Most of us start the New Year hoping to be better versions of ourselves.
Our work lives, especially, are an easily quantified place to improve: We’re rewarded for jobs well done in promotions or raises, and given formal reviews.
But what about the more vague aspects of your career—like why you’re always showing up exhausted, or can’t seem to focus deeply on what’s most fulfilling? In the last year, we’ve tried to get to the bottom of those areas for improvement, too. The interpersonal soft skills and self-care are what make the more tangible successes shine.
We’re starting 2015 by sharing 10 ways you can be better at your job this year:
Whether you’re jotting a list on sticky notes like Jim Koch, or in a typed and well-annotated creation like Barbara McCann, your to-do game can ramp up in 2015. Get out your pen and paper and start practicing your list-making skills by writing these tips down.
Buying into the “culture of busy” is not only making you dumber, it’s keeping you from your best work. If 2014 felt like it flew by in a constant state of overwork, change that this year—and start bragging about how efficient you are, instead of how many hours you spent chained to a desk.
You can’t be a better employee if you’re still dragging into the office an hour late and half-asleep. If you find what makes you bound out of bed like it’s Christmas morning, . But that’s only part of the solution. Starting a better bedtime routine—like reading an inspiring book or writing down question that need answers—can make you more creative, and less drowsy come 7 a.m.
Show up, do the smallest possible step, just get started. We’ve covered procrastination extensively, from reasons why you’re afraid to fail, or setting a too-high bar. Start knocking out that to-do list by simply doing.
Distractions happen. Sometimes, distraction can even be productive. It sounds counterintuitive, but procrastination and productivity can work together, when you’re trying to solve a difficult problem or coax your creativity out of its hiding place. A little busywork, and even Internet surfing, could do the trick. If your boss asks why you’re on Facebook, send her this article.
Your midday break is another unexpected place to get better at your job: By stepping away from it for an hour. Studies show that walking, socializing, and getting fresh air all help you return to your desk refreshed and more ready to work than if you’d powered through.
The negotiation skill-honing doesn’t end once you’ve landed the job. Become the best communicator in your office this year, by being confident about what you want, and direct when asking questions. Your clients will appreciate it, and your boss will wonder what happened to your former small-talking self.
Ready to move up in the company, or just shake up your current role? “If all you do is what is listed in your job description, it’s impossible to get ahead,” says career author Dan Schawbel. Keep an open mind about what you’re saying yes to—and what to turn down when it isn’t furthering your own vision—and see where the new attitude takes you.
The end of the year is a time to reflect on your personal and professional progress—and to get dragged into performance reviews that might hold a few less-positive notes on your work. Embrace the failures as learning opportunities, and take the criticism as a chance to grow. But at the very least, don’t let feedback build up for a whole year, or wait for your boss to dole it out annually.
The “I’m a perfectionist” excuse doesn’t cut it when your reputation for timely quality work is on the line. And you’re killing yourself with overachiever mind-set, paralyzing progress with your hang-ups. Put yourself and your mental well-being first in the coming year, and the rest will follow suit.