Do you feel like 2018 passed by way too quickly? Do you look back on the dog days of summer and realize you got absolutely nothing done? Have you peeked at your 2018 resolutions and grimaced?
You may be upset to realize you didn’t achieve your ambitious goals set on December 31, 2017 or that you gained the unfortunate habit of waking up an hour past your alarm each day, but here’s the good news: a new year is a clean slate.
From keeping resolutions to starting a morning routine, here are five ways you can make 2019 a productive year.
1. Clearly define your New Year’s resolutions or goals.
A lot of us—40%, in fact—make New Year’s resolutions each year. Setting resolutions has become a time-honored tradition, with people enthusiastically committing to them and imagining their success with star-filled eyes. Even if people don’t call their “resolutions” by that name, many choose the new year as a great time to start working toward a vision or two.
But only 9% of these goal-setters achieve their dreams.
There are many reasons for this inability for the majority to succeed, but one is that people don’t set clear goals. All of us want to “get healthy,” but it’s hard to follow through on such a vague plan. Same for “save money” or “get ahead at work.”
Your goals need to be specific and measurable in some way. Great examples (that you are welcome to borrow!) are:
- Go to the gym 3 times each week
- Save $5,000 in emergency savings
- Pitch 1 idea per team meeting
- Take 2 swing dance lessons each month
- Call mom each Sunday
By setting specific goals like these, you’ll find it a lot easier to keep your resolutions this time around.
2. Keep your resolutions or yearly goals front-of-mind.
You know how it is: resolutions can seem super important at the beginning of the year and fade by July. Many of us even forget what goals we set in the first place. (Guilty here.) To ensure you’re continually striving to achieve your goals the whole year, you need to keep them front-of mind.
The very first step, of course, is to write your goals down. Plenty of scientific evidence shows that physically recording notes or goals improves your memory. Be sure to record your goals as soon as you decide what they are, creating a special page in your planner or notepad to track them.
But that’s not all: take time each week to rewrite your goals at the top of your week’s agenda or at the top of your weekly to-do list. Some productivity planners (like ours) even provide special space for you to record your weekly challenges or daily focuses—use that space to remind yourself about your goals.
3. Schedule your time strategically.
While you do have a whole year in front of you, you know how quickly that time can fly by. Take advantage of the time you have by scheduling your time strategically each day.
One of the very best ways to do this is by time-blocking. Simply create a to-do list each morning, and plan exactly when you will complete each task. For example, plan on answering emails from 9 to 9:30am, writing a project proposal from 9:30am to 10:30am, and taking your first coffee break from 10:30am to 10:45am.
Time blocking can be done in a specially made productivity planner or an online calendar. Either way you do it, this method is popular among highly productive people, as it ensures that not a minute is wasted.
A word to the wise: make sure you schedule your most challenging tasks first. This tactic is called “eating the frog,” and if you schedule your time this way, you’ll find that it’s easier to complete critical tasks throughout the day.
4. Limit your distractions.
It’s hard to keep away from our phones. In fact, the average American checks his or her phone 80 times a day. (Once every twelve minutes.) Given that it takes the average person 23 minutes to get back on track after being distracted, it’s amazing that anyone gets anything done.
Keeping resolutions top-of-mind and scheduling your time will help you stay on track, but if you really want to be productive in the new year, it’s time to put your phone down.
While you’re working on an important project, be sure to keep your phone out of sight. Keep a small, portable notepad nearby instead; this tool will ensure you can remember any questions you want to Google once you’re on a break.
5. Get into the swing of a rejuvenating morning schedule.
A lot of us aren’t at our best in the morning. Nearly 54% of us hit the snooze button regularly.
But if you want to become a super productive person, you need a regular morning routine that doesn’t involve more time snuggling with your pillow.
You may need to experiment, but find an activity in the morning that sets you up for a good day, like writing down what you’re grateful for, going for a jog, meditating, planning out your day in your planner, or just sipping a cup of coffee. A regular, healthy self-care routine will start your day on the right foot—and prepare you to crush your goals for the rest of the day.
Looking for tools to help you on the way to a productive new year? Look no further.