2017 is an opportunity to become more creative, productive, and generally more content at work.
New Year’s resolutions can seem like a waste of time since only 8% are successful in achieving them. However, it’s a natural time to make important changes in our lives; kind of like a “reset” button. Maybe that’s why 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions in the first place.
Per the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology study, the top 10 resolutions of 2016 included things like losing weight and getting more organized. Which are great, but we are here to talk about professional resolutions.
We challenge you to come up with and stick to New Year’s resolutions that will make you more creative, productive, and generally more content at work. Short on ideas? Here are 12 professional resolutions to get you jump started in 2017.
1) Designate an electronics-free zone.
Our brains recognize the brightness from phones, computer monitors, and even TVs as external light, which sends the signal that we should be awake. It’s harder to fall asleep when exposed to too much screen time at night. Thus, our circadian rhythms are interrupted and we lose out on much needed renewal time.
Try reading, journaling, or maybe even a few minutes of yoga. And if you cannot part with your electronic devices, reduce your screen’s blue light by downloading apps such as f.lux, which adjusts your screen’s blue light depending on the time of day, or the similar filter from PC Sun Screen. Or, iPhone OS comes with a “night shift” mode, which accomplishes the same thing after sunset.
2) Write something every day.
The quality of writing in the U.S. has been declining. It’s an important business skill and even more important if you are blogging regularly. If you want to become a better writer, practice makes better.
Get into the habit of writing daily. Neil Patel suggests writing for at least 30 minutes every workday. Skip the weekends and use the time you save with electronics by journaling before bed. Pick topics that came up at work that day. Maybe something from a customer, a friend, or a topic that you are curious about. It doesn’t matter what you write about, It’s the habit of writing regularly that’s important.
3) Keep up with Google.
Google regularly makes changes to its algorithm. These changes are designed to improve user experience by helping searchers to discover the best content. Keep up with those changes by not only staying on top of the news, but keep your content at the highest quality so more people can find you.
Consider reorganizing your content library into content clusters since SEO is evolving to favor topics over keywords. You’ll have a larger pool of relevant keywords and phrases which will help you harness more search traffic.
4) Improve your design skills.
Visual content is 40x more likely to be shared on social media. People retain 55% more after three days when an image is paired with relevant information. For that reason, 2017 is the year for you to master some design skills so you can create content yourself or learn to better communicate your image needs with contractors.
There are many online resources, either free or relatively inexpensive, to self-educate. Check out YouTube how-to videos, Coursera, or Khan Academy.
5) Invest in video.
Join the 48% of marketers who plan to add YouTube to their content strategies in the next year by investing in or experimenting with video. For just a few of Hubspot marketing statistics: 4x as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week. Marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users.
Getting started with a video strategy depends on your level of knowledge. Begin by learning about the different ways video marketing works. Consider experimenting with instant video options, like Facebook Live, and Instagram or Snapchat Stories. These more casual formats help people relate to your brand by giving them a behind-the-scenes look at what you do.
6) Take breaks.
The top 10% most productive employees take 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work they put in. Even though 90% of employers encourage breaks, only 45% of employees take them. The other 55% feels too guilty to leave our desks for prolonged breaks.
It’s easy to forget to come up for air. Put reminders on your calendar to take a 17-minute break every 52 minutes. Step away from work — no email, no work-related calls, and no sneak peeks at your phone.
7) Listen to one podcast per week.
Listening to podcasts is a great way to learn something new. Many teachers incorporate podcasts into their lesson plans. The auditory version of a story aides the ability to process accompanying written content.
Stitcher catalogues over 65,000 podcasts and allows you to curate your own listening collection, depending on your subject interests.
8) Ask for help.
In 2014, Care.com took a survey of working mothers that 29% of respondents felt guilty about asking for help, especially when it came to things at home. At the same time, 79% felt like they were falling behind at work and, 75% saw an overall reduction in stress when they did enlist help.
Think about how often your team asks for your help. If you’re not receiving a lot of questions, set the tone, and ask questions of them if you need it. It’s more likely than not that the person you ask is happy to answer your question.
9) Develop a mobile strategy.
2016 was a pivotal year for mobile. In 2017 it’s going to get even more important. This past August Google announced it would be cracking down on invasive mobile pop-ups. And Google Voice Search queries are seeing a 3400% increase since 2008. We’ve also witnessed the launch of Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). In AMP, certain pages are optimized for mobile which allows them to load instantly.
It’s time to overhaul your website, emails, social accounts, blog, and any other online content to be mobile-friendly by going back to the basics. Brush up on the history of SEO, or learn more about Google’s algorithm.
10) Use your vacation time.
Taking time off from work makes us more productive. According to the Harvard Business Review, the less time you spend at your desk, the more productive you are when you are there.
Spend some time planning. Look at your calendar and figure out when you’ll be the busiest. Find the weeks where you are not as busy, those are good pre-vacation weeks, since they allow you to double up on output before you go. Also, check with colleagues to see when they can fill in on your behalf.
11) Read more.
70% of adults in professional or managerial roles continue their education. The most successful people never stop learning – how they keep up with industry trends, learn from experts, and get creative juices flowing. Read what others are writing about. Reading will even help you become a better writer and gain different perspectives on vital issues.
There is a lot of content out there so be discerning. For instance start with high quality content on sites like Harvard Business Review, the New York Times, and Slate. Spend time on industry-specific content too. Use sites like Feedly to make it easier to keep up on reading. Feedly keeps all your content in one place.
12) Move to the next level of your career.
Change your title, get more responsibilities, gain more authority in your industry, or start your own business. Whatever it is, begin now. Don’t let time scare you out of it. If you don’t start moving forward now, it’s easy to keep putting it off. If you are happy in your current position, great! But at least add to your successes with new goals and accomplishments.
New Year’s resolutions can involve so much more than gyms or losing 10 pounds. They can help you become a better person and employee, and they can help you improve no matter where you are in your career.