Re-establishing yourself as a productive person sounds like an uphill battle, but sometimes something as simple as buying a nice new daily journal or changing the podcasts you consume can have a huge impact.
Photo credit: Cathryn
If 2020 wasn’t your most productive year you can certainly be forgiven.
Whether dealing with the distraction of remote working or lost without the typical hobbies to build their life around, many people found their productivity at an all-time low. With so much going on right outside your window it can sometimes feel impossible to put on your working hat and suddenly be your most productive self every morning.
Fortunately, it’s a new year and despite that being nothing more than an arbitrary line in the sand, it can genuinely feel like a fresh start for many people — if they want it to be.
If you’re one of the many people that want to make the most out of 2021, we’ve pulled together a list of habits and changes to focus on through the year to help you become your most productive self.
Don’t burn out on emotional energy
Until you take a step back and really focus on it, it can be hard to see how much negativity we surround ourselves with on a daily basis.
Whether it’s news, social media, or a job we hate, human beings waste so much of their daily emotional energy on tasks, responsibilities, and entertainment that is actually detrimental to them.
While some of these things can’t be avoided, it stands to reason that anyone looking to make 2021 a more productive year should focus on ridding themselves of the negativity that drags them down and zaps them of their emotional energy.
First, make a list of inconsequential things in your life that incur negative feelings or leave you feeling tired. When you really think about it you’ll notice there are so many negative things you consume or do out of habit without really thinking about it. Do you really enjoy checking Instagram, or does it just leave you feeling lesser and frustrated?
Here’s a quick list of common things that steal people’s positive energy:
Too much negative news
Social media doom scrolling
Screen time in the bedroom
When you’ve finished your personalized list, don’t start thinking of ways you can eliminate these negative aspects or transform your routine overnight, but what you could replace them with.
Rather than consuming hours and hours of negative news on TV, the radio or from social media, change your entertainment habits. People worried about how much they’re getting from their lifestyle might benefit from a dating podcast or self-development podcast to help kick-start their path to improvement. Ambient music is going through a renaissance with so many people working from home, and there is an abundance of brilliant playlists on platforms such as YouTube you can switch on to drown out the negative noise.
The key isn’t about throwing out everything negative in one move. Do that and you’ll find yourself scrounging around in the trash for something you forgot you needed. Small, incremental changes to your physical and entertainment consumption breed a healthy, more productive mindset.
Refresh your home office
We live in a world that is itching to get back to normal. As much as a post-COVID time will be characterized by a thirst for all the things that were taken away from us in the last year, there is one element that is likely to continue: remote working.
Whether your company has made plans to introduce a more flexible culture or simply done away with the concept of a physical office and it’s rent responsibilities altogether, many more of us are looking at a future where we wake up in our office and family members fulfill the gap left by colleagues.
With that in mind, everyone needs to craft a pleasant workspace that breeds healthy habits to become their most productive selves.
With everything so uncertain, you can be forgiven for winging it until now when it comes to a home workspace. But only if you ensure the new year marks a significant changing point, where you went from unproductive kitchen table worker to a remote professional with a dedicated healthy and tranquil working space.
You’ve probably read a ton of blogs about how important the right equipment is and why proper back support is so crucial, but we want to touch upon some of the more mindfulness-oriented elements of a home office.
Right now health comes first, and that means giving yourself plenty of fresh air and natural light on a regular basis. Since moving my desk to give myself a more scenic view and a daily dose of morning sunshine I’ve felt a new wave of productivity wash over me, even in those early hours where it seems like not even coffee can get you moving.
A workspace should also be personal. You’d decorate your desks with pictures of loved ones and little mementos of special times in the office, so why not do it at home? Despite being in your own space working from home can feel isolating and like you’re trapped. Use plants, decoration, and music to fill the room with things you enjoy and are quintessentially you. It’s all about creating a space where you can thrive, without worrying you’re bothering anyone else.
Set goals outside of work
It’s easier than you might think to fall into the trap of making life nothing but work, work and more work. But when you love your career and find yourself working from home, what really is life but work, work, and more work?
We all know we should be aiming for a better work-life balance (it doesn’t just improve your life, but your career too), but that’s easier said than done to actually achieve. Somehow a world without commutes, office gossip and managers hovering over our shoulders has made the fabled work/life balance harder to achieve, and left us feeling less productive than ever before as a result.
We’re not going to tell you you should be trying to have fun when you finish work. You know that, and you’re far too drained to force yourself to do something exciting and new every evening. How are you supposed to get up for work the next day without a good recharge?
Instead, aim to make that downtime more productive, and install a sense of productivity throughout your life that will wash over every inch of it, including work. It’s important to make this productivity full of attainable goals though. Instead of starting the weekend with a list that reads ‘Learn Spanish’ and ‘Start a vegan diet’ opt for something more achievable, such as ‘Spend an hour learning Spanish’ and ‘Cook a vegan dish’.
As we touched upon earlier, small incremental steps are the key to success. Give yourself not just the satisfaction of cooking a new meal, but getting to tick something off your to-do list.
How you approach productivity and the structure of your week will have a significant impact on your ability to actually stick to positive habits and enact change in your life.
Don’t rely on your phone for everything
There’s no denying smartphones are incredible tools that have made almost every facet of our lives simpler, but have you considered that might just be the whole problem?
Sure, having everything you need to get through the day stored in a little rectangle in your pocket is great, but an over-reliance on your phone might be making you significantly less productive, despite what the apps promise.
You can have all the productivity apps in the world, have every bit of detail for a project stored in virtual folders and every inch of your day jotted down in a note app, but when you come to do something with your phone you find yourself on auto-pilot scrolling through Twitter or texting a friend.
Our addiction to screen time in lockdown isn’t just a health concern, it’s a productivity issue. Instead of making your phone the center of your universe, consider physical alternatives that allow you to step away from a screen for the moment and really focus on the task at hand.
Rather than using a notes app, use a notebook. Don’t rely on your Google calendar, treat yourself to a real one. Don’t make your phone your alarm clock, instead make your bedroom a device-free zone (trust me, it’ll make it easier to get to sleep and wake up in the morning).
Phones being the bane of productivity is hardly a revolutionary idea, but it’s important to realize that sometimes the best solution isn’t to delete your social media apps and install a new time-tracking tool, but rather to take a step back and build your schedule and productivity around the real world.
Re-establishing yourself as a productive person sounds like an uphill battle, but sometimes something as simple as buying a nice new daily journal or changing the podcasts you consume can have a huge impact. There’s never been a harder time in modern history to be productive. We have all the tools we could ever want and a million blogs offering insight, but your own drive and desire are just as important.