Pim Savetmalanond is a freelance communications consultant. Previously, she worked as a social media manager and web editor at a multilateral development bank in Washington, DC. You can find her musings on Twitter: @pimolwan.
5 Steps to advance your career in the Year of the Sheep
During the Chinese New Year, many people spend the time leading up to the festivities cleaning their houses to banish old qi and make room for the new. This can also be a time to clean up your work habits and make changes that can help advance your career in the new year. Perhaps you are hoping for a raise or promotion. Or maybe you are even thinking of seeking another job for an all-together new career. Here are five ways to prepare yourself for working toward a major career goal in the year of the sheep.
- Get better organised. If you have a good system for keeping on top of things professionally, great! See if there is room for improvement, identifying areas where you can streamline the way you currently work to help you save time and become more productive and efficient. If you don’t have a system, now is a great time to implement one. Rather than doing a complete overhaul, which can be overwhelming, focus on one or two key areas that you can commit to improve upon through the end of the year. Focus your energies on these changes and implement more as needed.
- Reduce stress. We all have sources of stress in our lives and unfortunately, some of it we cannot control. However, we can always control how we react to it. If the stress is self-imposed, take a step back and understand that you cannot do everything. You need to take care of yourself, otherwise you won’t be able to do a good job at work. In other cases, stress is a mere byproduct of the job. Find ways to deal with it and relax. Stress managment tactics are different for everybody and doesn’t need to be a major undertaking. Some might opt for physical activity like walking to decompress or talking to friends, some meditate, and others give themselves a few minutes to play a mindless online game. Find out what works for you and make time for it everyday in order to help you keep your stress levels under control.
- Stop multitasking. With emails, phone calls, meetings, and impromptu discussions, it can seem that there’s little time to get work done so you need to multitask. Trying to juggle multiple tasks at once actually makes you less productive and less effective. It is estimated that switching tasks can lower your productivity by 40%. Prioritise your tasks, focus on one thing, and finish it before you start another. You’ll find yourself doing more and in less time.
- Reduce distractions. In order to be able to focus, you will need to reduce distractions and give yourself time on a task. A great way to do this is to block off time in your calendar when you are not to be disturbed and can concentrate on your work. Close your door or invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones if you currently work in an open plan workspace and focus on the work at hand.
- Network effectively. Strengthen your relationships with your supervisors, coworkers, and staff in other departments. Figure out early on what you do well so you can build a good reputation within the organisation. Become the “go-to” person at your office, making you and your work stand out. By focusing on what you can do for others, you are building your network and when positions open up, people will recognise what great work you do, putting you ahead of other candidates.
The start of a new year is punctuated with renewal and excitement for new possibilities. Take advantage of the optimism that accompanies the new year festivities and boost your career to help you advance your professional experience. These five things can help you position yourself better in your current career or pave the way for an exciting and successful new line of work. Work diligently and with purpose. You’ll demonstrate to your boss that you’re dedicated and ready for more responsibilities when the opportunity for a promotion or raise comes along. Set your professional goals at the beginning of the new year and work toward them, steady and calm like the sheep throughout the year.