This year, my resolutions are mainly personal – shed 5 pounds, wake up earlier than usual, and cut back on shopping. As I’m now the boss of my own business, work and personal life have blended together seamlessly.

This year, I’m resolved to work smarter, not harder. By dedicating myself to this goal, I know that my efforts will be rewarded with more free time and the opportunity to immerse myself in all aspects of life.

In order to solve the productivity issue, it is important for me to identify what exactly could be causing it – which I’m sure all of you can relate to.

My Top Productivity Killers

Gchat. As much as I adore the fact that I can be in constant communication with all my acquaintances, it can also become quite distracting. Whenever I hear that familiar “work smarter not harder” “bloop!” and spot someone’s name flashing in a nearby tab, it’s nearly impossible for me to avoid taking a brief pause from my current task.

Social Media. Despite the lack of external forces urging me to check my social media accounts, I can’t help but be pulled toward Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram throughout the day. As I work on The Prepary, my updates slowly drift into the realm of personal matters—next thing you know, I’m learning about someone’s lunch menu.

Email. On one hand, emails are a necessary part of my job and I must take the time to answer them promptly. On the other hand, if left unchecked, emails have the potential to swallow up an entire day. I’m also guilty of having a terrible habit that involves me reading emails but then letting them idle before responding. This usually requires me to re-read the email once more when I am prepared to respond, which is certainly not productive!

My phone. Although I’m not inundated with calls and texts throughout the day, it can be a bit overwhelming to receive numerous push notifications about random things.

Now that I have identified the source of my productivity issues, it’s time to devise solutions so I can fulfill this resolution.

How I’m Going to Tackle Them

Taking blocks of time free from all distractions can seem like a daunting task, but it is possible! The best way to begin this journey is by taking small steps. I was truly inspired by Levo’s latest post on the Pomodoro technique – where you designate a timer for specific blocks of time and solely commit to your task during that timeframe. If I had applied this strategy, I’m certain I would have completed writing this article much faster!

Having a productive workspace when working. It was never an issue when I used to work outside my home. However, now that I’m working remotely, ensuring I have the right environment has become increasingly important for me. My laptop is lightweight and easily transportable, yet my desk remains the optimal spot for productivity. A great coffee shop can also be a productive environment, but I find that when I’m cozied up on the couch with my computer I quickly succumb to sleepiness – thus it’s best avoided!

Taking an extended and well-deserved break. Absolutely, taking breaks will enable me to be more productive. Instead of trying to multitask and do both works and eat at the same time, I should just snack or go for a stroll outside. On days that I do this, it undoubtedly helps me become even more efficient in my tasks. Embracing strategies like these is essential for mastering how to work smarter not harder in our professional lives.

Harnessing technology to maximize productivity. I’m passionate about discovering incredible tools and apps that can save me a substantial amount of time. Right now, I’m already utilizing fantastic ones, but I want to push further and allow technology to do some serious work for me!

Strategizing the day ahead of time will help ensure a successful and productive tomorrow. Generally, I just get up, go with the flow, and take on whatever comes first (unless I have meetings). But, deep down inside I recognize that this is not an ideal approach. Ultimately, this habit forces me to redirect my most productive hours towards trivial tasks rather than those that could bring about more significant change.

To sum up, the issue is understood and an applicable solution has been presented. Will I be able to stay committed to my resolution this year? Only time will tell!

What have you set as your professional goal for 2014? Share it with us in the comments, and don’t forget to spread the word on Twitter using #CareerResolution!

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