With every passing year, it’s always good to look back at all that you accomplished. Maybe you hit all the goals you set out for yourself, or you fell short. Either way, you should always strive going forward to do better, and that includes getting more done.
Here are 10 tips from Entrepreneur.com writers, contributors and people we’ve interviewed on how to be your most productive self.
1. Don’t put things off.
If you have a stack of mail or a slew of emails, it doesn’t pay to look at it and then put it in a pile or in a folder to go through at a later date. You will always be busy, and taking 10 minutes now to address the task will keep it from hanging over your head and using up time and space that could be better used for more important things.
2. Cut out meetings.
Before you call an all-staff meeting, think about its agenda. Can it be settled in a brief phone call or a group email? If you do have to meet face to face, appoint someone who can keep everyone on task and keep watch of time.
3. Plan ahead.
Between getting a coffee, checking email and going through your calendar, your morning can be gone before you even realize it. Start your day with a clear, defined and actionable goal by writing it down the night before.
4. Stop multitasking.
When your attention is pulled in different directions, the quality of the work you are putting into each task will suffer. Not everything requires the same amount of mental energy, so step back, prioritize and move your way through your to-do list one thing at a time.
5. Write yourself a reminder.
If things start to become a slog, step back and take a minute to write down what you’re working toward and why it’s important to you. What’s the best possible outcome for all the effort you’re putting into a project? With a concrete example of what you could achieve in front of you, it will be easier to put tasks to bed.
6. Prioritize your goals.
A piece of well-known advice from famed investor and financier Warren Buffett is to list out your top 25 goals in life. He then says to choose the five that are most important and focus on achieving those. Only when they are crossed off the list should you attack the next 20.
7. Share your to-do lists.
A great way to make sure that you actually accomplish what you set out to do is to tell other people about it. That way, you can hold yourself accountable and have a friend, family member or colleague keep you honest.
8. Take social media out of the equation.
Delete any social media application that has notifications — Twitter, Instagram, even work email — off your phone. Your inclination is going to want to look at your phone whenever you hear that alert, and you won’t just be wasting the time it takes to check the message, but also the time it takes to get reoriented again.
9. Know when to say no
Remember, your time is valuable. Think about how your day-to-day activities will impact reaching your big goals. If something is going to detract from that mission, don’t be afraid to say no. It will make the things you do say yes to mean more.
10. Take a vacation.
Penni Pike was Richard Branson’s assistant for more than 30 years and now works for Time etc., a firm that connects people with virtual assistants. She told Entrepreneur that one of the reasons for Branson’s success is that he knows when to take it easy. “Make sure you take the time to rest up — whether that’s once a week or a couple of times a year. Richard was always very good at making sure he took time away from the grind to spend with his family, and it’s when he had all his best ideas.”