Cheers to the new year! While the end of the holiday season and start of the bitter winter often make January the bleakest time of year, it also brings out a newfound excitement to start fresh. It’s a perfect time to set the precedence for how you want the new year to be.
Whether it’s personal or professional, there is no better time to start setting new goals. Here are our top tips to help you get a productive start to a new year at work that you can incorporate into your New Year’s resolutions.
A side note: You don’t have to wait for the new year to roll in to make positive changes. A new mindset and the desire for self-improvement is the only requirement to start anew.
1. Eliminate Distractions
Perhaps one of the most obvious strategies to increase work productivity is to cut out all of your distractions. But this is easier said than done. By shifting your mindset to the understanding that all of your distractions put distance between yourself and realizing your goals, it becomes easier to cut unnecessary things out.
Everybody experiences different distractions, but some of the most common ones are:
- People in your household (if working remotely)
- Social Media
- Phone notifications
- News websites
Once you have pinpointed exactly what is detracting you from having a successful workday, you can work to separate yourself from those distractions. It could mean telling those around you that you have an important task that requires all of your attention, putting up a social media blocker on your computer, placing your phone out of sight and out of mind, or any other prevention technique.
If you stop these distractions from eating away your time, you won’t have many choices other than to focus on your work.
2. Keep Your Workspace Organized
There are far too many people that have excellent productivity habits, but are still missing one thing. A desk overrun with notes, current projects, and forms awaiting your approval have a negative impact on your productivity. A cluttered desk is often a constant reminder of what projects are piling up, literally.
Setting up a standardized filing system for your documents will be a gamechanger. Organize your papers based on what requires further action or what are informational documents that you can’t part with. Maintaining an organized workspace will allow you to focus exclusively on your current project by stopping your mind from wandering.
3. Start Your Day Early
An early start will do wonders for your day. Tackling important projects first thing in the morning will start your day on a productive note. You’ll know that you started with an accomplishment which is a good motivator to stay productive throughout the day.
4. Make a Daily Plan and Follow it
If you don’t make a plan about what you need to accomplish in a given day or week, it will be hard to be productive. Take a few minutes at the beginning or the end of the workday to plan out what tasks you’ll need to complete.
Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States famously said, “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”
It’s important to differentiate between urgent and important because they are not synonymous, but many things may fall under both categories. So to effectively prioritize your tasks, you need to determine if they are urgent, important, both, or neither. Making this classification will allow you to use the Eisenhower Box method to determine what action is associated with each category.
- Urgent and important (do immediately)
- Important, but not urgent (schedule for later)
- Urgent, but not important (delegate to someone else)
- Neither urgent nor important (eliminate)
Once you have determined what action each task requires, take out your calendar and block out times for every task that requires your attention. For the smaller tasks, fit them in the cracks.
By setting up time blocks, you will have given yourself time to devote all of your attention to each specific task. If you’re working on a task that you’re struggling to complete, you won’t waste your whole day away, neglecting your other responsibilities while trying to complete the task. You’ll eventually move on to the next task and can return during the next scheduled time.
5. Give Yourself Time to be Unproductive
This may seem slightly counterintuitive, but it’s unrealistic to expect 100% productivity for eight hours straight. You need to give yourself time to decompress and take a break. Scheduling time to work and to take a break will greatly help your productivity.
You may perform best by working for shorter increments of time. For example, working for thirty minutes then giving yourself a five minute break may be a formula that will resonate with you. Or maybe you work better in big time blocks with longer, less frequent breaks. However you do it, avoid overworking yourself by scheduling work time and break time and sticking to it.
6. Utilize Technology
Although technology accounts for numerous distractions, it also offers many benefits. Using the right tools can boost your productivity exponentially. There are countless software available that are designed to help you focus more on work. A few impressive ones include:
- Trello can help you keep tabs on the stage that a project is in
- Slack can streamline communication between your team from anywhere
- eFileCabinet can provide remote access to all company documents
There are too many tools to count that can directly impact your work productivity. Finding what tools will address your company’s shortcomings is critical in boosting the entire business’s productivity.
7. Be Accountable
We tend to work better under pressure, so holding yourself accountable to someone may be just what you’re missing to reach maximum productivity. Finding someone (such as a manager or coworker) to provide updates about where you stand on a project and when the next steps will be complete can keep you on track.
As you implement these strategies, realize that not every tip will work in your situation because of industry, position, and personality differences. Everyone is different, so if you’ve already found a productive work strategy that works for you, there’s no need for a change. Regularly self-assess so that you catch yourself before developing bad habits.
If you need a productivity boost, look no further than Rubex, a comprehensive document management system that will forever change the way you work.