Think that New Year’s resolutions are as passé as 2016’s software upgrades? That doesn’t mean that almost half of all Americans aren’t still making them. Of course that doesn’t mean they’re all keeping them, either, but resolutions can be a great chance to think about what you’d like to change from the previous year and what motivations you want to drive you this coming year. At Timing, we’ve been thinking about how we can be more productive — while also having lower stress levels and being happier, of course. We’ve put together these ten resolutions which we think will help make 2018 your most productive year yet.
1. I Will Not Allow My Technology Into My Bedroom
Remember those 90s movies, like Groundhog Day, where a radio alarm wakes Bill Murray up? How different would the plot have been if he had woken up, checked his Facebook messages, found they were all the same, gone onto Twitter and been confused by all the tweets, then noticed the date on his phone was the same…
It’s not just hypothetical remakes of 90s movies that technology has spoiled, though. The blue light emitted from screens suppresses your natural circadian rhythm, so using your devices before bed stops melatonin being released — damaging your sleep. Rather than trying to use limited resources of willpower to resist the lure of the screen, ban technology completely from your bedroom. Bring back the book before bed and the good old-fashioned alarm clock radio.
2. I Will Track My Productive Time
If you’re a freelancer, solopreneur, or small business owner, there’s a good chance you left your office job because you found it staggeringly unproductive. It seemed like all of your time was spent making coffee, chatting at the watercooler, or sitting at your desk on Facebook on the company’s dime.
Newsflash: you’re probably not much more productive now that you’re away from your desk job. In fact, you may even be less productive. Using an app like Timing to track your productive, working hours will make sure you’re making the most of your valuable time.
3. I Will Organize My Year Quarterly, Not Annually
If you haven’t heard of Brian Moran’s method, the 12 week year, then it’s something you should look into. The concept of doing as much as you’d usually do in a year in only twelve weeks is designed to help you prioritize, avoid the small and less-important tasks so many people get stuck in, and not find themselves caught up in end of year chaos.
It seems simple enough, as a concept, but it is not necessarily easy to implement, requiring a lot of self-discipline. Done correctly, you’ll find that it not only vastly increases your productivity, but also lowers your stress levels. Start in January; by the end of the year you’ll be executing the method perfectly.
4. I Will Keep My Work and Home Lives Separate
It’s hard not to bring your work home with you when your work happens in the spare room. If you’re one of the lucky few who are doing something they love and are truly passionate about, then not allowing your work to encroach on your home and family life can be nearly impossible.
While entrepreneurs can have much more freedom and flexibility in their lives, they also have high levels of anxiety and depression. Entrepreneurs are finally opening up about their battle with mental health and the issues that so many of us share. Try to set strict work hours and train yourself to only think about work when you’re supposed to be working. This will not only be more productive but will also help your mental health, and save you from burn out in the long run.
Check out Zen Founder as a great resource for mental health. Using Timing will allow you to track what hours you’re really working, and we wrote a piece about avoiding burnout earlier this year that will help train you to separate work and life.
5. I Will Stop Multitasking
“You’re so lucky you’re good at multitasking” was said to me once. It’s a gender stereotype, too, that women can multitask while men can’t. But why does everyone act like being able to multitask is a good thing? It decreases your focus and productivity on the task you should be working on, and it also releases cortisol in your brain and increases your stress levels. If you only do one thing for your productivity and stress levels this year, make sure it’s this.
6. I Will Turn Off Notifications (and Deal With the FOMO)
One of the many reasons why we’re all so tempted to multitask, not to mention unfocused on the task at hand, is that we’re constantly under fire from new stimulus and tasks which need handling. If you’re coding a piece of software that takes three hours, it might take five hours because during that time you reply to several client emails, chat to a friend about dinner plans, pay an electricity bill, and get distracted by a flash sale on one of your favourite online stores.
How did all these distractions appear? They popped up on your phone while you were working. You haven’t just lost the time you spent actually doing these things; you’ve also lost the time you require to refocus on your project every time something takes it away. Turn off your notifications, and set aside specific times to check them.
7. I Will Develop a Routine
Getting yourself into a routine, and keeping it, is one of the best things you can do for your productivity levels in 2018. Have you heard the old adage ‘early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise’? In 2018, it’s something more of us should remember. That doesn’t mean you can’t be productive night-owl, though. Find a routine that works for you, allows you to be productive, and then stick to it.
Sleeping at the same time every day improves your sleep (yes, even on the weekends), eating at the same time improves your digestion, and working between certain hours will also help you focus. Timing helps here by showing you your daily schedule, so you can make everything match up. I use Omnifocus to help me keep routines, by putting everything on a checklist no matter how small, and then ticking them off as a recurring daily task. Even something as simple as having brushed my teeth makes me feel more productive for the day, and having a list allows my mind space to focus on more important things.
8. I Will Set S.M.A.R.T Goals
Smart goals are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Responsible and Time-bounded goals. That means they’re goals like “I will draft this article today” not “I will write, edit, and send out publication queries for my next novel today.” Having goals which are too large, open-ended, or downright unrealistic and impossible is a quick way to misery, which in turn leads to unproductiveness.
When you write down your goals for the day each morning, run them through the S.M.A.R.T goals checklist and make sure they fit into each one of the words until it becomes a habit for your goals to be S.M.A.R.T.
9. I Will Leave My Desk When I’m Not Working
There are many reasons for getting fit this new year: weight loss, looks, lowered risk of heart disease and diabetes; all of these are common motivations to get off your chair and onto a treadmill. How about more brainpower, though? Studies done at Harvard show that being more active and getting 45 to 60 minutes of exercise a day lowers your stress levels, decreases anxiety, and increases your brainpower. Meaning that getting more active in 2018 won’t just get you feeling better physically, but mentally, too.
10. I Will Accept My Shortcomings and Not Let Them Be Setbacks
There are a lot of goals above, and this is just your list of resolutions for productivity. What about keeping the house cleaner, calling your parents more, or putting more effort into doing nice things in your relationships? No one is 100% perfect 100% of the time, and giving yourself a hard time every time you slip up is a quick way to cycle into a negative thought pattern.
If you’ve missed a day, or two, or even three, don’t let it be an excuse to quit completely. One of the most common conceptions about New Year’s resolutions is that they’re set for you to fail. Break in the trend, and be the person who keeps them. Don’t let your shortcomings be thought of as failure, and don’t let them set you back in the long run.
A New Year is always a chance for new beginnings and a chance to recreate yourself into the person you want to be. Being more productive doesn’t only help you in your work life, but it can spread out and help you in the rest of your life, too. More productive work means more time to spend with friends and loved ones, not to mention accomplish more in your free time. By setting and keeping these resolutions, 2018 will be a year to remember.