New year resolutions are literally nothing new but it is a useful habit to get into.
It is said that 4,000 years ago, citizens of the Babylonian Empire used to reconsider their financial obligations at the start of each year, return borrowed farm equipment and pay off debts.
History doesn’t relate how successfully they managed to stick to their resolutions but the concept is definitely worth mulling over and adding to your work skills arsenal.
We don’t think that there is any project, work or personal, that doesn’t benefit from a second look or revised iteration, and our working lives are no different.
Preparing for 2020
Clear your desk
Try and find some time as the year is still young to review your current workload. For each outstanding
matter//file/task, try to physically or metaphorically get it off your desk by the end of January.
- Close the file if that is possible, tie up any final matters and loose ends.
- Invoice for any work done
- If the file/work cannot be closed, make an action plan and/or decide whether you need to pass the matter to someone else/ another department if you cannot make any further progress.
Review your year
It is always helpful to look back as you also look forward. After all, that’s how January got its name – Janus, the Roman god of new beginnings was thought to have two faces since he looks to the future and also to the past.
Consider your balance of work from the last year and do a personal appraisal of how well you thought the year went. Did you derive satisfaction from what you achieved? Are there any areas that you’d like to improve, or change?
5 Resolution suggestions for 2020
Use your reflections to decide one thing to work on for 2020. It’s no good creating a mega wish-list, tempting as that might be. Experts suggest that the way to succeed at changing your habits is to make one attainable target and create a thought-through plan as to how to actually change your mindset.
You could consider one of the following as your 2020 resolution:
Resolve to… Build your network
Driving new business and creating new work opportunities usually means working on your contact list – which in reality translates as networking. If you work in-house, that could mean getting a foot in the door of other departments where your support might be needed (or to better understand the business). As a consultant, networking can mean working on your personal brand online.
Consider first how you maintain your current network and whether that is working. If it is, do more of it, but if not, look at how you could improve.
Can you up the ante on social media (probably LinkedIn, but you will know your client base best) and create content worthy of sharing?
Challenge yourself to join a networking group, attend a networking event every month or sign up for courses, talks and workshops.
Tip: If you find networking a real challenge, try to make sure to talk to at least one new person at each event you attend and get their contact details – follow up afterwards, even just to say hello. If you can add them on LinkedIn, so much the better.
Resolve to… Use working time more effectively
As they say, work smarter, not harder. Do you have any time-intensive habits that you can lose?
Are you spending enough time focusing on the top priority tasks or do you whittle away your working hours with time-consuming but ultimately not strategic activities? Do you procrastinate too much, spending 10 or 12 hours at your desk but actually only able to invoice half of that?
Having an honest look at how you work and where you could improve could make all the difference for 2020 targets / billing and profit.
Tip: If you realise you procrastinate a fair amount, try a focusing technique such as the Pomodoro Technique whereby you work and take breaks to a specific pattern. It works really well for focusing during repetitive but essential tasks.
Resolve to… Make data-led decisions
Make this the year that you use data to make your decisions. Whether you’re deciding how to better spend your time, what work gaps you have, identify key metrics and each week, month or quarter (as appropriate) note and assess.
Reasons to be data-led:
- Use data to your advantage – remain competitive
- Get deeper insight into customer/client needs and expectations
- Detect new (or missed) opportunities earlier
- Respond faster – be more agile
Tip: Be clear as to what data you are analysing and why – and make sure to actually draw insights from your reporting.
Resolve to… Improve the client/colleague experience
Stop and think about things from your clients’ or colleagues’ perspective (or, in line with the data resolution above, is there a way to survey them – formally or informally).
What is working for them? What is not? Could communication be better? Is there anything you can standardise to improve your professional network’s expectations?
Tip: Much like with making resolutions, you won’t be able to fix everything at once, so pick one priority and work from there.
Resolve to… Retain a work/life balance
What does your work-life balance look like? Is it working for you? Whilst accepting that there is no such thing as a perfect balance, are there any steps that you can take to improve things?
- Take your full lunch break (at least once a week, if not daily)
- Get outside – try walking the last part of your journey
- Whether self-employed or employed, plan vacation breaks
- Read or listen to a podcast on your commute if you have one, rather than always checking emails.