Productivity is one of those things that's too general to master quickly. You might be trying to get more done in a day, procrastinate less, or accomplish a lot with minimal resources. All of those goals fall under the "productivity" umbrella. So how do you prioritize them?
Depending on where you are in your career, and what your goals are for the first quarter, you might have different productivity goals. Once you know what they are, however, you can prioritize them -- and determine the resources you need to knock them out of the park.
We had a look at some of our favorite productivity posts over the past year, and chose the tips we believe will be the most applicable as we work our way through the next few months. Have a look, and see which ones will help you achieve the most this quarter.
11 Tips for the Most Productive Q1 Ever
1) Invest in personal assistant apps.
In 2016, Google Home was released in the U.S., furthering the conversations about voice-activation, AI, and the Internet of Things. But more than that, people wanted to know: Which is better, Google Home, or Alexa?
Technically speaking, not all personal assistant tools are created equal. Each has its own requirements, cost, and features. That's why we looked at five of them, and evaluated which needs are best met by each one. Curious to know which one will fit best into your day-to-day? Check out our top picks in “5 Personal Assistant Tools That Actually Make Life Easier.”
2) Make the most of your downtime.
Between work and personal commitments, the modern lifestyle can be physically and emotionally draining. After all, that’s why we take vacations -- or, at least, the 53% of us who aren't afraid to take time off.
It's kind of crazy that close to half of us feel ashamed to use that time, isn't it? We shouldn't be -- it's a great opportunity to slow down and do the things that don’t normally fit into our daily schedules. But once you do take a breather, take heed, and don’t overbook.
Instead, use that time to address some of the things that, as my colleague Sophia Bernazzani puts it, “have been collecting dust in your mental backlog.” Things like learning a new language, catching up with friends you've been meaning to check in with, or any number of things from her list of 20 ideas for productive things to do during your downtime.
3) Bookmark better resources.
It seems like there are just so many online resources for marketers, and especially for bloggers -- just look at what a single Google search yields.
You might already have your favorites among the many options, but if not, here’s another place where you can prioritize according to your goals. Whether it’s staying organized, coming up with ideas, or promoting your posts, that's what bookmarked sites are for -- to keep all of your best, helpful resources in one place.
Not sure where to start? Check out the HubSpot blogging team's ultimate list of websites that we think every blogger should bookmark.
4) Use browser extensions.
Browser extensions are one of those things that can be so helpful, but not enough of us take advantage of them. They can aid in everything from avoiding weak language in emails, to keeping the internet’s distractions at bay.
That’s why we’re partial to Google Chrome browser extensions, which can be highly valuable to busy marketers who want to make their time online more efficient. Check out our list of 28 of the best Chrome extensions for social media, SEO, content sourcing, blogging, and more.
5) Plan your content.
There’s a reason why 69% of marketers are using social media to build a following -- it works, but only when best leveraged. A big part of that is making it manageable, and approaching its use strategically.
Sounds great in theory, but how does one go about that approach? Like many other things in life and in business, an effective social media presence requires proactive planning. After all, nobody wants to become one of those brands whose Facebook Page hasn't been updated in months, so it’s important to plan and schedule your social media posts in advance.
When you set out to plan your content, check out these nine questions that marketers should ask themselves. They'll help you break the process into manageable steps, with some helpful tools and resources to make it easier along the way.
6) Use your commute.
Commuting gets such a bad rap when in actuality, every minute spent standing on the train platform or waiting at a traffic light is time that could be spent getting something done.
Check out our roundup of 15 easy ways to make your commute more productive, and you might even start looking forward to that part of your day. (A friendly note to drivers: We don't advocate the use of any of the apps on that list that involve reading or typing.)
7) Try a new approach to project management.
Are you a member of the Multiple Productivity Tools Club? If so, you’ve likely spent more time than you’d like on such tasks as searching for an email, assignment card, or document -- because you have so many tools and systems. Maybe that's why over half of us are excited by the prospect of automation replacing tedious workflow tasks.
But in addition to right kind of technology, these tasks can be made more efficient with the right approach to team collaboration. That starts with strong communication among everyone working on the project, as well as the right kinds of tools -- in moderation -- that make the many pieces of project management more cohesive.
To help you get started, we put together some tips on optimal collaboration, to help marketers approach projects as productively as possible.
8) Experiment with to-do list styles.
Did you know that to-do lists date back to the 1700s? Since then, they’ve taken on many formats but still serve the purpose: to plan what we need to do.
Still, to-do lists are hardly one-size-fits all, and what works best for me, for example, might not be the best style for you. That’s why we compiled seven different to-do list styles to help you make the most of your daily responsibilities.
Plus, if you’re into history, there are some fun facts in there -- as it turns out, your to-do list might not look so different from Benjamin Franklin’s.
9) Avoid guilt.
Simply put: Feeling bad about being unproductive will only make you less productive. And yet, we’re living among a guilt epidemic -- in fact, one in five people cite it as the reason why they don't take breaks.
But not taking breaks -- and feeling bad about it, to boot -- really sabotages the quality of our work. Want to figure out why we keep doing it, and how to stop it? Learn about seven ways we let guilt overtake our productivity, and some best practices for kicking those bad habits.
10) Manage long-term deadlines.
So, we’ve covered the fun facts about to-do lists. But while those can be great for day-to-day tasks, where do long-term deadlines and goals fit in?
As immediate responsibilities arise, it’s easy to lose focus on things like monthly or quarterly deadlines. It’s what Bernazzani alluded to as the “‘doom loop’ -- a cycle of putting off tasks, feeling anxiety and guilt, and consequently working with lower productivity and efficiency due to these negative feelings.”
But that's why she put together a list of tools that'll help you complete long-term projects on time -- without losing motivation. These resources can aid in the consistent progress towards your goals, and prevent you from letting that 90-days-from-now deadline fall by the wayside.
11) Learn more -- faster.
Last year, my colleague, Lindsay Kolowich, posed an interesting question: “How long does it take to acquire a new skill?”
As it turns out, there’s quite a bit of misunderstood information out there in response to that question. One 1993 study published by the American Psychological Association, for example, claims that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert.
Look again: That’s to become an expert. Not to learn. To learn, Kolowich writes, “is to take a deliberate, intelligent approach to your learning,” especially when you want to do it quickly. And to help you do just that, she outlines 10 steps to help you make learning a lifelong -- and enjoyable -- journey.
How Are Those Goals Looking?
Do they seem as insurmountable as they might have when you first returned from the holidays? With these tips, they shouldn’t.
The key is to remember that we’re not superhuman -- hence that whole idea behind avoiding guilt -- and even the best laid plans often go awry. But no one can expect anything more than your best. And with these resources, your best can be even better.
How are you making Q1 your most productive yet? Let us know in the comments.