Whatever your motivation is, it’s never too late to change
It’s that time of the year when we reflect on kicking bad habits and start on the positive ones. Making new year resolutions for your working life should be worth your time since you spend at least eight hours on it, five times a week.
What will 2015 be for you? Is it going to be your year of ruthless execution? The year that you will move to greener pastures? The year that you get promoted?
Whatever your goal is, here are 10 office resolutions worth considering.
1. Get to work earlier
Do you notice that most chief executive officers and leaders are the earliest to arrive at the office?
Most people think this has to do with role modelling but there is a more functional reason behind it: they simply get more things done.
Studies show that you’re at your best cognitive capacity within your first two waking hours.
These are also the best hours to be “in the zone” while everyone else is still hitting the road.
Check out the diary of a guy who experimented waking up and working at 4am every day for 21 days.
2. Take your vacation leaves
There was a time in the early 2000s when bragging your unused leave days to your officemates was cool.
These days we can only feel sorry for a colleague who can’t take personal time for himself or herself.
This 2015, you should appreciate that life really happens when you exit the office doors. Take time off to travel so you can be inspired.
Take a strategic Friday leave to settle your expired driver’s licence, passport and bank accounts.
Let go of your messianic complex and stop being paranoid that the world will stop because you’re not in the office.
If there is an emergency, someone will likely call you.
3. Send shorter e-mails
Successful people get more things done because they keep everything short and concise, including e-mails.
E-mails are documented impressions of how a person thinks and organises his or her thoughts, so write e-mails that are clear and straight to the point.
Whenever possible, use bullet points, tables, and known acronyms. Not only do you save time from writing less, your colleagues will also thank you for making them read less.
Finally, don’t discuss ideas over e-mails like ping pong. Go to the person directly, or make a quick phone call to settle things immediately.
4. Cut the painful commute – move closer to work
It’s normal for city folks in South-East Asia to travel an average of two to four hours to work because of traffic congestion.
Remember that the amount of energy you put into your work and the good mood you bring home to your family are inversely proportional to the amount of stress you absorb along the road.
Long commutes destroy happiness. People who have better jobs or bigger houses but live far away from work are less happy than those who enjoy shorter commutes.
If it is true that every factor to success matters, you might want to consider moving closer to work.
You get bonus points for more sleeping time too.
5. Challenge the status quo once in a while
In 1993, Delta Airlines followed a suggestion of a cabin crew to take out the lettuce as base for salads because passengers rarely ate it.
In one year, the airline saved a whopping US$1.4mil just by weeding out those leaves. Indeed, small ideas can deliver big things.
This 2015, think of all your projects and reports, and ask yourself: how many of these really bring in money for the business, and how many of these are done just because “we’ve been doing it for years”?
It’s time for you to speak up and share your ideas that may be equally as good as your boss’s (or even better).
It’s time for you to challenge the status quo, and for you to learn how to say no.
6. Stop eating lunch at your desk
I always tell my colleagues that food eaten in front of the computer screen is not as delicious as food you eat outside.
Lunch time is a sacred time that you should use for re-energising and rebooting your brain for work in the afternoon.
There are more benefits to eating outside your cubicle:
- you’re likely to choose healthier food (versus the convenient fast food)
- your networking opportunity increases by sharing a seat with someone at the cafeteria, and
- eating is arguably the best way to bond personally and professionally with your teammates.
This 2015, be conscious of the number of times you eat lunch at your desk – you’re likely missing a lot!
7. Exercise, exercise, exercise
More than just wiping out your love handles, exercise also does wonders for the brain.
Take note that your body feels “stressed” whenever you exercise and as a defence mechanism, it releases hormones that have reparative and resetting functions.
Do you notice that you feel happier and able to think better after exercising?
Hormones such as endorphins cause that, which is probably the reason why your energetic colleague beats you at work even if he or she spends more time on the treadmill.
You have no excuse this 2015: 10 minutes of exercise a day is just about okay, the experts say.
8. Find a career mentor besides your boss
There are many senior managers out there who are genuinely passionate in grooming their own protégés.
It feels rewarding to have one, and because great leaders are never insecure to share what they know.
This 2015, find a mentor outside your department who can share career advice from time to time.
Look for someone who can improve your negotiation skills, for example. Request the person to introduce you to more people in the company.
Ask about the failures and mistakes as the person climbed up the corporate ladder.
Think of your mentor as your sponsor in the Hunger Games: they come and go as they please, but they’re necessary for your survival in the competition.
9. Power dress when the occasion calls for it
The saying that “form follows content” is dead in 2015.
I’ve always believed that the world is all about packaging, whether we like it or not.
Looks significantly matter. We choose products based on their wrappers and more attractive people are promoted over their less aesthetic counterparts.
So invest in clothes that can nail down that critical presentation for the VIPs.
Sell yourself like a brand. Be consistent with an ensemble that projects a confident you.
Your clothes don’t need to stand out (it’s not about dressing for a catwalk), but it should say: “I’m ready for a bigger task”.
10. Spend less time on social media
The numbers don’t lie. We are tempted to check our Facebook about 14 times a day and yet it takes us around 20 minutes to get back to work and finish a task after being disrupted.
Seriously, how much are you really missing out if you don’t check Instagram for three hours?
This 2015, be more self-aware that social media are the ultimate productivity killers that can make or break your promotion.
Try getcoldturkey.com or anti-social.cc which can help you temporarily block social media sites and achieve laser-sharp focus with your work.
Take Muhammed Ali’s advice when it comes to social media starvation:
“Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
Onwards to a successful 2015
The key to all the resolutions is discipline and grit. It will depend on how badly you want change.
Some will be effectively motivated by fear, some by rewards, and some by the mere wanting of a fresh start.
Whatever your motivation is, I wish you the best in 2015. May you have a successful new year!
To engage Jonathan for organisational work in your organisation, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop us a line or two in the comment box provided. For more Consulting Corner articles, click here.
Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 10 January 2015