04/28/2014 04:19 pm ET Updated Jun 28, 2014

7 Tips for a Productive First Week on the Job

The start of a new job is a time for fist-pumping joy, a few jitters and a whirlwind of activity. It's an intense week of meeting new people, learning new duties and picking up on all the cues that reveal the company's corporate culture. Your first few days set a precedence on what others can expect from you as a coworker and employee. Here are seven ways to make the most of your first week on the job.

  1. Don't wait for someone else to make the introduction. Reach out to new coworkers with a friendly smile, direct (but not too aggressive) eye contact and a firm handshake; repeat your new colleague's name as a memory tool. If you happen to forget their name, consider the first week as your grace period to ask again, "Please remind me of your name...I know we met earlier, but I've met so many people this week. I'm Violet Smith."
  2. Establish connections with your supervisor, colleagues and those you will oversee. Whether it's your first job out of college or a new management position, this is a critical time to build a rapport, understand the expectations of others and begin to define your own goals. Set up a time to meet with your new boss to discuss her priorities for you and your department, both long and short term. If you are stepping into a supervisory role, make an attempt to learn what procedures are working well along with areas that could use some improvement.
  3. Set up your workstation. It's best to begin getting your new office organized, computer configured and desk in order. This is the time to familiarize yourself with the equipment and supplies you need, so as your workload grows you won't be slowed down by a state of the art copy machine. Observe the workspaces of others to get a feel for the company's unwritten protocol for decorating. In most situations, it's okay to bring in a few items to help you personalize your workspace - a piece of framed art, a family photo for your desk or a favorite lamp to create familiar lighting in your work area.
  4. Create a workbook. Some offices greet new employees with a training manual while others show newbies to their desks, leaving them to figure it out for themselves. If a training handbook is not available, make it your job to create one as you go. As you learn a technical skill, or a required duty, take notes and document them in a word file so you have a complete guide to reference. You will then have a thorough description of your job duties which will be useful in training your predecessor when the time comes to move up the corporate ladder. It is also a first big step in showcasing your ability to work independently while establishing your reputation as a committed employee.
  5. Don't be afraid to ask questions. When you are new, you can't possibly know the ins and outs of the corporate culture and expectations of your position. Instead, approach the day with the intention of learning more than you knew the day before, without hesitation to ask for clarification or additional information when you are unsure.
  6. Find services, restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores and a dry cleaner close to the office. Selecting stores, local delis, and locations for daily or weekly needs is especially important if you are working in a new part of town. After a long day of work, you don't want to drive 30 minutes round trip to pick up a gallon of milk. You will save time, money on gas, and cut down your stress levels if you discover new places within a short radius of your new job.
  7. Practice healthy habits. Between new introductions, figuring out where things are located, getting settled and adjusting to your new job, you are sure to feel a bit overwhelmed. Give yourself enough time after work to exercise, eat a good meal and get some rest. Keep up with your Tuesday night book club and Thursday early morning yoga class. Venture out during lunch to scope out new dining spots or places of interest. Treat yourself to a celebratory dinner with friends and family after you make it through the first week. With the initial hurdles behind, you will be ready to celebrate and deserving of a special meal.

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