Posted Feb. 25, 2007 -- Ah, the arrival of spring: The sun is out and it’s time to get your act together. You can pull down those holiday decorations. Wash the layers of mud and salt off your car. Take those running shoes – that you bought last spring – on their first jog around the park.
This is the one time of year when everybody’s eager to improve their lives.
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Unfortunately, work life rarely gets the same attention. While your home might be in order, you won’t feel completely refreshed if your work situation is a mess. Whether you have a job or you’re looking for one, here are some tips to make the most of your spring cleaning.
Update your résumé.
You know you should check your smoke alarm once a month, but you really give it attention only when the battery’s dying and it won’t stop beeping. Don’t treat your résumé the same way. Even if you’re not looking to change jobs, it can’t hurt to have an updated résumé. Keeping it current saves you time down the road when you are job hunting. Also, you might not remember all your impressive accomplishments and responsibilities months or years from now, so go ahead and write them down.
Sort through your inbox.
E-mail inboxes have become the digital equivalent of the junk drawer. You don’t want to delete the message about the upcoming meeting (that took place four months ago) or the memo you’ll read when you have time – so they just sit there. Truthfully, once the message falls low enough on the page to require scrolling, you’re not going to revisit it. Go through each e-mail, trash the ones you don’t need and put the important ones in an appropriate folder. You might be surprised how less stressed you feel when you open your inbox and don’t see hundreds of messages sitting there.
Tidy up your desk.
Odds are your work space could use just as much housekeeping as your closets. A tower of memos and wads of Post-Its don’t scream “I’m on top of things!” to your colleagues and boss. Aside from giving a bad impression, cluttered desks are also notorious for making important documents disappear. Throw away what you can and file the rest. Use the extra hour of sunlight to admire that desktop you haven’t seen in years.
Clean your closet.
While you’re at home organizing your closet like a good little spring cleaner, take a look at your business suit. Does it still fit you? Is it tangled up in a knot under a pile of shoes? Is it a leisure suit? If you were to be called to an interview tomorrow, would you be able – or even want – to wear it? Much like your résumé, your interview attire should be ready to go at all times. If you need to take it to the cleaners or buy something new, better to do so at your convenience rather than in a rushed panic the night before the interview.
It’s not uncommon for professionals of any industry to grow comfortable in their positions after a few years. However, as technology evolves rapidly, it affects every occupation – whether it’s construction, sales or medicine. To keep up with the crowd, see if your company offers classes on industry trends. Some employers will even pay for courses at colleges if it benefits your work. At the very least, pick up a few books or industry journals to see what’s going on around you.
Meet your neighbors.
People often become so engrossed in their jobs that they forget colleagues are working only five feet away. Learn the names and personalities that belong to the faces you see every day, or even to those you only see occasionally. It never hurts to have contacts who can answer a question or help with a future job hunt. Plus, it’s nice to know a little about the people you work next to for eight hours a day.
Schedule some interviews.
If you’re contemplating a job switch, one way to simplify the decision-making process is to go on some interviews. Although you might not be ready to quit your job just yet, going on interviews gives you an idea of what opportunities are available. You can use these interviews as practice for the ones that matter most if you decide to start a job hunt.
Evaluate your situation.
You might not be the type of person who writes out a list of goals and resolutions each year, but you probably have an idea of where you want your career to go. Think back to where you were last spring: Are things going as you hoped? Are you on a career path that will get you where you want to be one or two years from now? Are you earning what you deserve? Decide if you’re OK staying where you are or if it’s time to make a change.
Spring cleaning doesn’t just have to be about tidying up; it can be about starting fresh.