2016 will be your most productive year yet. Are you ready?

Of course you are! This is your year to end the procrastination for good and accomplish every goal that you want to check off the list. Productivity is the key to your success in 2016.

Here’s how you can increase your productivity and make 2016 your best year yet.

Create a To-Do List

You can rely on a to-do list to effectively plan your day and increase your productivity. An outline in the form of a to-do list can ease cognitive processes that would otherwise make it difficult for you to focus. Here are some tips to creating an effective to-do list:

  • Prioritize each task and do the more important tasks first. You should do this to make sure that you get the crucial tasks done early in the morning when there are limited distractions.
  • Only put your three most important tasks on the to-do list. Some people put everything that they have to do for the week on the same to-do list. They easily become overwhelmed and get little done. Focus on your three most important tasks and don’t worry about anything else.
  • Break down each task. Below every task you should have a step-by-step process of how you will complete the task. You should also use actionable verbs for each step.

Eliminate Distractions

Productivity is tough when you can pick up your phone and have instant access to just about anything. It’s important to eliminate these distractions and get started on your work.

  • Get rid of your phone. If you have to work on your phone but you don’t need Internet access, put your phone on airplane mode.
  • Block social media. Software like Anti-Social will block social media websites.
  • Turn off notifications. Make sure that you go to your settings and turn off any notifications that don’t pertain to your work.

Manage Your Emails

Your email inbox can be a huge productivity killer. You need to make sure that you don’t waste too much time in your inbox.

  • Go through your inbox when you can’t get anything else done. Sometimes there are unavoidable lulls throughout the day. Use this time to go through your emails.
  • Use quick responses. Get to the point and don’t waste your time or the other person’s time.
  • Only respond to emails that are necessary to respond to. Sometimes you can waste a long amount of time staring at an email that you don’t have to respond to. Make sure you move on if it isn’t necessary for you to respond to it.

Take a Break

This might seem a little backwards, but breaks can reboot your system and make you more productive. Utilizing these breaks helps you reach your full potential.

  • Take a 17-minute break for every 52 minutes of work. Studies have shown that this schedule is the most effective.
  • Get out of the office. Take a walk or just step outside and get some fresh air.
  • Work on a side project. Use this time to work on something that creatively fuels you.

Write Down Everything

Increase productivity by writing down every task that you need to do. This will relax your mind because it doesn’t need to use extra energy to remember these tasks.

  • Have a separate list of tasks. Along with your daily to-do list, you should have another list where you write down any task that comes to mind.
  • Keep a note on your phone. Use your phone to keep track of tasks when something pops into your head.
  • Use color-coded post-it notes. You can organize the importance of these tasks based on the colors of your post-it notes.

Wake Up Early

Some of the most successful people wake up well before six a.m. to start their day. This is no coincidence, and you should implement this habit to boost your productivity.

  • Mind over mattress. Get in a mindset that will help you wake up early.
  • No distractions early in the morning. You’ll be more productive when the rest of the world is sleeping and no one can bother you.
  • Create a winning mentality. By beating your natural instinct to stay in bed, you are already winning the day. It becomes easier to carry that mentality into the rest of the day.

Sleep Well

Poor sleep can negatively impact your work performance. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep to tackle the following day.

  • Exercise twice a day. Just a few simple aerobic exercises twice a day will increase your sleep quality.
  • Get off your phone before bed. The light from your phone can trick your brain into thinking that its daytime, and that’ll lower your sleep quality.
  • Get ready for the next morning before bed. Create your to-do list and get your clothes ready before bed so you aren’t worrying about it while lying in bed.

Exercise Every Day

Exercise can boost your productivity by increasing blood flow to your brain and releasing serotonin that decreases stress.

  • Jog early in the morning. Wake up early and start your day with a morning jog.
  • Start doing yoga. Yoga can increase your focus and concentration.
  • 30 minutes a day can make a big difference. Just a half hour of a workout can increase your productivity.

Utilize Your Commute

Whether you are driving for twenty minutes or two hours, you should take advantage of the time given to you in your commute.

  • Listen to a podcast or audiobook. There is plenty of great information you can learn in audio form.
  • Plan your day. Go through the tasks that you need to do and figure out the best ways to get them done.
  • Make important phone calls. If a phone call is on your to-do list, use your commute to make that call.

Avoid Multitasking

Studies have shown that multitasking reduces your productivity by 40 percent. Here are a few ways to avoid multitasking:

  • Finish one task before you start another one. Don’t let your brain focus on two things at once.
  • Write down other tasks that you have to do. Your brain will know that other tasks are written down so you don’t have to worry about it for the time being.
  • Tell people that you aren’t available. Distractions won’t come up as easily when you limit your availability.

Outsource Simple Tasks

You don’t need to do anything. You should be outsourcing time-consuming tasks that you don’t need to do.

  • Hire freelance workers. Look on oDesk or other freelance websites to hire people for a cheap rate.
  • Decide which tasks to outsource. Anything that seems like annoying busy work should be outsourced for others to do for you.
  • Let go. Trust other people to do the work for you.

Organize Your Workspace

People waste 4.3 hours per week looking for papers. Increase productivity by de-cluttering your desk.

  • Clear off your desk.
  • Put papers into a filing system. Get those papers off of your desk and organize them into files.
  • Label everything. You should know what everything is so you can go back to it later when you need it.

Say No

Avoid unnecessary tasks by saying “no” to co-workers.

  • Analyze the new assignment and determine if it’s important or not.
  • Does the task benefit you? If not, then turn it down.
  • It’s not personal. Make sure that the other person is aware that you are turning them down simply because you’re too busy.

Start a Morning Routine

A healthy morning routine can set you on the right path to a productive day.

  • Eat a healthy breakfast. Getting nutrients into your body will increase your focus.
  • Read a book. Your creative process should be started early to maintain your motivation.
  • Work out early in the morning.

Eat and Drink Healthy

The foods that you eat can impact your mental performance and your overall productivity.

  • Drink a lot of water. People who are hydrated react 14 percent faster than those who aren’t.
  • Snack on foods that increase brainpower. These foods include nuts, seeds, whole grains and blueberries.
  • Healthy breakfast. Start your day by fueling your body with healthy brain food.

Adjust to Your Most Productive Times

Although many people are most productive in the morning, this might not be the case for you. Find your most productive times of the day and work during those times.

  • Keep track of when you’re most productive. Write down the times of the day when you work the best.
  • Use software to track your productivity. It’ll tell you when you are procrastinating by using social media and when you’re working.
  • Work smart. If you know that you’re more productive late at night, use that time to work.

How Will You Be More Productive?

Have you tried any of these tips? Comment below to let us know which ones have worked and which ones you’re looking forward to trying!

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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