Here's How Sneaking 15 Minutes of Reading in at the Office Will Boost Your Career
Work + Life Balance

Here's How Sneaking 15 Minutes of Reading in at the Office Will Boost Your Career

by Lisa Gordon
Photos Diana Zapata | September 21, 2015

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR LUNCH BREAKS BY READING ARTICLES THAT CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT. WHETHER IT’S THE NEWS, JOB EXPERTISE, OR INDUSTRY INFORMATION, IT'S TIME WELL SPENT.

Here are two common workday scenarios:

Scenario A

You’ve just arrived at work and sat down at your desk. Thankfully, the caffeine from the latte you’ve been sipping on is finally kicking in. You pull up your email and scroll through your to-do list for the day. It’s time to get down to work! But you decide to get up and say hi to your friend in the next office, or check out the selection of bagels and donuts in the kitchen. Knowing the whole workday is ahead of you, you want to put it off just a little longer.  

Scenario B

It’s 3:22 p.m. You’ve had lunch (hopefully!) and most of your meetings are over for the day. It’s the mid-afternoon slump, and you’re looking for a pick-me-up. Maybe it’s the time of day you usually go for a quick walk, grab a coffee, check the mail, or your favorite blog… Anything to distract you and make the end of the day go by a little faster.

Do either of these scenarios sound familiar to you? How about both? Don’t worry—most of us feel the same way. It’s been proven that taking quick breaks throughout the workday can affect productivity, which explains why we’re always getting up, chit-chatting, and drinking more coffee. But are taking those frequent pauses truly making the best use of your time? Those things may pick up your mood, but are they going to advance your career? Probably not.

The next time you feel compelled to get up and aimlessly roam the building courtyard, try reading instead.

The next time you feel compelled to get up and aimlessly roam the building courtyard, try reading instead. And no, we don’t mean reading [insert your favorite trashy gossip site here]! Reading certain kinds of material can serve two purposes at the same time: give you that much-needed mental break and boost your career. {Click to Tweet} Here’s what you ought to try reading and why. Even if it’s for five minutes a day, on a few or all of these topics, this will make you feel like you’re on top of the world!

THE NEWS

Why: It’s a big world out there, and it’s good to be in the know about cultural events.

Most of us have a go-to news site. Maybe it’s your city or state’s local publication or a national news source. If you’ve got one, great! If you don’t, now’s the time to get one. Ask your friends and family what they read, and go from there.

Ever been in a conversation in which current events were being discussed and you had no idea what was going on? Not fun, right? (Especially if the conversation is with colleagues you’d like to impress.) It’s important to know what’s going on in the world, but more and more people—especially young professionals—admit to not reading the news as often as they should. {Click to Tweet} By having a solid awareness of newsworthy events, in the nation at large and also in your state and city, you’ll be able to demonstrate that you’re well rounded and you care about worldly affairs.

Where to Look:

Being aware of what the competition is doing demonstrates that you’re passionate about your work and invested in your organization.

INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC SITES AND PUBLICATIONS

Why: For greater perspective on how your company fits into the bigger picture.

No matter what industry you’re in, there are blogs, magazines, newspapers, online journals—you name it—covering new trends, common issues, and happenings large and small within it.

Being aware of what’s affecting your industry, whether it’s big or small, ensures that you’re keeping up. {Click to Tweet} It’s easy to get so mired down in day-to-day activities and checklists that the bigger picture of what your company is trying to accomplish can get lost. Being aware of what the competition is doing, or of new policies or regulations that could affect your office, demonstrates that you’re passionate about your work and invested in your organization, making you just the kind of employee they won’t want to lose.

Where to Look: 

  • Competing companies' newsletters
  • Industry-specific websites (if you work in marketing, think Adweek. Non-profits? Try GOOD Magazine

ARTICLES SPECIFIC TO YOUR JOB TITLE

Why: To understand where you’ve been, where you want to go next, and how.

Whatever profession you’re in, whether you’re an administrator or a zoologist, there’s a world of information out there about your specific role, written by professionals with years of experience in the field.

As career-minded women, it’s essential for us to have a solid understanding of the job market that is specific to our careers. {Click to Tweet} For the particular role you’re in, it’s important to know the answers to questions like is my salary in line with others who do what I do? Is my goal of being promoted likely based on where I am now? What skills and accomplishments should I be acquiring to ensure I advance forward?

Where to Look: 

WHATEVER THE REST OF YOUR COMPANY'S TALKING ABOUT

Why: Your workplace is a reflection of you and vice versa. 

Unless you’re in a content or editorial role, there’s a good chance you’re not paying close attention to what your organization is putting out there in terms of social media, content marketing campaigns, newsletters, blog posts, and more. 

You probably sign up to receive updates and emails from companies you love and follow them on social media, right? Do you do the same for your own workplace? Being aware of the narrative that your content or marketing team is putting out there allows you to have a fuller picture of your company’s role in the industry space it occupies. Plus, even if you’re in a different department, it’s a great way to impress your boss when you can offer insight and ideas on how to contribute and aid to the growth of the business!

Where to Look:

  • Your own company's newsletter(s)
  • Google Alerts - can we just say this is the best thing ever? Plug in topics related to your work, and receive a daily digest of any news items containing those subjects from throughout the world.

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What are some of your favorite reads? Tell us about them in the comments.