I Resolve… to Increase Performance at Work

Dear, Readers,

Let me ask YOU a question for a change. We’re a few weeks into the new year. This is the time when all those good intentions about going to the gym, eating healthier, and reducing debt/spending less seem to go by the wayside. If one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to increase productivity on the job, how are you doing?

Athlete Running Through Finish LineIncreasing performance at work is a common goal for professionals and organizations. It may come in the form of raised sales quotas, heightened customer satisfaction, or expanding your company’s reach digitally or through traditional brick and mortar.  But how can you take concrete steps to make these pie-in-the-sky targets a reality? Question everything.

Get Organized. January is a great time to take a look at your operational and project systems already in place, right down to the in-boxes on your team’s desks. Keep in mind that your organizational style may differ from your employees or co-workers. A pristine desk may help you concentrate, but Barry over in accounting can miraculously find any piece of information requested in all those piles on his desk! If you spend way too much time and aggravation trying to find past correspondence in Outlook, spend an hour or two now to organize for the coming year. I like this article, 10 Tips for Organizing Your E-mail, because it doesn’t give a one-size-fits-all answer.  You decide if you’re a searcher, a filer, or a tagger, and it suggests solutions for you.

Work Efficiently. Analyze your workday for inefficiencies. Return phone calls when people are more likely to be in their offices (8:30-9:30 a.m.), rather than in meetings or at lunch (10-2). Set aside blocks of time to check e-mail, deal with paperwork, or your odious task of choice. You’ll get more accomplished if you don’t interrupt yourself by feeling the need to read every e-mail the instant it dings. In fact, turn that alert off! Figure out your most productive times, and schedule your most difficult tasks according to your own circadian rhythms. You may need to let staff and co-workers know when you are not to be interrupted; a closed door is usually a pretty good hint.

Minimize Distractions. A recent survey from Ask.com found that noisy colleagues are the biggest distraction for workers, not Facebook or texting (though they are up there in the top 10)! It may be difficult to get complete peace and quiet in an open office environments. Wearing earbuds or noise cancelling headphones can help. Did you know that room temperature can also affect productivity at work? As one who is perpetually cold, I completely concur! Office environments that are either too chilly or too warm can lead to a loss in performance, so set that thermostat at a nice Goldilocks “just right” temperature.

Productivity keyMaximize Meetings. Industry Week once called meetings “the Great White Collar Crime” and estimated they waste $37 billion a year. While it would be silly to imagine a business environment without meetings, always have an agenda and always start on time (those tardy Teddies will soon get the message). No one likes to spend more time in meetings discussing the work than actually doing the job. If team members have trouble keeping it brief, suggest standing meetings to keep powwows on point!

Fine Tune Communication. Communicate yearly goals clearly to staff and colleagues through verbal as well as written instructions. If there has been a communication problem with a certain coworker, try to figure out how to better reach that person. He or she may have a different learning style (i.e., visual vs. aural), so see if you can tailor your interaction to accommodate.  Set up check-ins with all vested parties to make sure the train is still on the right track and project tasks are being completed on schedule. You don’t want to micromanage, but still want to keep tabs on projects in which you are involved.

By taking a fresh look at the status quo now, you’ll reap the benefits by meeting those end-of-year goals in December.

Readers: How do you plan to be more productive at work this year?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Want to receive these tips by email? Simply subscribe for once-a-week advice for career success!

I Resolve… to Get a New Job

Dear, Anita,

After being in a job that I’m not happy with, after much soul searching, I decided to quit and get a job I love!  It’s been a few months and I didn’t get many interviews during the holidays. Do you have any advice now that everyone is back to business? I’d love to start the new year out in a new job.

Dear, Shooting for the Stars,

I certainly don’t recommend quitting one job before getting another, but what’s done is done. Let’s start with a fresh approach.

Your CareerExplore Your Options.  What about your last job(s) made you unhappy? What tasks did you enjoy the most? To figure out what your dream job looks like, take advantage of some useful self-evaluation tools on  O*net OnLine, an occupation resource website sponsored by the US Department of Labor/ Employment and Training Administration.  Under Advanced Search, you can explore occupations based on your interests, skills, work values, and more. “Know thyself,” as the ancient Greek philosophers recommended. You don’t want to end up in another job where you’ll be unhappy again.

Résumé Review. Take a good look at your résumé. If it hasn’t been working so far, it may need a tune-up – minor or major. Review my post Reasons for No Résumé Response, have a colleague give you feedback, or bite the bullet and hire a professional résumé writing service like CareerPerfect to communicate your skills and experience in the best possible light.

Networking – Social and Traditional. If you’re an introvert, push yourself to do one networking task a week. Go to the chamber of commerce mixer or call an old colleague to ask if they know of any job openings. Haven’t completed your LinkedIn Profile? Checked the privacy settings on your Facebook page? Now is the time to make sure your social media presence is employer-friendly, with no embarrassing photos and off-color language. Google yourself; you may be surprised at the odd things that pop up. (Make sure your Amazon Wish List doesn’t contain anything weird!)

Learn a new job skill. If your newly discovered career goal requires upgraded skills, sign up for a class. If the training you need isn’t available at your local community college or job center, there are a myriad of options on the Internet.  While watching random software tip videos on YouTube can increase your knowledge, choosing a course that provides a certificate of completion you can tout on your résumé is preferable.

Create an action plan. You may have a long-term goal of becoming CEO of a company, but it probably won’t happen next week.  While long-range plans are important, it is equally important to break objectives into yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals. This segment from Kababayan Today gives some goal-setting tips for getting a job:

Readers: What is your work-related New Year’s Resolution? Do you plan to jump ship in 2014 and seek a new position? Take our poll above. 

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Want to receive these tips by email? Simply subscribe for once-a-week advice for career success!

Making Time To Exercise

A reader writes:

Hi Anita,

I have sworn to myself that this will be the year that I successfully keep my New Year’s Resolution. For many years, I have tried to eat healthier, make smarter choices, and get more exercise into my daily routine but I seem to fall of the wagon in a matter of weeks. What can I do to make sure I succeed at my goal and become a healthier, better me?

Thanks for the question, Eager to Exercise,Man Stretching at the Office

During the holiday season, many of us see our weight creep up on the scales — to the point that we make Santa Claus himself look like a runway model! One too many of Grandma’s famous cookies or an extra helping of mashed potatoes here and there can really expand the waistline. It is no wonder that the top New Year’s Resolution is to become more physically fit and get healthy, according to a survey conducted by FC Organizational Products in December 2011. With the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, where can you find the time to fit in exercise and smart diet choices? I have a few ideas that will help you be more active, involved in your health, and keep your resolutions all year long – even at work!

  • Avoid the elevators. Take the stairs whenever possible.
  • Park your car at the far end of the lot. Depending on the size of your parking lot or structure, you can make up for the half of a cookie you grabbed walking out the door. Remember, every step counts!
  • If possible, walk or bike to work. You are already leaving time to complete your standard commute. At least double your normal commute time and put your shoes and pedals to the pavement.
  • Find more opportunities to stand while working. Standing will increase blood flow throughout your body and relieve some soreness from muscles. It also takes more effort from your body to stand than it does to sit. Try taking a call with a head set or trade emails and phone calls for a walk over to a co-worker’s desk.
  • Make room for a quickie walk. Utilize your allotted break times or put 20 minutes of your lunch break aside to take a brisk walk around the building, either outside or inside.
  • Swap out your regular office chair for a large fitness ball.
  • Rise and shine. Wake up an hour or so earlier and take a fitness class at a local gym. By the time you get to work, you will be running on the energy you just earned at the gym and you also have freed up a whole hour after work for other activities.
  • Bring your exercise clothes to work with you. Anything you can do to make getting a workout in easier the better. You are also limiting your excuses for not making it to your sweat session.
  • Keep a set of these guys (look left) at your desk.
  • Make a run for it. Bring your lunch to work with you and swing by the gym on your lunch break. Even 25 minutes of exercise will have a positive effect on your day and health. Once you get back to the office, eat at your desk and refuel from your great workout.
  • Join or start a sports team at your work. Gather your co-workers for a game of kickball or basketball after work. Having other people depending on you and holding you accountable for the team will make it harder for you to wimp out at the last minute.
  • Snack the smart way. At all costs, avoid the vending machines at your office. These on -the-go food facilities are full of high sugar, calorie, and salt options with little to no nutritional value. Keep healthy snacks like fresh fruit, unsalted nuts, raw veggies, and yogurt with you or in the office fridge. For tips on how to keep it safe from thieves, check out my post, “Bring Your Own Lunch, Bandit.”

DumbellsI hope these tips help you stay on track with your New Year’s Resolution goals. Remember that it takes time to transition into new habits and ways of life. Make your goals small and achievable. If you have a slip-up or fall off the tracks, don’t give up. Pick yourself back up and start fresh.

What are you trying to achieve in 2013? What advice do you have for others trying to make their goals in the New Year?

For a quick workout while you are at the office, check out the video below!

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Best of Luck,
Anita

Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
%d bloggers like this: