As 2017 is coming to an end, we are all looking forward to make 2018 our best year yet. One way to achieve that is by starting off the new year with a fresh mind and a bit of organization.
Here are 8 steps to help you get organized in 2018 to have the maximum impact on your career and personal life.
Step 1: Redefine your goals for the new year
Setting personal goals is not an easy task, especially for long term goals. We either get too optimistic and shoot for the moon or too pessimistic and don’t aim high enough. Goals are still necessary to give you an overall direction and focus. It also helps taking tough decisions down the road.
Once you’ve got your yearly goals set up, set smaller objectives, preferably measurables ones. This exercise helps you break down your goals into smaller bits that are easier to focus on and track on the shorter term.
Finally, prioritise your goals and objectives. Which one of your goals or objectives can have the most impact? Which one is critical because other goals or objectives depend on it to be accomplished first? Make a simple numbered list to define priorities, and remember that this is all just to help you. Nothing is written in stone and it is normal for priorities to change over time.
Step 2. (Re)order your to-do items accordingly
Now that you’ve got the biggest chunk out of the way, it’s time to break things down even further and get closer to taking action.
If you don’t have a to-do list or a similar system, go ahead and create one. Unclutter your to-do by removing what is no longer a priority or an objective, archiving items that you know you won’t be focusing on in the near future.
Then write down action items that are going to help you advance towards your goals. Make them as clear and simple as possible, and make sure to include action verbs in each item. At this point the order does not matter, just write everything you will have to do at some point.
Finally, prioritise these to-do items, just like you did previously with your goals and objectives. This time, to-dos that aren’t due in the next 3 months can be casted aside for later retrieval. Again, the objective is to give you focus.
What comes next is obvious, tackle each item one after the other and get things done to be able to look back at the year 2018 in about 12 months and realize you’ve accomplished so much.
Step 3: Create templates & processes
Are any of these to-do items repetitive ones? Or tasks that you’ve done in the past? If so you should create custom templates, checklists and processes for these tasks. This will help you think these tasks through once and execute all latter faster.
You can always edit your templates, checklists later on to make them better with the experience you’ve gained by accomplishing the first ones. So even if your first template or checklist isn’t perfect, it’s better than nothing and will definitely make you more efficient.
Step 4: Automate when possible
Automatisation solutions are becoming increasingly useful and easily available. Take a look at automating apps like Zapier or IFTTT to automate what can be. Plug your favorite services and take advantage of the possibilities to reduce the amount of manual work you will do in the year.
When done correctly, this step can save you dozens if not hundreds or hours throughout the year.
Step 5: Always tackle biggest tasks first
Now that you are set up to tackle your on tasks and to make 2018 a great year, remember one precept to help you get more done quicker: Always tackle the tasks that have the highest impact first.
Step 6: Track your time to force yourself to focus and stop multitasking
We’ve written about the now famous Pomodoro technique to help you keep focus on the task at hand for periods of 25 minutes uninterrupted. Another effective way to for yourself to focus is to track your time down to the minute. And if you are diligent you can even analyze your performance over time to find ways to get better.
As an example, you may find out that you accomplish more on the early morning rather than right after lunch, then adjust and wake up earlier to extent that productivity period and take longer lunch breaks.
Step 7: Identify growth opportunities
We all grow each and every day whether we want it or not. However you have a say on how you grow and how much. Look for cues in your own work and life on which areas you can improve that will directly impact your life.
Then add this to your list and tackle it just like the rest of your todo. And remember that it only take 20 hours to get good at something new.
Step 8: Clear your head and do things you love doing
Don’t be over competitive towards your own goals and clear your head from time to time. It not only is good for your health, but can help you see things through another perspective and reassess your actions.
The best way to clear your head is to do what you love: spend time with your loved ones, go for a run, play the piano, whatever it is that makes you you.
I hope you found this article useful and wish you a happy holiday season!