3 New Career Habits for the New Year

Happy New Year! Let’s get right to it and talk about how to make your mark in the coming 12 months. Whether you want to secure a raise, a promotion or a better job, these habits — one daily one weekly, one monthly — will keep you on track for big success. I’m committing to them and I hope you will, too:

1. Empty your email inbox every day. At every workshop I present, someone always asks how it’s possible to accomplish anything when you receive hundreds of emails a day. The answer is: you often can’t. You simply cannot achieve the big things when you get mired in the small things. And the vast majority of emails are about small things. While totally emptying your inbox daily may not be realistic for you, you can find an email management strategy that helps you tame your inbox. My strategies are: unsubscribe from as much as possible; keep emails as brief as possible; only have one folder called “Archive”; turn off email when writing; and — although I don’t always achieve it — aim for “inbox zero” at the end of every day.

2. Schedule one networking activity a week. What would happen if you made your professional relationships a priority this year? Just as you schedule gym time or date night with your significant other, try scheduling a weekly networking activity — and this shouldn’t always involve meeting strangers. One week you might invite a more senior colleague to grab lunch, another week you might finally take advantage of your college’s alumni mentoring program and once in a while you might venture out to a formal networking event or meet-up to make some new contacts. Your next move is likely to come from a networking interaction inside or outside your current organization, so increase your chances of being in the right place at the right time by networking every single week.

3. Read one career/business book a month. There is so much excellent information available on how to advance in your career — so, go read it! Whether you choose to read current best sellers, the business classics or how-to books on topics where you need some improvement (e.g., negotiation skills, professional appearance, Excel), think how much smarter you’ll be at the end of 2012 with 12 new books full of knowledge in your head. Books on my current professional reading list are Steve Jobs, The M Factor and All the Money in the World.

What career habits are you planning to implement this year? What books are on your reading list? Please share in the Comments!

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8 Responses

  1. Great article! One of my other goals is to make a point to hand out my business cards more often, as I am not a skilled networker; I know I don’t utilize it as much as I should. I will make sure to give my friends and family extras to hand out to their friends as well. In my business, word of mouth is our most effective marketing tool, and knowledge and communication are vital, so I am more than willing to work on this.

  2. We can get sidetracked by tons of emails that are not that important. Worse, we might even miss out on the most important of them because of an overcrowded inbox. The point you also made regarding networking activity is very true as well. Often times it is not what you know but who you know that will make a difference. As a writer I swear by this one.

    1. @Daniel – I agree. The further I get in my career the more important networking becomes. Thank you for the comment!

  3. Personally, I leave messages that are part of active conversations in the inbox instead of archiving them, as well as any emails that I’m not done picking information out of. Right now, that leaves four in the inbox.

    1. @Edward – we all have our own system. If you only have four emails in your inbox, it sounds like your system is working well! Thanks for the comment.

  4. Hi Lindsey! Thanks for another educational and inspiring post 🙂 I’ll definitely be using these career tips to set my goals in the New Year!

    One of my goals is to become Google AdWords certified! I also would love to read more motivational books, so I’ll definitely be checking out the business classics. Thanks for the recommendations!

    1. @Kelsey – great! Let us know what books you decide to read. I’m always looking for recommendations. Happy 2012!

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