5 Mistakes You Might Secretly Be Making at Work
Can you read this without checking your Gmail?
OK, we’ll concede that some resolutions are impossible to keep (that “eat fewer bagels” attempt lasted about two days), but if you set any career-related goals this year, make sure you’re not sabotaging yourself with these five habits.
Letting Email Take Over Your Life
Predetermine how often you’ll check your inbox—say, every 30 minutes—and stick to that. You can make exceptions if you’re expecting something time-sensitive, but constantly opening Gmail prevents you from really focusing on anything else.
Writing Inefficient Emails
Wait, there’s a wrong way to write emails? To your mom, no. To colleagues, yes. Nobody wants to wade through a long-winded email to find the important parts (see above). Use these military-approved tips (e.g., “bottom line up front”) to make sure every email is clear and concise.
Confusing “Urgent” with “Important”
Ever spend a workday putting out fires, but at 6 p.m., you don’t feel like anything got done? That’s the difference between "urgent" and "important," and the basis of a decision-making system made famous by Eisenhower. Learning the difference will help you prioritize your to-do list and achieve more.
Never Saying “No”
We know, this sounds like one of those fake “weaknesses” people say in job interviews. But really, not knowing when to turn down a task means you end up taking on too much—and the quality of your work drops overall. Be realistic about what you can handle, and answer accordingly.
Not Using (All) Your Benefits
No, we’re not talking about the free snacks. You keep meaning to set up your 401k…but you just haven’t gotten around to it. Don’t think of your benefits as perks: They’re part of your compensation and not using them is like throwing away a portion of your salary. Ask about pre-tax Metrocards, contribution matching, gym fee reimbursement and company-sponsored education. And for the love of sanity, use your vacation days.