The path to productivity looks different for everyone. There are going to be some tips and tricks that work for you, and others that don't. But you never know if something is going to work until you try it, and January is the perfect time to form new habits that will keep you more organized for the year ahead.
Below are a few productivity tips that are worth taking into the new year and beyond.
Clear the Clutter
Both the tangible and the virtual. Take the time to clean the space around your desk - shred or throw out any documents that are no longer needed, purchase items that will help keep your desk organized like folders or trays, and make sure you have everything you need within reach like pens and a notebook. You'll want to do the same thing for your virtual space as well - organize your files into folders, and archive anything you no longer need. Clearing the clutter now will make staying organized for the rest of the year much easier.
Evaluate what your productivity looked like last year. Were there tasks you felt like you could never get to? Did you always feel slightly behind? Learn from the prior year and prioritize your tasks now. Consider what needs to be done first in order to make your day or week better, and mark those tasks off first if possible.
Build in Timed Breaks
Have you heard of the Pomodoro Method? The idea is to take timed breaks after working for a set amount of time. This time management method is typically focused around 25-minute stretches of work broken out by 5-minute breaks. But you could also try longer stretches, for example, working 4-hours followed by a 30-minute break. This method has been proven to make workers feel recharged and refreshed. Things like taking breaks and using vacation time are essential to avoid burnout.
Plan the Day Ahead of Time
Have you ever sat down for the day and realized you needed to dive into work right away? This happens to most of us, and unfortunately, when it does happen it can throw off the entire day if you haven't had the opportunity to review what needs to be done and prioritize. Consider spending the last 15 minutes of your day writing out your to-do list for the next day so that you can feel organized from the start.
Take the time to think about what makes you feel distracted throughout the day. Is it the noise of your office? Try wearing headphones. Is it the silence of your home if you work virtually? Work in a coffee shop for a few hours. Or maybe it's the text notifications you get throughout the day, if that's the case try putting your phone on do not disturb while you're trying to focus. Distractions aren't always going to be able to be limited, but the key is to limit them when possible.
This goes back to considering your priorities. If a a proposed project isn't one of them or you don't have the bandwidth to handle it right now, don't be afraid to say no. I know this sounds like the opposite of productivity, but if a project or task isn't crucial and you don't have the time for it, it's going to affect the productivity related to your priorities.
Lastly, knowing yourself might be one of the most important ways to stay productive. Are you a morning or afternoon person? Save your hardest tasks for the time of day when you feel the most productive. Many people find that doing their most stressful tasks in the morning makes the rest of their day easier but if you aren't a morning person and work much better later in the day, that might not work for you and that's okay. It's essential that you find a planning system that works for you.
Not only will these productivity tips help you feel organized and prepared for the year ahead, but hopefully they will also help guide you into a good work/life balance which is crucial to avoid burn out. Here's to a productive 2023!