Even if you are taking some well-deserved time off this week between Christmas and New Years Day, it’s still a good time to reflect on your past year, consider your priorities moving forward, and establish a set of goals and habits to get you there.

In 2018 I am translating what historically have been my New Years resolutions into a set of habits, rituals and milestones (more on that later this week).  Collectively, these three areas aren’t necessarily the work I need to get done but instead include disciplines to help me get that work done.

Put another way, I believe we (and I) need to better prioritize work that helps us get more (and better) work done.

For example, from both observation and experience, I believe many of us focus primarily if not entirely on execution without investing consistent time in making that execution better.  We run from task to task, fire drill to fire drill, without investing enough in our experience, instincts and environment.

In the midst of a busy workweek in the middle of Q1, capturing enough cognitive time to separate those two things might be difficult, hence why this relatively quieter week (for most of us) is so critical.

What are some examples of work that can help you work?

  • Time to reflect: Literally block time in your calendar to think.  Set a regular time based on your work habits, requirements and zones of energy.  For some it might be early morning, others it might be at the end of your work day.  But if you don’t take time to think, you won’t be nearly as effective at execution.
  • Time to learn:  This includes structured reading (researching), unstructured reading (a habit of reading the Wall Street Journal regularly for example), dedicated time to continued education and training, etc.  Exposing your mind to new ideas, best practices, and third-party perspectives will make your execution and instincts sharper.
  • Time to brainstorm:  Brainstorms by yourself count as well.
  • Time to gather feedback & input:  In our fire-drill world, increasingly with our noses in our phones, eyes on social media and ears covered by headphones, it’s too easy to work in isolation. Take time to proactively gather outside perspectives on your work (past, present and future) to make it better.

If your workday is entirely focused on checking boxes off of your to-do list, I could easily argue that you aren’t investing nearly enough in making the output of that task list better, more meaningful and more productive.

What “work to improve your work” habits will you consider or commit to in 2018?