18 ways to be more productive in 2018

It’s a few weeks into a brand-new year and chances are good you’ve already tossed your resolutions by the wayside and are slipping back into your old ways. Fear not! We’ve come up with 18 ways to inspire you to reclaim your productivity in the coming months.

1. Turn off notifications

“You don’t have to check your email or social media every few minutes,” said Julie Cole, co-founder of the multimillion dollar company, Mabel’s Labels. “When working on a project, turn off notifications so you don’t get distracted by them.”

2. Block off social time

Lest you miss exclusively online opportunities, Cole advises carving out 10 minutes every couple of hours to check in. “Train your staff/contacts to NOT expect you to respond within minutes of them contacting you.”

3. Cut down on drive-bys

Cole describes times “when people ‘pop’ into your office with a quick question as distracting, and it takes you valuable time to redirect your attention to what you were doing prior to their interruption. Make people schedule meetings with you.”

4. Touch it once

“If I take the time to read an email, I deal with it right then and there,” said Cole. “If I decide to put off dealing with it, it will later require me to re-read and re-think my response.”

5. Demand a deadline

Cole thinks it wise to keep to this rule “whether it’s from the person making a work request or for yourself.”

6. Create an agenda

Cole refuses to attend meetings without set agendas. “They’re inefficient, and the agenda usually lets me know if it’s worth my even attending the meeting.” Also, make sure efficient minutes are taken, and follow up action items clearly identified and assigned.

7. Pretend you’re in an office

Even if you telecommute, always get dressed for work “Your brain naturally uses your clothes as visual cues on what it should be doing and when,” according to Ali Craig of Fix My Brand with Ali Craig. “If you stay in your PJs all day your brain thinks you should be sleeping all day.”

8. Write it down

Craig says, “The simple act of writing down our notes, lists, projects with pen and on paper allows our subconscious mind to retain the information.” And keep track of it!

9. Learn something new

“Find tutorials or online courses for new technologies that you might not immediately understand. Lynda.com and YouTube are excellent, cost-effective resources,” said Arvind Raichur at MrOwl.

10. Sync it

Raichur advises organizing your information by “keeping trusted sites and resources in one place, synced across devices so you can stay abreast of news and updates regardless of where you are.”

11. Sprint!

“Our brains are hardwired to work in 45-minute chunks of time. After the 45 minutes are up, your productivity goes down,” Craig said.

12. Create Rituals

“Be more productive and love your work way more when you transform your business systems into brand rituals,” Craig advised. Try to“Engage your senses even on mundane tasks, like doing the books,” so you can have a positive connection and outcome.

13. Create long-term plans

Raichur advises figuring out how to solve a long-term problem and then creating an action plan “surrounded by the right team.”

14. Change it up

“For each task at hand, change your environment,” Craig advised, which will “reawaken your brain to increase productivity and problem-solving abilities.”

15. Pick up the phone

“Consider calling people before texting or emailing them,” advised Carolyn Thompson, Managing Principal of the Merito Group, since “You can speak with someone and accomplish much more in a few minutes of conversation than back and forth typing over the course of a few hours.”

16. Create a safe space

Raichur said you’ll improve teamwork (and probably cut down on sniping) by creating a safe space for employees to share ideas and feel heard.

17. Use your scents

To combat brain fog, Craig advises smelling citrus fragrances to “stimulate the brain and increase productivity.” If you’re unable to find a solution to a problem, she suggests you “head to the coffee house, since the sound of coffee beans grinding and the smell of coffee beans roasting is proven to increase your focus and problem-solving ability.”

18. Don’t beat yourself up

This one’s from me. Perfection is both unattainable and overrated, and beating yourself up after screwing up or missing a deadline will only hold you back from the next great thing.