How To Boost Your Productivity In 2018

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I love the feeling of beginning a new year. Though I’m not the best at keeping resolutions, I do always try to make a few reasonable goals to aim for each new year. In 2018, one of these goals is boosting my productivity. I don’t want to do more; I want to be more focused in what I do. This requires shifting how I’m productive. 

Below are a few of my best “hacks” for achieving this, along with a couple of new ideas to consider.

1. Calendar block

This is one of my best pieces of advice for new employees on our team. It's important to note that calendar blocking isn’t just making lists of tasks each week, but rather, it’s being intentional about actually working on those things.

Take a look at the projects and tasks you need to accomplish in the week or month ahead. Then, block out time on your calendar to work on them throughout the day. Here’s the kicker: don’t do anything that isn't the task you've blocked out time for. This includes checking email, text messages, social media, or attending to any other projects. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish with a block of uninterrupted focused time.

2. Say goodbye to your phone notifications

To build upon the advice above, try turning off your phone notifications during work hours. I looked over at a colleague’s phone in a meeting the other day and it was lighting up with notifications about everything from the weather, local news, social media, and even a fitness app. That’s crazy! As you can imagine, he looked down every time his phone buzzed.

Try going cold turkey with your phone notifications for a week and watch how your attention span changes. I'd be willing to bet you could probably live without 70% of the notifications coming to your phone every day.

3. Delegate

Delegation is a skill I learned to lean into more this year than ever before. My wiring will naturally make me hesitate to delegate things to others. This isn’t because I’m a control freak, I just simply don’t want to put the burden on someone else. I've learned that this isn’t a reasonable line of thinking. I’ve delegated more this year than ever before (in my work and my home), and everyone around me, including myself, is happier for it. 

Take a hard look at the things on your plate and decide what you can delegate and to whom you can delegate. Also consider delegating some of these things to technology. For example, try asking yourself: what can I automate? There are endless tools out there like AI assistants and email plug-ins that can take a significant load off your plate.

4. Stop multitasking!

Can we all admit to ourselves that multitasking doesn’t work? There are countless studies addressing the negative effects of multitasking. 

Of course you may need to multitask certain aspects of your life, but we must learn to focus on singular objectives more often. This will not only allow you to complete things faster, the outcomes will certainly be higher in quality.

[FREE CHECKLIST: 15 Things Church Leaders Need To Decide Before The New Year]

5. Say 'no'

This is probably one of my favorite pieces of advice, though often its the hardest for most people to do.

Learning to say “no” could change your life and your family's lives for the better. Tweet: Learning to say “no” could change your life and your family's lives for the better. http://bit.ly/2AoZNBL via @VanderbloemenSG

While this will come more naturally to some than others, there are ways to do this graciously in most situations. The best place to start is by having a clear understanding of your goals and objectives for the year. If someone's request is not in line with those goals (and I mean all of them- family, financial, spiritual, and emotional), then you need to say no.  

6. Ruthlessly unsubscribe and unfollow

The word ruthless was used intentionally. Every single piece of information you consume during the day takes up space in your brain. Sure, you could just delete that email and just scroll past the negative person on Facebook, but it still has an effect. Those emails or negative posts have taken precious brain space and energy away from you that you can’t get back.

Spend 30 minutes looking through your emails and unsubscribe from the ones you don’t really need to see. Or, use a program like Unroll.Me to do it for you. Also, don’t hesitate to unfollow anyone on social media that’s not important or helpful to your own growth as an individual this year. I promise that they won’t notice anyway. 

What are some productivity hacks that you've used in the past?

Free checklist - 15 things church leaders need to decide before the new year