Productivity Tips for the New Year

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As we start every year, I like to give an update on how things work on the Rainbow Cleaning Society so new participants know what to expect. Plus, it’s a good reminder for our veteran Rainbow Society members, too!

On Sundays, we usually share a few ideas that I’ve found through different articles on the internet and research requested by Rainbow owners. Then we move on to preparing for the week.

Productivity Summary Sheet Details:

Life goal.

Goal setting is realistic. End goals are the driving force of your daily activities. They help you determine how to fill your day. They also help you determine what to stop doing, either permanently or temporarily.

What is your ultimate goal?

To prepare your children to be productive adults?
To make memories as a family and talk about them often?
To give them resources to be spiritual superstars?
To mold them into leaders?

I’m not saying any of the above examples are right or wrong. I’m just giving examples to get you thinking!

Action step: Take a few minutes right now to think through your ultimate goal.

12-week goal.

The best option is to tackle one project at a time. Start with the end goal and work backward, breaking down the task into week-long tasks. If you skip a week, you’ve lost major traction because it’s 1/12 of your time-frame. A 12-week time-frame gives a sense of urgency that makes you keep going. You know you have to make progress every single week.

After you finish your 12-week goal, celebrate…and then set another goal.      Within 24 weeks you could cross two major projects off your list.

Thinking in terms of a 12 Week Year is better than having a year-long goal because of that urgency.

Instead of trying to tackle 10 projects at once, what could you intently focus on for 12 weeks that will get you one step closer to your life goal?

Action step: Take a few minutes right now to think through the steps that will get you closer to your ultimate goal.


I’m sure you’ve heard of the Pareto Principle (the 80/20 rule). It states that 20% of your output generates 80% of your results.  4/5 of our output is pretty much irrelevant. That will get you thinking about how much of your day is wasted?

However, the author breaks this down even further; in a way that’s never been explained to me. If you take your 20% output and break it down into another 80/20, you can narrow your focus even more. Then you can do it again. And again. And again. Until you find the most important thing you should be working on.

For example:

Say 80% of people travel on 20% of the roads.
80% of those people travel on 20% of the first 20% of roads.
Then 80% of those people travel on 20% of 20% of the first 20% of roads.

Basically, the majority of people travel on very few roads. Knowing which roads the most people travel helps determine which roads to repair first in a budget crisis, to salt first before a snowstorm, or to choose a billboard on when advertising a business.

Of course, we can apply the same principle to our lives at home.

Evaluating the clothes in our closets:

We wear 20% of clothing 80% of the time.
But out of that small sample size, we wear 20% of those most often.
Even still, we wear 20% of 20% of 20% all the time. Think about your favorite pair of jeans!

Evaluating cleaning:

We clean 20% of our homes 80% of the time.
But we have a particular area out of that 20%.
Then of course we have one absolute area; you know, the one we live in the most!

Action step: Take a few minutes right now to determine how we can spend more time focusing on that 20%.

What can/should I stop doing today?

If you really think through that last question, you’ll quickly realize that there are some things we need to QUIT doing. That’s the only way you’ll have more time for the most important 20%.

Realizing a particular task isn’t in your top 20% (even your top 50%) makes it easier to quit.

Action step: Take a few minutes right now to think about what you can stop doing. It will feel good to quit! Also, add things you should do!

What is the one thing I can do today that will make everything else easier or unnecessary in the future?

Truly being productive isn’t about making a list and checking it off. Not at all. It’s about eliminating the things that don’t matter, thinking through the steps to get you to your ultimate goal, and then systematically taking the next step to bring you closer to your goal.

Action step: Take a few minutes right now to think about what you are currently doing and steps to improve your personal productivity.

Daily schedules.

I’m a fan of schedules. They say it’s counterproductive to check email first thing in the morning. Based on my own experience, I tend to agree. One email leads to the next. The rabbit chasing begins and before I know it, two hours have passed.

Same with social media. It’s easy to scroll through the news feed and get so wrapped up in the threads.

To be fully productive, you might want to try scheduling the time with your home just like you do for work – with a detailed calendar. At first, this might seem silly, but as I said, just give it a test run and see if you’re more productive at home.

Scheduling your time at home doesn’t mean you skip out on having fun. It also doesn’t mean rigid. Quite the contrary! I’ve found that when I actually schedule the entire day on my calendar, I’m able to have MORE FUN.

Cleaning and organizing. We all know that homes get messy in a hurry! But a mess won’t bother you as much when you know a 5 minute pick up is scheduled 45 minutes from now.

18 Minutes.

Instead of keeping your schedule in your head, or just trying to get through a to-do list, try using an actual calendar

Here’s a summary of 18 Minutes.

Take 5 minutes at the beginning of the day to:

review the priorities of your life, job, mission.
review the tasks you put on your calendar from the night before

Take 1 minute every hour of your 8-hour workday to:

review the past hour of work. Did you accomplish the action items scheduled on your calendar?
review your tasks for the next hour of work.

Take 5 minutes at the end of each day to:

review the priorities of your life, job, mission.
add specific tasks that you need to accomplish on your calendar. Determine which hour of the day you will do them.

Scheduling everything (fun, work, the “one thing” that will get you closer to your ultimate goal) can be just as beneficial to your life. I hope you can implement a few – or all – of the productivity tips. They can make a huge difference in what and how much you accomplish.

Your assignment for today:

Continue working on Habit #1.
Go through the productivity tips and deliberately schedule the first full week of the year!