As we near the end of another fantastic year it’s time to evaluate our past year and improve for the next. One thing the majority of individuals look to improve is their productivity. The problem is very few know where to start. Like most things, change doesn’t happen overnight. That said it’s extremely important to make small changes every day towards the larger goal. The term for these is productivity hacks.

Here are five productivity hacks you can use for a more efficient 2018.

Calendar Management

Your calendar is an extremely powerful tool for time management. On a basic level, most use their calendar to schedule meetings. Each empty slot represents a time that you’re available to meet. If you only have a few meetings scheduled in a day we typically view this as “free time”.

A great strategy to use for calendar management is time blocking. As you schedule meetings on your calendar block out times throughout the day for finishing specific tasks. That way you’ll accomplish what you need without over-extending yourself to meetings or unfocused tasks.

Schedule Daily Email Times

As we go through the workday it’s common to constantly feel the need to check our email. Even worse if you have notifications enabled we check every time we get a notification.

Instead of checking your email 20 times a day, schedule specific times where you check. I always check first thing in the morning, after lunch, and before I leave the office. Sure you can make exceptions if something is urgent but try your best to stay disciplined.

Cut Meeting Times

Meetings consume the majority of our workday. Unfortunately they also tend to waste a lot of time. If possible you should always evaluate whether or not you need to be at the meeting in the first place. If you can’t provide (or gain) tangible value then you may want to sit it out.

If you need to take or schedule the meeting then try to cut 25% of the meeting time down. This will train everyone to be extra productive in the time allotted. In addition, you’ll see that you’re able to accomplish the same if not more in less time.

Banish Your Smartphone at Work

Our smartphones serve as a constant distraction to us while we’re at work. If your personal phone is your work phone then this may be tough. That said you should try to remove it best you can throughout the day. If you need it, then put it on do not disturb and more than an arm’s length away. You should only use it if it’s work related.

If you have a designated work phone then you should leave your phone tucked away in your bag. The best way to avoid it is to remove the temptation.

Delegate Before ‘Yes’

People like to have responsibilities at work. When your manager hands you a job it’s common to take the lead without thinking twice. If you believe your the right person for it, then it’s a good idea. However if you think someone else on your team is a better fit you should delegate immediately.

The ability to delegate properly is a skill that will land you the CEO role one day. That said you should practice it as much as possible.

Final Thoughts

If you want to make a change to your productivity you need to take it one step at a time. Start with one or two hacks and make sure you’re really able to form a habit. Once habits form they’re hard to break.