Like most people, I have grand ideas as we roll into the new year. Ideas about how to improve productivity, be more focused, more purposeful and create better habits in the New Year. But by now, I also have a pretty good idea of how it will go if I try to make all of those changes at one time. It will last a week. Or maybe three days.
Instead, I have found that small changes implemented consistently are far more valuable than one massive overhaul attempt. This applies both when making improvements in life or cleaning out a closet. Over time, I’ve learned that little by little, slow but steady steps work far better for me.
So, I’m looking at the New Year in the same way. And I have a few tips and tools ready to help out. First, a new planner is on the way (I’ll share more about my favorite in a minute), and a few books that I want to review as I rework my yearly planning.
Look for the Opportunities, not the Disadvantages
I often go into a new year with a key phrase in mind, similar to a word of the year. One of the main things on my mind for this next year is a simple plan to Look for the Opportunities, not the Disadvantages (or the disappointments). The idea came about over time, but the words came from a podcast episode by Amy Porterfield. Here’s the link to the episode in case you would like to listen to it yourself.
I’m still pondering how exactly that will play out in life and in business, so I’ll save any further thoughts on that topic for a future post.
For now, back to the productivity tools and habits for creatives that are working well for me – and a few that I’ve just started to implement.
A great planner is high on my list of ‘necessary’ things. This one is beautiful, simple, and inspiring to use all year. Set your biggest goals and then work backward to create a task list to follow to complete them. There is space for yearly planning, monthly goals, notes, and a clear focus on your top three tasks each day. Keep in mind that the very top task for each day should be one that moves the needle in your business or goals and set that one thing as the priority.
I read this book last year, but I am returning to it to review at the beginning of the year as it is a great book for setting and keeping new habits throughout the year. The focus is on creating and maintaining better habits and systems that that lead to results.
This book takes some time to work through. It isn’t just a book to read and make a few notes about, but a work book to write in and define your goals and dreams. With worksheets to outline and define your goals, strategies, ideal days and plan your year. I worked through this book last summer, and now plan to review and refresh my goals and work along with the included monthly worksheets as we start a new year.
Check out this post if you are looking for other recommended reading for creative entrepreneurs!
Tools and Tricks for Planning and Productivity
Moving beyond books and planners, this clock and timer combination is a favorite gadget in our house! I use it for both time blocking my work or speed cleaning. My kids even love this timer. Rather than use my phone timer (and risk the distraction of checking emails or social media), we rotate the timer to a chosen time block and it automatically starts counting down the minutes.
When I’m working on a project and need a focused amount of time, I keep the timer on my desk (where my kids can see it) and let them know that I’ll be working until the timer goes off, so they know to check the time remaining and come back when my focused work time is over. (sounds fantastic –but doesn’t always work quite that smoothly).
Simple, but effective. My favorite productivity tip is to use sticky notes to write thoughts or questions that pop up while I am working instead of jumping to google them immediately. Immediate research breaks the flow of my work, but I’m also afraid I will forget an idea if I don’t act immediately! Instead, I jot down a note or question and save it until I am not in a productive work block to then look it up. If it is a task that I don’t want to forget, I can make a note and come back to it at a better time. This way I can stay productive in my current task and not get distracted, but also not forget any important ideas or questions.
Know Your Task
This last tip is one I am still working on. Because I work from home and I love being in my creative space, I tend to walk in often and sit down with no preplanned focus for what I will work on. This usually leads to time spent checking in on various sites and emails that really don’t need my attention (aka, wasted time). Instead, my goal is to have a plan in place for what task I will work on or complete before I walk into my office and sit down to work. I’ve worked at this in the past, and it prevents wasted time or allowing tasks to stretch out far longer than they need to.
With these productivity tools and habits in mind, I’m ready to roll into the new year and make small changes to my habits that can add up to big results. I’d love to hear from you about your goals and dreams for 2022! Or – if you have a great productivity tip that has helped you in your business (or life) please leave a comment or send me a note at email@example.com and share! I love to hear from you!
*P.s. This post contains affiliate links