By this time in January, some of that initial excitement around New Year’s resolutions may be starting to fade. Here we are, just a week away from the whateverness of February. Work has officially kicked back into high gear. That yoga class you took on January 6th (“2017! The year of yoga!”) was great, and maybe the one you dragged yourself to a week later was fine, but last week you just kind of skipped it (you had good reasons, you swear).
Listen, it’s okay. Even the most productive people have a hard time sticking with their resolutions. Making big, lasting habit changes is hard. So for inspiration (and solidarity), we asked insiders at some of the top tech companies to share which bad habits they’re trying to cut out of their workdays. After all, sometimes getting yourself to stop doing something is a little easier than learning to do something totally new. And knocking out those small, achievable goals first can help you achieve the tougher ones later.
“I’m used to constantly checking my phone during the day,” says Sara Haider, a senior manager in Periscope’s engineering division, “so I’m aiming to switch it to ‘do not disturb’ mode during meetings so I can stay focused and keep my mind and thoughts on the subject at hand.”
That’s a challenge when the subject at hand is one of the world’s most recognized mobile apps. “When you work on platforms like Twitter and Periscope,” Haider concedes, “there can be a lot of notifications because something is always happening in the world.”
Erica Lockheimer, senior director of engineering growth at LinkedIn, is committing to the same thing. “I am no longer going to be distracted by my laptop or phone in meetings,” she vows. “I am going to be present and fully engaged, and will enjoy every moment working with talented teams to solve problems and come up with new strategies. The rest can wait–the moment is more important!”
It’s easy to settle for a sad desk lunch when you’ve got a packed day. But schlepping to the lunch room for a quick bite by yourself isn’t much better, says LinkedIn’s Ish Verduzco, a social media and event coordinator. “Eating alone is not a break, it’s isolation.”
So in addition to kicking this bad habit, Verduzco is taking on a new one. “In 2017, I am going to have lunch with two new people each week. Not only will this build relationships,” he says, “it’ll also expand my knowledge across the business.”
“I’m dropping the need to chime in to every email,” Google product strategist Luke Leonhard declares. “When people do great work, I’ll make the effort to tell them in person, instead of joining in on the congratulations thread.”
Email is convenient, but sometimes it’s too convenient, and it winds up incentivizing weak and ineffective communication. So Leonhard is making physical conversations his default. “When I have feedback on a product spec, I’m scheduling a 10–15 minute meeting, in person or via Hangouts, to quickly and more effectively give feedback. If it isn’t worth an in-person meeting, I doubt it’s worth me writing an email, and the recipient having to read and interpret it.”
Leonhard says he’s already begun to implement this, and has already “noticed I spend less time frantically typing on my keyboard at my desk, and more time interacting with real people–making the workday feel a bit more fun.”
Leonhard isn’t the only one who wants to spend less time rifling through his inbox. Fadia Kader, senior manager of music partnerships at Twitter, says, “This year I’m focusing on unsubscribing from newsletters and email subscriptions that I don’t read regularly, and being more mindful of the things I sign up for.” 2017 will be the year she can finally “keep my work inbox organized and clutter free.”
Even tech workers still cling to analog work habits that digital tools can make more efficient. No longer, says Wade Morgan, an enterprise sales development representative at LinkedIn. “I’m going to start using the calendar app to plan out my duties for the week and let go of making constant in-the-moment decisions.” Getting calendar alerts, he hopes, will help ‘increase efficiency and make me more accountable” day-to-day.
Alex Josephson, head of global brand strategy at Twitter, is also kicking his reliance on old-school organizational habits that don’t work as well. “I’ve decided to give up entirely on physical notebooks and pens. Using apps like Google Keep is the best way to travel light to meetings, jot down notes, ideas, and to-dos,” he says. “Plus, it reduces my carbon footprint.”
“I have stopped pretending that sleep isn’t important, so I have made it a point to get some this year,” jokes David Roter, head of agency development at Twitter. But kicking his sleepless-nights habit doesn’t mean overhauling everything. Roter is making smaller adjustments to help him score more shut-eye. “While I’m not giving up Netflix, I keep the mobile phone in the kitchen and meditate at least once per day. I actually feel sharper and more focused at work.”
Googler Luke Leonhard is actually kicking two work habits. “I’m no longer spending time making internal presentations pixel-perfect,” he says. “I’m sticking with using templates and Slides Explore to make presentations look great, without spending 20 extra minutes adjusting alignments and picking colors.” It’s just not worth it, he says.
By ditching the perfectionism, Leonhard plans to free up time to try something new. “Add up that saved time, and I can learn a little Spanish, go outside for a run, or give yoga a try.” Namaste.