Workplace goals for the new year

The new year brings hopes and dreams for the future. You've made your resolutions—to lose weight, exercise or plan a dream vacation, for example.

Don't forget, however, that you also spend one-third of your day at work. You can improve your on-the-job enjoyment and your productivity by making the following work resolutions.

Learn new skills

To keep your career moving forward and prevent burnout, learn some new skills. Investigate which ones you'll need for a promotion or for your dream job, then make sure you acquire them. Make a resolution to always be learning something new.

Keep organized

Most people don't function well in the midst of chaos. The clutter on your desk likely distracts you and muddles your thinking. If your office is disorganized, the time you spend getting organized will be paid back in less stress and increased productivity.

Make a resolution to spend the last 15 minutes of every day clearing your desk and getting organized for the next day.

Take daily breaks

Human beings aren't built to sit at a desk for hours at a stretch—that's why the coffee break was invented. But, there are better ways to use your breaks—quick, simple techniques that rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit so you can return to work refreshed and ready to accomplish great things.

The following energizing breaks take less than two minutes: Count down from 10 to one, taking a deep breath with each number. Read affirmations, inspiring quotes or poetry. Read a couple of pages of a book. Put your hands over your eyes and visualize a favorite vacation spot. Gaze out a window. Listen to your favorite music. Stand up and stretch your muscles. Doodle. Drink a full glass of water. Eat a healthy snack. Take a short walk.

Structure your time

Are you wasting time taking care of things that just aren't important? If so, you'll be frustrated when you fritter away your workdays doing things your boss would consider insignificant.

The solution is to block off one or two hours of quiet time each day that you spend focusing on your important tasks. Since most people concentrate best in the morning, choose your quiet time early in the day. Then transfer your calls to your voice mail and put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door.

Make a resolution to set aside quiet time every day to work on your important projects.

Keep an accomplishment journal

Buy a separate notebook for an Accomplishment Journal. At the end of the day, write the date on a new page and write something that you accomplished. It doesn't have to be something major. Even little steps of progress need to be acknowledged.

For example: "I dealt with Mr. Jones, a difficult customer, in a very kind and professional way." "I wrote two pages of a special report."

Writing such a journal increases your enthusiasm as you look for things to accomplish and write in your journal. Your focus will be on what you did instead of what you didn't do. Keeping the journal will also give you more confidence during employee reviews or when asking for a promotion.

One last thought: When you follow through on your work resolutions and make them daily habits, you'll experience increased productivity, more energy and enthusiasm and the joy of accomplishment.

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