Every New Year’s Eve is the same in many ways, we bid adieu to the outgoing year while eagerly anticipating the new one because this year, THIS YEAR, will be the year that we finally turn things around. You’re going to read a book every month, run a marathon and put away the phone to get in some real face time. By the following December you look around and see your book club’s February pick (half finished), the barely-used runners you abandoned after rolling your ankle in March and as for the face-to-face human contact, well they have an app for everything these days.
For all of your efforts and with the best of intentions, you set the bar high and barely made it out of the gates. Instead of setting yourself up to fail, try introducing big changes through smaller, more attainable goals. Also let’s start in the place where we spend most of our weekdays and could use the biggest boost - our work lives. Here are four simple steps you can take in 2017 to help maximize your productivity and effectiveness in your professional life.
A tidy inbox is a happy inbox, make that your mantra for 2017. Before delving into a whole new year of work and projects, try and take one day to go through and clean out your entire inbox. Go through your emails with a fine-toothed comb, deleting everything and unsubscribing from any email lists you don’t still need to be on. This goal is a great one to start with because the immediate gratification of staring at a spotless inbox is easy to achieve.
Once you’ve managed to get your email count back down to zero, take steps to keep it under control. Build out folders so you can store away any vital emails in a place where they can be easily found. Most importantly, avoid holding on to emails whenever possible and turn off notifications so that a new email doesn’t break your concentration or throw you off when you are in the zone.
Instead of reading a book every month, aim to read one news article or story relevant to your profession every day. Make the most out of your commute by listening to an audiobook or podcast, you’ll be surprised at the information you’ll soak up. Mentorships are another great way to tap into the knowledge and insights of a colleague with greater experience and valuable wisdom to share.
Even information not directly related to your job is valuable, it makes you more rounded and more valuable to your team or company. Also consider learning a new skill, not only will it make you a more compelling choice when promotions are being decided but it also helps your CV stand out from the crowd if you are looking for a new job.
If your goal in a meeting is to disappear into the wallpaper, then you may need to revaluate what you’re doing and how you could be contributing more. Organizations thrive on honest feedback and opinions and your coworkers will appreciate the insight that comes from experiences and ideas unique to you.
Being engaged while at work is also important for your own professional development. It’s vital that you understand the decisions that are being made and how they impact the business because this will often inform how you can support them in your role. By selecting even just one work-related issue you feel comfortable weighing in on, you will find your credibility improves and even more people start the next time you speak up. Your opinions and ideas are valuable so be brave and break out of your comfort zone.
In today’s high paced work environments, it is very easy to cloister yourself away in your office or cubicle which makes it even more important to go out and meet people. Don’t isolate yourself! Connecting with coworkers in the office is an important part of making workplaces friendly, happier and in turn more productive. Don’t fool yourself into think an email is an adequate substitute for real face to face interactions either, go over and start a dialogue or plan a lunch get-together.
Also look into networking opportunities outside your office. Go join a club, trade organization or board and be an active participant. Any situation that affords you the opportunity to connect with likeminded people and learn new ways to approach or think about issues are to be leapt upon. Not only will networking outside your office help you better navigate your current role, it can also be an invaluable asset when you are ready to look for work somewhere else.
Your New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be an elaborate exercise in disappointment. Introducing these four simple goals into your everyday professional life will help you in achieving the sense of productivity and accomplishment that we all want to enjoy at work.