Here's a great way to start the year.
Follow these quick, easy-to-digest productivity tips to get a boost right away before we even get halfway through January. Let me know if they help.
1. Pick a task you really want to complete today at all costs. Write out why that task is so important and then do it right away to set the tone for the morning.
2. Find one person in the office who always seems to get her work down and ask her to tell you how she does it and what she does to stay so efficient.
3. Schedule your hardest meetings right away in the morning. If you wait until later in the day, your productivity will dip as you think about the meetings.
4. Make sure you take an intentional break that involves a change of scenery. Research shows the change in viewpoint stimulates creative ideas.
5. Keep a journal that you use to track successes and failures, and make sure you write in it each morning. This teaches you to chronicle what works.
6. Quick desk rearrangements work wonders. Even just moving a few accoutrements like a pencil holder and a stapler will stimulate some creative thoughts.
7. Learn how to manage distractions. You can pump out a report or fly through email if you first power down the phone, making it totally inaccessible.
8. Stand up during the day to help you focus. The movement, change of perspective, and change in blood flow will help you achieve a bit more that day.
9. Include other people in your productivity plan who can check in with you and serve as a sounding board for your ideas. Let them see which items you will do today on this list.
10. Buy a really expensive pen for your journal. Use the guilt from paying that much as an excuse for writing down your challenges for the day and keeping notes about successes.
11. Take a trip to a brand-new city. Travel tends to stimulate new thinking and even opens neural pathways you didn't know you had. Avoid repetitive business trips.
12. Change your beverage to something that's completely different, not just moving from coffee to tea. Drink something at your desk that is totally new, like an Arnold Palmer.
13. Install a whiteboard near your desk and start making a big show of your tasks, crossing them off as you complete them as a visual reward.
14. Install a monitor arm that moves easily and adjusts to your desk chair height. Not having the monitor on your desk is one less item that is cluttering up your thoughts.
15. Get the biggest Post-it Notes you can find, preferably as big as an art pad. Keep them handy and use them to jot down creative ideas throughout the day.
16. Keep a running record of your biggest conflicts. The act of recording them gives them gravity so you can address them correctly. Cross them off when you resolve them.
17. If you work remotely, try to get as close to your normal work conditions as possible. Use the same laptop and mouse, same desktop background, and even listen to the same music.
18. If one employee continually interrupts you, address the problem by suggesting a set meeting time each day.
19. Add some color to your office. Get rid of the gray. Mount a poster on the wall or even use a more colorful paint to liven up the room and liven up your thoughts.
20. Group your meetings together so you do them all in a row and can get back to your normal productivity level. Never scatter meetings throughout the day.
21. Find a mentor who is good at analyzing your faults. Ask each day for one area where you need to improve in order to be more efficient.
22. Answer email in short, highly focused task-based sessions lasting about 10 minutes each. After 10 minutes or so, stop and wait until you finish other tasks.
23. Never check email as you work on another project, such as a marketing plan or a business document for the boss. Always finish those tasks first.
24. Set a predetermined goal for your Web research before you start, documenting exactly what you want to do. Then set a time limit for how long you will do the research.
25. Finish only the tasks that are the most important and pressing for the day, and don't try to finish all the tasks to get a sense of completion, which is not the same as productivity.
26. Leave some tasks unfinished for the morning that are easy to complete when you first get into the office. Make a show of doing those tasks first to set the tone for the day.
27. Practice breathing to deal with stress. Any technique is fine, but make sure you breathe in deeply and breathe out fully in a measured way for at least a few minutes.
28. Group your phone calls so you do them all over a set period. Don't take unplanned phone calls or make sporadic calls during the day.
29. Determine the desired outcome for each phone call. Make sure each call has a worthwhile goal that fits in with your productivity plan.
30. Watch the sugary foods. A donut in the morning means you won't finish that business report by lunch. The sugar rush will give you a false sense of efficiency.
31. Buy a much faster laptop with a better graphics processor to speed up the apps you use. Make sure you get enough RAM to be able to run multiple apps at the same time.
32. Try to sit in an office with a window. Looking outside helps with sensory dynamism, the need for your eyes to see multiple planes of reality and not just one (like a computer screen).
33. Deal with the ergonomic problem once and for all. Make sure your eyes are level with your monitor and your back is straight with good lumbar (lower back) support.
34. Use a hotspot on your phone when you travel. It might cost more, but airport and hotel Wi-Fi can be unpredictable. You'll complete more work with an easy, reliable connection.
35. Add a task lamp to your desk. It means you can sign documents and look at paperwork easier and faster without having to move to a different part of the office.
36. Always maintain a clutter-free desk. Leave large spaces open during those times when you need to read a book or study some printed materials.
37. Listen to music you like and know. Don't listen to music that is unfamiliar or so new you will become distracted and listen instead of completing tasks.
38. Buy an expensive keyboard. A keyboard is your main touchpoint to check email, write documents, and chat with colleagues. Always keep a spare handy.
39. Read at least one page of a book on productivity right away in the morning. Read until you have an applicable tip for the day that will positively impact your work.
40. Use a hard stop for all email around 5 p.m. This means everyone knows you will not answer emails after 5 and you won't be tempted to check after 5.
41. Use the Quiet Hours feature in Windows 10. It is located in the notifications tab on the lower right. It disables all notifications from distracting you as you work.
42. Always use the same laptop when you travel, even if you have other options. When you really need to get work done, the familiar keyboard, apps, and trackpad will help.
43. Inform others when you need to do serious work. It helps them understand you are trying to focus and do not want to be interrupted. Let them know the exact timeframe.
44. Use a desk-mounted power strip. This saves time as you plug in a phone or tablet so you don't have to crawl under a desk. It helps you recapture a few wasted minutes.
45. Create personal challenges, like answering all emails in your inbox or addressing every mention in Slack before lunch. These small goals help you achieve even bigger goals.
46. Relax. Stress is a productivity killer. Learn how to take deep breaths, train yourself to see work as work, and don't let distractions interfere with your goals for the day.
47. Voice your concerns. Call your mom, your spouse, or a friend to express out loud what is making you stressed and ruining your productivity. Ask for advice.
48. Share the load with your colleagues. Ask for help when a project is starting to slip instead of trying to finish everything yourself when you know that's not possible.
49. Use coffee as a motivator. When you refill and go back to your desk, tell yourself: Now you will finally finish that report or do the research on that marketing plan.
50. Remember that good productivity is ultimately an investment in you. It is a healthy, fulfilling way to achieve more to give you a sense of satisfaction.