I think January is always a good time to make a fresh start and think about ways to make this year better than ever and more productive than the previous. I like the idea of a fresh slate, but starting something new can also feel overwhelming because you don’t know where to start. If you’re looking for ways to be more productive this year, I’m sharing a few suggestions on how you can implement new habits to be more productive and happier. Wishing you all a healthy and productive new year!
Skip the snooze button
I have never been a fan of hitting the snooze button on my alarm. I prefer to wake up with the first alarm and get started on my day, but my boyfriend is one of those people who has to hit snooze 4-5 times before he actually gets out of bed in the morning, and I find it really difficult to fall back asleep. We go through sleep cycles when we sleep that last around 45 minutes at a time, so if you’re hitting the snooze button every ten minutes or so, you never have time to get back into any restful sleep. Basically, you’re wasting time because it isn’t adding any valuable sleep and it’s more difficult to fully wake up when you do. Research has shown that hitting the snooze button can extend the period of grogginess you experience when you first wake up — called sleep inertia — because you are only at the start of a sleep cycle when you are being woken up by your snooze alarm, causing you to feel groggy for up to four hours.
One trick I use regularly when I’m working is putting my phone on airplane mode to avoid any distractions that come from notifications that aren’t work-related. My OCD tendencies force me to feel pressured to remove any notifications on my phone the second they come in. Turning my phone on airplane mode helps me stay focused during blocks of work without the constant interruptions and distractions that my phone typically provides. It also helps to prevent me from wasting time mindlessly scrolling on social media after I open an app to clear a notification, and I look up and realize somehow 15 minutes has gone by. I do this anytime I am working on a deadline or am under a time constraint to get something done. It ensures that I focus on only the task at hand.
Utilize binge TV sessions
We all do it — the marathon sessions where we binge our favorite series on Netflix and lose half a day while doing it. Sometimes you just need a day where you can zone out and watch mindless tv and let your body and brain rest a bit. There’s nothing wrong with that but utilizing some of the down time between episodes can help you be and feel more productive. Rather than setting the streaming device to auto play into the next episode, take a quick 3-5 minute break in between each show to do a few short exercises, take a walk around the room, stretch, throw some laundry in, clean something or get organized. Utilizing these little bursts of time to be productive allows you to feel more accomplished at the end of a long binge session while still getting the necessary relaxation we need to recuperate.
So many of us juggle so many things at once, and be proudly wear the badge of avid multitasker, but the statistics say that multitasking has been shown to hinder productivity. Trying to do too many different things at once splits our attention and doesn’t allow for strong focus on any one task. It also tends to lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and extreme stress. Our attention system can’t engage in multiple things at once, so we end up starting/stopping our focus, which leads to fatigue and inefficiency. The idea that you can focus better on one thing at a time and do it well the first time, rather than have to redo something that didn’t receive your full attention, means that avoiding multitasking can actually provide real benefits in productivity and efficiency with your work and personal life.
Create a project list
I do this every year and it helps me to focus my energies and feel accomplished at the end of year. I create a short list of 10-12 items I’d like to accomplish this year, and I mix it up between bucket list items, to new places I’d like to eat, to new things I’d like to learn and organization/cleaning projects. By keeping the list on the shorter side, it doesn’t feel overwhelming because I can focus on one item per month, and at the end of each month, I feel accomplished when I look back at something I set out to do and completed it. At the end of the year, it feels even better knowing I have a full list of items that I tackled and completed.