I must admit that I ummed and ahhed about posting this entry. For a start, I’m still in pretty deep denial about it already being September, and the fact that the new academic year is about to begin; and, for another thing, I’ve touched on my approach to resolutions and goal-setting before in this blog, and I was conscious that I could be about to repeat or, maybe, entirely contradict that post. But, actually, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about my New (academic) Year’s resolutions, and, from talking to other colleagues and researchers, I’m not alone.

A lot of us across HE have had our annual development review/appraisal in the last month or so and, while I’m certainly not going to perpetuate the whole academia “halcyon days of summer” myth, it’s true to say that, for a lot of us, the summer gives us some time for planning and reflection, so as well as focusing on our articulated annual objectives and work goals, I think it’s worth asking a couple of extra questions – one relatively simple (to lull us all into a false sense of security) and one much trickier…

  1. What one “no-brainer” would improve my work-life?

This really should be something small, I think. A couple of years ago, mine was always wash my mug up at the end of the day.  Last academic year it was  always make sure my desk is clear at the end of the week.

I’m not claiming that these are string-theory complicated; the idea is that they’re the very opposite. Small, simple things that make your working day easier. And, you know what? They’ve worked. Starting a new week with an organised desk lets me get straight into my work rather than having to sort through workshop materials, feedback forms and random reports. Also: never underestimate the value of a clean mug when the only thing standing between you and oblivion is a good cup of tea.

My no-brainer this year is actually a bit harder, but the idea is that by writing it down, it’ll keep me accountable: Have no unread emails at the end of each week.

Again, it’s just about making it easier to get straight on with stuff on a Monday morning, rather than spending loads of time wading through my inbox.

And now here’s the biggie. This one is taken unashamedly from my previous blog on the subject, because it’s something that I’ve found to be a useful focus both personally and during coaching conversations. It can be really easy to spend all of your time on what you need to get done right now, without stopping to think about what’s  actually important to you.

  1. What is the one thing you want to achieve most of all?
    -What is the one main thing stopping you from achieving it?
    -What one thing would help you to overcome that barrier?
    -What one thing can you do RIGHT NOW to start?

If you allow yourself the time to reflect honestly on your priorities, you might be surprised by  what you discover.  

So here’s to a happy, fulfilling new year! For more tips about how to balance competing work demands, head on over to this post about To Do and To Don’t lists, to help you carve out the time you need to work on and achieve your goals.

Want to be kept accountable? Why not share your no-brainer below?

Image credit here.