Ready to make 2016 your most productive, successful year ever?

Sure, you can resolve to exercise more and eat fewer doughnuts. But it's even more important to avoid these 16 productivity killers.


1. Accept every meeting invitation. You spent far too much time last year sitting in conference rooms. For 2016, aim to reduce meeting time by 25 percent.

2. Schedule each meeting for an hour. Almost every topic can be handled in 30 or even 15 minutes.

3. Rely on teleconferences or virtual meetings, even if your colleagues are right down the hall. You know this: There's no better way to build relationships than getting together face to face.

4. Rely on virtual meetings just because your colleagues are across the country or around the globe. Try to get team members together in person at least once this year.

5. Make email a priority. Yes, email is necessary, but don't let it dominate your time. In fact, turn it off for at least half every workday.

6. Put off reading. Bill Gates consumes 50 books a year. Surely you can find time to pursue the five to 10 books that will help you learn about key issues.

7. Operate without a list. This is hardly a new concept, but it's still a best practice to start Monday morning by making a list of priority tasks. The second step: Book time on your calendar to work on what matters.

8. Be a slave to urgent tasks. Satisfying as it is to check things off your list, make sure you're allocating the right amount of energy to things that are important but not urgent. (Steven Covey was right.)

9. Work too much. Sometimes you've got to stay late to make a deadline. But consistently working too many hours actually lowers creativity and your ability to solve problems.

10. Sleep too little. Unless you're a parent of small children (in which case there's no hope), it's in your power to get enough sleep. But you've got to stop binge-watching old episodes of Downton Abbey and get yourself to bed.

11. Allow clutter to pile up. Too many emails, too much paper--it just weighs you down. Spend 15 minutes a day de-junking.

12. Say yes to every request. Before you take it on, ask yourself: "What are my objectives? How does my boss define success? How does this request fit in with these priorities?"

13. Say no to big challenges. Some projects are suicide missions; by all means, side-step those pending disasters. But when you identify a game-changing challenge, raise your hand.

14. Go it alone. There's no better way to solve a tough problem than by collaborating. Ask smart people for help.

15. Forget to express your gratitude. This doesn't have to be elaborate; a simple "thanks for doing such a great job" will do nicely.

16. Be so serious. Make sure to joke with your colleagues, enjoy a cat video, even play a quick game of Heads Up! Yes, you're focused, but you deserve to have fun.

Have a great year!