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January 23, 2015

New year, new work resolutions

Todd Porch, Vice President, International

Somehow, it’s already the middle of January. The holidays seem like a distant memory and work is back in full swing. Chances are you made some New Year’s resolutions like eating better, saving money or getting more organized. Most of us do this at home, but how many of us employ these same tactics at the office? Considering we spend the majority of our day at work, the balance we strike there can impact our overall satisfaction in the rest of our lives. Given this, maybe it is time to think about some “work resolutions.”


1. Is there a way to get more out of your workday?

Most of us start the day hours before we get to work. Whether you got up extra early for a morning run (which, of course, we all committed to on January 1, right?), wrestled a child into boots and a coat before braving the carpool line, or barely managed to squeeze in a shower and cup of coffee before your first meeting, you can be spent before walking in the door. Once at work, you are barraged with emails, calls and a never-ending calendar of meetings and demands. Who has time in the midst of this to actually sit down and thoughtfully plan their day? Many experts tell us that we should do exactly this. In fact, Entrepreneur magazine suggests spending the first 30 minutes of your day creating a time plan for the day.* This proven approach can help you ensure that the most important items on your to-do list are taken care of and lead to a greater sense of fulfillment.


2. How can you work smarter, not harder?

If you are like most people, there will never be enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on your plate. You have big projects, small projects and several clients to please. With so much to do, it is easy to get spread thin trying to meet the demands. This can lead to frustration and burn out. Rather than trying to be all things to all people, find a way to prioritize your tasks and tackle accordingly. Some common ways to prioritize are by deadline, revenue impact, long term potential or dependencies. Another approach is to start the day by knocking out a few quick-hit items to get the juices flowing and create a feeling of accomplishment.


3. Can you save your company or clients money or make improvements that will get you noticed?

It is easy to get caught in a rut when you are busy and overloaded. You do things “the way they have always been done” because it is easy and convenient. But, is it the best approach? Is it time to step out of the box? Start by looking for efficiencies in your day to day activities.

  • Pulling and reporting on campaign performance takes time. Is there a way to streamline campaign analytics? What information do your clients really want?
  • Next, look at your brainstorming meetings. Is there a way to shorten the meetings? Would 10 more minutes of research before the meeting save you 30 minutes of circular discussions? Are the right people in the meeting or too many?
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. Rather than laboring over ideas for new ways to save time or money, look online for expert advice. We all have to do more with less and many have written about it. Do their ideas work for your business? What successes have others had and how can you implement them in your organization?
  • Finally, look at the systems you use. Are there other vendors/partners that can provide you with the same service at a better price, with less effort or at a higher quality? If so, it may be worth the up-front time investment to build a new relationship that will save time or money over the long haul.


4. How are your vendor/partner relationships? Can they be improved?

Like the third resolution, sometimes it is beneficial to reevaluate vendor relationships or see if you can get more out of them. Pick one or two vendors to begin. Ask yourself important questions such as “do they still meet my business requirements,” “are they the best value for the money,” or “are they responding to market needs and preparing for the future?” If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” it may be time to start renegotiating or rethinking. Similar to asking your cell provider or credit card company for a better deal, asking long term vendors to step up can result in cost savings and a better partnership.

Remember, as with any resolution, it is best to start out with small, measurable goals rather than trying to “boil the ocean.” You don’t have to make all changes at once. Also, remember that it doesn’t have to be January 1 to improve work habits.  It is never too late to make positive changes. After all, Chinese New Year is just around the corner.