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Are you back at work and struggling to turn yourself off ‘holiday mode’? You’re not alone! Many people start the new year with the best of intentions and fail miserably to live up to them, in both their work and personal life. We are in the peak goal setting period but sadly many of us will have abandoned our new year’s resolutions by February. Why is that? And more importantly, how do we avoid it? Applying these top productivity hacks below will help you achieve above and beyond this year.

1. Create better systems

Goals are great, they clarify what we want and are working towards. However, if you don’t have appropriate systems in place then you won’t manage to achieve your goals. James Clear, bestselling author of themotivating Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones put it this way, “you do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” His book identifies the incredible difference that making small adjustments to our habits can have over time (both good and bad). Consider how you can improve your habits and systems for greater success. As Clear puts it “success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.” 

2. Forgive your failures

Failure is a normal and important step in your path to success. If you experience a setback to your goal, don’t give up and berate yourself for your mistake. Instead take a bird’s eye view and reflect on what better systems you could put in place to improve your chance of success next time. For example, if your goal is to eat healthy but your cupboards are filled to the brim with junk food, you are setting yourself up to fail. 

3. Make it up to yourself

Forgiving yourself for your mistakes and adjusting your systems accordingly is super important. Next, you ideally need to make it up. For instance, if you had a super unproductive day at work one day, then later in the week you could have a ‘double down’ day where you tackle and achieve much more than you ordinarily would in a single day. Making it up to yourself is also about preserving your identity, in the above example, you are making it up so as to maintain the identity of someone who is hard working/high achieving in their job. As James Clear states “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.”

3. Daily three

This hack is so simple it would be easy to overlook its helpfulness. Every day identify and write down the three most vital tasks you want to achieve for the day and do them. Importantly you need at least one of these tasks to be moving you in the direction of a big longer-term goal you have. Don’t get caught up only responding to the most urgent tasks, make sure you’re prioritising the tasks that matter the most to you.

4. Exercise, sleep and diet really do help

We all know this but sometimes we need a little reminder that a healthy diet, regular exercise and plenty of sleep are the building blocks for success. If you look after these three pillars, then your ability to achieve your goals skyrockets.

5. Work in productive bursts

Studies have shown that multitasking is not an efficient way to approach tasks. Further to this, we typically shouldn’t be attempting tasks for hours on end without a break. Shorter focused time spent on a task followed by an effective break has proven to increase our productivity. A good method for achieving this is following the “52 and 17 rule” which we wrote about here. Essentially, you apply deep focus to a necessary task for 52 minutes and then give yourself a 17 min break in which you might exercise, relax or eat something. The downtime replenishes your focus and fuels your motivation, creativity and productivity.