Each year the majority of working Americans set personal goals as New Year’s resolutions, often electing to slim down, eat healthier or break bad habits in hopes of bettering their wellbeing. Such personal resolutions undoubtedly affect our personal life, but I wonder… because most full-time employees spend the majority of their conscious time at work, why don’t more people set work resolutions? If we could make changes at work to be a little more efficient and organized, how would it affect our personal wellbeing and life at home? I’m guessing we’d have a little less stress, a little more free time, and an increased sense of ease.
Here are a few work resolutions to make you a more efficient employee this year. And remember… you’re doing it for you, but it won’t hurt if the boss notices too…
It’s a proven and well-known fact that multi-tasking actually hurts (rather than helps) productivity. Though it’s hard to avoid the constant disruptions of pinging emails, text alerts or ringing phones, you need to find a way to shut them off while you focus on work. While performing work tasks, keep your cell phone in a drawer on silent, set your computer to mute, and direct incoming calls straight to voicemail. Check your messages in between projects and tasks throughout the day.
Drink water and snack right
Dehydration and high-carbohydrate diets can leave your body fatigued and your brain foggy. For optimal performance, enthusiasm and sharpness, it’s important to give your body the nutrients it needs. Look to this list of healthy desk-friendly snacks from Cooking Light for ideas.
Make Your Commute Count
Ever wish you had more time at the office to clear your head and focus on one thing for an extended period of time? The commute is a great time for brainstorming. Get into the habit of selecting one task at the end of each day that you will “think on” as you go to work the next day. You’ll arrive at the office ready to dive in and may be even more inspired to get started with a plan already populated in your mind.
Take Your Time
Sometimes we’re in such a hurry to get things done, we do tasks at such a rapid pace we make errors and end up having to re-do the task all over again. The task then takes twice the amount of time and effort than if you would have simply slowed down to do it correctly the first time. Sometimes it’s hard to slow down. Remind yourself by taking a breath and a moment before starting on or reacting to requests, and always ask for deadlines to help manage your time.
Learn to Say “No”
Everyone wants to be liked and any team player wants to help others at the office. But if you are consistently helping and you’re not getting your own work done, you need to learn to start saying “no” when people ask for favors. There are nice ways to tell someone you’re simply too busy with your own work, or if you just can’t say no, always ask for a deadline and prioritize your projects and tasks with the person seeking your help to assure they understand the impact it will have on your workload.
Take Advantage of Technology
The breadth of convenience features available to us on computers, tablets and phones is astounding. Many of us don’t use all of the features available on these devices, and some of us don’t even know the full capability they offer. Take the time to learn how to use and sync calendars, set alerts, auto file content, etc. Or approach it from another angle. List the most time-consuming tasks of your day and ask yourself… How can I use the technology available to me to expedite this process?
As the New York Times reports in the article To Stay on Schedule, Take a Break, evidence shows that “taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and creativity — and skipping breaks can lead to stress and exhaustion.” Between major tasks, get up and walk around, take personal time for yourself to gain back your motivation and momentum before tackling the next thing on your list.