Leadership Lab

Spring Clean Your Career

Use this season as motivation to clean out your career.

The birds are chirping, the snow has melted and Bostonians are starting to remove that painful look of winter off their faces and are actually inspired to do some spring cleaning. Yes, it’s spring time — the time of year when we can start anew! Use this season as motivation to clean out your career and drop the clutter that’s holding back your potential. From your desk, to your LinkedIn, we have 7 ways to help you get organized!

  1. Reflect on the Past Year

Think about what you’ve already accomplished this past year. What skills have you acquired? What did you actually get done? Seriously, take the time to reflect and record your thoughts, maybe even write them down. Then, think about where you are in your career and where you want to go. Again, record your thoughts — because according to Dr. Gail Matthews’ study, those who recorded their goals, were much more likely to achieve them than those who didn’t.

2. Polish up your Resume

Now that you’ve reflected, you should know what’s next — update that resume (you’ll thank yourself later). First, clear out any brief positions you held or any that are far off talking points for future interviews. Check out the new buzz words relevant to your industry and update your job descriptions. And stay away from tired jargon like “team player” or “highly motivated”. Focus on specific statistics that demonstrate the results you achieved. For an extra polish, have a friend, co-worker, your mom (ANYONE) look over your resume to check for spelling/grammar.

3. Update Your LinkedIn profile

If you’re in a steady job your LinkedIn profile probably hasn’t seen you since you added your most recent position. Keeping in mind the importance of building your personal brand, now is a great time to make sure this page represents your best you. Does your profile picture look like it needs a refresh, is it time to invest in a new headshot?

If so, you should invest. While performing a study on judgments of facial appearances, Princeton Psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov found in just 100 milliseconds people established an opinion on someone by looking at a picture of their face.

Next, enhance your bio to to accurately represent your responsibilities and skill sets. Make sure your current position description includes all recent achievements. Finally, don’t forget to keep up to date with your network. Connect with your colleagues and ask for written recommendations for your current role.

4. Trim Down your Email Inbox

Although some of us may never reach an empty inbox, we can still strive to reduce the clutter of emails. Start with organizing the emails you need to keep. Inbox folders are your friend — create these with relevant labels for the emails you need to save for your records. The next step is easy, remove yourself from unnecessary email lists/news alerts that are no longer relevant. Think about it, every time you look at an email that isn’t truly relevant to the work you’re doing — you’re wasting time. Still feel completely distraught every time you check your inbox? Try using some of these email management tools to make life easier.

5. Clean Up Your Desk

Take a half hour before or after your “official” work day hours to clear the unneeded items on your desk. If you haven’t used those free trinkets from your last conference — toss ‘em! Remove that dried up succulent that everybody said you couldn’t possibly kill — it has seen it’s day! Organize that stack of junk mail, articles and paper peering at you from your desk corner. Now, that you have cleared off all the unnecessary items it’s time to add some feng shui for your desk. Yup that’s right even your desk items can be placed in a particular way to keep the good energy flowing throughout your work day.

6. Track Your Schedule

Who doesn’t want to be more productive throughout their work day. Simply put, you can get more done in less time by staying on top of your time. Begin by coordinating the big rocks, the tasks that need to happen, and let all the little pebbles, the smaller tasks, settle in where there is room. First and foremost, block off time for yourself, including time with family, friends, your beloved dog, yoga, or whatever it is that’s important to you.

People may ask for your time, but they can’t double book something already on your calendar. Then schedule time blocks for your weekly to-dos — and don’t forget to add in time to time-block for the week ahead. Eventually, you will begin to establish a weekly routine that fits you, and you’ll be getting more done, faster.

7. Tackle Your On-going To-do List

Everybody has their version of a to-do list whether it’s your inbox full of unanswered emails, multiple color coated lists or the post-it notes taking over your laptop. Pause and think. What do you need to get done? And what would be nice to get done? Organize your to-do list by prioritizing the most important task. Think about the quality of your tasks not the quantity. Manage your list daily and focus only on the tasks you can do in one work day. Then at the end of the day write down your tasks for the following day, so you can hit the ground running in the morning. To go a step further, try using a project management system to stay on top of your larger to-dos. Some tools you may like to use are YanadoTrelloGoogle Keep or Wunderlist — try them out and find out what works for you.