This is the time of year when people start thinking about New Year’s resolutions – everything from getting in shape to getting out of debt. But how many people think about focusing on change in their work life?
Given that most people spend at least a third of their waking hours at work, it makes sense to direct a little of your resolution energy towards the workplace. Here are ten simple goals that can make you happier and more productive at work:
Not taking periodic breaks during the workday is bad for both your concentration and your body. Avoid becoming a desk potato. Get up and move every hour even for just a few minutes. Take your lunch break away from your desk. People who take frequent breaks throughout the day are more focused, creative and have greater physical and mental well-being.
Use all of your vacation days
Almost half of working people do not use their paid vacation days. Not only is that money out of your pocket, not taking vacation time contributes to employee burnout. Take your vacation, either in a series of extended weekends or in a longer stretch. You will return to work rested and rejuvenated.
Use the commute home to decompress
After a long day it’s easy to drag the office home with you. Create a new ritual to help decompress during your commute. Take the first few minutes to think about your number one priority for the next day. Instead of focusing on what didn’t go well or didn’t get down, think about your accomplishments. Then spend the rest of the time relaxing by listening to music or an audio book or simply breathing and being present. You’ll enter your house in a much better frame of mind.
Unplug from the office
Laptops and smart phones have created an environment in which people never really get away from work. Checking messages and emails when you could be relaxing, working out or spending time with your family is just a bad habit. Unless there is a real crisis at the office, whatever else is happening can wait until tomorrow. Try a totally unplugging one or both days on the weekend.
Focus on one task at a time
The research is pretty conclusive: multi-tasking is counterproductive. It’s also pervasive in the workplace. If you would like to increase your productivity and efficiency, focus on one task at a time. Minimize distractions such as checking email or social media while you are working on a task. Reduce interruptions by using a do not disturb sign for portions of the day.
Be on time
Fifteen percent of people are late arriving at work at least once a week. Chronically late meetings are a common complaint in the workplace. Whether it’s being on time for the start of the day, or for the start of meetings, punctuality is a sign of respect. Arrange your schedule so that you can arrive on time. It will reduce your stress as you spend less time rushing around and it will demonstrate your professionalism to your boss and co-workers .
Keep your workspace tidy
Contrary to what some people might think, clutter is not a reflection of creativity. It’s simply disorganization. Not only does clutter affect productivity as you search for things you need, it also serves as a form of distraction. Organize your workspace and then take a few minutes at the end of each day to tidy up before leaving the office.
Give up gossiping
Gossip is another bad habit that can run rampant in many workplaces. There is no upside to gossip. It creates rumours, negatively impacts morale and reduces productivity. Refrain from participating in gossip sessions and make an effort instead to share positive stories about others.
Learn something new
After an initial learning curve in any career, it’s easy to let our familiarity and comfortableness lead us into stagnation. Resolve to learn something new each month. Stretch yourself by learning a new skill. Read a trade or business magazine. Watch a TED talk. Attend a conference. Take a course.
Express your appreciation
Sharing your gratitude is a win-win for you, your clients and your co-workers. Make a point of expressing your appreciation to someone at least once per day. It might take the form of a little note or a verbal comment. While acknowledging people’s accomplishments is great, recognizing their human qualities is particularly powerful. Telling people you appreciate their hard work, or dedication or passion takes only a moment and helps to build kind and compassionate workplaces.
Here’s the key:
If you want to be successful with your resolutions at work or anywhere else, there are two things to remember. Choose one thing to focus on. Trying to make too many changes just leaves you distracted and likely to abandon your resolution.
Then be consistent. Small steps taken consistently create change.
For this new year, pick one thing from the list above and then make a commitment to do it every day.
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What is your workplace resolution for the new year?