With the hype of a new year comes the desire to make changes. We look to reinvent our habits and become smarter, stronger, more productive versions of who we were in years past.

However, despite what every commercial or marketing campaign leads us to believe right now, realizing these “better versions” of ourselves isn’t a factor of a fancy product or membership. In actuality, it’s usually small tweaks to our mindset and daily routines that shine light on what we’re capable of for the long haul.

Schedule Tasks Both Big and Small

Productivity isn’t a given, it takes effort. In any given workday, you’re bombarded with distractions left and right—from virtual conference calls to miscellaneous chat and inbox notifications. Daily interruptions and multitasking misconceptions compound quickly and can easily lead to longer hours spent working harder, not smarter. 

One way to combat lost hours in the day is to go into each and everyone with a plan. Focus your time strategically around everything from priority projects to checking emails. With their tendency to get backlogged, administrative tasks are just as important to consider in your flow of work as everything else on your to-do list.

Explore Personal Passions

We make time for the things we care about. So, if you find yourself claiming you don’t have enough of it to pursue your interests, consider instead how you might not be spending the time you do have wisely.

Download Duolingo to make progress on learning a new language during lunch. Subscribe to podcasts that’ll keep you up-to-date on current events or teach you something new over the course of a 30-minute walk break. The amount of time you have to give towards your passions isn’t as important as consistently taking action to prioritize them.

Get Active

For those working from home or commuting to an office, you likely spend a lot of time sitting. And it’s easy to do until backs begin to ache and eyes strain from the glow of computer screens.

You don’t have to wait until you start to not feel good to do something about it. Set calendar reminders for periodic movement breaks throughout the day. This could involve walking, running, yoga, or light stretching. 

Choose an exercise that makes you feel good with little regard for what others do or deem to be most effective. Get those endorphins flowing and your productivity will be all the better for it.

Make a Habit of Checking in With Others and Asking Questions

When you’re in the zone, it’s easy to hyperfocus solely on your wants and ideas. And if you’re someone who prefers to put your head down for hours on end, you’re likely doing both yourself and those around you a disservice. This is especially true for those leading teams

It’s not enough to delegate tasks and separate yourself from the pack. You need to find the right balance of involvement by checking in with staff regularly, asking questions, and offering assistance as needed.

Set weekly reminders to evaluate company goals and regular one-on-one meetings with employees. Listen to feedback and let facts, not assumptions, guide next steps.

Embrace the Lows with the Highs

Slow workdays, brain fatigue, and moments of unfulfillment happen. And when they do, boredom finds its way in.

When you find yourself hitting a low point, know that there are benefits to boredom. Embracing the feeling of “stuck” or “having nothing to do” can do wonders for your creativity, perceptiveness, happiness, and more.

View these blocks in your productivity as opportunities. Rather than racing to fill time with your smartphone or negative thinking, sit in non-judgemental silence for a bit and check-in with yourself. Then revisit any of the activities above to spark momentum and ditch internal doubts.