6 Unorthodox New Year's Resolutions To Improve Your Work Day
2018 came and went faster than my motivation to get in shape in 2019, but a new year means it's time to get back on the horse. Or, in my case, the treadmill.
Professionally, the new year signals a fresh start to set and reach goals. Though some of those goals are already defined, it can be difficult to untangle the knot of projects, emails, proposals, voicemails and can pile up over the course of the year.
So, how can you make 2019 your best year yet? In this article, we've compiled 6 out-of-the-box resolutions that can help you truly reach "New Year, New You" status.
1. EMBRACE THE MESS ON YOUR DESK
Don't worry, fellow messy desk disciples - according to research performed by actual scientists, a cluttered environment is actually indicative of better efficiency and creativity.
“Being in a messy room led to something that firms, industries and societies want more of: Creativity. Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights. Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe.”
If you found yourself creatively burnt out, or just plain old uninspired, the lack of order might be a good way to shake things up this year. Just remember, keep it somewhat under control, or your co-workers might nominate you for one of our commercials.
2. FIND YOUR ZEN BETWEEN COFFEE, TEA AND WATER
Cutting out the sugary drinks is always one of the most popular resolutions, but the correlation between hydration and brain function at work can't be overstated. Physically and mentally, the benefits of hydration can be achieved by just sipping on a water bottle that you keep by your keyboard. Here are a few other tips experts suggest:
Before you go to bed, put a glass or bottle of water on your nightstand and drink it as soon as your alarm goes off. You'll perk up almost immediately, as your body and brain re-hydrate.
Limit yourself to four cups of coffee daily. While it's a great pick-me-up in the morning, too much coffee will dehydrate you, negating all that precious brain power the caffeine provides.
If you're craving coffee, but you've hit your limit on cups per day, try a hot tea in the afternoon. The health benefits are great, and there's dozens of different flavors you can try out to find your favorite.
For those of us who have trouble cutting out fizzy soft drinks, sparkling water can be a good alternative. Especially if you close your eyes, hold your nose and pretend it's a Diet Coke. You'll never know the difference.
3. INVEST IN YOURSELF EVERY DAY
Warren Buffett has called some pretty good investments throughout his life, but in an interview with Forbes, he noted that the best investment he ever made was forcing himself to take a public speaking class to overcome his crippling fear of it.
Ultimately, there's one investment that supersedes all others: Invest in yourself. Address whatever you feel your weaknesses are, and do it now. Nobody can take away what you've got in yourself -- and everybody has potential they haven't used yet. If you can increase your potential 10%, 20% or 30% by enhancing your talents, they can't tax it away. Inflation can't take it from you. You have it the rest of your life.
So, the question becomes, how can you effectively invest in yourself? As Buffett notes, a good start is to make a list of the areas you want to be better in. Once you have a self-investment portfolio, here are a few tips to inspire your resolution.
4. BRING SOLUTIONS TO THE TABLE, NOT JUST PROBLEMS
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got in college was to never bring a problem to the table without first thinking of a solution. In theory, this is a simple concept. In practice, it can be a bit tricky at times to balance the needs of identifying a problem quickly and addressing it effectively.
- It forces you to think quickly on your feet
- The best ideas have a tendency to flow out when the pressure is on
- Even if it's not the best solution, it can help jump start the brainstorming process.
5. SHAKE UP THE STATUS QUO
Here's something fascinating that you may not know - trying to maintain the status quo is psychologically more difficult than trying to achieve a more positive outcome.
If the incremental change is modest enough, the brain seizes on that easy-to-bridge gap and concludes that the goal is easy. However, in the absence of any gap-related cue – such as when the goal is merely to maintain the status quo – the brain turns to the next best cue: context. When negativity bias sets in, the brain starts thinking of all the things that could derail the established project and prevent the same results from being replicated.
For managers, this concept can be an important resolution to adopt when deciding how to set goals and push teams to better performance. According to the INSEAD researchers that conducted this study, the best option to help yourself or your team succeed this year is to set a goal that moderately builds on what you did last year. Anything too little or too lofty will most likely result in a whole lot of stress for you and your team.
6. ADOPT THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE
Technology is equal parts boon and curse throughout the work day. Productivity can easily take a hit with a phone within arms reach or a great deal going down on Amazon. In fact, the latest iteration of iPhone updates has a built-in weekly report to see how many hours of screen time you've had (side note, the first week I took notice was startling).
There are a few different methods out there to defeat the beast of procrastination, but none really integrate technology's tendency to distract us quite like the work-reward time management style of the Pomodoro Technique.
The Pomodoro Technique is a method developed in the 80's that focuses on a rotating 25-minute work, 3-5 minute break schedule. After four work cycles, treat yourself to a longer break before digging in again. The best part of this technique is the accessibility of apps for various devices and web browsers to help you focus on the task at hand.
Google Chrome offers extensions like Strict Workflow which blocks all websites that you haven't predefined as work-related. If you have trouble moseying over to Amazon or Facebook throughout the day, use this extension to help you develop better web habits.
There are a number of Pomodoro apps available in the Apple and Android app store. The most popular is Flora, which allows team collaborations and features a unique gamification aspect. The development team also partners with rural communities and tree planting organizations, so you can place "bets" on your ability to focus. If you lose, the money goes towards planting real trees in Africa and Southeast Asia. Over 11,000 trees have been planted thus far - that's a lot of distractions.
2019 offers some exciting opportunities to become a better professional, and in turn, help your company to it's best year yet. Leave any resolutions you are hoping to complete this year in the comment section below! We'd love to hear them.