As of now, most of us are nearing the end of our first (or second, suckers) week back at work…except of course for those of you who never got a break at all. I’ve been there, my condolences. My point being – it’s a new year, and a new time to reassess what you want from your career.

I don’t necessarily believe in New Year’s resolutions, I believe in reassessing and changing throughout the year. HOWEVER, I do believe in having a good starting place and knowing what you want from your work.

It could be something obviously work-related – like working towards a promotion or pay rise. Or it might be more personal, like finding a better work/ life balance or maintaining a healthy diet while at work.

“Tailoring goals is easier than most people think,” explains Alex Hattingh – Chief People Officer at Employment Hero. “Start by physically recording your goals so you always have a reference point to come back to (and so you remember them), and find an accountability partner who can help keep you in check”.

“Regular check-ins on your progress is vital – design a plan detailing how often you intend to do this, and keep track of your calendar to ensure you don’t miss any dates”

These goals are, of course, totally up to you. If you’re having some trouble finding a good place to start, however, Alex has a few suggestions.

1. Look after your health

“This will look different for everyone,” says Alex. “For some, it will mean incorporating exercise into their day-to-day routine, which may be as simple as getting off the bus a stop earlier to walk a little further to and from work”.

“For others, it may be food-related or centred around mental health. Again, this could be as easy as giving yourself space to breathe with a few minutes of meditation every day. Health is your biggest asset, which is why it’s so important to get into the habit of looking after yourself physically and mentally.”

2. Practice a little gratitude

Gratitude is a helpful stance to take in as many areas of your life as possible, and work is no exception. Various scientific studies have proved that an attitude of gratitude improves your relationships (of all kinds),  your mental and physical health, your ability to empathise and not fly off the handle, your sleep quality and your self-esteem. Pretty good right?

“Make it a priority in 2020 to give thanks to team members and co-workers for their input and accomplishments,” says Alex. “Make it a point to thank someone verbally when they help you at work – you’ll be surprised at how this also makes you feel good”.

3. Know when to take a break

You know those days when the work seems unending and you’re maybe even starting to snap at the people around you because you’re so damn stressed? We tend to skip breaks on these days, but actually it’s when we need them the most.

“It can be easy to become overwhelmed during busy periods – which is why it’s so important to take a moment to reset and restart,” Alex recommends. “This could be standing up, having a stretch, taking a quick walk outside, making yourself a coffee or even staring out the window for a minute”.

“Give yourself the chance to step away and decompress, as it will leave you feeling less stressed and more productive.”

4. Schedule time for important projects

“Time-blocking a section of your calendar to dedicate time to one specific task is an excellent way to focus on completing high-priority work,” Alex suggests.

“Set your calendar to ‘busy’ so that others can’t schedule a meeting with you, and gently remind any chatty co-workers that you would prefer to be uninterrupted until the task is complete. This will allow you to take control of your time, and complete any pressing action items.

There are numerous time-blocking productivity methods, most famously the Pomodoro technique where a timer is set for 25 minutes, followed by a five-minute break. This is repeated in blocks of four until the task is complete. Find out what works for you by trialling different methods, and see the results for yourself.”

If you’re still feeling a little overwhelmed setting your own workplace goals, or would like help reaching yours faster, Alex recommends considering connecting with a mentor.

“There are some fantastic programs and software, such as Mentorloop, that connect (you) with a suitable mentor while allowing you to track real-time program engagement to ensure you, and your mentor, are getting the most out of your relationship.”

Image: The Devil Wears Prada