Every new year we want to make it our year - the year we’ll accomplish the most and change our lives. In most cases, it doesn’t take too long before the excitement fades away and reality sinks in, and we’re right back to where we were before. It’s not really our fault - the changing of the year doesn’t actually change anything, break any trends, nothing. It’s just a reset on the counter.
But we love symbolism. And the new year has always represented new beginnings, new goals, maybe even a new life. What’s stopping us from accomplishing any of those things in mid-July? Nothing.
But there’s something about January, isn’t there?
One Thing at a Time
While some people might disagree, we’re just gonna lay it for you as it is: multitasking does not work.
Sometimes we end up doing it, sometimes it’s inevitable, but it’s also simple math - the more you divide your attention between tasks, the more you divide your effectiveness in each one. This means at the end of the day, you’ll have 20% completed 5 tasks, instead of 100% completed 1.
Focus on what’s in front of you and get it done one task at a time. This goes for personal projects as well.
Go Easy on To-Do Lists
Don’t take this the wrong way - we all love to-do lists. They are simple little useful beauties that can help you survive a busy day without ever losing grasp of what you need to do. But, like most productivity hacks, they need to be done right.
It may be tempting to make your New Year resolution a to-do list with bullet points like “Write a Book,” but I recommend something simpler, something that shows progress. You don’t want to see that “write a book” there looking at you every day, never getting crossed out, no matter how much you write.
Instead, make a special daily to-do list and mark “Write 2000 words.” Once you’re done, check it off. See? The feeling of progress is way better.
Here are some tips for to-do lists:
- Make them simple and short: if you have a complex task, divide it into smaller sections
- Focus on ONE work day: feel free to add reminders and lists for an entire week or month, but you can only work one day at a time. Have a list for ONE day and focus on it.
- Don’t break the chain: motivate yourself by marking a big satisfying “X” on every calendar day you made something! Doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it’s something.
Take Many Breaks
No human being can concentrate for hours upon hours on work without feeling strained or tired at some point - and you don’t have too.
By accepting breaks, you also maximize your working hours. A break doesn’t have to be playing video games, it can be just a five-minute walk up to the front door and back - it’s enough for your body to recharge. As for the intervals themselves, it’s up to you. Some people can work for three hours straight, other prefer short bursts of productivity followed by even shorter breaks. Find out how your brain works and create a routine based on it!
Personally, the mental strain warns me when it’s time to take a breather. I like to finish as much as I can before the first break, but when I feel I can’t concentrate as much or the project just can’t get any further, I walk out, get some coffee, look outside, talk to someone, watch a video… and back to work.
If you’re hanging over a complex project and you can’t make progress, don’t just sit there and pretend to work on it! You’re not gaining anything from it. Instead, take your head away from it - check your emails, take a walk, try to finish another simpler task first. When you come back, you’ll probably be feeling a lot better.
Delegate Your Energy
We often try to delegate tasks throughout the day depending on their complexity and the time they will take to be finished, but a better strategy is organizing them in a way they sync with your energy.
A lot of people feel they work better during the afternoon, rather than the morning. This means you should push those tasks that really need your attention and care to the afternoon, where you will be at the peak of your productivity!
Daily Progress Goes a Long Way
Don’t underestimate the power of little progress - we all have those massive projects, either for work or personal, that are just impossible to finish in a single day, some may even take months.
That’s when you need to rely on daily progress. Set a clear goal and stick to a little bit of progress every day. At first, it may not look like much, but it’s still progress.
If you want to write a book, you can set yourself the goal of writing 2000 words a day. If you stick to it, in 40 days you’ll have enough material to send a publisher.
Start Something Right Now
And I mean that. Open a tab, go to your favorite to-do list and organize what you want to get done today. Be realistic and be bold. Start something - anything. You have way more time than you think you do, and most important of all, you have everything you need.
“Big things often have small beginnings.” - Lawrence of Arabia
How to plan on making 2017 your year? Did you start something already? Let us know in the comments and be sure to follow us on Facebook for more articles!