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Top 5 Ways to Start the Year Off Right

Top 5 Ways to Start the Year Off Right

Don’t let the new year sneak up on you. Now is the perfect time to follow these 5 ways to start the year off right, and take charge of what you are getting out of life.

start the year off

    #1 Do a yearly review

    Take stock of where you’ve been and appreciate all of the accomplishments you’ve made in the last year.  In a typical yearly review, you should answer these types of questions:

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    • What went well for me last year?
    • What accomplishments did I have?
    • How did I improve my life?
    • How did I improve my relationships?
    • What did I remove from my life that is now making me happier?
    • What do I wish I had taken more time for?

    Keep track of these questions and your responses in a journal that you can refer back to in the future: your answers year over year will be very enlightening.

    Ask these types of questions about all the important areas of your life, such as family, relationships, financial, career, home, etc. These  questions will help you appreciate all you’ve accomplished in the previous year, and you can use this information to start the new year off right, and set better goals for the next year.

    #2 Finish what you started

    Which projects, errands, and general list of to-do items do you have left over from the previous year that you can complete in 2 hours or less? Do them now to clear your mind of the old items.

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    Keeping projects around like pets doesn’t do us any good—they just weigh on our minds, and people will spend hours thinking about something that will only take 10 minutes to take care of. Cross those things off your list and give yourself a fresh start.

    #3 Be realistic

    Dreaming is fabulous and highly recommended, but if you want to accomplish some improvements in your life, you need to be realistic. As much as you may want something, it’s very likely you don’t really believe you can have it. (If you did you would already have achieved it.) We have to turn a dream into something we can picture accomplishing before it can become a reality.

    Take your dream and start breaking it down into milestones: if you want to work from home, what are the steps you need to take? Break those steps down further so you can create a game-plan and start working towards accomplishing that dream.

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    #4 Focus on what you really want

    Speaking of dreaming, ask yourself what your dream looks like. What are you doing in the dream? How are you living? Who is in the dream with you? What does a typical day entail?

    These questions will help you define what lifestyle you really want, and give you ideas about how you can achieve that lifestyle. For example, if you see yourself relaxing by the fire with a good book and a cup of tea, ask yourself why you aren’t  spending more time that way now. What things are in your way and how can you re-arrange your priorities in order to have the lifestyle you really want?

    If you think that what you want is more money, keep digging at that response. What would you do if you had endless amounts of money? Would you travel, volunteer, or live simply and quietly away from it all?

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    We often think that money is an end goal, when really we are just stuck in a rut, and we think we can’t do or have what we really want unless we have more money.  Challenge that idea and dig to find those things that you really want, and aim to pursue them now.

    #5 Put yourself at the top of the list

    Using the information you gained above by determining what you really want, put yourself at the top of the list this year. The old adage is true; we really can’t help others until we help ourselves. Taking care of yourself and striving to reach your own goals will make you a better spouse, friend, child, and parent.

    Our examples have a far greater impact on those around us than anything we might say, and taking care of your own health and well-being means you’ll be around longer for your loved ones too! Be sure to make time for yourself each day to work toward your goals, or to attain the lifestyle you want.

    How will you start the year off right? Share your plans in the comments below.

    Featured photo credit:  Scenic old coastal road winding over the Mediterranean via Shutterstock

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    Last Updated on November 19, 2019

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

    If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

    1. Create a Daily Plan

    Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

    2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

    Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

    3. Use a Calendar

    Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

    I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

    Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

    4. Use an Organizer

    An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

    These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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    5. Know Your Deadlines

    When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

    But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

    6. Learn to Say “No”

    Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

    Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

    7. Target to Be Early

    When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

    For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

    Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

    8. Time Box Your Activities

    This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

    You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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    9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

    Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

    10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

    Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

    You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    11. Focus

    Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

    Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

    Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    12. Block out Distractions

    What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

    I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

    When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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    Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

    13. Track Your Time Spent

    When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

    You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

    14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

    You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

    Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

    15. Prioritize

    Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

    Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    16. Delegate

    If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

    When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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    17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

    For related work, batch them together.

    For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

    1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
    2. coaching
    3. workshop development
    4. business development
    5. administrative

    I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

    18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

    What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

    One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

    While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

    19. Cut off When You Need To

    The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

    Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

    20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

    Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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