If you’ve been on social media at all over the last week, then you’ll know what most people are feeling like post-Christmas. No idea what day it is, where you’re supposed to be, or what you’re supposed to be doing.
But now that’s over. It’s 2019, and time to focus and get back into the swing of things – if you hadn’t already done so. Myself, I managed to convince myself not to get into anything productive for both Christmas Day and Boxing Day, but after that, it was straight into preparation for 2019; although I’ll admit, it was a slightly distracted effort whilst watching the Boxing Day Test between Australia and India as well.
I find that it’s both cliché and mandatory to enter into a new year with some sense of new beginning. Especially given that many people tend to shut off for a whole week or more over this particular period of time.
Which reminds me, a great big thank you to those who don’t get to take a nice long break during this time of the year. I’ve been in jobs where I’ve worked Christmas Day and/or New Year’s Eve, so to all of you, respect.
For everyone else, it’s time to start thinking about the year ahead, with that in mind, here’s just a few ideas that will help you be a bit more productive and focused as you get started into the new year.
You know all those people who have been emailing you for months ever since you signed up to get that free eBook about making more money, losing more weight, or being more productive? How many of their emails have you actually read since then?
Unsubscribe. If you aren’t reading it, then get rid of it.
Cutting down the number of emails that you have cluttering up your inbox will reduce both your stress levels, and the time spent filtering through them to find those things that are actually important.
But wait a second Josh. Isn’t this exactly what you do for people?
Correct. There’s a qualification in this, which is only to unsubscribe from the lists that you don’t pay any attention to. I tend to subscribe to a lot of lists, so I do this purge fairly regularly, and my qualification is generally around 4-6 weeks. If I haven’t stopped and read an email from this person/organisation in the last six weeks, then I hit unsubscribe – that’s usually around the most recent ten emails, so if it’s a less frequent sender, that is around the magic number.
There are, of course, exceptions to every rule, but in general, just like keeping those random things around the house, “in case I need it,” the same goes for email lists. Let it go, because if you haven’t used it yet, there’s a good chance you won’t ever.
I’ve never been a big fan of the New Year’s Resolution, not because it’s a bad idea, per se, but more because of the impact it has on a person’s life. The expectation is that “I’m going to do this in 2019,” and you’ll therefore start doing that from January 1. Then on January 10 (or January 2) when you don’t do it, the resolution’s failed.
I would rather choose to set goals for the year ahead. It changes the way I look at things, because it’s something I’m aiming to achieve by December 31 this year, not something I’m changing from January 1. I have one major goal to achieve by the end of the year, and then smaller ones to achieve throughout.
For example, one goal for 2019 is to (finally) complete the first draft of my first novel by the end of March. By assessing where I’m at presently, I know I need to write around 45,000 words in the next 89 days. This sets a daily goal of around 500 words per day, which, for me, is highly achievable. I guess now that it’s out here in public; it’s highly accountable too!
So take the pressure off yourself right now, and instead look at what you’d like to achieve in this year. I’ve found that this subtle shift in perspective makes a big difference.
Reset the System
I tend to live in a state that I like to call Organised Chaos. I have books, stationery, notes, and other accessories strewn across my desk, in what, to most people, would be considered completely random and messy. Except that I usually know exactly where everything is, because I’m within the system.
And there is an order and a form to these things. It doesn’t necessarily always look like it from outside, but it’s there. However, at the beginning of each year I like to just take stock of how I’m doing things, and maybe look at what I can do to be a little more efficient.
For example, several years ago, I began using Asana to keep track of my day-to-day tasks. Prior to this, my to-do list was literally my email inbox. I would even send things to myself so that I remembered to deal with them, and just let it disappear from the unread list when it was actioned. It worked, but I tell you what, having a quality task management system like Asana? So much better!
Coming into 2019, just take the opportunity to evaluate how you go about your day-to-day activities, and maybe see if there’s not something you can do differently to make things easier on yourself.
Bonus Point: Relax!
Perhaps the best advice I ever received in regards to productivity is simply to stress less. Sure, it’s a statement that’s a lot easier said than done, but it’s also so vital.
I’ve found that we all have one of two options as a holiday draws toward the end (and even the weekend), you can either spend the last part of your free time stressing about going back to work; or you can let the rejuvenation of the break carry you through the first part of the return to work.
Don’t drag work into your holiday!
So there you go. My thoughts on easing your way into the new year and getting off on a strong, productive path into 2019. Good luck, and Happy New Year!