New Year's ResolutionsAs surprising as it may sound, another twelve months has come and gone. Now is the time to look back and reflect on the year that was, reviewing some of the promises you may have made for yourself this year. Did you quit smoking? Did you lose weight? What other new year’s resolutions did you make?

Peering into the professional sphere for 2016, it is also time now to look ahead to next year to see what you can do to bolster your productivity and work that much closer toward your goals with the help of technology. Here are five new year’s resolutions you need to make if you want to be more successful next year.

I Will Make More Effective Use of My Time

Tomato Timer for the Pomodoro Technique

Tomato Timer for the Pomodoro Technique

Something that has been stated many times before is that simply being at work is not the same as actually working. What’s more, not all work is of equal value and occupying yourself with mindless busywork could be a waste of time. What you need to do in order to work smarter is to make better use of your time, focusing on the tasks and activities that really matter. Two related strategies can come into play here: the Pomodoro technique and Kanban boards. There are plenty of apps, both mobile and desktop, that can arm you with these productivity tools.

I Will Waste Less Time with Distractions

The most robust way to block distractions on PC

The most robust way to block distractions on PC

Pomodoro timers and Kanban boards can give you a better sense of what you should be doing, but finding the willpower to stay on task for 25-minute spurts at a time can be quite the mental challenge. Another one of the new year’s resolutions that should make your list is to avoid interruptions and distractions. Using a tool like Cold Turkey is a great way to do that, because it’ll block out websites across all browsers. There’s a time and a place for YouTube and Facebook. If you want to work smarter, you might want to keep those to your leisure hours.

I Will Make Health and Fitness a Priority

Google Fit encourages an active lifestyle

Google Fit encourages an active lifestyle

The risk of burnout is all too real in today’s digital age, as we’re always connected and we can work at practically any hour of the day from nearly any location on the globe. Even so, it’s important that you take proper care of your body. An unhealthy body leads to an unhealthy mind, which leads to sub-par work. Combat the sedentary lifestyle with solutions like fitness bands and sleep trackers. If you don’t want to invest in a new accessory, you can take advantage of free apps like Google Fit for Android too. Stay active, sleep well and eat nutritious meals. Avoid the junk and avoid relying on caffeine to get you through the day.

I Will Automate Repetitive Tasks

IFTTT: If This, Then That

IFTTT: If This, Then That

Working smarter means delegating and outsourcing tasks to other people so you can focus on what you do best. And sometimes, this “outsourcing” means allowing technology to do the work for you. Automation is the best friend of smarter work. Instead of backing up the photos from your smartphone manually, utilize the automatic camera upload features in Google Photos, Dropbox or OneDrive. Instead of paying your bills as they come, set up automatic bill payments with your bank. The same can be said about stashing cash away with an automatic savings plan. Almost everything else can be accomplished through an IFTTT recipe too.

I Will Plan Less and Do More

Flexible agile project management

Flexible agile project management

Good planning is still very important and its value cannot be understated. Even so, it can also be a huge distraction and little more than a means of procrastination if you allow it to become that. After all, the best plan is worthless if you don’t actually put it into action. By using agile tools for project management, you and your team members can keep one another in check and keep moving forward together. “Done and less than perfect” is far better than “never started.”

Image credit: Carol VanHook / Flickr

###