Its important to know what you’re good at and what you’re not, a mentor recently taught me. I follow her lead and am actually more productive and happier now that I just focus on my strengths.
Plus, I’ve been lucky enough to have some really great bosses and others who made my life feel like Devil Wears Prada. Either way, both sides of the fence taught me invaluable lessons about work life, how I present by myself and even since leaving corporate life, I’m still using them. I saw these tips on Refinery 29 and they were so entwined with what I’ve learned that I had to share. I hope that they help make 2015 your best work year yet.
One up your inbox: At one point, I terrified of my inbox because I stopped organizing it. It became a mess and an uncontrollable trove of overwhelming questions, demands and tasks. Own your inbox, don’t let it own you.
Start by creating rules and filtering e-mails automatically into folders, suggests Sarah Robinson, a spokesperson for Microsoft. Then, color-code e-mails, so you know immediately what’s arriving in your inbox. Finally, don’t be afraid to use the “ignore conversation” feature, especially when it’s a large e-mail chain that’s not essential to your work.
Other helpful tips: Get off e-mail and schedule an in-person meeting or phone call if the issue is more complex than a paragraph can sum up, and don’t check e-mails unless you actually have time to respond to them. (Yes, refreshing your inbox while you wait for the subway is an easy way to pass the time, but unless you’re actually ready to deal with whatever you receive, it’s better to skip it and wait until later.)
Keep it lively: Work is where we spend majority of our time so its important to love what you’re doing everyday and its just as important to be engaged with the people you are spending so much time with. Its a perfect opportunity to make new friends.
Is everyone at the office psyched about season three of House of Cards? It may be worth your while to watch a few episodes so you’re not out of the office-water-cooler loop. If you get invited to drinks after work, make an effort to go and try to connect outside the office. If your coworkers aren’t the type to grab drinks together after work, it may be up to you to spearhead an initiative.
Keep your ear out for industry-related lectures and events, then send out an e-mail to the group of people roughly at the same level of seniority as you, saying you’re planning to attend, and see if anyone else wants in. Heading to an industry-related event keeps it professional while allowing everyone to get to know each other in an environment outside the office (where you might even learn something new).
Live in the Present: I’m not a TBT person on social media plus daydreaming about past beachy times when its 14 degrees out doesn’t help. Its time to live in the now and get your close co-worker involved.
First, get someone else — a cubemate, a partner, a BFF — onboard with your resolution to get stuff done.
Set goals at the beginning of each week with them, then e-mail each other your results on Fridays, suggests Wendy Capland, a leadership-development expert and author of Your Next Bold Move for Women. Next, create a list every a.m. of ongoing and longterm projects or goals, and make it a priority to check one thing off before January is over. Having a list ensures you can spend any downtime getting stuff done, rather than daydreaming.
Fake it till your make it: One my favorite bosses always told me this and I try to live by it. Even if you’re scared inside, pull out your best acting skills, you’re the only one who has to know the truth. Be the one to set the tone, energy, way of working, etc for your co-workers and get noticed by upper management.
As counterintuitive as it seems, banning the word “busy” from your work vocabulary is a simple way to make you feel way less stressed, says Novak. “It’s a habit, but this [word] can sabotage your energy and motivation. Instead, say that you’re ‘having the most productive day ever,’ or that ‘everything is going great.’” Sure, you still may be swamped, but you’ll send a message to everyone around you — and yourself — that you’ve got everything under control.
First, know that simply upping the amount of interaction with your boss doesn’t automatically enhance your career, says Steve Orma, a clinical psychologist in the San Francisco Bay Area who specializes in stress and anxiety.
Quality FaceTime (the real FaceTime): The fact is we are all super busy, especially our bosses, so its always about quality over quantity when you finally get their ear.
“Don’t just make a lot of noise to get your boss’s attention. Make sure when you speak that it’s meaningful, thoughtful, and helps her and the company,” says Orma. Instead of automatically volunteering for a project, take a night, write up a quick memo or notes to yourself, and explain why you want to be on it and what you’d bring to the table. “Showing that you want to do the work and how you’re valuable to the company is key and puts you ahead of the competition,” says Orma.
To get to where you want to be, you have to think in specific steps, says Orma. Start by envisioning yourself six months in the future: Where do you want to be?
Work (AND dress) for the job you want, not the one you have: One of my craziest bosses constantly reminded me and although she drove me nuts, I always think of her when I’m preparing and dressing for an important meeting.
“A six-month timeline is a short enough amount of time to allow you to break your goal into specific steps,” says Orma. Then, think about the measures you need to take to get there. Do they include confabbing with your supervisor to take on new projects? Or setting up networking meetings with people in different industries? Make a list of all potential actions that will help get you closer to that goal, and resolve to conquer one every week.
Don’t get discouraged if things don’t seem to be working at first — just revise your action plan. “You’ll make some false steps or find dead ends, but that’s all part of the process. If a tactic doesn’t work, try something else, keeping your eye on the goal,” says Orma.
Create a space that is good for the soul: Again, our cubicle or office is where we spend so much of our time, make it visual appealing with work-style design. You don’t want it too homey that it doesn’t reflect your business-minded attitude.
Sure, that strip of photo-booth-style photos from office karaoke is adorable…but is it projecting the capable, confident, on-top-of-it attitude that you want the world to see? Since your work area directly reflects your office persona, experts agree that less is more when it comes to decorating your space.
One or two framed photos of family or friends (preferably ones where a Day-Glo margarita isn’t making a cameo appearance) is fine; any more may be overkill, especially if the higher-ups in the office also seem to maintain a minimal workspace.
If you work in a creative industry, bright and smartly designed office supplies — like the ones from Poppin and See Jane Work — can convey personality while still staying professional.
Do you have any tips for a better career in 2015? Please let us know in the comments below!
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