New Year’s Resolutions for the Office
We’re two weeks in to 2013 already. How are your New Year’s resolutions going? I will confess that I’ve set a couple for myself, one of which I haven’t started yet but I totally will. Next week. It seems many people have set a resolution along the lines of “be better at my job.” Well, that’s a pretty broad resolution, isn’t it? I started thinking about what basic changes someone could make to be better at his job and realized that there are a lot of simple ideas that can lead to a better workday. Please join me in reviewing 5 simple resolutions for a better workday.
1. Start your day early.
As we’ve mentioned, a great deal of Intapromote’s workforce works virtually, and I feel this is especially important for virtual workers. It can be very tempting to roll out of bed and stroll straight over to the desk and start checking email, however, that’s not very fair to your brain. Give your brain a chance to recover from sleeping. Read the news. Do a Sudoku puzzle. Talk to your spouse/children/parents. Workout. Enjoy a cup of coffee. These are all simple ways to get your brain active before sitting down to work. Taking a shower and changing out of your pjs won’t hurt either.
2. Take breaks.
Just as your brain needs time to wake up, it also needs a break every once in a while. Forbes recently published a story about how goofing off can actually lead to a more productive workday. If you have a moment, I highly suggest you skip over there and read through their suggestions. For those of us who stare at a screen all day, these breaks are important for your eyes as well. Every few hours, I take just a couple minutes to close my eyes. If I’ve really been pushing it with the screen staring, I will not hesitate to administer a few refreshing eyedrops. It’s like a little spa for your eyes. While breaks are important, be careful that you’re not turning a quick break into a 30-minute discussion.
3. Keep your inbox tidy.
This is one of my biggest struggles. My inbox seems to have two settings: Empty or full. I am much happier when it’s empty. The idea seems simple: Get an email, read it, respond to it, file it (or delete it). And yet there are dozens of emails sitting in my inbox. My resolution with email is to avoid clicking that little arrow that takes me back to my inbox. I will respond to the email and then file it in the appropriate folder. If it requires follow up or has an action item, I will add it to my TaskForce to-do list. By utilizing TaskForce, I avoid using paper to jot down a reminder, I can set auto-reminders at various intervals so I can be sure the task is done and I can set a due date which will help me prioritize my workload. Most of all, it will help keep my inbox nice and clean.
4. Honor your to-do lists.
Speaking of TaskForce… It’s no secret that I am a lover of to-do lists and I use several different tools to create my lists. TaskForce has been my favorite of the past year by far. I’m assuming that most people are already creating to-do lists and if you’re not, well, I guess you get 6 tips rather than 5. In my role, I have a lot of ongoing projects that have no official due date and I’m sure that’s a truth for many people. With tasks like these, I find that adding it to the to-do list is very helpful. When you’ve finished the other items on your list, it becomes crystal clear that you should now work on that project that has been consistently placed on the backburner. Use your to-do list as a map to guide you through the canyons of your workweek.
5. Keep your work area clean.
I saved this one for last as I think it is easier to do if you’ve incorporated the above tips into your workday. A virtual to-do list will cut down on Post-Its and paper notes while taking a break to tidy things up will satisfy tips #2 and #5. A clean work area can help minimize distractions, makes it far easier to not lose things and leads to overall better organization. At the end of your day, take a look at your desk and see what can easily be tossed or straightened. Throw away all trash (recycling what you can!), take your coffee mugs to the kitchen, put office supplies in their proper places, shut down your computer and tuck your chair under the desk. This will also give a little routine to the end of your day, once again helping your brain transition from work mode into not-work mode.
Whatever your resolutions may be, I wish you luck with them. Have a happy, healthy, safe and productive 2013!