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10 Ways to Hit the Reset Button on Your Productivity

Now that we’ve wound down the previous year and are getting back up to full speed, this presents the perfect opportunity to hit the reset button on your systems and processes, helping you to increase your productivity. This is a process that I go through every year and it helps me to feel refreshed and ready to tackle the upcoming year.  Here are 10 areas that you should hit the reset button on TODAY:

  • Email – Start off the new year with a clean inbox by archiving all email older than December 1st. As Chris Penn usually says: If you haven’t gotten to it in the past month, you’re not getting to it anytime soon. While you’re going nuclear on your inbox, use this moment of strength to finally clean up your folders. I hear your protests now. Trust me, you have too many folders. Less is more and it will make you feel better.
  • Calendar – Review recurring meetings and assess which ones you really need to attend. If you haven’t started blocking your time, use this time to schedule “do not disturb” time so that you take control of your calendar instead of letting others do it for you.
  • Task List – Whatever you’re using to manage your tasks, delete all of the stale tasks that you’ve never removed but you know you’re not going to complete. You can add them back in with a fresh description. If you use categories, review those categories and determine if they still work for your current situation. Maybe you need to add more. Maybe it’s time to delete a few.
  • RSS – After you consume the latest articles in your RSS reader, mark all other articles as read. This will give you a clean RSS reader and will alleviate the feeling that you’re missing out on something. If it’s important enough to your industry or interests, it will show up in social channels.
  • Newsletter Subscriptions – To assist in getting to and staying at inbox zero in this new year, use a service such as or OtherInbox that will help you to easily review and unsubscribe from newsletters that you may have signed up for throughout the year but are no longer interested in.
  • Magazines – If you’re like me then you have a stack of magazines either on your coffee table or on your tablet that you keep telling yourself that you’re going to read. You and I both know that you’ll never get to them and the piling will keep growing as new issues come in. Throw out the older magazines and start fresh.
  • Desk – Go through all of the paperwork, wires, books, business cards and other items cluttering your desk. Take the time to wipe down your desk and everything on it so that it is clean.
  • Desktop and Folders – Do you have a folder structure that’s driving you crazy but you just keep dealing with it because you don’t want to take the time to fix it? Yeah, me too. But guess what? It’s affecting your productivity. Go through your folders and archive everything you don’t need anymore. Clean up your desktop, downloads folder and any other place that has become the default virtual junk drawer on your computer.
  • iOS or Android Devices – During the course of a year, the apps, folders, notifications and other settings on your iOS or Android device (assuming you own one) can become seriously disorganized. Take a few minutes to set up your home screen with your most used apps, organize your other apps into folders, delete unused apps, kill annoying notifications and tweak any other settings that will help you to be more productive.
  • Notebook  – Every year on January 1st I crack open a brand new notebook no matter how empty of full my current notebook is. It’s part of starting the new year off fresh and it is a chance to tweak my note taking habits and makes it easy to go back and review previous years notes. Searching for a notebook? I am a big fan of both Moleskine and Field Notes.

Depending on your industry and work environment, there may be several other areas that are killing your productivity or distracting your focus but this list will help you to hit the reset button and get back on track.

What are YOUR tips for using the new year to increase your productivity?

Photo Credit: Greg McMullin

  • Jeff Shuey

    Great post Justin. Especially points 1, 2 and 3.

  • Asset Point

    All the above mentioned tips are great and very helpful for improving your productivity level, thanks for sharing.