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How to get things done this January

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Week two. Christmas is packed away in the attic for another year and the office is ramping up to speed again. Getting back to tight deadlines and having to concentrate in meetings can present a bit of a culture shock. Especially if Netflix’s latest viral hit had you housebound for days.

So how can you get back into the swing of things when you’re still clinging to the memories of your carefree Christmas break?

Set new goals

Challenging yourself is a great way to inject some purpose and excitement back into your 9-5. Your new goals don’t have to be dramatically ambitious, just realistic enough to keep you feeling alert and engaged.

Are there any skills that you would like to learn in 2018? Planning for your 2018 goals can get you excited about the weeks and months ahead. Even Mark Zuckerberg sets himself a goal every year – from learning Mandarin in a year, to his resolution this year – fix Facebook.

Learning one of the world’s most notoriously difficult languages might be a bit of a stretch, but if you’ve always wanted to run a 5k, write a blog or, like Mark, improve your work skills, now is the time.

Celebrate all the wins

Vishen Lakhiani, CEO of Mindvalley, has an ‘awesome bell’ he rings when, you guessed it, something awesome happens. Not everyone has a gong or self-congratulatory bell to hand but there are other ways to celebrate your wins, whatever the size. Give yourself something to celebrate by getting all the difficult stuff out of the way first. Doing this you’ll find your week flows better and you’re motivated to power through the rest of your tasks.

When you come back in January it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the goals that you have to accomplish. Breaking your workload down into manageable chunks, week by week, day by day makes it easier to manage but also allows you to tick things off. Psychologists and management experts agree that this method is a powerful tool for motivation.

Re-evaluate your work style

Take the New Year as an opportunity to reset your traditional work style. The run up to Christmas can be very frenzied. If multi-tasking was your approach in 2017 maybe this is a time to re-evaluate. Juggling projects can help clear your desk of tasks in the short term but longer term it zaps creativity and spreads you too thin to perform at your best.

Multitasking isn’t a quicker way to get things done. Stanford University found that it is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. Those who switch from one job to another, and are bombarded electronically with various tasks and interruptions, are less likely to recall information and pay attention. And if that isn’t enough to put you off, multitasking can even reduce your IQ by 15 points.

So in the first few days and weeks it might be a good idea to block off time in your calendar, to devote to each individual task. This will help with the temptation to switch between tasks when the phone rings or an email comes in.

The key to a productive January is to get back on track as soon as you can. You had a rest but heading back to work doesn’t have to fill you with dread. It’s a new year with new goals and new expectations. Get ahead of the game by planning the next few months, and making them matter. Just don’t forget to devote a day or two to Netflix too.

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