Six ways to rid your career of emotional clutter.
The change of seasons offers a great excuse to organize your workspace. But decluttering your office, Marie Kondo-style, isn’t the only way to improve your efficiency and contentedness at work.
Trimming the unnecessary fat from your workweek can be equally liberating. So can keeping boundary-pushing colleagues and self-defeating habits at bay. Here’s how to do so while still fulfilling your employer’s expectations.
Stop covering for slackers. It’s human decency to pick up the slack when a teammate is sick or experiencing a personal crisis. But there’s no reason to repeatedly cover for a capable co-worker who refuses to do an integral part of his or her job. Let the task in question languish, and let management deal with your delinquent colleague.
Resign from volunteer posts that no longer serve you. If a committee or research project you joined 10 months ago isn’t energizing you or advancing your career like you thought it would, it’s time to bow out. When it comes to volunteer projects, save your time and energy for commitments that inspire you and offer valuable experience and connections.
Stop saying maybe when you mean no. Don’t take on more work than you realistically can complete, and don’t be afraid to say no to additional assignments when your schedule is already jam-packed. (The words “Sorry, that’s not possible” are among the most beautiful in the English language.) If your boss is the person requesting you do more, explain that you’re already slammed and ask whether they’d like to bump one of your current priorities to the bottom of the pile to make room for this new assignment.
Banish wimpy language from your vocabulary. Practice cutting to the chase by speaking matter-of-factly. When making a request of a colleague, nix preambles and wishy-washy language like “By any chance could you …” and “I was wondering if you might be able to …” With practice, being direct will become second nature.
Unsubscribe from pointless email lists. If your corporate inbox is riddled with spam, remove yourself from the email lists that add no value to your job. Likewise, if a colleague sends you useless email updates on a routine basis, create a rule that moves their messages to a folder other than your inbox, preferably the trash.
Cast out self-defeating habits. Most of us have a couple of work habits that don’t serve us well. Procrastination and perfectionism are mine; yours might be overcommitting and overpromising. As woo-woo as it may sound, I like to throw a rock into Puget Sound for each self-defeating habit I want to leave behind in the new season. You may prefer burning a written list in the fireplace or crumpling up that same list and sticking it in the freezer. You probably won’t overcome these habits overnight, but nothing will change if you don’t take the time to forgive your past transgressions and welcome improvement in the new season.