The Only Three Tips You Need for a More Productive January

Published Wednesday, January 04, 2012 11:48 PM


Who doesn't love the New Year's fresh start? After a month of hectic holidays, January is a time of rejuvenation, a time to reset, and rev up for the upcoming year. Kick your 2012 off with the only three tips you'll need for a productive January.

Prioritize:  Prioritization is the cornerstone of productivity. The ability to prioritize, to assess your to-do list and triage the most pressing, vital tasks, is a must-have survival skill. As a bonus, effective prioritization is also a major stress-buster.

Need help mastering this must-have skill? Take into account that prioritizing is based on managing time constraints, assessing the potential profitability/benefit of an action as well as the consequences of not completing a task.

  • Time-constraints: Determine if a project can be put off or if there's a deadline that can't be missed. Determine how long each project will take and determine if tackling the shortest project first makes sense.
  • Potential upside: Assess which projects or tasks are likely to be more beneficial or profitable. Tackling a project that generates the most revenue may make sense or tackling a smaller project for a bigger client may pay long-term dividends. Assess the upside of completing each item on your to-do list.
  • Consequences: Next, examine your to-do list and determine the consequences of not getting to a certain action item. If the fall-out would be major if a project is unfinished, that item moves up the priority list. If no one will notice a task is incomplete, that item has low-priority.

Decluttercize: Clutter creates stress and inhibits productivity and efficiency. January is a time to tackle those piles, streamline your files, and reboot your efficiency with a thorough office and home decluttering.

  • Get tossing: Grab that wastebasket; it's time for Decluttering 101. Toss old newspapers, unread magazines, worn out clothes and broken toys and games, old files, etc. Next, assemble a donation pile: outgrown clothes and recreational items can be passed along to family and friends as well as charities. Clear countertops, desktops, closets and catchall bins; pare down to what you need and use regularly. At the office, archive old files, and toss what's not worth saving.
  • A place for everything: Asses what remains and stock up on containers and files to corral items you want to keep. Keeping order is infinitely easier when every item and file has a home. Take advantage of January sales to stock up bins, baskets and closet organizers. Restock your office with labels, files and folders. It's going to be an organized 2012.
  • Maintaining: Commit to a maintenance schedule of 10 minutes each night and morning to keep order. At the endsof the day, quickly file paperwork used during the day and make a sweep of your home restoring items to their rightful place. Set aside larger blocks of time weekly and monthly for more extensive upkeep.

Exercise: Using and moving your body is a must for energy and productivity. Great feats of athleticism or hardcore time at the gym are not required; even a brisk walk taken daily can do the trick.

  • Schedule fitness: Find a block of time that works for you, such as first thing in the morning or midday, and make that your regular exercise time. When an item appears on your calendar on a regular basis, it's easier to honor that commitment. Respect these times just as you would any other important appointment.
  • Buddy up: Partner with a friend or family member and commit to a regimen you both enjoy. Exercise is an enjoyable way to spend time with a close friend. As a bonus, having a buddy keep you honest; it's harder to skip an early morning run when you know your friend is waiting on the corner.
  • Start small: Too often exercise programs are derailed by an all-or-nothing attitude. You don't need to train for a marathon, or hit the gym every day, but a daily routine of simple stretches as well as 20-minutes of light cardio (a quick walk, taking the stairs at work) can reap a boost in energy and vigor. When possible, exercise outdoors for a healthy dose of Vitamin D and a natural mood enhancer.

Here's to a productive January!


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