Employers love workers who come up with creative ways to be more productive. When you not only provide a lot of value but also suggest ways the company can improve, you set yourself up as an irreplaceable asset. Here are five simple steps to be more effective in your work, which will help you become an indispensable part of your company:

1. Make a Plan for Each Day – Do you ever get to the end of a day and wonder what you accomplished? You can’t afford to let too many days slip away like that. A good way to make the most of your time is to plan ahead. At the end of the day, take a few minutes to evaluate your performance during the day. Did you accomplish everything you wanted to? If not, was it because of circumstances beyond your control or can you do something different in the future?

Then schedule the next day’s workload. You don’t have to give exact timeframes for working on specific projects if you prefer to have more flexibility, but you should at least prioritize your projects and make sure the most important ones get done first. With this system, you can measure your productivity and find areas for improvement.

2. Get Rid of Distractions – Do you really need to have a Web browser open all the time or be in constant contact with employees and clients via email or phone? Sometimes you need to disconnect and just focus on the task at hand. Silence all the noise that distracts you from getting more things done. You should definitely check your email and voicemail from time to time so you don’t miss something important, but try to schedule certain times of day to do that rather than allowing them to always take first priority.

3. Take Periodic Breaks – Even the best workers need to unwind from time to time. Often the best ideas come when you’re not thinking directly about a problem, but when it’s in the back of your mind. I recommend taking a walk in the middle of the day. Bring something to write on in case you come up with a brilliant idea along the way, but don’t go specifically for that purpose. Just go to relax and let the other side of your brain stretch itself for a while. As an added bonus, this is a good chance to get some sunshine and exercise, both of which can help combat depression and increase self-confidence.

I also recommend taking vacation time. Staying home or going on a trip for a few days once in a while is perfectly healthy. If you feel like you never have enough time to unplug for very long, take a look at your priorities and time management and make a few adjustments. Being away might even demonstrate to people at your company how important your contributions are.

4. Learn New Skills – If you can master multiple parts of your company’s operations and become known as the go-to person in a number of fields, you can cement your place atop the corporate food chain. You don’t have to try to become an expert on everything or take on too much all at once. During your daily planning sessions, set goals on what you’d like to understand better and monitor your progress.

These new skills can flow organically from what you already do. For example, if you’re a salesperson, you can learn more about some of the technical specifications of the products you sell or the issues that customers call in about after they’ve purchased those products. This knowledge can help you do a better job in your core activities. You may even find that you enjoy a different job better than your current one and ask for a transfer when a new position opens up.

5. Share Your Ideas – This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Don’t be shy about sharing new ideas with your superiors and/or coworkers. Even if you spend time planning ahead, getting rid of distractions, thinking creatively, and learning new skills, none of it will do any good if you never take the time to put what you’ve learned into words and deeds.

Thinking outside the box and coming up with new approaches to old problems is a great way to get management’s attention and make yourself stand out as an essential employee. Whether it’s improving your customer response time, making a persuasive selling argument, adding new product features, or virtually anything else, if it can make your company more efficient and/or increase sales, go ahead and suggest it. If your corporate culture doesn’t already welcome innovative ideas, hopefully they’ll start once you set the example.

I’m sure there are other things you can do to make yourself an indispensable employee, but these are all ones that work well for me. If you have your own suggestions, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to leave a comment below.