The ten most common New Year’s resolutions include health goals such as increase exercise or stop smoking; financial goals such as save more or work within a budget; self-improvement goals such as learn new skill or read more; and personal life improvement goals such as spend more time with family and friends or travel.
Unfortunately, only 46% percent of people actually realize the goals set by these resolutions. While there are many tips and suggestions on how to make these changes in life, all of them rely on accomplishing another goal that is typically in the top five resolutions: become more efficient and productive.
Taking a look at how to better organize your work life as a way to gain more time to devote to other goals may actually help you mark more of your resolutions “complete” at the end of the year.
In the article “Want to Improve Focus and Productivity? Do One Thing at a Time,” the author cites advice from The One Thing, a book by management experts Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. The concept seems overwhelming in the association world where staff and leaders are expected to juggle many different balls, but when done well, projects move forward, emails are answered, and the organization serves its members better.
Two suggestions on how to do one thing at a time are:
- Use a “personal kanban.” Divide a whiteboard into three columns – ready to do, doing, and done. Write tasks on sticky notes and move them across the column as you work through them. You can also use kanban-inspired apps. Limit the number of notes allowed in the doing column to one or two to ensure you complete the task.
- Batch your tasks. Minimize the stress of task switching throughout the day by grouping to-dos by type when possible. Spending one complete, uninterrupted hour going through email allows you to get through more messages than trying to do it throughout the day.
In “22 Simple Daily Habits That Separate High Achievers From Everyone Else,” author Christina DesMarais compiles advice from high-achieving business leaders on how to be more productive. A few of the tips include:
- Turn your nine-minute snooze into productive reflection and pre-flection time. Don’t go back to sleep after hitting the snooze button. Instead, use the time to check in with yourself. Do you need or want to exercise today? How do you feel about the solution that was eluding you yesterday (sleep does wonders for problem-solving)? What do you want to create today?
- Manage your email brutally. Set time in the morning to review emails, respond to anything that quick to answer. When responding to critical messages, type the note quickly, then if necessary, let it sit in draft form to re-read before sending. Don’t overthink it and never re-read a message more than once before sending.
- Take time to do what’s right for those around you. Meetings, activities, and the rush to cross tasks off the to-do list can mean forgetting to think about the people around you. Ask yourself: Did I listen and support the needs of people who rely on me? Did I help someone learn? Did I fully engage my team so we could all be successful?
- Live by the calendar. Transfer tasks from the to-do list to your calendar as you prepare for the week ahead. Meetings, errands, events, and specific work tasks each get their own block of time. Not only does this help be more efficient in the use of scheduled and free time, but it makes you more accountable to others and yourself.
- Schedule a learning workout. Don’t forego your workout to read a book you should be reading for work. A podcast or book can be queued up on your phone and listened to while at the gym or on a run.
- Start the day with your top priority. Focus on your top priority when you have the most energy and focus – don’t let others pull you into their priorities or distractions.
- Identify your three things. Before you start your day, write down one to three things that you would make you consider the day successful. This can include personal (go to the gym) or work goals (finish next step of project). This eliminates the feeling that the day was busy but nothing was accomplished.
For the full list of tips, click here.