Spring Cleaning for Your Career

Things You Can Do to Improve Your Work Life

Getting ready for spring cleaning
These supplies will help you clean your house but not your career. Peter Dazeley / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images

Why is it that the start of spring seems such a good time to tidy up our homes? When the snow (finally) melts, our thoughts often turn to spring cleaning. We scrub our floors, steam our rugs, clean out our closets and launder our bedding and window treatments. This time of renewal is also a great time for spring cleaning your career. There are several things you can do that will make your work life better.

1. Discard Your Bad Habits

Everyone has established patterns of behavior—some good, others bad. Your bad habits can have a negative effect on your career. If you are a procrastinator, for example, you will probably hand in projects late. This will cause your boss to have a bad opinion of you even if the work you hand in is good. Another bad habit, gossiping, is very harmful to others and will make your coworkers and boss distrust you. Oversharing can cause you to be the subject of others' gossip and can also hurt your career.

2. Freshen Up Your Hard and Soft Skills

You need both hard and soft skills in order to succeed in your career. Hard skills are the technical skills you need to do your job. You likely learned them in school or during on-the-job training. Soft skills are personal qualities you were either born with or acquired through experience. While you are tending to your spring cleaning, you should take the time to recharge both.

Keep your hard skills up-to-date by taking continuing education classes, reading professional literature and attending workshops and conferences. Your employer may be willing to pay your way for anything that will improve your performance at work. You may also be able to find free or low cost online courses and video tutorials.

For example, Lynda.com offers video tutorials in a variety of subjects. There is a relatively low membership fee that gives you unlimited access to tutorials, but if you just want to check it out you can get a free trial membership that lasts for 10 days. Before you pay a penny though, check with your local library. Many provide their cardholders with free access to Lynda.com.

You can also improve upon your soft skills such as time management skillsprofessionalism and communication skills, including speaking and listening skills. Take inventory to see which of these qualities you have and which you should work on strengthening. Don't try to work on all of them but instead focus on what will help you most in your job.

3. Polish Your Resume and Job Interviewing Skills and Tend to Your Network

You never know when you will need a current copy of your resume so this is a good time to update it. List your present job if it isn't already on there. If you've developed some new skills, list them as well. Also add any achievements you've had since your last resume revision. Whether you love your current position or are planning to embark on a job search campaign, it is always a good idea to be prepared.

That is why you should also sharpen your job interviewing skills. If you've been neglecting your network, start tending to it now. Email you contacts to keep them apprised of your current activities.

4. Revamp Your Wardrobe

How you dress for work is important. Examine your work attire carefully and make sure what you wear makes the right impression. Are your shoes scuffed? Are your shirt colors frayed? Do your ties have stains? Are you wearing clothing that was very stylish ... back in the early 2000s? Some items may need to be sent off to the dry cleaner, shoe repair shop or tailor. Others may need to be tossed and replaced. 

5. Repair Relationships With Your Coworkers

When you spend a lot of time with people, you're bound to occasionally get on each other's nerves. You probably spend more time with your coworkers than you do with anyone else.

Take some time to repair your relationships with them. This is also a good time to make amends if you've done anything to offend a coworker.

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