How to be Productive in 2018

Ensuring you accomplish all your goals in the new year is a flawed method of thinking to begin with but there are ways to hack around it and be as productive as possible. You shouldn’t rely on a single-digit increase in the year to change and finally accomplish what you want, you should have that same motivation for each day and month that come about. I’ve cracked many personal codes to be productive and effective in 2017 — here’s how to be productive in 2018.

Tasks Shall Take as Long as They Take

A new project or task should only take as long as it’ll take — no more. You may wonder how something would even use up more time. The problem is that when you have something that needs to get done by seven days from now, that project will almost always take seven days to complete. Projects will last as long as you give them.

To prevent things from taking up all your time and ensure you are not adding fluff in and around your main task, set a due date in your task manager that correlates to the actual duration of the task. By creating an arbitrary and personal due date that is well before the genuine due date, you’re ensuring the task is done on time and opening yourself up to all this extra time to accomplish more.

Understanding that your time is a fluid and constantly moving entity at high-speeds is crucial to finally adhering to a management system that allows you to tame it as much as possible. By allowing yourself to complete tasks on your own time and not just by the time some outside source says it needs to be completed by you’re taking control of your time and managing yourself in a much more effective manner. Time management and due dates are going to be a key contributor to being productive in 2018.

Do Not Wait Until the New Year

To be highly effective and productive in the new year, you shouldn’t wait until the new year. I come across people who tell me their most productive time of year is mid-late December — not because they’re scrambling to meet all their yearly quotas but because they already accomplished everything and want an extreme start to the new year. Your new year begins months before the world’s new year.

Do it now. Don’t get caught up in your task management system or spend too much time planning things out if it means you never truly take action and get things done. If you are watching a TV show and come across an idea for a new website or blog, it will be most effective to pause the show and get to work immediately.

Similar to cold calling, approaching a crush at a bar, or anything that is intimidating and may cause anxiety at first, neglecting to think too much about the situation and merely doing it is the key to being maximally effective. You’ll find that the less you think about (some) things and the more action you take, the more you’ll get done because you allow for more things to react to your actions instead of you reacting to the world.

Happen to life, don’t let life happen to you.

Do Not Only Have Yearly Goals

You may decide you want to be in a certain place in your life by the end of the year. Wherever or whatever that end-result looks like, forget about it and break down what exactly needs to be done to make it there. A goal without a plan is merely a dream, don’t dream in the new year — take action.

Set the Right Goals

You may decide that you wish to read 25 books this year. You may also decide you want to lose 25 lbs. this year. These are difficult goals to accomplish — not because they’re unachievable but because they’re not entirely up to you. Setting goals productively requires you to commit to an action, not a result.

Instead of setting a goal to lose 25 lbs. this year, set the goal to workout every morning and to adhere to your workout schedule. You can reward your hard work and commitment that will naturally lead you to your goal without the stress of quantifying your results.

Break Your Year Into Seasons, Quadrants, Week-Clusters…

A year is too much time to effectively manage goals and projects. You want to be married by the end of the year — great, how’re you going to go about that, what’re you going to do differently, are you reflecting on what you did the last month to ensure you’re on the right track instead of waiting for the year to be up without any results?

Brian Moran’s 12 Week Year outlines methods for splitting up your year into weeks instead of yearly milestones. Every 12 weeks should be its own self-contained year with proper reflection, auditing, and improvement at the end of each. It’s nearly guaranteed that by merely a few months into a new year you find yourself unproductive and off track of what you truly hope to accomplish. If you’re hoping the year falls into place and everything will work out, you may be kidding yourself.

No one plans your life for you — many people barely plan their own lives.

Avoid Procrastinating and Overindulging

Waiting for the perfect time and excessively performing bad habits are always done in tandem. Consider this scenario:

You tell yourself you will stop eating brownies in the new year. It’s only November so you understand deep in your mind that you now subconsciously gave yourself permission to excessively binge on brownies for the next two months.

Procrastinating your goal until the new year has no impact on how well you’ll keep this habit and instead of having an average amount of brownies you now end up having more than necessary since you deserve it until the new year.

In addition to this, you will almost always find yourself in situations once the new year does begin that will prompt you to self-justify having a brownie. This is technically breaking your new year’s goal since you should have set out to have fewer sweets and not zero brownies. Since you indulge in a single brownie you further self-justify that since we already broke our habit for the night, it’s most effective to have more brownies and start over the next day.

This is a common phenomenon that fakes permission to overindulge on something. You’ll end up smoking more thus making it harder to stop smoking if your new years resolution is to stop smoking altogether, you’ll eat more unhealthily if you set a resolution to be more healthy, and you’ll ultimately be less productive if you set a resolution to build a business but spend the entire final months of the previous year binging on TV shows.

A snowball effect will never take place unless you build the snowball now.

Focusing on What Is in Front of You to Be Productive

Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots, is one of the most accomplished coaches in NFL history. There is a method to his great success and it revolves a lot around adhering to true stoic principles. He’s maximally productive because he has one goal at a time and hyper-focuses on what’s most important.

When asked by a reporter what he still wants to accomplish in his career, he responds with:

I'd like to go out and have a good practice today. That would be at the top of the list right now.

A man who truly has no obsession with his legacy and no distraction from what is most important. The only way he’s going to be the best head coach is if his team has a great practice. There is nothing else he can control and he focuses on the things he can control.

With all that you have accomplished in your career, what are some of the things left that you still want to accomplish?

I'd like to go out and have a good practice today. That would be at the top of the list right now.

What's after that?

We'll correct it and get ready for tomorrow.

Understanding how to be productive in 2018 is tightly knit with how well you focus on the new year as well. A year is a long time to plan for and focusing on each day at a time while understanding the bigger picture is a crucial facet of being effective.

There is no harm in spending hours writing a business plan for your life and especially taking time to perfect a system that carries over into everything you do. Keep in mind that even when things are moving slowly and may not seem they’re hitting the right nerves on that final goal, they very well may be and, in fact, might be crucial elements to it without being completely obvious.

Remember to Have a Happy New Year

There is no point in doing anything and being productive at all if you aren’t happy. The best system is the one that works for you and the one that works for you should make you happy, fulfilled, and effective. Enjoy the new year no matter what you are doing and enjoy being productive, effective, and efficient.

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