With only a few appointments and work days during my winter break, I thought I would be very productive. But, I relaxed instead, reading novels, spending time with family and friends, baking cookies and sleeping in.
Reflecting over my last winter break before graduation, I’m glad I took time for myself. While I love being a Go-Getter Girl, I was definitely worn out after finals. In order to be happy and productive before starting my career and another semester, I needed a real break.
I found a list with 52 tips to help with happiness and productivity on Zen Habits. Happiness is linked to productivity – happy people generally work better with others, are more creative and motivated, are problem-solvers and make better decisions, have more energy and optimism, get sick less and learn faster.
Here are 10 tips for a productive new year as a young professional. In parenthesis are the corresponding numbered tips from the Zen Habit’s site that inspired my own tip.
- Don’t take on too much. Ambitious young professionals are known for saying yes to every opportunity. Instead of taking on additional responsibility, focus your time on the opportunities that will help you the most. (#2)
- Reboot your brain. You don’t have to actually meditate. Find something that calms you, like music or reading, or do something known to have a calming effect, like yoga. (#10)
- Keep a notebook. Lara Kretler (@LaraK) got me started on doing this and it has helped me stay organized. She used a composition book at work to keep notes in for everything (or so it seemed to me) and she always seemed incredibly organized. I now have two notebooks – one for work and one for everything else. For work, I take notes at meetings and about assignments. The other notebook holds my to-do lists, grocery lists, ideas and other random things. (#11)
- Figure out what you want. Don’t buy into the “you’re a college student, so you don’t have to choose now” idea. Research industries, job shadow at companies and figure out where you might like to be working when you graduate. Think about things, such as whether or not you want to stay in the state or if you want to have kids. You need to know what you want in order to get there. (#16)
- Set short and long term goals. Once you know what you want, you need to figure out how you are going to get there. Penelope Trunk’s latest post on keeping resolutions has great tips on goal setting. (#17 & 18)
- Choose priorities. Not everyone is a to-do list person. But, you will be more productive if you know the tasks need to be done each week and which ones are the most important. (#20)
- Organize your e-mails. Sometimes I’m terrible at this, letting more than 100 emails pile up before I go through them all. I always feel great when my inbox is cleared and I have folders containing the messages I need to save. (#27)
- Learn to delegate and accept help from others. Sometimes you don’t have to be the one to do certain things. In addition to not saying yes to every opportunity, have people help you with the tasks that don’t absolutely need to be done by you. (#30)
- Stop trying to be a multi-tasker. You are often more productive when you focus on a single task rather than five all at once. (#44)
- Take time to relax. Sit down with a glass of wine and good friends or relax in a bubble bath to read a novel. You’ll be more refreshed when you get back to work if you take time for yourself. (#51)