Change is in the air, is it not? With the weather cooling, plants going dormant, and the presidential campaign over, it’s clear that new seasons are upon us.
If we trust the cyclical nature of both weather and democracy, now is the perfect time for us to make some positive changes, especially as we head into the new year. Indeed, polishing our productivity program (if not perfecting it) might be the perfect way to prepare for the new year.
Here then are six effective, simple productivity hacks that can make a big difference next year:
1. Make your bed in the morning: I know that might sound silly, especially to start such a list, but according to both Business Insider and Psychology Today, the simple task of making your bed in the morning can do a lot of good for your productivity.
As it turns out, starting your day by immediately checking something off your to-do list gives you a baseline level of momentum that can snowball throughout the rest of your day. Typically, that domino effect does not start until after you arrive at work, and even then, maybe not until you’ve had a cup of coffee or two.
Extra bonus – your bed is made!
2. Get the easy tasks done first: Along the same lines, productivity experts suggest that tackling small tasks first thing in the day – things like paperwork and email – makes you more effective because they have a much more finite and predictable timespan than working on a big, important presentation or writing up a proposal.
Of course it is great to be enthusiastic about your challenging assignments, but doing the busy work first will ultimately free up the rest of your day for you to work on the more important things, and that is also better to do once you are revved up and in a rhythm.
3. Avoid the perfection trap: Yes, of course you want to do a great job, and you should, but just remember that sometimes it behooves you to just get stuff done instead of getting stuff done perfectly. This is especially true when that extra time and effort won’t make a big difference.
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4. Turn off phone notifications: It’s a good idea for many reasons to power down and put away your mobile devices altogether every now and then. That said, it’s not always possible, and in that case, it can be just as effective to simply go to your settings and turn off notifications for the things that distract the most, such as email, texts, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Forgetting about your phone for a while is one of the very best things you can do to save time and boost your productivity.
5. Take breaks: Your brain is an organ that needs rest, just as much as your heart does after a workout. If we never refill our tanks, we will inevitably run out of gas. So go ahead, break up your day and spend some time refreshing yourself in whatever way works best for you. Self-care is just as important as hard work, especially with winter on the horizon.
And yes, the new trend towards mindfulness is hot for a reason – because it works.
6. Exercise: As you likely know, the body and the mind have a direct, symbiotic relationship; you will notice an instant difference in your clarity of mind, memory, energy level and productivity if you make fitness a part of your routine. Making a concerted effort to exercise is a defining feature of some of the most successful people, such as Richard Branson, President Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Cuban.
So go ahead, make some of these easy changes and I guarantee your 2017 will be more productive.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss. You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here
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