January is a working woman’s back-to-school – a clean slate. Think new outfit, new office supplies, and better study – or work, habits. Use this month wisely to prepare for a successful year at work – no matter what curve balls life throws you in the coming months. Here are 7 things to do in January to prepare for a successful 2019 at work.
1. Clean out your inbox. If you really want to take control at work, start with your email. To get to zero inbox sort all of your your messages by sender. Read or file your bosses emails first, clients and customers second. Next, sort your emails by subject. Delete all but the last emails in a chain. Next, sort by date. Delete any emails that are older than three months. Unsubscribe to any newsletters that you don’t read regularly. Finally, scroll through the remaining emails and do one of three things: delete, take action, or file. Then, vow to read, act, delete in the coming months.
2. Google yourself. Do you know what your digital profile looks like? You should. It’s not vain to search for yourself online, it’s smart. Type your name into Google. Do you like what you see? Do you see anything? Unless you work in covert ops, there is an expectation that most adults have some kind of online profile. If embarrassing photos pop up, set your social platform settings to private. If you need to polish your online image, clean up your LinkedIn profile (or create one). Add a professional headshot and complete all of the sections. Consider contributing an article to a trade publication in your industry. That byline will show up the next time someone searches for you. And finally, set up a Google alert for your name so that anytime you are mentioned, you will know.
3. Hone your negotiation skills. Not only might you ask for a raise this year, but you might also ask for the flexibility you need to manage life and work. Whether you want to work from home, alter your work hours, or rewrite your job description, you will need to negotiate. We recommend, Negotiating at Work: Turn Small Wins into Big Gains. Authors Deborah Kolb and Jessica Porter combine their organizational leadership experience and extensive research to provide practical, actionable advice for women.
4. Schedule lunch meetings with your coworkers. It’s not okay to eat at your desk every day. Yes, we know you need to power through and get home to your life responsibilities, but you also need to cultivate allies at work. Take some time this month to nurture relationships with your coworkers. If, and mostly likely when, you need some extra support during the year, those coworkers will likely have your back.
5. Schedule some professional development time. Take time now to search for and schedule at least one activity that will sharpen your professional skills. If you’re eager for some respite from your family responsibilities, and if your company pays for it, you might want to find a conference to attend. Not only will you learn something new, you will get a night alone in a clean hotel room. If your budget is tight and you expect caregiving to disrupt any plans you make, consider taking an online course. LinkedIn Learning offers thousands of options.
6. Ask for feedback from your boss. Does this suggestion make you squirm? We get it. Why start the year asking for potential criticism? Because knowledge is power. Because we all have blind spots and you can’t improve on something if you’re not aware of it. Because it helps to know your strengths so you can build on them. Because it shows your manager that you care even if you need to call out three days in a row when the home health aide doesn’t show.
7. Seek a mentor. Armed with your strengths and weaknesses, look for someone to mentor you through the year. Ask someone you have an existing relationship with, that you respect and that possesses skills that you want to possess, if you can call on them occasionally for guidance. If they say yes, agree on how you will connect with them (emails, phone calls, in person) and how frequently.
As a working daughter, you can pretty much count on the fact that there will be times this year that your career will take a back seat to your responsibilities outside the office. A little extra hustle in January can set you up to manage those situations later in the year.