While most people think of New Year’s resolutions in terms of health and lifestyle goals, your work life — where you likely spend at least a quarter of your time — is also a worthy target for committing yourself to more efficient and effective habits. Luckily, a few simple changes to your workday can reap major rewards and alleviate a ton of stress throughout the new year.
Here are 10 workplace habits to ditch in 2017.
1. Ditch letting your inbox rule your day.
You don’t have to follow the ultra-stringent Inbox Zero approach to make your email practices more efficient in 2017. The main goal is to make email your tool, not your boss. Turn off all email notifications, and instead, schedule brief sessions to review messages throughout the day. During your sessions, the goal is to “batch process” as many messages as possible: Set up rules to auto-file low-priority correspondence, respond to messages that can be handled quickly, create tasks and to-dos as necessary, and don’t forget to delegate. Once you’ve broken your constant email-checking addiction, making the rest of your workday productive becomes infinitely easier.
2. Ditch your inefficient tools.
A master chef wouldn’t tolerate dull knives day in and day out, and neither should you tolerate poor quality tools. Whether it’s an outdated computer or a sticky stapler, take a look at the equipment that causes frequent frustration and resolve to replace it. While you’re at it, make sure your desk is laid out as efficiently as possible.
3. Ditch unnecessary content.
You probably subscribed to those business newsletters, magazines and social media groups with the best intentions to boost your work smarts and leverage important industry news. But, let’s be honest, how many of those posts are you actually reading, and how many are simply clogging up your inbox and making you feel guilty? It’s time to take a cold hard look at your content intake and resolve to mercilessly unsubscribe from anything that isn’t regularly improving the way you work.
4. Ditch being exhausted.
The days of thinking “He who sleeps least, wins” are over, and there’s a whole slew of research that proves working while sleep deprived is as detrimental as working while intoxicated. Take the time to determine how much sleep you really need, and resolve to get that amount of sleep by this spring. It will make your waking hours more productive and more enjoyable.
5. Ditch unproductive meetings.
As group communication becomes easier and more effective thanks to technologies like Slack and Yammer, face-to-face meetings have become less important, and quite frankly, more dreaded. Make 2017 the year you commit to scheduling only necessary and productive meetings that have firm goals, agendas and timelines. And remember, just because a recurring meeting, such as team meetings or project check-ins, has been on the calendar forever, doesn’t mean it’s still serving its initial purpose.
6. Ditch vacation martyrdom.
Employee stress and burnout cost employers billions of dollars in absenteeism, turnover, increased healthcare costs and more. Constantly skipping vacation time or replying to email at all hours, or expecting your employees to do so, creates a dangerous and engagement-killing culture over the long haul. Disconnect from work at a reasonable hour whenever possible and take those vacation days, even if you use them for nothing more exciting than a trip to your couch. If you oversee employees, encourage them to do the same.
7. Ditch reinventing the wheel.
We’ve all found ourselves retyping email or contract language we’ve used before, or repurposing the best parts of an old project for a new client. In 2017, commit to recapturing that wasted time by using automation and templates for work you find yourself doing again and again. Email is a great place to start, and all major email programs allow you to set up standard reply language that you can use repeatedly. Develop templated letters or forms for recurring activities, and create a central folder for collecting your best ideas and projects to crib from as the year progresses.
8. Ditch saying yes, when you really mean no.
Saying no at work can be challenging, but necessary. Time and resources are never infinite, so there will be occasions when a polite no will save your reputation, and your sanity. Learn to say no to the impossible, or just the plain undesirable, with skill and savvy in 2017. Your decreased stress level will thank you for it.
9. Ditch sitting all day.
While the jury may be out on whether standing for long periods is better than sitting, there’s no doubt that moving around over the course of the workday keeps your body more active and your brain more focused. The age-old advice of taking the stairs, parking in the furthest spot from the office and taking stretching breaks still applies in 2017.
10. Ditch your nonstop screen time.
Of course, word processing, spreadsheets and cloud storage are irreplaceable boons to the modern workplace, but don’t succumb to the belief that every single thing you do has to be done digitally. Send a client a written thank you card for real and memorable impact. Take meeting notes by hand to boost your ability to remember the content, or doodle your way to creative inspiration. Writing by hand slows your pace, and taking a break from screen brightness relaxes your brain.