Getting ready for 2019: How to be more organised and productive

Written by Beat Buhlmann on 4 January 2019 in Features
Features

Evernote's Beat Buhlmann gives us some easy productivity tips to kick the year off.

Reading time: 4 minutes.

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions for 2019 yet? For many people the start of a New Year coincides with a fresh commitment to stick to new personal resolutions like losing weight, being on their phone less or organising the house.

But what about New Year’s resolutions for work? Many of us could use the start of the New Year to get more organised to help cope with the demands of super-busy modern business life. 

For example, workers across the globe are presently facing what has become known as triple overload: data, communication and cognitive. Evidence shows that as a result the UK is falling behind other countries when it comes to productivity.

 

So to help you hit the ground running in 2019 here are some top tips you can follow to get ready for next year by being more organised and productive.

Set achievable resolutions and share your goals publicly

Setting resolutions you can actually achieve is the key to success. For example, if you’ve always struggled with organisation, it may not be realistic to say you’ll have sorted your entire office by the end of January 2019, but tidying your desk space may well be achievable. Even small changes can help you build momentum and get meaningful results.

You should also share your goals publicly because research shows that writing down then sharing your resolutions increases the chances of successfully sticking to them. 

One of the crucial things you need to do to be more productive in 2019 is to learn to protect your attention to avoid cognitive overload (aka brain overload).

When you share them with people who can help support you, you’re letting them know that you’ve decided to make important changes and they can help motivate you to achieve your goals, especially if you’re struggling. 

Avoid cognitive overload

One of the crucial things you need to do to be more productive in 2019 is to learn to protect your attention to avoid cognitive overload (aka brain overload).

That’s because research shows that a knowledge worker gets interrupted or switches tasks every three to five minutes on average, which leads to an unhealthy cognitive overload, exhaustion and mini burnouts at the end of the working day.

Think about when you’re at your best and how you can protect your best-attention-time so you can work on the tasks that are most mentally taxing and require the most focus and concentration. To do this you should reduce or remove distractions, such as closing your email inbox, and putting away your mobile phone, which can be a big distraction for many of us. 

Clean your workspace

Research suggests that the average knowledge worker wastes about two and a half hours per day searching for information, because of data overload. And if you have a messy office or desk space you probably waste time searching for lost documents and information, which is something you need to change to be more productive. 



Clean up your workspace and sort through any unfilled documents and folders. Then scan receipts, documents, photos, business cards and whiteboard notes directly into your phone, so you don’t have to remember which drawer or folder you put your paperwork in. 

Then bin the hard copies you don’t need or file them out of sight, if you still need to keep the physical copies. 

Narrow down your app list

A lot of productivity improvements come from changing our own habits, or better defining the problem we’re faced with. For example, a survey found that more than half of UK app users (57%) feel frustrated when they can’t find something digital they need. In an age of information overload, this often happens when we can’t remember which app or folder we saved something in. 

Ultimately, there are too many apps promising to solve our stresses and strains. So it’s much better to find a few apps that save you time and make you more productive, learn them thoroughly and stick with them. 

Make your meetings more productive 

Meeting and talking with your teammates can eat up a lot of time, which doesn’t leave much time left to do deep work (the most valuable, important and mentally taxing tasks). In fact, according to an article by Rob Cross et al knowledge workers spend around 80% of their working time communicating or collaborating through emails, meetings, chat and messenger.  

 

Getting the most out of meetings is crucial so try making them more productive by shrinking them. Your calendar may default to creating 30-minute or 60-minute meetings, but do they have to be that long? Change your calendar settings to default to 25-minute or 50-minute meetings and add back hours of time in your week to work on your most important tasks.  

Also, ensure you don’t have any meetings without an agenda in the calendar invite and add links for pre-meeting reading to the invite to make sure everyone involved can prepare appropriately. 

Finally, a few hours of preparation at the start of the year could make a huge difference to how organised and productive you are in work in 2019. Break everything down into small wins to build momentum and you’ll achieve your work New Year’s resolutions before you know it. 

 

About the author

Beat Bühlmann is Evernote’s general manager for EMEA

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