2020 threw a wrench in everyone’s plans and sapped productivity for months. In an effort to make 2021 a better year, you should start planning now in order to secure productive efficiency.
Workflows won’t always be constant. Some days you’ll be swamped, and other days you have to look for ways to fill up your time with productivity. The key is to have a strategy in place for managing these ups and downs. Here’s how you can do so:
1. Set SMART Goals
Nothing will guide you through 2021 better than purpose and direction. Concrete goals will lead to plans that lay out the steps to progression and motivate you to take action. The best type of goal to set in 2021 is a SMART goal, which can be broken down into 5 key factors:
Your goals should be as specific as possible. Generalized goals are hard to work toward because there’s no real end goal. For example, a goal to double monthly revenue is much more effective than a goal to simply make your company more profitable.
How do you know when you’ve achieved your goal? By making it measurable. Let’s say your goal in 2021 is to achieve happiness. How do you know when you’re truly happy? Instead, set a goal to be financially independent by the end of the year; a goal which, when achieved, will give you a lot of peace of mind in your pursuit of happiness.
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Be realistic when setting goals. Deciding to become a millionaire by next December isn’t likely to happen, and you’ll just be disappointed when you miss the mark. Shorter, more attainable goals will increase your progress and productivity. For those aspiring millionaires, start by paying off your credit card debt as your first goal.
Your goals should reflect what you want to achieve in life, otherwise, they aren’t going to be very productive. While aspiring to own a Ferrari one day might be cool, is that goal really guiding your life to where you want to go? Evaluate your trajectory carefully, and set goals directly adjacent to your long-term mission.
A deadline promotes accountability and will push you to reach your goal before time runs out. Without a time constraint, it’s easy to procrastinate and end up stagnating. With every goal you set, mark a date down in your calendar when you hope to reach it.
2. Manage Your Time
Time is your most valuable asset, and it’s non-renewable. Any time you lose or waste in 2021 won’t come back to you, so you must learn how to take advantage of every opportunity that the new year presents. Simply put, you won’t be able to make the most of 2021 without proper time management.
There are many different methods of time management, all of which have their merits. Here are a few you can experiment with:
Use a calendar to block off sections of time to focus on specific tasks. Work on nothing but the task at hand until the block of time has ended.
When tackling a difficult set of tasks, work in bursts of 25 minutes, then take a break for five minutes. After four cycles, take a longer break. This increases focus and prevents burnout.
The Eisenhower Matrix
Separate your tasks into quadrants based on their urgency and importance to determine in what order to do them.
Separate your tasks into batches based on similarity. Tackle each batch at a time while it’s most convenient.
Try these methods to give your productivity a boost, but don’t be afraid to experiment. If one technique doesn’t suit you, try another one until you find a good fit.
3. Set a Budget
Whether you’re supporting a family, running a business or both, money is what makes your world go ‘round. Start your year by setting a budget. Not having to play catchup on your finances allows you to focus on other, more meaningful ventures.
Sit down and lay out your monthly expenses. Start with necessities and add your luxuries of choice. Balance it out with your income, and then follow your budget plan to keep your head above water.
In many cases, extra cash saved from proper budgeting can help you achieve the goals you set. Entrepreneurial ventures need some hefty down payments, and becoming financially independent means gathering up the money to pay off debt and loans.
4. Work on Communication
Effective communication does wonders for both productivity and effectiveness. Learning how to communicate through words and writing will benefit your efforts at work and in the home. From professional sports teams to Fortune 500 companies, no one makes it to the top without streamlining communication.
Constant, prompt and clear communication at work makes projects more efficient by eliminating doubt and getting everyone on the same page. The effectiveness at which a project is completed directly correlates with the effectiveness of this communication.
5. Learn to Let Go
There will be times where you need to make sacrifices. If your goal is to get in marathon shape, you’re going to have to give up certain foods and behaviors that may be holding you back. It won’t be easy, but the sooner you learn self-control, the faster you can achieve your goals.
You will also need to learn how to say no every once in a while. Let’s say you’re starting a business in 2021 and need to dedicate a set amount of hours to your startup every day. Occasionally you’ll have to turn down invitations to go out in order to put in the work needed to achieve your goal; otherwise, it will slip away.
Make this your year. Set your goals, grab your schedule and start making plans to achieve greatness. By starting today, you’ll be astounded by what you can accomplish in 12 months’ time.