12 New Year’s Productivity Hacks

With a new year comes new goals and new opportunities. It’s also the perfect time of year to kick bad habits and start healthier ones. Plus, this is a great time to upgrade your 2023 New Year’s resolutions to be more productive both at work and at home.

To become more productive in the new year, here are 12 productivity hacks to embrace. And, no. You already know to attend to your health, eliminate distractions, take breaks, and spruce up your workspace. So, I’m not going to bore you with those tips.

1. Create a mind map.

You can visualize ideas and concepts with a mind map. It helps you structure information, analyze, comprehend, synthesize, recall, and generate new ideas through visual thinking.

As with any great idea, simplicity is key.

Unlike notes or linear texts, mind maps structure information in a way that resembles how your brain works. Due to its analytical and artistic nature, this activity engages your brain in a much deeper way, improving all its cognitive functions. Plus, it’s kinda fun.

Another perk? You can use mind maps for the following:

  • Brainstorming
  • Notetaking
  • Planning your schedule
  • Collecting and analyzing information from multiple sources
  • Creativity stimulation

Best of all? A mind map can be drawn in three easy steps:

  • Write or draw the idea you want to develop on a blank page. I’d suggest using the page in landscape.
  • Make a line connecting each of the subtopics to the central topic.
  • Then do the same thing for the subtopics, generating subtopics as you see fit and connecting them to each other.

2. Use procrastination to your advantage.

Some people like to live life on the edge by waiting until the last minute. It’s not always ideal. When we wait until the last minute, we are able to complete tasks more quickly. You can probably thank Parkinson’s Law for the fact that work expands over time.

But other procrastinators consciously procrastinate to accomplish more. In a book by John Perry, this idea is called structured procrastination.

“The key idea is that procrastinating does not mean doing absolutely nothing. Procrastinators seldom do absolutely nothing; they do marginally useful things, like gardening or sharpening pencils or making a diagram of how they will reorganize their files when they get around to it. Why does the procrastinator do these things? Because they are a way of not doing something more important. If all the procrastinator had left to do was to sharpen some pencils, no force on earth could get him do it. However, the procrastinator can be motivated to do difficult, timely and important tasks, as long as these tasks are a way of not doing something more important.”

According to Perry, you should structure your to-do list in a way that takes advantage of this. Things that are most important and urgent are at the top. The bottom of the list is for important things that might not be as urgent (or dreadful) to check off. Working on the bottom of the list “becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list.”

So while you procrastinate, you can check stuff off your list. It’s a win-win.

3. Keep a record of your accomplishments.

When a person feels successful and accomplished, they’re more productive than when they’re discouraged by their progress or doubt their abilities. Keep a journal or an app of your accomplishments every day. It boosts productivity and lets your brain know that you’re moving forward.

It’s even common for workplaces to have acknowledgment boards, which celebrate team members’ accolades and show appreciation.

4. Don’t play the blame game.

The easy thing is to blame yourself or someone else for mistakes, but that’s rarely productive. You’ll only put more pressure on yourself and be deterred by blaming yourself. Instead, learn how to recognize your mistakes and fix them.

You shouldn’t blame others, either. You should offer a helping hand if something doesn’t get done instead of pointing fingers. You never know what other people are struggling through outside of work, so if you see a coworker struggling, help him or her.

5. Delay gratification.

Science has long suggested that for success in many areas of life, delaying gratification is more important than giving in to impulses and temptations. Fortunately, this is not something you are born with. In other words, it can be developed.

A common study in this area is the “Marshmallow Experiment,” but delaying gratification doesn’t mean giving up dessert. For example, you could notice that you want a snack and tell yourself to wait 10 minutes before you get up to get it. After you finish an important work assignment, maybe you decide to check social media.

Over time, these steps will build into the discipline you’ll need to succeed at your resolutions in 2023.

6. Take stock of your commitments.

You will accept new tasks haphazardly if you do not have a complete inventory of your current commitments. They often conflict with your goals and prevent you from moving forward with your upcoming projects, so they shouldn’t be part of your life.

Despite the fact that it may sound contradictory, freedom can only be experienced when certain limits are set. Understanding what you must do allows you to avoid things you shouldn’t do.

7. Use the paper clip strategy.

Using the paper clip strategy, Trent Dyrsmid, a rookie stockbroker, became a success with some determination and a clever little trick.

Dyrsmid always had two jars on his desk, one empty, the other filled with 120 paper clips. After he finished a call, he moved a paper clip to another jar. When the once-full jar was empty, he’d call it a day.

A visual cue is a great way to keep track of your progress. The rewards keep you on track and motivate you to get things done.

Here are some paper clip strategies from productivity expert James Clear:

  • Want to do 100 pushups a day? Each time you drop down, move one paper clip over and do a set of 10 throughout the day.
  • Do you have to send 25 sales emails every day? You’ll need 25 paper clips, and each time you hit Send, one will go to the other side.
  • You wanna drink eight glasses of water a day? Slide one paper clip each time you finish a glass starting with 8 paper clips.
  • Do you take your medication three times a day? Take three paper clips and flip one into the bin every time you swallow.

8. Always be on time.

Yes, being punctual is polite. That’s not all, though. Being on time tells your brain you’re the master of your universe — not just managing your time, but your life too. It makes you feel better about yourself, which makes you more productive at work, at home, and everywhere else.

Lateness, especially chronic tardiness, causes anxiety and stress. Whether subconscious or not, guilt fuels a downward spiral that hurts efficiency. If you want to be more productive in the new year, you must be punctual.

If you’re struggling with this, you might want set calendar reminders before meetings, reject last-minute requests, under-schedule yourself, and set time cushions.

9. Create a “forcing function.”

If you don’t feel motivated to do the work, consider using a “forcing function.” According to Dan Martell, a forcing function is “any task, activity or event that forces you to take action and produce a result.”

So how does it work? It’s all about setting yourself up for success, says Martell. He gives an example of going to a coffee shop a few times a week to work but forgetting his power adapter. Before his computer dies, he’ll have about three hours of work time.

10. Make marathons work for you.

Truth be told, it’s not realistic to cut out everything that makes life enjoyable. Nevertheless, as you start the new year, consider ways to turn your favorite activities, like Netflix marathons, into productive ones.

How? You could answer an email or do five minutes of exercise between each episode of your favorite show. If you’re watching something more lighthearted, like a sitcom, you may even use this time to plan your upcoming week, fold laundry, or book appointments.

11. Give back.

The greatest untapped source of productivity is a sense of service to others, says organizational psychologist Adam Grant. In his book, “Give and Take,” he shows how helping other people motivate us to achieve even more by focusing on our gifts and talents.

While it may seem like “other-directness” would keep us from achieving our goals, it actually pushes us closer to them.

12. Always finish what you started.

If you are trying to deal with multiple open loops, you will not be able to focus on new challenges. To prepare for your new challenges clearly and cleanly, complete your tasks and projects — no matter how big or small.

In the words of Robin Sharma, “Starting strong is good. Finishing strong is epic.”

Image Credit: Kaique Rocha; Pexels; Thank you!

12 New Year’s Productivity Hacks was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.