How time flies! It’s the end of another year, and while this year might have been a really mixed bag for everyone’s careers, it’s no reason we can’t do better next year!
The key thing — improvement, improvement, improvement. And as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. So here’s a list of five habits we should inculcate before getting back to work in January next year!
5 Steps to Prep Your Workstation for the New Year
- Clear out last year’s digital junk
- Stop tab-hoarding
- Operation Inbox Zero
- Marie Kondo your workstation
- Clear out your desktop
1. Clear out the past year first
Nothing is more sian than starting a new year while still having to deal with incomplete tasks, projects and issues from the previous year. So the best gift you can give yourself next year?
Don’t breeze through December in a festive mood too early, and do what you can to wrap up everything before switching off during the Christmas and New Year break. This will keep you in everyone’s good books too!
2. Don’t be a tab hoarder
Let’s face it, most of us open new tabs on our work computers like they’re free… because they are. We open new tabs, filling them with Google Docs, news, e-commerce (shh, don’t tell the boss), and various other random pages, then we abandon them until the next time a major reboot has to happen.
The trouble is, they aren’t really free. What they’re costing is our concentration and distracting us the next time we need to go to the browser for some real work!
We end up being lost in our tabs, clicking on whatever gives the strongest satisfaction — whether it’s random news about Covid-19 or some star’s latest scandal.
Doreen Dodgen-Magee, a psychologist and author of Restart: Designing a Healthy Post Pandemic Life, advises such browsing leads to nothing else, and becomes a one-dimensional pursuit, with little in the way of genuine fulfilment.
She suggests setting a timer for two minutes each time you feel tempted to open a tab when it’s not necessary at that moment. Pausing between the reflex to act in a habitual way offers the brain an opportunity to develop new expertise and upskill, Dodgen-Magee writes in Restart.
In a nutshell, why are you on your browser? At the end of the day, we’ve got better work and personal priorities, such as career goals, time spent with family, and other screen-less adventures. So just do what you need to, and close that tab.
3. Start Operation Inbox Zero
Is your inbox going over 500 messages? Or worse, 1,000! It’s time to get your virtual hacksaw and start chopping away.
We know, it sucks sitting down and going through it all. Maybe there’s stuff you’re trying to avoid, or maybe it just feels like a waste of time. But the fact is clearing your inbox is going to make you much more efficient and productive next year. Plus, less email anxiety.
Think about all the times you’ve had to spend searching through your Outlook or email app to find that exact reply you sent to the boss that you want to remind her about? Or that attachment that you need to forward but can’t seem to find?
On top of that, the trawl might also bring up new ideas and connections for next year! You’ve certainly missed out on the occasional important mail, or simply a thread of a work task that wasn’t completed, so take the chance to close those loops as well.
Or even better yet, just clear that inbox daily so this doesn’t happen again next year.
4. Marie Kondo your workstation
Whether you’re working from home or the office, clutter tends to accumulate. We may work in a digital space, but somehow magically things like notes, business cards, or personal knickknacks tend to just accumulate.
Apart from being messy, there’s also a hygiene element — chocolate wrappers attract ants, and that small bag of potpourri that has lost its scent years ago is getting musty and starting to decompose. Take out those hygiene wet wipes and start clearing out!
In fact, take those wipes and give your keyboard and mouse a good clean out too. A study found that 96% of 25 keyboards sampled were contaminated with bacteria. The culprits? Unwashed hands, all the crumbs from your teatime kueh, and moisture-trapping dust.
Use a toothbrush to clean under the keys for your keyboard (after shutting down your computer first lah) while tilting it at a 75-degree angle, according to tech giants Apple.
When it comes to the surface of your keyboard and mouse, either use a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe, or disinfecting wipes. DO NOT use aerosol cleaning sprays or wipes that might have bleach. You don’t want to start the new work year by taking an MC, right?
And don’t wait till next year to clean them again! At the barest minimum, once a week, says science.
5. Last, but not least…
Your desktop. It’s the first thing you see when you log on in the morning on the first workday of January. Do you really want to start the new year looking at that mess of hundreds of files all over the screen?
Take the few hours of sifting through each of those files and either sending them to the trash bin or creating new folders to file them away.
At the end of the day, habits make us, and they’re wired so deeply in our brains that we default to them unconsciously.
Making these steps to keep our work lives and workspaces organised will help us approach our careers with clarity and focus, and just as poor habits can form, making healthy habits can also become part of our daily routines.
Best of luck with next year!