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Productivity Hacks for 2016

My New Year’s resolution for 2016 is simple: be more productive.  I define productivity as engaging in the types of activities that enhance my life in an efficient and effective way.  One problem with gauging productivity, like many things in life, is clearly defining and then tracking it.  How will I quantify productivity?  I will track the things that are important to me by updating a Google Doc weekly.  Here are some of the things I will track:

  1. Number of books read
  2. Number of blogs posted
  3. Meetings and calls per week with clients and employees
  4. Social interactions with friends
  5. Quality time spent with each child
  6. Dog walks
  7. Workouts
  8. Yoga classes
  9. Movies seen

This seems like a simple concept but it can bring up many questions.  To streamline the process I have created a handy list of the top 6 ways to minimize distractions and increase productivity in 2016.  Ultimately this should lead to a more efficient, more effective me!

  1. Minimize distractions
  • Productivity killers – When I am on deadline and need to focus, the most important thing is to slay these dragons up front:
    • Cell Phones
    • Texting
    • Gossip
    • Social Media
    • Email
    • Multi-tasking
    • Notifications
  • Checking messages first thing in the AM
  1.  Clean up and stay organized
  • Messy desk = messy day, enough said.
  • Prioritize your day – when you’re feeling sharpest and most awake, focus on the things that require deep concentration like reports, optimizations, calls and client work.  During the times of day where you are foggy or less sharp, run through emails or other tasks that are less mindful
  • Meaningful procrastination – in order to focus on important things, let other things slide.  Just don’t forget to add them to the list and get them done as soon as the important items are complete.
  • Set deadlines – many people procrastinate things they consider confrontational, unpleasant or awkward.  In order to alleviate ongoing procrastination, give yourself a deadline that is both fair and realistic.  Also, if there are multiple steps involved, make a list of each specific step and include a deadline.  I consider this project management for life.
  • Inbox 101 – create a use a folder and archive system that keeps the Inbox at or close to zero all the time.  Use this system for any and all inboxes.
  1. Be Prepared for important meetings
  • Think about tomorrow, today – last minute preparation is stressful and it shows.  
  • Write it down – prepare agenda and materials ahead of time and send clear notes with timelines, dates and names afterward
  • Stick to the program – put non-agenda items that come up into a parking lot for further review at a later time
  • Ask questions and listen – clients have answers, sometimes asking is the hard part
  1. Take Care of You
  • Sleep – studies find that people who get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night take less sick days than those getting more or less sleep
  • Sun – Vitamin D provides real results in uplifting a bad mood and providing energy.
  • Exercise – research shows that just 20 minutes of exercise per day increases productivity and problem solving.  This could include hitting the gym, attending a yoga class or even just taking Fido for a walk.
  1. Use Tools
  • Task / Project management: Trello, Todoist, Basecamp, RememberTheMilk are a few good ones
  • Note taking: Evernote, Apple Notes, Google Doc, index cards, journal – whatever works for you: use it.
  • Calendar: Google Calendar is recommended but the important thing is to keep whatever calendar you use, up to date.
  • Family: Cozi is a lifesaver for tracking multiple schedules and managing a house full of busy people
  • Inbox: simple tools like folders, archive and starring can really help organize and keep the Inbox clean.  Also, utilize inbox zero to take things to the next level.
  1. Get Creative – try these hacks
  • Listen to Music
  • Write by Hand
  • Get someone’s opinion
  • Free associate
  • Day dream
  • Meditate
  • Look at something green or blue
  • Laugh
  • Go for a walk

To read more from Kelly Cutler and Kona Company visit our blog here.