Many people make New Year's resolutions that involve personal improvement. Maybe we want to get into better shape, or perhaps we want to be better at listening to our significant other.
It's also important to improve in the workplace. That's why our panel of Motley Fool contributors has shared what they hope to work on in the new year. Their varied list shows that workplace resolutions maybe aren't as easy to come by as traditional ones. But that does not make picking one (or more) and sticking to it any less important.
Selena Maranjian: I've discovered that I'm a person who likes routines. So it's not surprising that I can get stuck in some routines that aren't as healthy as they could be. For example, I often focus only on my work writing articles about personal finance and investing -- and, as a freelancer working from home, I typically don't socialize much with colleagues.
I aim to break out of that routine in 2019, and have started by interacting more with my fellow writers -- on Slack, on social media, and when possible, in person. Connecting with others professionally can spur creativity and help solve problems; some suggest it can even boost productivity.
By conversing with colleagues, we can share news, gripe about frustrations, and not feel so isolated. Such conversations can help you learn about developments in your field, discover new books and articles to read, and perhaps connect with even more people.
There are lots of ways to socialize more as a freelancer. A somewhat more extreme one is renting a coworking space, to spend work time near other freelancers who are busy doing their own thing. It can lead to shared lunches and discussions, too. But even if you stay in your home office, there are ways to connect with others, and it's worth doing.
Get better about responding to email
Maurie Backman: As a writer who covers a wide range of topics, I get dozens of work emails each day. Sometimes I'll receive well over 100 in a four-hour span, depending on the time of year. Often, these emails contain press releases or other information that helps me do my job.
Yet admittedly, I'm not great about responding to them, mostly because my inbox is so inundated -- but also because the more time I spend writing emails, the less time I spend writing the articles that earn money for me. Also, I tend to respond to co-workers before responding to people I don't know who email me out of the blue. And so it's not unusual for a message to go unanswered for weeks on end.
But I'd like to try to change that next year because I'm a firm believer in common courtesy. And even though my time is limited, I do feel that if people take time out of their day to contact me, they deserve the courtesy of a timelier response.
My plan is to schedule small windows of time on my calendar that will be used only to respond to email. It might be 10 minutes one day or 15 minutes another day, depending on what I have going on. But by scheduling that time, I hope to get better about reaching back out to people.
Listen first, talk second
Daniel B. Kline: I'm very lucky to be surrounded by incredibly smart people. The Motley Fool attracts writers, editors, and behind-the-scenes workers who bring unbelievable insight to their positions. That means that on many occasions, I'm not the smartest person in the room and I'm often less informed than some of my colleagues, who have a larger perspective on some of the issues we work on together.
That's not always how it has been in my career, where I have often served as a mentor to staff members who are much younger and less experienced than me. At The Motley Fool, while many people are younger, they need my participation, not always my guidance. I'm a valued part of the team, but often I won't be leading -- I'll simply be offering my thoughts and perspective.
Because of that, I'm resolving to talk less and listen more. More directly, I'm going to make a conscious effort to create more room for my brilliant colleagues to own the conversation.
I'm not going to be silent. I'm simply acknowledging that there have been too many times this year when I said my piece and then heard something from a co-worker that changes everything. This won't be easy -- I like to talk -- but I also like to listen to what smart people have to say. And I have no shortage of opportunities to do that.