Starting as you mean to continue: tips for starting a new working year right

 In General

Somewhere between the NYE glass of wine at midnight and heading back to work the week or so after, the question of “how can I be a better person this year” often springs up. Instead of focusing on cutting carbs, being a better friend or embracing the latest hashtag trend [#paleo #fitspo #greensmoothie] let’s have a look at your working day. Chances are you have now cleared the inbox, put out the urgent fires and are settling back into your working flow. What now you ask? Well why not try some of the below…

1 – Have less, but conversely better, meetings
Decide if a meeting is truly necessary. Is this a situation where you could pick the phone up and just have a chat? Can you move it to your Slack channel, or put a proposed solution into a shared doc and have people nut it out over the following day? If you do need a meeting, consider setting a time limit to it and sticking to it, achieving efficiency by setting out the exact aim for the meeting, being prepared with all the information you need, and running it with an agenda. Make sure that solutions are found in the meeting and actionable next steps with defined time frames come out of it.
More reading: 6 Steps to Fewer, Shorter and More Efficient Meetings via Mashable Australia, How to Run Your Meetings Like Apple and Google via 99u.

2 – Leave the office… or maybe even get up from your desk
Even if you are a growth company on the edge of something huge let me tell you now, it does not make you immune to the needs of being a human. Movement, sunshine and fresh air not only increase mental clarity and productivity but are also going to make you generally a happier person too. Consider taking your team standups to the laneway outside your building or the cafe down the road. Embrace walking meetings, or do what 90 Seconds do and exercise together … or just like, y’know, leave the office at lunchtime. #YouDoYou
More reading: How to Do Walking Meetings Right via Havard Business Review, 8 Reasons Why You Should Definitely Take That Lunch Break via Fastcompany.

 

3 – Assess your pain points (and use tools to solve them)
Just like the monkeys using sticks to get to delicious treats, you too can use tools to get the thing you want. Internal emails wasting a lot of time? Why not use Slack? Having trouble keeping a track of tasks? Head over to Trello, Freedcamp or my personal favourite Todoist. Inbox for Gmail has really helped me keep on top of clearing my inbox at the end of the day, whilst a simple alarm reminder on my phone prompts me to file all the stuff on my desktop at 4:45pm meaning I no longer have 45 folders called “desktop cleanup” full of random PSDs.
More reading: 21 Best Productivity Tools via Wordstream, Getting our groove back with slack: fun, functional, communication via The BizDojo.

4 – Meet people that can help you grow
Networking. It’s a thing, and it’s a thing for a reason. But let’s reframe this for a moment: how about the next time you have a great Twitter conversation with someone in your industry, ask them if you can pick their brain over a coffee. The next time you go to a meetup and the speaker really inspires you? Go up to them after the talk, make an introduction and touch base with them later. Lastly, if you’re at an intimate gathering with someone of influence or full of knowledge and you’re talking about your next big idea and they say “oh you should talk to my friend x” … actually follow them up on that. How many times do we see offers made by speakers? A lot. How many times do people actually follow up? Few.
More reading: How to network: 12 tips for shy people via CIO, Talk to Strangers: Danny Harris via TedX.

5 – Ask for what you need (even if that is from yourself)
Work best in the morning? If you’re in a team, be upfront about it and say to people “Hey, can we schedule meetings for the afternoon? Because I churn through work in the morning.” If you’re running a startup team and know you are going for a next round of funding in May and you need to get your value up aggressively before then – fess up about it, and get the buy-in. Conversely, if you are a one-man-bander at home working on product development ask yourself – do I need another pair of eyes on this? As a staff member, ask for the increased resources you need to ship. Everyone switched to Agile last year and you are still finding it hard? Ask for coaching. Make this year a year of doing all you can to be successful, knowing that to do so you are going to need to be honest about your needs. After all, given that innovation relies on a sense of curiosity and questioning, perhaps we should focus this inwardly too.
More Reading: The Startup Turning Point: When You Need to Ask For Help via Entrepreneur, 5 Questions Every Company Should Ask Itself via Fast Company Design.

Anya wrangles Brand & Communications for GridAKL, you can follow her on twitter here.

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