For many, Labor Day weekend signals the unofficial start of fall. But as we all know, the season of summer doesn’t end until Wednesday, September 21. But no matter what the calendar says, the feeling of summer seems to end as Labor Day comes to a close. As we face the new work week after the long holiday weekend, it feels like fall snuck in the back door while no one was looking. And just like that, we are all scratching our heads and proclaiming, “Where did the summer go? It just started!”
Now that you’ve made the mental shift from flip flops and shorts to sweaters and boots (OK, we’re not there yet) there are a few tips we can use to refocus and reinforce our positive energy at the office. For many companies, the fourth quarter has arrived, and now there’s a mad dash to close out the year successfully.
It may not be New Year’s Day, but approaching the fall with the same sense of newness and a mental desire to “turn the page,” is a fantastic and dynamic way to usher in the new season.
Get to work a few minutes early. For those of you who hit the snooze button one to many times each morning and rush into work a few minutes late, it might be better to rethink how you plan out your morning. Of course, there are studies which provide evidence that early risers tend to have more productive and proactive mindset(s). Other studies show that those who get to work early are often extremely successful business people.
Another study from the University of Washington shows that employers perceive latecomers as lazy, even if they perform well in their job. So if you want to position yourself for a promotion or build a better reputation around the office, show up early or on time. By doing so, you demonstrate respect for the company and respect for yourself. It’s a small action, which can make a big impact.
Stay connected. In our world of email, text, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. it’s easy to communicate without ever really talking to anyone face to face. Make a change. Walk down the hall to actually initiate a face to face conversation about a project you are working on together. Set up a 15 minute meeting to ensure that you are both on the same page. Communicating with technology can create misunderstandings and distance between you and your coworkers. Communicate the old fashioned way, especially when the project is time sensitive or particularly challenging.
Clean your desk. Does your desk look like a land fill full of notes and old coffee cups? Use the new season as an excuse to clear away the clutter and take a disinfecting wipe to all hard surfaces. Why? According to a survey administered by Adecco, a majority of Americans (57%) admit they judge coworkers by how clean or dirty they keep their work spaces. And if the disapproval of your coworkers isn’t enough motivation, maybe your health and well being will be.
The typical desk has 400 times as much bacteria as the typical office toilet seat. Not a very pretty or sanitary thought! The telephone (more than 25,000 germs per square inch), keyboard, and computer mouse tend to have more bacteria than the desk itself. And did you know that if you file that mound of papers on your desk, you are doing more than just creating a visually appealing space? That clutter can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Protect your health and the health of your coworkers by keeping things clean.
Learn something new. We all have a tendency to fall into a familiar rut at the office. We’ve long since figured out how to perform our tasks and responsibilities well. But with routine comes the risk of stagnation. Learning new things and new ways of accomplishing tasks is beneficial because the process gives us confidence and helps us easily adapt to new situations. When we learn something new our brains change for the better. According to the New Yorker, learning a new skill improves working memory, creates better verbal intelligence and increases language skills. And here’s the big news – in order to learn, we actually need to fail. The Journal of Learning Science reports that those who try to solve math problems without instruction and don’t come up with right answer, ultimately generate a lot of ideas about the nature of the problems. They are also able to generate potential solutions, leading them to perform better on similar problems in the future. It’s called productive failure. In other words, our brains want us to try and fail and then try and fail again, until we broaden our perspective and our knowledge base. Go out and learn something new. Not only will you be more confident, but you will think more creatively and make yourself more marketable.
Welcome fall! It’s time to turn the page. How will you write your story?