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3 Ways You Should Hack Your Workday For Career Success
Published On: 13-Sep-2021 | by William Arruda
It’s not a stretch to say all of us have had our workflows disrupted since 2020. Whether the disruption came from remote work, new technology, or shifting safety protocols, nearly everyone had to adjust to changing situations. But now that we’ve had time to settle in—or, perhaps more accurately, now that we’re used to these disruptions—it’s a good time to refine our practices.
There are a lot of aspects people cannot control about their work environments. But there are certainly key factors in your workday that you can control. In fact, there are several factors you can optimize to enhance your productivity and boost the chances of achieving what matters to you. Here are the best places to start:
1. Identify your values.
Values are one of the six drivers of your personal brand. Knowing and living your values is essential to feeling fulfilled and at ease. Have you ever felt frozen in the face of decisions? All of the little decisions you make throughout the day can add up to a mountain of anxiety. When you know your values, though, you can make those decisions faster and without stress.
Identifying and acting on your values can help you quickly discern where to spend your time and energy—and what to nix. As clinical psychologist Timothy Yen writes in Harvard Business Review, your value system can provide a meaningful lens for viewing your choices. “Understanding your ‘why’ will allow you to make choices that align directly with the things you care about—choices that will keep you fulfilled longer term,” Yen writes. For example, if you decide you value developing a certain skill set, then you can make decisions that prioritize that skill set.
So how do you identify your values? Yen suggests paying attention to your emotions, which can give you clues to what you really care about. He also recommends taking credible personality tests such as Enneagram or informal assessments such as The Passion Test.
It can take an immense mental load to decide what to spend time on. And there are plenty of reasons why people might feel like they struggle with time management, from anxiety or burnout to visible and invisible disabilities.
It’s helpful to start by reframing your relationship with time management. Some people try to relate time management to the idea of willpower, but that’s not very accurate. Time management is more about finding ways to make your day and your tendencies work for you instead of against you. Time management and leadership coach Alexis Haselberger says, “Time-management skills are about learning how to use your time in a way that supports your goals. It’s about learning to be proactive with your time instead of reactive.”
There are plenty of methods for organizing time and task priorities, so you will need to research and experiment to find the approach that works best for you. You might find, for example, that you need to schedule out your day using time blocks. Or you might find that you need to spend 30 minutes each morning creating a to-do list that flows in priority order. Whatever method you use, it will require patience; you will likely need to go through phases of daily repetition, reflection, optimization, and then start that process over again. And if you find yourself frustrated because your pristine daily plans get toppled by unexpected requests, you’ll need to get realistic about expecting the unexpected.
3. Optimize your workspace design.
Whether you’re working remotely or heading into an office, the space you work in will affect your mood and mindset. Your outer world should reflect your inner world, serving as an extension of your values, which is why tweaking your workspace’s design can end up influencing your performance. Believe it or not, your office environment likely has a similar impact on you as a runner’s shoes might have on them. (And in a Zoom call, your environment has an impact on everyone who can see it on screen.)
Let’s assume you have the basic setup figured out: You have all of your tools and resources in easy reach, and your desk is organized according to your needs. Now how do you optimize your space? Think about how your body feels there. Are you uncomfortable and constantly adjusting your chair? Are you always cold and spending time searching for sweaters? Find solutions and make adjustments accordingly.
You might find you’re overlooking one of the biggest impacts on your workspace—the fabrics and materials around you. Seth Casden is the CEO and co-founder of Hologenix, a company that produces the performance textile CELLIANT®. In an article for i+s, he writes: “Textiles are incredibly important for making a space feel good. Your carpets, curtains, coverings and upholstery literally surround you, and they can be instrumental in creating energy that flows back into your body and optimizes productivity.” It’s worth it to invest in a workspace that will help you achieve what’s important to you.
The idea of work will always change, and there will be plenty of factors that we can’t control. But there are also plenty of tweaks and approaches that can help you optimize your workday.
Consider your values to help you make decisions, use time-management strategies to ease your mental load, and make sure your workspace creates an environment that lets you do your best.
With these steps, your most limited personal resource—those precious hours in a day—can be invested in actions that support a rewarding personal brand.