An estimated 90% of New Year’s resolutions fail; why? Often, it’s because they’re vague, too big, and not goal oriented. Add to that the fact that most people are juggling any number of responsibilities at any one time, and it’s easy to understand why resolving to make new or big changes is hard. But starting small could lead to the big changes you’re looking for.
My last blog post was about digital apps that can improve parenting productivity. This one explains how to increase your productivity at work and home by making smaller New Year’s resolutions. By choosing just a few resolutions that follow the principles of SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely, you can improve your chances of sticking to them and achieving success.
Below are five example resolutions that you can apply to work and home life:
1. Spend 2 hours a day ‘single-tasking’
Doing one thing at a time is actually more challenging than it sounds. With increasing pressure to fit everything in and constant digital updates, multitasking has become the accepted norm, but it’s sometimes more effective and productive to spend time focusing on just the task at hand.
Spending a couple of hours prioritising that tender document and avoiding distractions like emails or office banter, is a skill to be honed. However, giving this exercise your undivided attention, as you would a client, can only improve the end product; you’ll experience less stress, a greater sense of achievement, and it may just lead to you winning that tender.
Your inner multi-tasker may try and interrupt, for example, whilst playing the Shopping List game with your three year old for the tenth time, it may tell you that you could have actually done the online food shop by now. But by focusing on your child alone you have imparted knowledge, strengthened your bond, and provided them with the attention they need – which may well help you avoid Toddler Trolley Meltdown if you attempt to re-enact the game live at Tesco later that day.
There’s more on the ‘myth of multitasking’ here.
2. Learn something new every day
Whether you want to learn a new skill or build your knowledge around a certain subject, it can help to break your resolution down into bite-size chunks; resolving to learn something new every day, even if you only spend five minutes at first, such as listening to a podcast or researching online courses, means that you’ve made a start and your goal is within reach.
Children are always learning, and spending time with them provides a great opportunity to learn new things together, like a second language, a new craft – or previously undiscovered levels of patience! You might aspire to create a vegetable garden or expand your culinary skills. By breaking the goals down into daily manageable tasks, like researching what to plant when, or watching a YouTube video on how to hide five vegetables in a macaroni bake (it works!), you’ll be more likely to reach your goal.
You can also learn from your peers: what are your competitors doing to achieve growth? Which social media strategies are working well for them? What did a colleague do differently to you to win and keep that client? What parenting techniques do your mum friends use to stop a toddler eating leaves or encourage their strong-willed child to get down from a table? (My children have obviously never done these things…ahem).
3. Get half an hour of head space – preferably outside
Having a break from your desk is critical to improve your concentration and productivity levels at work, not to mention your health. Whether it’s a walk to town, a sit down in a coffee shop, a creative mind-mapping session or even Pilates, taking a break from your screen will give you a chance to re-centre and help you face the next part of your day.
If you’ve spent whole rainy days at home with multiple toddlers, you don’t need me to tell you how beneficial a bit of head space can be. Going for a walk around the block for some fresh air or listening to some relaxing music on the drive back from playgroup, can give you all some much needed quiet time and breathing space. Note: don’t attempt the coffee shop idea above with children; different people, different methods!
4. Pay more attention to your communication
No matter how often you communicate, how observant you are, or how well you think you articulate things, there’s almost always occasion for improvement. Resolving to be more mindful about the words, tone and body language you use can avoid misunderstandings, save time and improve your relationships.
When writing work emails, ask yourself if your message is clear? Does the language accurately reflect your understanding, goals and expectations whilst respecting the recipient’s? Could they interpret it differently to how you intended? To assess this you could also ask if there’s a pattern to the responses you’re receiving from colleagues? Or is there something in your clients’ feedback that you need to heed?
We all know what ‘sponges’ children are; they can be a very useful mirror for us to reflect on the particular phrases we use – it’s probably best to withhold specific examples here… Whilst it’s easier to avoid the digital communication pitfalls with your children (at least, while they are young), it’s much easier to be distracted whilst you’re talking to them and therefore easier to neglect your tone and body language; getting down to their eye level and choosing your words carefully can make it far more likely that they’ll listen to you.
5. Plan one new thing every week
Trying to plan your entire business activity in one go is a recipe for overwhelm; it’s much more feasible to prioritise – for example, if your goal is to create a long-term marketing strategy, you could work on your social media plan one week, your customer service plan the next, and so on. Of course, your plans will need to be cohesive and interconnected, but something is better than nothing, and you will find it easier to tie things together once you’ve begun the process.
At home, you might have resolved to manage your finances better; in your first week, you might therefore create a monthly spend chart, in the second a budget sheet etc. Or perhaps you want to resolve to ‘do more as a family’, in which case planning one new activity or daytrip a week can help you to discover which things you all enjoy and want to continue.
If you’ve resolved to improve your marketing activity in 2017 and want help getting started, please feel free to get in touch.
So there are just five ideas for small resolutions that could lead to big changes for you in 2017. What are yours?