New year, new you! Resolutions to improve your work life

Joe Svetlik

Friday 2 January 2015

The new year is the perfect time to rid yourself of bad habits and instil some better ones. All it takes is a little sticking power. Keep these up for three months and habits will be formed, making you more efficient at work and happier overall.

1. Master time management

Focus on one thing at a time, and don’t start another until you’ve finished the task at hand. Prioritise. Set goals, objectives and deadlines. Delegate. Take some time out every now and then to look at how you work, and think about smarter ways to get more from your time. You’d be amazed how much time we waste, and how much you can get done when you’re strict with yourself.

2. Don’t dwell on your inbox

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, office workers spend almost a third of their working week managing their emails. Restrict yourself by only checking your inbox once an hour, so that you can focus on useful tasks instead. Better yet, do away with internal email altogether – check out our guide on alternatives. Let’s be honest… if it was urgent, they’d phone.

3. Take more breaks

In his landmark book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey tells the story of the woodcutter whose saw gets more blunt with every tree he fells. If he only stopped to sharpen his saw, he would save himself much time and anguish later. Take regular breaks to relax and unwind, and you’ll come to problems with a fresh mind and new ideas. Your work, and your state of mind, will both improve.

4. Plan tomorrow’s work

It’s incredible how much unfinished tasks can nag at us and intrude into our lives. In their paper ‘Consider It Done!  Plan Making Can Eliminate the Cognitive Effects of Unfulfilled Goals’, Masicampo and Baumeister discovered that you don’t have to complete the task to mentally tick it off the list; planning is almost as good. When subjects made specific plans about a task, they thought about it a lot less when engaged in other pursuits. The result? More focus and greater efficiency, both at work and at home.

5. If all else fails, bring a dog to work

According to a study by Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business, dogs make offices much less stressful. “Dogs in the workplace can make a positive difference,” says Randolph T. Barker, Ph.D, professor of management at the faculty. “The differences in perceived stress between the day the dog was present and absent were significant. The employees as a whole had higher job satisfaction than industry norms.” Sounds barking, but it works.

There’s no better time to make resolutions – stick to them, and you’ll notice a real difference in your work life.

Building the next-gen data centre

Where traditional and web-scale apps co-exist