While the New Year may not actually wipe your slate clean for you, a brand-new number signifies a chance to start over, both inside the office and out. Fortunately, our chaotic, demanding work culture leaves plenty of room for improvement heading into 2017. From setting hard boundaries regarding work/life balance to updating goals for the year ahead, there are plenty of ways to maximize productivity, heighten creativity, and start anew in the New Year.
It's safe to say we've done our research on career improvement in 2016. We enlisted the sage advice of some of the world's most revered female entrepreneurs, tackled the sad desk lunch dilemma, tweaked our morning routines to maximize our work performance, and much more. To that end, we've decided to round up five of our best, most actionable bits of wisdom in the name of cleansing and rebooting career goals come January. Without further adieu, here's how to start the year 2017 off on the right professional foot.
While our tech-centric jobs make this easier said than done, focusing on just one task at a time will actually make you more productive. Still not convinced? Consider this 2009 study from Stanford University, which found that multitasking, particularly on the computer, actually makes you less productive than putting all of your energy into one task.
"People who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory, or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time," writes Adam Gorlick of the Stanford findings. To break this habit, Inc. suggests writing a to-do list every night with important tasks for the following day. Focus on one task at a time, only starting on the next task once you've crossed off the one before it.
Leave work email at work
Our cell phones have blurred the line between work and play to the point where it's almost easier to work than to relax. But unsurprisingly, this "always on" mentality can wreak havoc on our mental health. In fact, research out of Lehigh University found that checking work email after hours can lead to feelings of emotional exhaustion, as well as burnout and problems at home.
So whether you set a nightly phone alarm to remind yourself to log out, or you remove your work email from your phone altogether, signing off after work hours can actually help your career, and your well-being, in the long run. Try the Way of Life app to help you break bad habits and start anew.
Consider waking up earlier
To the chagrin of night owls and creative types everywhere, "the early bird gets the worm" is the sage wisdom that our workforce was built upon. Just look at the morning wake-up calls of our nation's best and brightest: Apple CEO Tim Cook, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, First Lady Michelle Obama, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, Martha Stewart, and more all wake up between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. Most of these entrepreneurs work out, respond to emails, meditate, read the news, and eat a healthy breakfast before the rest of the world even wakes up. Imagine what you could do with three to five extra hours each day?
Let go of perfection
Many are raised with the knowledge that perfection is unattainable—in many ways, this is common sense. But nevertheless, many people end up consumed with thoughts of perfection, whether in regards to physical appearance or work performance. But allowing the shiny image of what your career is supposed to look like overcome you may end up standing in your way.
"One of [my] biggest mistakes [as a businessperson] wasn't a thing I did wrong, it was an attitude that I carried that I really had to turn around. That was this kind of obsession with perfection," said Danae Ringelmann, founder of Indiegogo, in a video for Inc. "Don't wait for perfect because it will never happen. My advice to entrepreneurs is if you're trying to figure it all out in your head, if you try to get that all perfect and wait to get that all done before you start, you'll never start."
Visualize what 2017 will look like
Visualization is one of the most powerful tools in your professional arsenal. Some of our world's most accomplished actors, Olympians, politicians, and the like all visualized their success before actually achieving it. "Visualization is about telling ourselves stories about what we expect to occur," wrote Charles Duhigg, a journalist, and Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter for The New York Times, in his best-selling book, Smarter, Faster, Better. "You're teaching your near subconscious what to focus on and what to ignore."
To make visualization a habit, choose a designated time of day to visualize achieving your goals for five to 10 minutes. This can even be done while in that half-asleep, half-awake state right after your morning alarm sounds. Simply walk yourself through the day ahead of you, painting a vivid picture of success, productivity, and accomplishment. Or you can visualize what your life will be like down the line, once you've achieved all of your goals. Before long, your vision will match your reality.
Share your 2017 career goals with us below, and match your desk to your dreams with our chic, elevated office buys.