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Three Ways to Kickstart Your Productivity in 2017!

Recently, I got to thinking about how I would like 1 January 2018 to look like. Then I worked back to what I would need to get done in 2017 to ensure I hit my target(s). This ‘beginning with the end in mind’ exercise was a great reminder that to have different outcomes in 2017, I would need to do things differently. In the words of Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better, do better.” In this article, I’ll share three things I am determined to do differently in 2017.

1. ‘Not resolutions but determinations!’ – I have no problems with making resolutions at the beginning of the New Year because it indicates at least an exercise in reflection! I didn’t make any resolutions this year because sometimes my list of resolutions ends up looking like a wish list. I decided to change my verb from ‘resolve’ to ‘determine.’ If you have a list of resolutions, try adding ‘I am determined to…’ in front of every action. Making it personal is a reminder that we have an important responsibility in ensuring we get the outcomes we want.

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How many people start each year with a resolution to find another job? If January 3 was a tough day for you because it took everything to drag yourself out of bed to a job you hate, why not make 2017 the ‘I am determined to get a new job’ year. There is a way using the word ‘determined’ forces one to set realistic goals. Make a list of 3 things you are determined to do this year and set at least two Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound goals underneath them.

For example, for someone determined to start a new job in 2017, some goals could be

a. Update CV and LinkedIn profile by January 31, 2017.
b. Upskill by attending x number of training workshops.
c. Send x number of job applications off each month.

2. Start eating ‘frogs’ – No, I’m not suggesting des cuisses de grenouille (frog legs)! I am referring to a lesson from Mark Twain’s famous quote “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.” The principle here is to start each day tackling your most important or challenging task. If you have a tendency to procrastinate like I do, this one lesson will have a profound impact on your productivity. I love my to-do lists, oh the satisfaction of crossing items off! However, sometimes I know that I’ve just ticked off 10 unimportant, non-urgent items and pushed my frog to tomorrow’s list of tasks. Instead of a linear list, create an Eisenhower box* so you always know which delicacy is being served up. In 2017, determine not to be in firefighting mode every single day. Remember that anybody can be busy but not everyone is productive.

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3. Learn something new – What do you need to know, do, or do better to have a more successful year? Do you need to attend a writing course? Get an MBA? Participate in an APH skills training workshop (hint, hint)? If you aspire to a management role this year, how developed are your leadership skills? If you’re incubating a start-up idea, do you know how to write a business plan? Maybe a new language or simply the new version of a software that seems remarkably different from the one you are familiar with.

While technology has opened up learning opportunities in ways we could only dream of, it has also exposed us to a lot of distractions. I know how many times I have spent time watching the latest cat YouTube sensation when I could have been learning something that could actually help me. Of course, there should be room in our lives for entertainment but what is the balance between education vs. entertainment with respect to your time? Make room to read books and expand your horizons. In a post-truth world, knowledge is power.

What are you doing to make 2017 a better year? Please share by leaving a comment below!

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*You can download a free copy of the APH productivity planner from here.

Republished with permission from Aspiring Professionals Hub.

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Amara Anyogu, PhD is a lecturer and researcher in Microbiology at the University of Westminster where she is teaching and mentoring our next generation of scientists. Amara is the Co-Founder of; resourcing our global network of professionals with the tools they need to build successful careers. I am always happy to have a conversation on Twitter @amaratweets.

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