The new year is a great time to plan new goals or to implement a different approach for your business. What isn’t so great about this time of year is that getting back into the full swing of things can be a slow process after taking some well-deserved time-off. Below I outline the 3 steps I take to boost efficiency during this time to ensure my productivity is increased year-round.

Plan and schedule

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how little this step is actually implemented and adhered to. Start by assigning a day of the week to map out your weekly to-do list and assign each a day in order of urgency. Assign a time-slot to every task on your day-to-day agenda, and make sure to adjust this the night before if needed.

Assigning a time-slot gives you not only a deadline, but structure. Giving yourself only 45 minutes of the hour to complete a big task, for example, allows you to narrow your focus, and eventually you will become quicker at any repetitive tasks. The remaining 15 minutes of the hour gives you time to re-set for your next task. Use this time to make yourself a cup of tea, stretch or go for a little walk.

If you find that you struggle to adhere to a schedule, there are a couple of things you can do. Setting an alarm works best for me. When the alarm for my allotted task runs out I know it’s time to move on to the next task. This is why I always factor in a block of time every couple of hours to finish any uncompleted tasks. Some of my team prefer to partner up with an accountably buddy. They allocate the same timeframes if possible to their own tasks and check in with one another when their time runs out. If this is the option you choose, have fun with it! Introduce a little competition as an extra incentive. Also remember that your accountability partner can be another entrepreneur or someone currently studying if you work solo.

Minimise distractions

A lot of distractions can be minimised by planning for or around distractions. Firstly, close any tab, app, or program that could be a potential distraction. Put your phone away and on silent. Whether you work in an office or at home, institute some kind of rule that means you shouldn’t be disturbed. This could simply be in the form of announcing that you need the next x-amount of time to complete a task and that you shouldn’t be disturbed unless it is an emergency. Another way is to introduce signals. At the Boost office, if someone has headphones on, it’s a signal that they are doing focused work and should not be approached until the headphones come off (unless there’s an emergency of course!).

If you know there is someone or something in the form of an event, for example, that is going to cause a distraction that day, simply plan for it by editing your daily schedule around it.

Stay focused

Staying focused can be easier said than done. But it becomes easier alongside planning and minimising distractions. When you finish your work for the day, look over your to-do list for tomorrow and ensure you have adequate allocated to each task. If you don’t, decide if any tasks can be delayed or delegated. This will help ensure you are only focused upon one task at a time instead of becoming overwhelmed by a multitude of things you may have to do.

If you do become overwhelmed, simply take a moment. Walk away from your desk or manual task, take a few breaths, and think to yourself “One thing at a time.” When you are ready, go back to the task and you will find that your focus has now become more narrowed.

Increased productivity doesn’t mean you need to work harder, but rather, smarter. Through planning, minimising distractions and not losing focus, I guarantee that 2022 will be your best year yet!