Although it may seem hard to believe, yet another year has gone by, and a new one has arrived. As we exit the holiday season, there’s one more season that will come right after it: new gym membership season.
People around the world are setting their resolutions for 2022. If you’re aiming to make this your most productive year ever, here are 10 New Year’s resolutions that can help you succeed at work in 2022.
Resolution #1: Spend Less Time on Social Media
Maybe you’ve thought about this goal before, but with New Year’s Day right around the corner, now is a great time to finally make it a priority.
While social media can be productive in certain contexts, such as marketing your business or networking with peers, excessive use can take time away from work and other responsibilities.
To succeed with this resolution, it may be helpful to start by tracking how much time you currently spend on social media. Then, set a goal for the amount by which you’d like to reduce your usage. Luckily, there are many apps you can use to track your usage on PCs and mobile devices, such as Forest and StayFree.
Once you have a baseline measurement established, you might set a goal to spend 30 minutes less per day on social media networks. Whatever your number is, be specific. A goal to simply ‘spend less time on social media’ is too vague to know whether you’ve succeeded or not.
Resolution #2: Set S.M.A.R.T Goals
In the resolution above, we set a specific, measurable goal, instead of a more general one. That’s part of S.M.A.R.T goal-setting — establishing resolutions that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based.
In short, this means that instead of making very general goals, like ‘get a better job,’ you’ll be better off setting more concrete goals, like ‘connect with three new contacts in my industry each week.’ With S.M.A.R.T. goals, you’ll be able to tell whether you’re on track for success, or whether you need to adjust course with further changes.
Resolution #3: Learn to Delay Gratification
For some time, scientific research has suggested that the ability to delay gratification — rather than giving in to impulses and temptations — is important for success in many areas of life. Fortunately, this ability isn’t something you’re either born with or not — it’s something you can develop over time.
The ‘Marshmallow Experiment’ is a commonly cited study in this area of research, but practicing delaying your gratification doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up your dessert. Instead, it could mean something as simple as noticing that you want to get a snack and telling yourself to wait 10 minutes before you finally leave your desk to get it. Or maybe you decide that you will check social media, but only after you’ve finished an important work assignment.
These steps may seem small at first, but over time, they’ll build into the discipline needed to succeed with your resolutions for 2022 and beyond.
Resolution #4: Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Whether you’re a morning lark or a night owl, getting enough sleep and keeping your bedtime and wake time consistent is an essential part of maintaining productivity. Not only do inconsistent schedules throw off your circadian rhythms — leading to grogginess and trouble focusing — waking up at all different times of the day and night makes it difficult to schedule your time effectively.
When setting your sleep schedule, keep in mind what times of day are most productive for you (and, of course, your work schedule). Once you’ve decided on a regular bedtime, help yourself stick to it by not using your phone in bed and turning off all your technology at least an hour before you hit the sack.
Resolution #5: Give Yourself Space in the Morning
Your first moments each morning set the tone for the rest of the day. But many of us interfere with the important processes taking place during this time by immediately checking our phones and scrolling through social media — often, before we’ve even gotten out of bed.
To prevent mindless web surfing from potentially disrupting the rest of the day’s productivity, set a small resolution, like not checking your phone before you use the bathroom — a technique famously recommended in the documentary The Social Dilemma. If you want to be more ambitious, try not to use your phone until you’ve finished breakfast.
Whatever you decide, the goal should be to protect this critical time, rather than overload yourself early on with excess stimuli.
Resolution #6: Make Better To-Do Lists
To-do lists are a great way to make sure that you’re completing all of your tasks while also giving yourself a sense of accomplishment — and a nice dose of the neurotransmitter dopamine — as you do. After all, what’s more satisfying than seeing a to-do list with every item checked off?
If you’ve tried to-do lists in the past, but haven’t been able to stick with them, your resolution might be to try a new process or tool. There are enough to-do list apps, planners, and list development processes out there that you’re sure to find one that sticks.
Resolution #7: Turn Off Your Notifications
Although it’s tempting to want to be in-the-know immediately when something important happens, notifications can be a major distraction when you’re trying to get work done. Plus, most notifications aren’t all that useful — did you really need to know right away that your friend from high school posted an Instagram story for the first time in a while?
Turning off your notifications during work hours or putting your phone into ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode can help keep you more focused during your work, leading to increased productivity.
Resolution #8: Come up with a Resolution and Stick to it
Humans are creatures of habit: once we start doing something, it’s hard to stop. Unfortunately, the opposite can be true as well: when we’re not doing something, it’s hard to start.
Building a productivity routine isn’t easy, but it’s extremely worthwhile. Start by establishing the framework of your schedule. For instance, say you get to work at 8:30am, take lunch around 12:00pm, and then leave for the day at 5:00 pm. Excluding any regular meetings, this leaves you with potential working periods between 8:30 am-12:00 pm and 1:00-5:00 pm.
Keeping your natural energy levels in mind, decide on a routine that maximizes your productivity during these working hours. Some people like to work 25-minute cycles (according to the Pomodoro Technique), while others like to take 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work, and still others aim for the 90-minute work intervals popularized by Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work.
Test different routines, see which aligns best with your work style, and then challenge yourself to stick with your chosen arrangement (perhaps using the ‘don’t break the chain’ technique).
Resolution #9: Take Better Notes
Note-taking is an often underutilized skill in the workplace, but having a great system for taking notes is essential to capturing the information you need to be productive.
Otter, for example, can record and transcribe your meetings automatically and in real time so that you can focus on being more productive and engaged.
But it isn’t just about having the right tools in place. Resolve to develop a stronger note-taking process that means you’re taking down the right information and storing it in a way that’s easy to revisit in the future. Your productivity will thank you.
Resolution #10: Meditate
Neuroscience continues to find more and more benefits of meditation. Beyond relaxation, beginning a meditation practice can help keep your mind healthy, stable, and focused — all of which may lead to increased productivity.
Even better, meditation fits in perfectly with some of the other resolutions on this list. Want to practice delaying gratification? Convince yourself to meditate for a few minutes the next time you get an impulse. Or, when you first wake up, meditate for a bit before checking your phone — doing so will help you create the space needed to clear your mind and prepare it for the day ahead.
Whatever New Year’s Resolutions you decide to try, try to be reasonable. You won’t conquer lagging productivity overnight. But by taking small, measured steps and building on them over time, the impact on your career will be undeniable.