It’s that time of the year again when we reflect on kicking bad habits and start on positive ones that we’ve been postponing for ages. Making New Year’s resolutions for your office life should be worth your time since you spend at least eight hours of your day on it, 5 times a week.
What will 2016 be for you? Is it going to be your year of ruthless execution? The year that you will move out to greener pastures? The year that you will finally get promoted? Whatever your goal is, here are ten new year office resolutions worth considering that may just change your career for good.
1. Consume your vacation leaves. There was a time in the early 2000’s when bragging your unused VL’s to your officemates was sexy because you’ve worked harder than anyone else. These days we can only feel sorry for a colleague who can’t steal personal time for herself.
This 2016 is the year that you should appreciate that life really happens when you exit the office doors. Take the time off to travel so you can be more inspired at work. Take a strategic Friday leave to fix your expired driver’s license, 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 the situation really calls for an emergency, someone will likely give you a ring. (READ: The 4 Things You Should Stop Doing At Work)
2. Send shorter e-mails. Successful people get more things done because they keep everything short, including e-mails. They don’t have time to read or write novel-length letters –and neither should you.
E-mails are documented impressions of how a person thinks and organizes his thoughts so write concise ones that are clear, straight to the point, and confident.
When possible, use bullet points not sentences, tables not paragraphs, and acronyms not phrases. Not only do you save time from writing less, your colleagues will also thank you for reading less.
Finally, don’t discuss ideas over e-mails like ping pong. Ambush the person at her cube, or make a quick phone call to get things settled immediately.
3. Get to work earlier. Do you notice that CEOs and leaders are the earliest to arrive in 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. And don’t we all get that delicious feeling of being accomplished at 9 am while we see an officemate just about to pop into her cube?
If you want a more personal testimony, check out the diary of this guy who experimented waking up and working at 4 AM every day for 21 days.
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4. Cut the painful commute; move closer to work. It’s normal for Manila folks to travel on average for 4 hours a day to work and it’s arguably the saddest reminder of how our taxes are spent.
Remember that a) the amount of energy you put into your work and b) the good mood you bring home to your wife and kids are inversely proportional to the amount of stress you absorb along EDSA. 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.
Aspiring to get promoted in 2016? 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 that served as base for salads because passengers rarely ate it. In one year, Delta Airlines saved a whopping USD 1.4M just by weeding out those leaves. Indeed, small ideas can deliver big things.
This 2016, think of all your projects and reports and ask yourself: how many of these really make money for 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 as equally as good as your boss’s (or even better).
It’s time for you to challenge the status quo, and it’s time for you to learn how to say no. After all, no one else knows your project like the back of your hand but you. You have all the credibility to back up your suggestion just like the Delta cabin crew member.
6. Stop eating lunch at your desk. I always tell my work colleagues that food eaten in front of the computer screen is not as delicious as the ones you eat outside the office. Lunch time is a sacred time that you should use for reenergizing and rebooting your brain for work in the afternoon.
There are more benefits to eating outside your cube: a) you’re likely to choose healthier food (versus the convenient fast food), b) your networking opportunity increases by sharing a seat with someone at the cafeteria, and c) eating is arguably the best way to bond personally and professionally with your teammates.
This 2016, be conscious of the number of times you eat lunch at your desk – you’re likely missing a lot!
7. Exercise, exercise, exercise. This is the year when people should start realizing that exercise has been too much associated with weight loss. More than 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 defense mechanism, it releases hormones that have reparative and resetting functions.
Do you notice that you feel happy and able to think better after exercising? Hormones such as endorphin cause that, which is probably the reason why your energetic colleague beats you at work even if he spends more time at the thread mill. You have no excuse this 2016: 10 minutes of exercise a day is just about okay, says experts.
8. Find a career mentor besides your boss.
There are plenty of senior managers out there who are genuinely passionate to groom their own protégés because it feels rewarding to have one, and because great leaders are never insecure to share what they know.
This 2016, find a mentor outside your department (i.e. not your boss) who can share career advice from time to time. Look for someone who can improve your negotiation skills. Request her to introduce you to more people (including the big wigs) in the company. Ask about her failures and mistakes as she 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 2016. As a marketer, 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 beautiful people are promoted than their aesthetically challenged counterparts.
What you write in your e-mails can be judged in parallel with how you dress so invest in clothes (and don’t regret what you’ll be spending!) that can nail down that critical presentation for the VIPs. Sell yourself like a brand. Be consistent with an ensemble that can project a confident and sharp you.
Your clothes don’t need to stand out (this is not about dressing up for a catwalk), but it should be able shout: “I’m ready for a bigger desk”.
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 3 hours? This 2016, be more self-aware that social media are the ultimate productivity killers that can make or break your much-awaited promotion.
Try coldturkey.com or anti-social.cc which can help you temporarily block social media sites and achieve laser-sharp focus with your work. Take Mohammed 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 2016
The key to all the resolutions above is discipline and grit. It will all depend on how you want change so bad. 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 2016. May you all have a successful new year so go grab those dreams! – Rappler.com
Jonathan Yabut is the winner of the hit reality business TV show, The Apprentice Asia, and was popularly known in the show for his people skills, leadership and passionate speeches in the “boardroom.” He is currently based in Kuala Lumpur as the Chief of Staff of AirAsia reporting to Malaysian business mogul, Tony Fernandes. Apart from work, he engages in motivational talks about youth, leadership and entrepreneurship across Southeast Asia and is represented by the London Speaker Bureau. He recently launched his book about his journey to becoming the first Asian Apprentice, From Grit to Great. Visit his website at jonathanyabut.com