Productivity Self Improvement

Make 2017 Your Most Productive Year Yet with 12 Baby Steps

Sandy Writtenhouse 26-12-2016

With the start of another new year, you may have thought about what you would like to do differently 6 New Years Resolutions to Help You Become More Creative in 2017 With the start of another new year, it's time to think about how you can become more creative. Take a look at these resolutions that can help you get there -- you may just be... Read More . Between work and home, there is always so much to do. But, with the right tools and habits, you can make 2017 your most productive year yet.


We have prepared a 12-step program that will help you to transform your productivity habits. You can conquer them one at a time, from January through December.

January: Stay on Schedule

There is no better way to start a new year than by being punctual and sticking to your schedule. You can certainly make a promise to yourself, but if you have a great tool to help you, it is even easier.

Choose a calendar that has reminders, recurring events, and cross-platform access. One of the most popular and intuitive options is Google Calendar. You can use it on the web and your Android or iOS device.

google calendar set event web

You can set up a reminder for each event you create and decide when to be notified. You can add recurring events for weekly meetings, share your calendar with others, and use the Appointment Page feature 9 Google Calendar Features You Should Be Using Google Calendar has more tricks up its sleeve than you may realize. Our tips will help you organize events and reduce the time you spend managing your calendar. Read More to block out time.


February: Set Goals

Clearly setting and focusing goals helps you to complete them. You can start simple with a goal for each day or jump right in and set goals for each week, every month, or the entire year. And, put it right on that calendar.

google calendar set goals web

When you set these objectives for yourself Use Excel & Google Tasks to Create the Best Goals Management Tool Ever Lately, I've started to realize that I'm working very hard, but if someone asked me whether or not I feel that I'm working toward a larger purpose, I'd have to say that I really don't... Read More , consider a reward when you finish. This will not only let you see the light at the end of the tunnel, but give you more motivation.

For example, when you finish that difficult, lengthy document by the end of the week, treat yourself to lunch at your favorite restaurant.


March: Use Templates

Speaking of documents, consider using (more) templates in the new year. When you create a business document from scratch, it can take an enormous amount of time. But, when you start with a template, you can easily minimize that time and move onto the next task.

detailed meeting minutes word 2016

You can use Microsoft Word templates How to Manage Your Project with Word Templates In project management, preparation is half the battle. To organize and document your project, you may need many different reports, forms or plans. We have compiled a selection of Word templates to get you started. Read More for business letters 15 Business Letter Templates for Microsoft Word to Save You Time Templates are time savers. Here we compiled 15 business letter templates, from letters of intent, via Thank You notes, to references. These templates will hep you communicate with confidence. Read More and plans, Excel templates An Excel Template for Every Occasion Skip the steep learning curve and sort your life with the power of Excel templates. We have compiled a selection of auto-updating templates to track budgets, manage projects, and more. Read More for budgets and finances 15 Excel Spreadsheet Templates for Managing Your Finances Always keep track of your financial health. These free Excel spreadsheet templates are the tools you need to manage your money. Read More , and PowerPoint templates Where to Find Free PowerPoint Themes & Templates A default template can be drab and lifeless. Fortunately, with plenty of free resources available, there is no need to settle. We have compiled some of the best PowerPoint themes & templates. Read More for presentations 7 Tips for Creating Professional PowerPoint Templates Nobody benefits from a boring PowerPoint presentation. Use these tips to make sure your efforts always grab their audience. Read More .

You can also check out templates for OneNote How to Use OneNote Templates: Everything You Need to Know OneNote templates are essential for true productivity. Here's all you need to know to edit and create your own OneNote templates. Read More , Evernote How 6 Simple Evernote Templates Boost My Daily Productivity Create custom templates in Evernote. With these templates, you can boost your productivity at work and in your personal life. Let's see how you can make your own custom Evernote templates quickly. Read More , and Google Docs 24 Google Docs Templates That Will Make Your Life Easier These time-saving Google Docs templates will help you finish your documents instead of struggling to put them together. Read More . All of these make document creation simpler.


April: Break Down Large Projects

Too many times we are handed a project or create one ourselves and want to tackle it all at once. But, this can turn out to be counter-productive. You can focus more clearly by breaking down projects into bite-sized pieces and taking on the tasks at hand before moving on.

Project Task and Subtask Breakdown
Image Credit: Astephan via Shutterstock

Project managers use a Work Breakdown Structure How to Organize Any Project with a Work Breakdown Structure A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Every complex project consists of multiple components. The Work Breakdown Structure can help you identify all the steps and put them into sequence. Read More  to carve out separate branches, elements, and work packages of a project.

Seeing the big picture of a large project is important, of course. But, if you can concentrate on the tasks one at a time, you will be able to organize better, stay on track easier, and ensure a completely finished project.


May: Create and Prioritize To-Dos

To assist you with those large projects or just your day-to-day tasks, use a to-do list To-Do List App Showdown: vs Todoist vs Wunderlist Some to-do list apps stand head and shoulders above the rest. But how do they compare and which one is best for you? We'll help you find out. Read More and prioritize. Just like with the calendar, you should look for a tool that offers reminders, recurring tasks, and cross-platform access.

Wunderlist is a terrific task list manager. You can create multiple lists with to-dos in each one. Then add reminders, set and sort by priority, include notes, and attach files. You can also create recurring tasks and add sub-tasks.

wunderlist todo list web

For staying on track and prioritizing what needs to be done, the application is available for free on the web, Android, iOS, and as a Windows desktop application. In Windows 10, Wunderlist now also syncs with Cortana Your Best Windows 10 To-Do List App Is Cortana + Wunderlist Cortana can handle task and to-do lists. She now also connects to your Wunderlist. We show you how you can manage all your lists with Cortana. Read More .

June: Delegate Tasks

Keeping yourself on track with a task list tool is effective, but often times so is delegation. If you are in a position to share the load, then get into the habit of doing it. You do not have to do everything yourself. And, whether it is at work or at home, if you have people to help then let them.

delegate wunderlist mobile

When you break down a project into tasks, let yourself focus on the high priority pieces, for example. Then give the lower priority tasks to your staff or team. This allows you to take care of what is most important, but still ensure that all of the items are completed.

Let the Eisenhower Matrix help you prioritize and delegate your tasks. When you identify a task that is urgent, but not important, you should delegate it.

Eisenhower Matrix Prioritize Tasks Urgent Important

This is just one of many methods to prioritize your tasks The 3-Strike System: How To Prioritize Your To-Do List Are you not getting through your to-do list? The problem might not be your productivity, it might just be your priorities. Let's learn how to prioritise the to-do list, and get things done. Read More .

July: Manage Your Time

Remember that delegation is a big part of time management. But, so are the right tools. For keeping track of your time, recording how it is spent, and creating a daily or weekly plan, use handy applications.

So far, you have your calendar and task list manager. Now you need a time tracking tool. A terrific option is Toggl. You can start timing an activity with the click (or tap on the mobile app). Set up various projects for tracking, add tags for organization, and view weekly, monthly, and yearly reports.

toggl mobile

You can use Toggl on the web and on your Android or iOS device. The application is also available for Windows, Mac, and Linux as a desktop tool.

August: Take Time to Relax

You might wonder how taking time to relax can help you be more productive. But, think of it as time to step away from your project or task to clear your mind. When you are ready to return to it, you can do so with fresh eyes. This often allows you to see thing that you did not see before.

Relax on Calendar Schedule
Image Credit: Totallypic via Shutterstock

Some use methods of relaxation Feeling Overwhelmed? Here Are 5 Relaxing Corners of the Web The Internet can be a nasty place, but it doesn't have to be. Little corners remain, where you can just go and relax. Read More such as meditation or simple breathing exercises. Again, these types of aids can help you relieve stress, minimize anxiety, and give you a refreshed outlook. At the end of the day, or even in the middle, make sure that you set aside time to unwind.

September: Maintain Your Inbox

Depending on which email application you use, you can always find a better way to manage it. If you like Microsoft Outlook, you can take advantage of setting up rules Let Outlook Rules Manage Your Email Inbox Clever alerts and filters can help you stay on top of your email inbox. Outlook desktop and offer a feature called "rules" and we'll show you how to set it up. Read More . Rules make Outlook move emails to certain folders, flag them, and play alert sounds. Likewise, you can set up Gmail filters How to Set Up Email Filters in Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Outlook Here's how to filter emails in Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook so you can better organize your inbox and stay productive. Read More .

On your mobile device you can use tools like Mailswipe [Broken URL Removed] to process your emails quicker. You simply swipe the messages, which are displayed as cards, to take an action. So you can easily move emails to the trash or save them for later.

mailswipe iphone

The app is free for one email account on both Android [No longer available] and iOS [No longer available] with in-app purchases starting at $2.99.

October: Go for a Walk

Similar to making time to relax, scheduling in some exercise is a great idea. Even if you just take a short walk, you will do both your mind and your body good. Various studies revealed the connection between exercise and productivity.

One such study conducted by researchers at Stockholm University and Karolinska Institutet showed:

Those who exercised also reported improvements in self-assessed productivity — they perceived that they got more done at work, had a greater work capacity, and were sick less often.

So, whether you can leave your desk for a simple walk or prefer your regular workout at the day’s end, you can keep your mind and your body fit.

November: Use a Timer

One way to make sure to take that walk or just enjoy a short break, is by using a timer. You can use a handy browser extension if most of your work is done online. Just set the timer for a specific amount of time and when the alert sounds, get up and go. Check out 1-click-timer for Chrome or TimerFox [No Longer Available] for Firefox.

1clicktimer timer app chrome

If you prefer not to use a browser extension, consider using the timer on your mobile device. Both Android and iOS devices have built-in timers. On either device, just open the default Clock app and use the Timer for a countdown or set the Alarm for a certain time.

December: Let Yourself Be Productive

How many times have you said something to yourself like, “I have too much to do, I don’t know how to get it all done”? Or, how about, “There is no way I can finish all of that by the end of the week”? It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed at times Feeling Overwhelmed? Stop! 4 Time Management Tools to Save You Do you struggle to stay productive because your mind keeps wandering to deadlines, appointments, or pressing tasks? We show you smart time management tools that will help you relax, re-focus, and get things done. Read More .

Rather than talking yourself out of how to be productive, talk yourself into it. Instead, try statements like, “What I need to do to get everything done is…” or “What I will rearrange to finish this by the end of the week is…” This part of becoming more productive helps you to focus and think positively.

Be Productive Motivational Message on Chalkboard
Image Credit: Natalia Deriabina via Shutterstock

In other words, stop complaining How to Stop Complaining & Live a More Positive Life Here are 10 tools that can help you stay gracious and positive and get you out of the pointless habit of complaining. Read More and start thinking productively.

Are You Ready to Be More Productive in 2017?

You may already use a few of these tools or swear by some of the habits. But if you don’t, there is no better time to start than with a brand new year.

Do you have a plan to be more productive in 2017? If you have suggestions, we would love to hear them!

Image Credit: Nelli Syrotynska via

Related topics: Email Tips, Google Calendar, Planning Tool, Project Management, Stress Management, Task Management, Time Management, To-Do List.

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