I, myself, am not a New Year’s Resolutions kind of gal. I much prefer life goals and reasonable, actionable steps to achieving those goals. But like everyone else, I still view the new year as a time to dive in more fervently, to re-evaluate, and to reflect.
With that in mind, here are a few resolute thoughts for the new year when it comes to productivity:
1. Keep Your Spaces Clean and Orderly. This may sound silly, but our environment can have such a powerful affect on our attitude and ability to accomplish whatever task is at hand. I don’t know about you, but I cannot focus when I feel like I’m sitting in a filthy room, when I know there’s unwashed dishes in the sink, or when I know I’ve just piled every document I don’t want to deal with into a large stack on the shelf. Take the 10-15 minutes each morning to make sure your space is in order. It doesn’t take very much time, and if you stay on top of it, it will never become unbearable. I like to remind myself that for me, a messy space equals a messy life. Clean it up, organize it, and you’ll be surprised what a difference it makes in your ability to be productive. If you’re an employer, take some time to ask your employees how they feel about their workspace. You might be surprised at the answers.
2. Do The Things That Torment You First. We all have those things that hang over us–the projects we really don’t want to do. These things in particular have a way of haunting us, keeping us from enjoying the fun projects and the good times with quite as much gusto. And every second we put the horrible projects off, is just another second we have to dread it. Why not force ourselves this year to get up the courage to knock out the worst things first. Get them out of the way! Your productivity will go up as you begin to leave more time for actually enjoying work and less time for dreading the bad stuff. Give it a try.
3. Force Yourself To Take Breaks. We are more productive when we’re refreshed and well-rested. If you can’t focus, stop what you’re doing and do something else for a little while. Walk around, socialize, listen to a song, take a nap. I’m a big fan of the afternoon power nap, because it nearly doubles my productivity for the rest of the day. It’s very easy to feel guilty over taking a break or catching some z’s during the day, but your company is better off when you’re at your best. So, talk to your employers and/or employees about creative solutions for keeping people productive. Sometimes a little play or rest during the work day is exactly what’s needed to increase productivity, especially if any measure of creativity is involved.
4. Don’t Deal With An Email More Than Once. This is a pretty common one for workplace productivity. Don’t ever open up your email, read something, and close the email without turning it into an action item. Is it a calendar item? Good, add it to your calendar. Is it a question? Answer it. Can’t answer it now? Make it a to-do item on your list. Whatever you do, don’t leave it to be dealt with later. This is how emails get overlooked and how time gets wasted. One other email-related tip, when the topic or subject of discussion changes in an email exchange, change the subject of the email. This also saves time and helps with organization in the long run.
5. Learn Something New Every Day. At first glance this might not make sense for a post about productivity, but studies have shown that offices with a strong learning culture have 37 percent greater productivity. So, force yourself to increase your knowledge a little bit every day, get to know your business better, get to know your customers better, get to know your community and your world just a little bit better. These things make us more fulfilled, engaged, and productive. If you’re an employer, encourage ongoing learning and education in your office environment; it tells your employees that you’re serious about being good at what you do, and you’re serious about investing in them so they can be good at what they do. When you invest in them and give them what they need to be successful, they’ll run with it.