEW PROGRAM OR POLICY
Don’t highlight, and don’t try to simply read and remember.
Prepare a summary of important info, even if you’ve just read it. As you rewrite, “you distil information and help integrate it in your mind,” says David Allen, author of Getting Things Done and Making It All Work.
Bonus: People who take non-traditional notes (think flowcharting) learn better than those who use subheads and bullets, a 2008 British study reveals.
A BIG ASSIGNMENT, DUE ASAP
Don’t jump into action.
Create an outline of what you need and divide it into two lists: need-to-haves and nice-to-haves. That way you’ll spend your time where it matters, without being distracted by an ever-growing wish list, Allen says.
Bonus:Take breaks, even if you don’t think you can afford them. A 2009 study in the International Journal of Innovation and Learning found that teams on tight deadlines have a burst of efficiency and don’t realize they’re losing their focus when fatigue sets in.
RESEARCHING ON A DEADLINE
Don’t skim text to cover it all.
Read chapter intros, conclusions, and bits in between. It’s official: Skimming is risky. It can lead you to miss key info, a 2009 British study found. So play the odds. Reading selectively gives you less text but better knowledge of content.
Bonus:Turn off your mobile phone. You may retain less of what you read just before or after that distracting ring, notes a 2009 Washington University study.