10 things to change in 2023 to help transform your working life for the better

As we draw to the end of January, many of us will have realised with a sinking heart that we have already broken our carefully thought-out New Year’s Resolutions. Losing weight – nigh on impossible when you still have lots of Christmas goodies lying around the house; get fit – who wants to join loads of other sweaty people in the local gym? Give up alcohol – well that was never going to happen!

The trick with New Year’s Resolutions is to pick ones that are realistic, specific, and achievable, so we’ve come up with 10 easy ones, which will help make work a much better place for everyone.

1. Respond to emails, promptly

We’ve all done it. Received an email, planned to respond later and then realised a couple of weeks have gone by. Even worse, all the sender wanted was a yes or no answer!

You wouldn’t ignore someone if they said hello to you in the street (depending on the person!), so don’t let emails fester in your inbox. Instead, be courteous and respond promptly. And it really doesn’t matter if your response is ‘I’m afraid I don’t know, leave it with me’. At least the person at the other end knows you’re doing something about it.

Remember, your response could be holding up someone else’s work, which could have a massive impact especially if they are working to a deadline.

2. Pick up the phone

Teams, Slack, email – all wonderful tools that have (allegedly!) made business life a lot simpler, but you could argue they have actually made us a bit lazy. After all, it’s so much easier to whizz across an email rather than picking up the phone.

So, the next time you are waiting for a response to an email, don’t get annoyed, just call them. And don’t worry that you ‘might disturb them’, as if it’s a bad time, they just won’t answer the phone!

And let’s face it, if you are still working from home or remotely, how wonderful to give someone a call, get the info you need and then catch up on the important things like the latest episode of The Traitors US. And no, that’s not wasting time, it’s called relationship building!

3. Cut the buzzwords

We wrote last year about the buzzwords everyone should stop using, immediately. Well, here are a few more to add to the list. Bandwidth, buy-in, and deliverables. And let’s not even mention circle back, boots on the ground or low hanging fruit.

Buzzwords are imprecise, inauthentic and above all pretentious. Avoid at all costs.

4. Don’t copy and paste briefs

Marketing insanity. That’s what Marketing Week’s recent cartoon called sending the same brief to the same agency and expecting different results, and we couldn’t agree more. A good brief cannot be underestimated as it will give the agency everything they need to deliver on your expectations as well as setting the direction for an entire campaign.

In fact, in our briefing workshops, we suggest working with your agency to produce a brief as that way you’ll both be singing from the same hymn sheet (sorry, couldn’t resist!). And if you are struggling to know where to start, maybe an extra New Year’s Resolution should be attending one of our workshops!

5. Always give a brief

Which leads us nicely on to the next of our 10 work-focused New Year’s Resolutions. Always give a brief!

You wouldn’t go into a kitchen showroom and just tell them to give you a kitchen without giving them an idea about size, style, colour, how you’re going to use it etc.

So don’t do that with creative work, no matter how small or simple the job seems.

6. Be realistic about deadlines

Deadlines are sadly a necessary evil of work and while they are great for helping with planning and focus, if they are unrealistic, they just end up causing stress which can sometimes unfortunately result in unforced errors.

When setting any deadlines remember to consider other projects you are working on, any holidays you, or key members of your team, have booked, and even how prompt you are at responding to emails!

7. Make meetings worthwhile

We’ve all been to meetings which have been a waste of time, so this year make sure each one you attend is worthwhile. And if it isn’t do an Elon Musk and leave. As he so aptly puts it “It is not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time.”

If you’re setting up a meeting yourself, firstly work out if you actually need a meeting, and then only invite people who need to attend, have a clear agenda, remain focused and make sure you have a hard stop (oops, done it again!).

8. Build a partnership with your creative agency

Creating a new campaign is an exciting time, which is why it’s so important to realise your creative agency is your friend, and on your side! You’re basically in this together, so work closely with them from creating the brief, setting deadlines to celebrating the final creative launch. Both of you have a role to play, so make sure you both give it all you’ve got.

9. Be clear from the start about your budget

There was a scene on a recent episode of The Apprentice, where the candidates asked a client about his budget for bespoke Bao buns. He said, ‘it isn’t relevant’ and then when they said they would charge him £8 a bun, balked at the cost.

Budget is always relevant. Without knowing the budget up front, it’s incredibly difficult to accurately scope out work and, if the final proposal is massively over or under budget, it’s just a waste of everyone’s time.

If you really don’t know your budget, at least set a higher limit. A good creative agency will use that as a guide rather than a target they have to meet at all costs.

10. If you can be anything, be kind 

While most of us don’t work looking for a thank you or a well done, you’ve got to admit that when they do come it gives you a little glow inside. In fact, it’s those little moments which make work (almost) seem worthwhile!

So, while we might all get stressed at work by people not responding to emails, unrealistic deadlines or attending pointless meetings, just remember saying a kind word or two can transform a person’s day for the better.