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The Most Productive Year: 5 Easy Habits You Can Start Today

4 min read

At the New Year, a popular resolution is to become more productive. But what does it mean to be productive? It doesn’t mean you have to work harder. Instead, it means getting the most out of your time, whether at work or at play. You can make your relaxation time more productive, not just your job.

Or maybe you’ve dreamed of developing your artistic talent into a side hustle but never made much progress. How you define becoming more productive is entirely up to you. This article will provide five simple — yet powerful — productive habits to help you get there. Best of all, you can start today.

Understand Productivity

Before you start working to develop productive habits, it’s essential to understand what it means to be productive. It’s not about filling up your time or crossing more tasks off your list. There’s no prize for accomplishing more busy work. Instead, being a productive person means investing your time wisely in achieving the tasks that get you closer to your goals. Those goals are for you to establish for yourself.

There are as many goals as there are people. Maybe you want to change careers, become a more attentive parent, write a book, or travel the world. To reach any of these goals, you must identify the tasks that will carry you closer to that goal. Accurately identifying and focusing on those tasks is one of the productivity techniques that will help you to reach any goal you set.

Manage Distractions

You may feel like you’re drowning in distractions, like social media, email, computer games, and more. The most productive person you know has similar distractions, but they manage them so as not to derail their efforts to meet their goals. Of course, managing distractions looks different for different people.

Some people find it easier to focus on their work with music playing in the background. If this is you, include music as one of your productivity habits. Some tasks may work better with instrumental music, while others may benefit from a rock-and-roll soundtrack. However, some people find music or any extraneous sound distracting and should make their workspace an oasis of silence.

A good productivity technique is keeping a notebook handy to jot down reminders of important thoughts that can distract you from your task. These are the things you want to remember to do after you’ve completed your work. Other distractions, like social media, texts, and emails, should be ignored until your tasks are completed. Turn your phone off, shut the inbox, and disregard notifications while working.

Prioritize Tasks Using the Eisenhower Matrix

This simple but powerful decision-making tool Dwight Eisenhower developed will help you to prioritize the many tasks that clamor for your attention. This simple matrix can help you organize long-term goals or zoom in to focus on today’s to-do list. This is critical because as you work to become more productive, you don’t want to accomplish more unimportant busy work; you want to make progress toward your goals.

This simple matrix is a box divided into four squares. Label the top row “Important” and the bottom row “Not Important.” Then, label the left column “Urgent”, and the right column “Not Urgent.” Use this matrix to evaluate every item on your to-do list. You’ll see that you have four possibilities.

Eisenhower Matrix

Using this matrix to determine whether and when to invest your time is a powerful productive habit.

Break Tasks into Smaller Pieces

One of the most important reasons people procrastinate is that the projects on their to-do lists seem too vast. So, a critical productivity technique breaks up the projects into smaller, achievable tasks. For example, if Write a Book appears on your list, there’s no wonder you haven’t done it yet! Instead, break it down into small or even tiny pieces.

For instance, how would you start if your assignment was to write an article about becoming more productive? (The distractions are calling…)

However, when you break the project into smaller tasks, each becomes doable. For example:

Yes, this lengthens your to-do list, but each task is more easily doable and progresses toward your goal.

Manage Your Energy — Not Just Your Time

Productivity takes energy and focus. But to have either in abundance, you must eat right, hydrate regularly, sleep well, exercise, take breaks, and manage your energy as well as your time. All these self-care tasks fall into the Important + Not Urgent square of your Eisenhower matrix and should be scheduled into your every day.

Once you’ve seen your physical health and well-being, you can schedule tasks to make the best use of your energy. For instance, planning to do your most challenging tasks when your energy is at its highest will make you more productive. For some, that’s first thing in the morning, for others, it could be later in the day. Creative tasks will also benefit from your high-energy times, while more routine but essential tasks can be handled when your energy is not at its peak.

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