If you could accomplish one thing right now, what would it be?
Around this time of year, we’re usually thinking about end-of the-year reviews and tying up loose ends, not initiating plans. But 2020 didn’t exactly unfold in the way we had imagined, and many of us have had to shift or even abandon our goals. But don’t beat yourself up if you’ve been feeling unproductive. Now is the time to be extra gentle with ourselves and celebrate the small wins.
If you feel ready to pursue your goals and dream projects, but worry that you’ve fallen way behind, we’re here to help. It’s never too late to pursue the goals that matter to you most. The important thing is to just start right now.
We’ve put together productivity strategies and tools you can use to get back on track and start making headway, one step at a time.
Whether it’s doing small, impactful things every day; finding the right tools to set you up for success; or learning how to structure your time, each of these tips will help you move forward and end the year feeling accomplished and fulfilled.
Start right now: Have good systems and tools in place
If you’d like to start on something right now, make sure to have systems and tools that will help you stay organized and productive.
Why are systems and tools so important? Because when it comes to productivity, you can't rely on willpower alone. According to this New York Times article, “willpower is a limiting resource.” In other words, we only have so much self-discipline to keep ourselves motivated and focused. (And who has the energy for self-control these days?) If you lean too heavily on willpower, you’ll only burn yourself out and risk losing interest.
What you need is a strong system. These are the routines and processes that can help you stay on track when will power can’t. Here are proven systems that can help you stay productive and start working on your goals right now.
Weekly planning session. Break out your Ink+Volt Goal Planner and conduct a weekly planning session to map out your priorities and goals for the upcoming week. When you have solid plans, it’s easier to put those plans into motion. Read our guide on how to do a weekly planning session here.
Daily to-do lists. To paraphrase “Getting Things Done writer” David Allen, our brains make bad assistants. You can’t trust your memory to organize or remember your priorities. Instead, you need to write things down. Having trouble figuring out what’s a priority? The Ink+Volt Productivity Notepad Suite is a curated set of our best notepads that will help you define your goals and priorities, chisel them into small, actionable steps, and create a daily plan.
Time management: Identify your peak energy hours--these are the hours you feel most productive and energized--and schedule your most important work during these times. Having trouble staying focused and finishing your task? Manage your time by using the tried and true Pomodoro technique.
Organized workspace. Is your workspace set up for success? Or is it cluttered and distracting? Clean and organize your desk so that you have easy access to your most important documents and office supplies. Stay organized and on top of your work with the Ink+Volt Ultimate Organization Suite. This is ideal for project managers, people who work from home, or anyone who wants to track their goals and be productive, starting right now.
Start right now: the two minute rule
If your dream goal is to write a novel, a key step you can take is to write for two minutes.
That’s it. Two minutes.
Does that seem too easy? That’s the point! According to James Clear’s Two Minute Rule, the idea is to make something so easy, you’ll actually accomplish it. And in these overwhelming times, the simpler the action, the better.
Want to run more? Start by running for two minutes first. Want to read before bed? Do it for two minutes. Want to organize your house? Tidy up for two minutes. Soon, these behaviors will fold easily into your daily routine. Once you can do an activity for two minutes, you can work your way up. The next thing you know, you’ll go from writing two minutes a day, to a full hour. The important thing is to start small and build momentum.
What is something you can start right now for two minutes?
Review how you spend your time
Time is a precious resource. But instead of wishing you had more hours in the day, see if you can structure your day in a way that makes you feel fulfilled, not overwhelmed. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How would you like to be spending your time?
- Where are you spending the most of your time?
- How long does it take you to finish a task?
- What energizes you? What depletes your energy tank?
You can also do a time audit of your schedule and use a stopwatch to measure how long it takes you to complete a task. A time audit can reveal that certain projects might take shorter or longer than expected, allowing you to adjust your schedule as necessary.
An audit can also help you figure out if you’re devoting too much time on a task that doesn’t yield results. For example, let’s say you’re spending a lot of time doing meal prep but you aren’t actually eating the meals, then you’ll need to modify that. Or if you notice that you’re spending lots of time crafting personalized messages to people on LinkedIn without getting any bites, you might want to see if sending a short reply on social media can be more effective.
Identify the activities that are taking time away from your goal. Do you find yourself spending too much time replying to emails or prioritizing other people’s needs? Then perhaps designate certain hours or days of the week to admin so that your peak hours can be devoted to your goals and meaningful work.
Accomplishing a goal doesn’t have to mean working harder or wishing you had more time. It can be as simple as adjusting your schedule, having your favorite office tools on hand, and starting small. Remember to celebrate your wins, big and small.
It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to accomplish your goal, as long as you take that first step right now.