Hear that? It’s the universe telling you 2018 is your year. Or, okay, maybe it’s the sound of your old car’s brakes telling you it’s time for an upgrade. But either way now is the time to make some major changes to improve your life.
Every January gives you the opportunity to start again; you’ve got a total fresh slate to create a life you truly love. Coming up with some clearly defined goals can be the first step in achieving success. But once you’ve got those goals in place, how exactly do you go about making them a reality? Well, you could dedicate every waking minute to hard work, pouring blood, sweat, and tears into each desired outcome…or you could hack your way to a brighter future.
Taking shortcuts to boost your productivity is the key to getting way more bang for your buck and reaping more benefits in less time. If you’re not sure how to become an efficiency machine and knock out all your goals for 2018, start implementing these 5 productivity hacks and watch your dreams come true:
1. Hide your phone. We know, it sounds cruel, tough, and maybe even impossible, but your smartphone is totally getting in the way of your productivity. According to one study, the average user checks his or her device 221 times a day. If you’re guilty of scrolling through Instagram or swiping on Bumble when you’re trying to hit a deadline, consider putting your phone far out of reach while you work — at least temporarily.
2. Block off time on your calendar. We’re used to reserving calendar slots when we have calls or meetings with other people, but why not consider solo work time just as sacred? Make appointments with yourself each day to answer emails, return calls, read documents, etc. Do your best to only do those tasks within the allotted windows (that means ignoring inbound emails that might disrupt your flow during a reading session, for example). Not sure you can commit? Make it tougher to be tempted by distractions: turn off your smartphone notifications and zone in to the task at hand.
3. Tackle the big stuff first. Everyone loves to cross an easy task off the to-do list (make coffee – check!), but taking on the most important issues first will allow you ample time and energy to do the best job possible. Not to mention the satisfaction you’ll enjoy later in the day knowing the work you dreaded most is already done.
4. Rely on templates. Ever feel like you’ve written the same email 100 times? You probably have. If you regularly churn out the same copy or create nearly identical documents, spreadsheets, or even text messages, start streamlining your efforts. Invest the time necessary to make go-to templates and gain back tons of time in your day.
5. Meditate. It may sound counter-intuitive, but setting aside fifteen minutes each day to just sit and breathe can cause your productivity to skyrocket. According to one study, human resource managers who received eight weeks of mindfulness training wound up less stressed and more able to concentrate on tasks than their counterparts who didn’t receive the training. Regardless of your profession or any preconceived notions you may have about meditation, creating some space for breath and awareness in your day can have a major impact.
Simple steps? For sure. But the effects of these seemingly minor changes can be monumental. By focusing on your goals and using these hacks to achieve them, you’ll have more time, feel more fulfilled, and find yourself hitting all kinds of major milestones all year long.
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Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.