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Why You Should Start Your New Year in February

Why You Should Start Your New Year in February

    I haven’t made any new year’s resolutions. It’s not that I don’t believe in them or think that they don’t work. It’s that I don’t believe in them in January and know they don’t work at this time of year. So I don’t start my new year on January 1st.

    I hold off until February.

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    Why do I buck traditional trends and wait an entire month to start anew? It’s simple: I’m too tired in January. And the truth is, so are you.

    Think about it.

    You’ve just come off of a hectic holiday season – and for some of us that started back in early November. You’ve been on the move since then, attending holiday parties, eating copious amounts of food and frantically trying to wrap up all of your open loops before the end of the year hits. So when January rolls around and you finally have time to catch your breath, what do you?

    You try to take on new habits, attempt to abolish bad ones and tackle projects while not giving yourself the time to recharge your batteries and really reflect on the year that has just passed you by.

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    While taking on this type of approach to mapping out your new year may not be as unconventional as, say, starting your week on a Sunday, it certainly won’t be popular with everyone. But think about the benefits of taking January to put yourself in a position to really succeed and polish up your plans for the year ahead. Even if you made a single resolution to take the first month of the calendar year to focus on the future through reflection and planning without the baggage of a worn out body and mind, wouldn’t you have a higher chance of achieving what you set out to do?

    Rather than take on a series of resolutions now, keep them in mind and plan properly for them during the month of January. Make this a month of setting yourself up rather than sprinting in to the new year with full intentions and not enough energy to see them through over the long haul. Remember that a year is a marathon, not a sprint.

    That’s not to say that you shouldn’t do anything in January, just take on projects that won’t make or break you.

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    3 Project Ideas for January

    1. Clean out the clutter. Clear out everything from the past year (and years prior, if applicable) and give yourself a clean slate come February. You have far more energy for this type of project in January than you do for ones that will take plans involving the future.

    2. Start a journal. This type of activity allows you to reflect and start a new habit. It puts you in the position to have started a journey during a month where everything should be as low-impact on the mind as possible. Yet it allows your mind to think back to the year before to see what you did (and would do differently) and put it on record.

    3. Gather your tools. January is the month where you can start to assemble the tools you’ll need for the year ahead. A paper planner (which often is sold at a cheaper price once hte year starts), a new domain for a website you’re going to start, and things of that nature are ideal things to gather so that you can start off the next month with most of what you’ll need at your disposal.

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    Focus on February

    January is the perfect month to look back and prepare yourself for the months to come. Don’t saddle yourself with resolutions and intentions that are going to be difficult to maintain throughout the month – let alone the year – because you’re not fully prepared for them in mind, body and spirit.

    Focus on making February the month to hit the ground running. Plan your route in January. You’ll have a better chance of not only finsihing the race, but being pleased with your results as well.

    (Photo credit: Wall Calendar February via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

    16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

    The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

    How about a unique spin on things?

    These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

    1. Empty your mind.

    It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

    Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

    Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

    Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

    How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

    2. Keep certain days clear.

    Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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    This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

    3. Prioritize your work.

    Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

    Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

    Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

    How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    4. Chop up your time.

    Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

    5. Have a thinking position.

    Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

    What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

    6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

    To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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    Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

    7. Don’t try to do too much.

    OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

    8. Have a daily action plan.

    Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

    Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

    9. Do your most dreaded project first.

    Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

    10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

    The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

    11. Have a place devoted to work.

    If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

    But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

    Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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    Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

    12. Find your golden hour.

    You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

    Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

    Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

    Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

    13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

    It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

    By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

    Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

    14. Never stop.

    Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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    Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

    There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

    15. Be in tune with your body.

    Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

    16. Try different methods.

    Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

    It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

    Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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