A brand new year deserves a brand new approach. Indeed, maybe you’ve already vowed to join a gym, Kondo your closets or eliminate snacking after 8 p.m.
But what about the career? Chances are your life at work could also use some spiffing up. So, here are five of the best tips for working smarter, not harder, in 2020.
Time yourself. Identify three (or more) routine tasks you must do on a regular basis. Determine how long each task should take. Then set a timer and work to beat the timer. It’s really a marvelous system to stop procrastination before it starts and get stuff done in the shortest time possible.
Minimize interruptions. Disruptions from your fellow humans likely eat up a good portion of your workday. So, set boundaries. Try establishing a signal that tells colleagues when you don’t want to be interrupted (i.e., wear headphones, post a “do not disturb” sign, close your door if you have one). For complex tasks requiring a lot of focus, retreat to a less-peopled area of your workplace, like a conference room or designated quiet room. Or just take yourself off-site completely, like to a nearby coffee shop.
Be the boss of your email. Turn off the ping! Establish set times for checking messages (how often and how long will depend on how many emails you receive and how much freedom you have to set your own priorities). Keep responses succinct. Establish folders for emails you can’t answer right away and check those folders at least once daily. Create templates for frequently asked questions. Know when to skip the email and pick up the phone.
Harness the power of habit. Making decisions takes energy. So, eliminate decisions where and when you can. It can be as simple as establishing your own work “uniform,” eating the same thing for lunch every day or always starting and stopping work at a set time.
Train your mind to focus. You can improve your powers of concentration in a variety of ways: meditation, digital fasts, listening to music before you start your day, giving up on multitasking (it doesn’t work anyway) or just taking a few deep breaths every now and then. Experiment and choose the approach that works for you. You will work faster and better, and be happier too.