Happy New Year! This is a time when we should all resolve to do something different or better during the year ahead. So what resolutions will have the greatest impact in terms of improving the value of your work or making your life easier?

Here are five suggestions that may help:

1. Say “No” more often – The hardest part of any job is saying “No” to requests. But if we don’t, our capacity gets eaten up with endless projects – many of which may be of questionable value. The inevitable result is that there is less time for important projects – and almost always it’s the thinking time that adds the most value. So learn to say “No” more often – tactfully of course.

2. Plan your communications early – Don’t wait until the end of a project to think through who you need to communicate with or the best way to do this. Think in advance who will need a summary; who will need the full details; and who will respond better to a phone call

rather than an email. Think about what will make them act. Do it ‘up front’ – because not only will you be more likely to do it, but it may also actually change the way in which you run the project. Communication should never be an afterthought!

3. Make time to think – The key to insight is to ask the right questions. But that involves thinking, and thinking requires time – without any disturbances. Even five minutes’ peace and quiet can produce superb value. So consciously make time to think rather than just churning out data.

4. Review last year’s projects – We know that insight should generate value for the organization. But how often are findings lost or recommendations ignored? And why? Could we have expressed things more effectively to produce a better result? One way to find out is to go back over some key projects from the last 18 months and discover what happened. This may be hard but is invaluable.

5. Share insight across the team – Do your team meetings just go through current projects and problems? Do you ever formally take some time to actually share what each of you has learned from your work? Given that insight so often demands context from other areas, how can you really deliver it if you aren’t aware of the key lessons from your colleagues’ work? So make time – and it must be specifically for sharing – and not for discussing current problems.

Implementing one, or all of these strategies will improve insight and value, in turn producing a more functional process, with a final product all will be satisfied with. Good luck and enjoy what lies ahead in 2018.