This Week in Productivity – Jan 8, 2016

Welcome to This Week in Productivity, our weekly round-up where we share the best productivity insights from around the web. This week, we’ve discovered New Year productivity resolutions, how to focus your attention in the digital age, how to say no to more work, ways to take advantage of an empty office, and tips to maximize your mornings.

Resolutions: Boosting Productivity in the New Year
by Laura Stack (@laurastack)

Key Takeaway: The first days of the year often dictate the momentum of the succeeding weeks and months. Being conscious about productivity will set the stage for a successful year.

Tips and Tricks:

  1. Set your 2016 goals early, after looking back at last year’s accomplishments and failures.
  2. Upgrade your essential programs, apps and hardware if you haven’t in the past 2 years. Computing power tends to double every 18 months.
  3. Resolve to find the most effective way to communicate with each person in your team.
  4. Take some time at the end of each day to plan your priorities for tomorrow.

9 Productivity Tips from People Who Write About Productivity
by Ron Friedman (@RonFriedman)

Key Takeaway: Technology has made work more collaborative, complex and full of distractions. You can’t be productive without mastering the art of attention management.

Tips and Tricks:

  1. Own your time. Block out time to work away from email, and program your phone to ring only for selected callers.
  2. Recognize that being too busy affects your ability to focus.
  3. Understand that you can’t focus for extended periods of time and maintain peak performance. Take breaks, and make sure you get plenty of exercise and sleep.
  4. Instead of aiming to complete important tasks in one sitting, try leaving them incomplete. This will potentially allow you to uncover creative solutions in different settings.
  5. Make a habit of stepping back. Research indicates that we are more likely to find breakthrough ideas when we temporarily remove ourselves from the daily grind.
  6. Help others, without strings attached. But do it strategically. Avoid saying yes to every opportunity.
  7. Have a plan for saying “no”, which could be an email template.
  8. Make your important behaviors measurable. Put simply, what gets measured gets done.
  9. Automate or delegate activities that are not a good use of your time.
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How to Say No to Taking on More Work
by Rebecca Knight (@knightrm)

Key Takeaway: Saying no does not come naturally to most people, but it’s a critical skill for leaders. The ability to say no tactfully when you need to  will help your focus and productivity, while maintaining your respect among colleagues.

Tips and Tricks:

  1. Assess the request. Don’t say no unless you know you need to.
  2. Be polite, firm and honest with your reasons for saying no.
  3. Offer to help in smaller ways to show that you’re still a team player.

10 Things to Get Done When No One is in the Office
by Craig Jarrow (@TMNinja)

Key Takeaway: An empty office presents a rare opportunity to think differently about your time at work. Use the quiet time to get something done that you normally wouldn’t.

Tips and Tricks:

  1. Clean up your inbox.
  2. Review your calendar and “to do” lists.
  3. Clean your desk.
  4. Do creative work.
  5. Get ahead of a deadline.
  6. Learn a skill.
  7. Get your low priority admin work out of the way.
  8. Work on some long range tasks
  9. Take the time to read a report, journal or book that will enhance your career knowledge.
  10. Plan the next steps in your projects.

The 7 Step Morning Rituals That Will Make You Happy All Day
by Eric Barker (@bakadesuyo) 

Key Takeaway: Research shows that happiness makes you more productive. Achieving peak performance means consciously starting each day positively.

Tips and Tricks:
Here are some tips to make your mornings happier:

  1. Plan for tomorrow the night before and include something to look forward to.
  2. Do something that makes you happy early in the day.
  3. Eat breakfast to increase your energy and willpower.
  4. Do something you dread. You naturally have more willpower in the morning and it will make the rest of the day look comparatively easier.
  5. Send a co-worker, family member or friend a thank you email or text.
  6. Plan how you’ll deal with challenges. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen today?”
  7. Kiss somebody you love. Science shows men who kiss their wives before work live 5 years longer and make 20-30% more money (the study didn’t include women).