Justnine percent of us are successful in following through on New Year’sresolutions. That low number suggests that maybe, just maybe, creating aresolution that you’re not going to commit to — and then feel guilty about –is a waste of time.

Maybe this year, try somethinga little different. Let go of the pressure to radically remake your life andhack it instead, with some truly easy ways to improve productivity, cutdistractions and see stronger results. For me, this all started with realizingjust how dependent on technology I really was (and precisely how bad it is foryou — it majorly impacts your memory, according to multiple studies).

You can detach from technologywith no ill effects and truly, only benefits in return. Here’s what I did andwhat’s working for me right now.


1.Remove email from your phone.

Yes, you read that right.Remove email from your phone. Do not conflate responding to email with beingproductive. I promise you, checking your email 10 times an hour is unnecessary.It’s a soul- and productivity-sucking distraction from the things that actuallydo demand attention for progress. You’ll still have the ability to loginthrough your browser if absolutely necessary, but checking email only two orthree designated times a day from your laptop will massively improve yourability to focus on more important tasks.

2. Nophone in the bedroom.

Sleep quality and quantitymatters, both for your health and your productivity. Having the phone on yournightstand impacts both, and not in a good way. In fact, the blue light yourcell phone emits makes it difficult for your brain to understand it’s night..Make your bedroom a space that’s truly tranquil. Put your charger and phone inthe hallway or a spare room at night, and set an old-fashioned alarm clock. Ihave one of these and it’s fantastic.

3.Delete Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.

Social media is like being anunwitting part of a Pavlovian experiment. It’s nearly impossible to resist thatunhealthy addiction to all of the likes and comments on your various socialmedia feeds. That tiny hit of dopamine you feel every time a notification popsup also distracts you from whatever it was you were doing that mattered in reallife. I found myself checking these sites in the middle of conversations withmy wife or in important meetings — but why was I missing the opportunity toconnect in person? I didn’t have a good answer.

The solution is simple –delete social media apps from your phone. I can’t overstate the relief I feltafter removing Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and email from my phone.If I need a moment to distract myself when standing in line for coffee, I visitone of two apps, TheNew York Times or TheWall Street Journal. Better to mindlessly browse somethingsubstantive than check out another Biden/Obama meme. It’s also legit to ignorethe siren song of technology altogether and simply be present to the beauty ofthe world around you for a few moments.

4.Leave your phone behind in meetings.

Bring your phone into meetingsand cue mindless scrolling during the discussion. You’ll miss the content ofthe meeting, which is obviously a huge time waste, and you look like a completeass in the process. Everyone deserves the minimum courtesy of your attention,which you probably expect in return when you talk. And, really, why botherbeing there at all if you’re not actually going to be present? Encourage othersto do the same, and leave their phones behind, particularly if you’re a leader.You’ll be amazed at how much shorter, more productive and substantive yourmeetings will become.

5.Literally block yourself from viewing certain webpages.

Let your smarter selfoutmaneuver your in-the-moment impulses. You can use a Chrome extension likeBlock site to prevent yourself from visiting sites that are good for verylittle beyond serious distractions. You’ll be surprised at how quickly youforget about spending time on sites where you gain nothing but distractyourself from the more important task at hand and waste precious time in anincredibly short life.

6.Don’t write your emails in an email program.

You’re paragraphs in to writingan important email and then PING. PING! PING! You’ve got mail. There is nothingmore distracting and counterproductive than getting notified you have new mail.Who could it be? What do they want? Maybe it’s important, something timesensitive. Maybe even more important than coordinating with a colleague on yourpresentation to your boss. Nope, it’s somebody confirming a meeting that’s twoweeks out. Whew, glad you got that one out of the way! But thanks to jumpingfrom writing your email to checking the new one, you’ve completely interruptedyour line of thinking.

Close your browser, set yourphone aside, and write important emails in Word, Dropbox or some other lowdistraction tool. Then cut and paste before sending.

7.Focus on just three to five important tasks each day.

Make a short list of three tofive things you want to get done each day and no more. I know a very successfulentrepreneur who makes a list of three items — max — to get done eachmorning. Getting only one done is a bad day; two is a good day, and three agreat day. This trick is great because it’s really less about making a to-dolist and more about clarifying and honing your priorities.

Taking your inbox to zero, forexample, is not a task that should ever be on this list. Think instead aboutthe next major piece of work to drive the product roadmap forward, building andcommunicating the schedules for key milestones in advance of an importantmeeting, or adding slides to the sales deck that represents a new product orfeature. To make the list, the work better be really significant.

Making progress on a smallnumber of vital projects will yield far greater long-term results than knockingoff dozens or more meaningless items on a long to-do list.


Credit to: Brant Franson,Euclid Analytics