Whether you're vying for a promotion or are looking to buy yourself a little added job security, it never hurts to work on improving your performance at work. And believe it or not, you don't need to commit to working weekends or heading up every new project that comes along to get ahead on the job. Rather, you can work on implementing a few minor changes that'll come together to help your career. Here are a few to start with.

1. Create a daily to-do list

One of the greatest challenges that workers across all industries face is so much to do, and such limited time. That's why it pays to start off each day by creating a to-do list that maps out what you'll ideally accomplish for the day. Of course, you'll need to be reasonable when putting that list together; don't cram every single item on your agenda into a single day, because that's just setting yourself up for failure. Rather, spend a few minutes each morning thinking about the things you really need to get done, as well as the thing you want to get done. Having that list will help you get organized and better manage your time for the day. It also might help alleviate the stress that comes with managing multiple tasks and deadlines.

Person typing on a laptop and writing in a notebook


2. Set aside time to reply to emails

Many of us respond to work emails on the go, or in between other tasks. But if you carve out a window of time each day to reply to emails, you're more likely to send cohesive, grammatically correct messages. And it's worth making that small effort, because the way you communicate, whether verbally or otherwise, is a reflection of your level of professionalism. Having that time set aside should also prevent you from getting distracted by emails when you're in the middle of more pressing tasks -- and that, in turn, might improve your performance on a whole.

3. Pay closer attention to what your colleagues are doing

If you're lucky enough to work with a bunch of superstars who are great at what they do, it pays to be mindful of how they pull it off. Do they use certain tools to manage their workflow? Do they conduct themselves a certain way so as to gain the respect of those around them? Take a few minutes each day to observe those co-workers who seem to be exceptionally good at their jobs, and try to figure out what they're doing right. Then, aim to apply those tactics to your own job.

4. Ask more questions

Along the same lines, you shouldn't hesitate to use your colleagues as a resource -- so if you see them doing well, don't be shy about asking what their secrets are. And the same holds true for your boss. Ideally, your manager should serve as a mentor of sorts, so ask what he or she did to climb the ranks and reach that level. You might even think about approaching other managers at your company and asking to pick their brains. People tend to respond well to flattery, which means that if you approach them from a place of respect, they're more likely to be helpful in answering your questions.

5. Take a 15-minute break (at a minimum) each day

It's noble to want to power through your daily tasks, even if that means scarfing down a sandwich at your desk while scanning data simultaneously. But if you're looking to boost your performance, try turning off your brain for 15 minutes a day (or more) and taking a much-needed break. Stepping away from your desk for a bit will allow you to recharge and refocus, which might actually improve your productivity for the remainder of the day -- so schedule a recurring afternoon break and give yourself a touch of downtime.

Sometimes, it's the small things that really matter when it comes to doing better on the job. Follow these tips, and your performance is more likely to improve than not.