The New Year brings fresh energy and the opportunity to evaluate whether our behavior is bringing us closer to, or further from, our professional goals.
I’m sharing simple tips to include in your routine, as well as some common pitfalls to avoid to help create some positive workplace habits.
A goal-setting marathon. By marathon, I mean setting aside a block of time, whether an afternoon, evening or sometime in between, to get clear about your professional and personal goals for 2014. Go a step further by writing down specific action steps and “complete by” dates to make each goal more tangible. Ask a good friend if he or she would like to be your accountability partner, or download a goal-setting app to keep you on track.
Fueling your day with a dose of positive perspective. This will mean different things to different people, but the list can range from making time to eat breakfast with your kids before rushing off to school and work, to scheduling a Skype call with a friend in another state once a week. Use your commute time to listen to an audio book, or just be still and appreciate the quiet before the daily office rush. Make it a point to continue to find ways to incorporate happiness and motivation into your day.
Prioritizing work-related tasks by importance level. An old fashioned, daily to-do list will help to ensure that the most critical items get crossed off of your calendar. Don’t feel bad if you carry things over from day to day. It’s totally up to you, and you get to choose what takes precedence. You can also add and remove as situations come up; it’s just a way to keep you focused on what needs to get done. I often carry over a task and after a few days realize it’s not as important as I originally thought, or I will delete it entirely from my list.
Managing your time to leave the office at a reasonable hour. There are always exceptions to this rule, but generally the longer you stay after hours, the less productive you become. It’s crucial to have work-life balance, for health reasons, for your family and to avoid professional burnout. When you get home, turn off your technology and redirect your attention to your personal life.
Carrying a small notebook to jot down thoughts, ideas and reminders. If you are anything like me, I will think of a new idea, hear a wonderful quote or see something I want to remember, but by the time I get back to my office, I’ve forgotten it. When something impacts you, big or small, jot it down so you won’t forget it. I passed by a book the other day in the airport and I loved the title, Getting Past What You Can’t Get Over. While I didn’t buy the book, that little sentence reminded me of something powerful. For me, it was an important note I wanted to remember, and I took out my little notebook to remind myself right then and there. Yes, I could have used my cell phone to capture it, but there is something about writing it down that makes it more memorable in the long run.
Arriving late (and/or unprepared) to meetings. If you’ve already earned a reputation as being the last to arrive to meetings, adjust your routine (and alarm clock) to rid yourself of this unwanted title. It’s a sign that you have poor time management skills, and you will find that people will quickly lose respect as you continue to interrupt meetings and fumble around for papers you left behind. Your boss and clients are watching.
Comparing yourself to others. It’s one thing to take note of reasons you may have been passed over for a promotion, but quite another to become angry and bitter over someone else’s success. Stop looking backwards at your competition and look instead at how you can be the best at your own job.
Complaining. Yes, you may have demanding clients or a supervisor who excels at micro-managing your day, but using valuable time and energy to complain about their behavior won’t change your situation. Learn how you can adapt to their personalities and think ahead as to how you can divert some of the scenarios that frustrate you most. Change your attitude and your situation may change as well.
For more tips on creating a positive workplace environment, refer to Business Etiquette: Staying Positive in the Workplace.
Happy New Year,