Begin the year with positivity and productivity in mind! Whether 2015 was a good year for you or not, 2016 can be a better one. Here are a few tips, a mixture of simple habit changes like jotting things down and more internal changes like mindset setting, to propel you into a better year.

1. Wake up earlier.
You’ll get more things done if you wake up earlier. Everyone in the house will still be asleep and you can use the extra minutes for productive “me-time” things like taking a morning run, a longer shower or simply for extra thinking space. You’ll also start the day better knowing that you’ve already made the effort to be more productive.

2. Write things down.
Here’s a very simple but also extremely effective tip for jotting down quick notes: do it on your phone. Things you have to remember don’t need to be written down on paper anymore, there’s tons of apps you can download to do just that. No more fumbling around your bag for your notepad and a pen. For Android users, we highly recommend Google Keep. We particularly like the Keep widget you can place on your homescreen that lets you create notes and reminders with just a tap.

3. Do it as soon as you think of it.
Even though it’s pretty straight-forward, we tend to overlook it a lot. We might be too busy, or even too lazy, but doing things as soon as you think that it needs doing not only improves productivity but can also de-clutter your mind. This way there’s no more room for forgetting to do it or putting it off until it turns problematic. This tip is especially good for easily-overlooked tasks like cleaning out cupboards and closets.

4. Upgrade your to-do-list by “time-blocking”.
How often have you actually finished all the items on a to-do-list? Be honest. We’re guessing not as often as you do. Just like long-term goals, being specific with short-term goals makes it easier for you to achieve them. Schedule time slots for each item on your to-do list. (e.g., 4 p.m.-5 p.m.: Pay bills) Stick to your to-do-list time schedule and you’re sure to accomplish everything that needs doing.

5. Be on time.
Here’s a tip from one of the world’s most successful individuals: don’t be late. Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of Virgin Group, says that being punctual has served him well in the 50 years he has been a businessman.

“Once you get behind, it is hard to catch back up again. Being punctual doesn’t mean rushing around the whole time,” he says. “It simply means [organizing] your time effectively.”

6. Know that being “too busy” is not the same as being productive.
Having too much on your plate doesn’t always mean you’re on the path to success. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, for top performers busyness is not a sign of significance but an indication of wasted energy.

Sociologist Christine Carter, Ph.D., an expert at the University of California’s Greater Good Science Center, says: “Busyness is not a marker of intelligence, importance, or success. Taken to an extreme, it is much more likely a marker of conformity or powerlessness or fear.”

Top performers honor and recognize their physical limitations, says the HBR. Take short breaks in between 90-minute bursts of focused work.

7. Celebrate small victories.
Sustaining enthusiasm for a goal you wish to achieve in the long-term is undeniably difficult. That’s why it helps to be reminded of it every day. Acknowledge the small victories you’ve done towards achieving a long-term goal; you can do this by tracking your progress.

“If you want to eat more healthily, keep a food journal. If you want to get more exercise, use a step counter. If you want to stick to a budget, track your spending,” advises Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author of The Happiness Project.

8. Take mid-morning coffee breaks.
If you want to keep the momentum of a productive morning going, take your afternoon break in the a.m. A study from the Baylor University led by Emily Hunter, Ph.D. and Cindy Wu, Ph.D. found this to be so. Through a survey, they saw that “the more time that had passed since the beginning of the workday, the less useful a break was,” Business Insider reported.

9. Use tools.
We live in a technology-driven world. Technology has given us the rise of social media sites and portable entertainment which can be a hindrance and a distraction to productivity. On the other side of the coin, however, are a multitude of tools that can promote productivity. Make good use of these tools that save you time and energy. A good example of this is bill automating. No more long lines and wasted energy worrying about unpaid bills.

10. Multitask less.
Multitasking may seem like a good way to get more things done in a day, in a way this might be true, but what multitasking really is, is doing each task less effectively. If you really want to feel more productive and positive, give your full attention to one task at hand. Mindfulness was a big thing in 2015 and if you want to continue being mindful (and at the same time productive) in 2016, multitask less.

Dec. 31, 2015. "9 Productivity Tips from People Who Write About Productivity".
Dec. 30, 2015. "4 Productivity Tips That Changed My Life This Year".
Dec. 31, 2015. "17 easy productivity hacks that will help you crush it in 2016".

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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