If you are one of those people who make New Year’s resolutions, being more productive likely made the list. In fact, it probably makes the list for all people — year after year after year — because productivity can be elusive for all.
Even if you started 2022 with a constructive few months — by April, you may already be waning. The commitment to productivity in your job and personal life may be as unused as your gym membership. “Maybe tomorrow” turns into “maybe next week,” then “maybe next month,” and so on.
Before you allow your good intentions to pave that road to you-know-where, take note. There are ways you can restore that drive for productivity and make it a habit rather than a hope. Don’t just resolve to boost your productivity game in 2022; make it happen.
Establish Some Boundaries
If you don’t set limits on what you do and don’t want to do, you’ll keep landing out of bounds. Deciding what you’re not going to do in 2022 will keep you focused on what you do. Those limits will help you say “no” to wasting time and “yes” to getting things done.
Boundaries are rules used to guide interactions with others. Those interactions could be with family, friends, co-workers, or even the barista at your favorite coffee joint. That means they are personal, professional, and transactional.
You may decide this is the year to not indulge in office gossip. Or perhaps you’ll choose to not run to the bathroom and hide every time that annoying co-worker approaches you. Imagine what you could accomplish just by placing those two activities out of bounds.
Your productivity will rise if you are centered rather than lurking on the periphery. Obviously, you need to set some boundaries to know where they are. But once you do, you can focus on what matters and leave what doesn’t outside the lines.
Breathe Life Into That To-Do List
Now that you’ve set some rules for what you aren’t going to do, make a list of what you are. To-do lists come in all forms and lengths, so begin by deciding what format will work best for you. If you aren’t sure, don’t be afraid to try a few on for size.
Make sure your list doesn’t linger on your desk like the company’s last strategic plan that’s sitting on the shelf. A good list should be consulted and revised every single day, marking items off, and adding new ones. If that isn’t happening, adjust the way you’re doing the list or don’t bother having one.
You can add structure to your list by using your calendar instead of a series of sticky notes. It will force you to think realistically about the time it will take to accomplish a task. Moreover, you’re less likely to overschedule the volume of tasks on a day filled with meetings.
To-do lists may do more harm than good if they overwhelm rather than encourage. If your current method isn’t working, give it some oxygen. Done correctly, your list, (and that strategic plan), should be a living, breathing thing.
Free Up Your Prime Time
Everyone is more productive at some times than others. The time of day, day of the week, or month of the year are all variables. The trick is determining where your productivity sweet spot is and using it to your advantage.
If Monday morning at 11 with two cups of coffee down is your prime time, block it off your calendar. Schedule a task for that time instead, especially one that’s important, on a tight deadline, or difficult. It’s a great opportunity to check off a loitering assignment.
Freeing up those chunks of time when you are most productive also means eliminating corresponding distractions. Close your office door (if you have one) and hang up a “do not disturb” sign. Stick your phone in a drawer and silence those pesky notifications so you aren’t tempted to look.
If you can develop a habit of preserving your most productive times for actual production, even your coworkers will notice. That may help them avoid distracting you despite working in a cubicle or an open office space. You’ll be more than ready for prime time.
Employ Some Tools of the Productivity Trade
Productivity apps have become ubiquitous. They’re all designed to boost productivity at work, at home, among individuals, or teams. In fact, you can skewer your productivity by spending too much time figuring out which ones you want to use.
Nonetheless, if you find an app that makes you more focused, more organized, and more productive, use it. You may find some are handy for everything from working out to whittling down the honey-do list at home. Using productivity apps for more than your job will make you more adept at using them.
Employing apps and productivity hacks for more than one purpose at a time may make you more productive on multiple fronts. For example, kill two birds with one pomodoro technique that you’re using to maintain focus on tasks. During those five-minute breaks, do some squats or sit-ups and get your workout done too.
The fact is that productivity devices don’t work for everyone. But if you haven’t tried any because you don’t think they’re your thing, you should. Any job is always easier if you’re using the right tool to get it done.
Give Your Productivity a Leg Up
Everyone needs a little help sometimes to keep their resolutions going — or to start over. It’s okay to ask for help, stumble a bit, and restart when necessary. Abandoning the attempt to become more productive is the only real failure.
As you focus on your resolve to improve, celebrate your wins, and don’t beat yourself up over the losses. Productivity is, after all, work. Boost yours even a little this year, and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.
Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska; Pexels; Thank you!