It's not too late to get a great start on the new year! Small changes can lead to big results, according to Larry Kim, founder and CTO of Wordstream. Here are just a few of his suggestions for increasing your productivity in any aspect of your life. Check 'em out, then be sure to read the full post on Inc.com.
Turn Off Alerts
It's terribly tough to get into your Zen zone when your phone is buzzing every few minutes. Depending on how chatty your phone is, you may get notifications for everything from emails to retweets. It's essential you shut these notifications off! Trust me, you'll see efficiency skyrocket once you tell your phone to shut its blabbering mouth.
Exercise in the Morning
It's been shown that exercising in the morning can greatly improve your productivity. Exercise energizes rather than exhausts you, contrary to what the couch potatoes might tell you. (Not that I'm judging. I can be very spud-tacular myself at times.)
Exercising also promotes good health (quick, alert the press!), and some studies have shown that exercise can improve your mood for up to 12 hours following your workout. Less stress, more efficiency--it's definitely worth setting that alarm 30 minutes earlier.
Have 30-Minute Meetings
As Jeff Haden notes in an Inc.com article, "whoever invented the one-hour default in calendar software wasted millions of people-hours." The truth is that most meetings never need more than 30 minutes to accomplish their missions. Many really only need 15 minutes. Don't be a calendar-default deadbeat. Next you'll tell me you kept your phone's default ringtone, too.
Most of us don't drink nearly as much water as we should. Our bodies thrive on water--just like the rest of the world! Drinking more water gives you more energy, keeps you healthy, and gives you an excuse to get up for bathroom breaks so you're not stuck in a chair all day (which is horrifically unhealthy too, so you're killing two birds with one water bottle).
Give Yourself a Break, Man!
You work hard--you deserve a break! Maybe with a Kit Kat, maybe with a cup of tea, maybe with a walk in the park. It's easy to burn yourself out if you try to work at full throttle all day long. The truth is that our minds just aren't designed to work that way. For optimal productivity, try the popular and praised Pomodoro technique--work for 25 minutes, then give yourself a five-minute break.
Hug Your Dog
Many studies have shown how having pets can promote physical and mental well-being. Employees who are allowed to bring their dogs into the office are less stressed and often report more job satisfaction. There's nothing like a cuddle with a furry friend to alleviate some of that toxic stress.
Begin With Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts have traditionally been the vegetable reviled by children across the country (although now that roasting is in, their reputation is improving). The truth is that you'll enjoy those pork chops and potatoes much more if you eliminate the Brussels sprouts first. The same is true for productivity--eliminate your least favorite tasks right off the bat, and you'll find the rest of your day to be more pleasant and productive.
Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day--it's no ruse put on by Dunkin' Donuts. A morning meal gives you the fuel you need to be present and productive at work, so don't skip it.
Get Your Sleep On
Another tried-and-true classic--you absolutely need sleep if you want to be productive. Sometimes you might feel that if you only stayed up a few hours later, you'd get more done, but major sleep loss will ruin the entire following day.
In fact, Margaret Heffernan notes that losing one night's sleep is cognitively equivalent to being over the alcohol limit (with none of the fun parts, unfortunately). Equipment needs to be properly cared for to work correctly. Your brain is no different! Getting a good night's sleep of seven to eight hours is mandatory, not optional.
Make Sure Your Goals Are Realistic
Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself sets you up for failure. Don't be afraid to start with baby steps and work up from there. If you want to be an Excel master, start by trying to learn just one new Excel tip a day. If you want to run a marathon, start by getting out for a run a few days a week. Your goals shouldn't be lofty ideals you never plan on reaching--they should be real and attainable. Once you meet your goals, create new ones that raise the bar a bit higher.