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4 Jan

A productive start to the year

Let’s be honest, going back to work in January isn’t fun. In fact, unless you were smart enough to book a winter holiday, or you have a significant celebratory event that changes the rules (birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, house moves and new babies all qualify), January itself doesn’t generally instil us with excitement. We had a year’s supply of that last month…

But you’re determined to strart 2020 well. You spent New Year’s Day mentally drafting an impressive list of positive intentions; feeling ready for the ‘new you’ after the final celebration of the season. You soon realise this is the worst month for any form of deprivation, let alone a complete life overhaul. Are you guilty of setting your goals too high and falling at the first hurdle?

The best intentions are those that last, and it’s important to be realistic about your lifestyle and what you can achieve. If you work full-time (which can feel like ‘all the time’), taking a look at your daily routine and making a few tweaks, could reset your whole mindset. Once you see the benefits of a few small changes, you won’t be willing to give them up come February.

Get in early and leave on time

Pressing the snooze button and flying out the door like a whirlwind is never a great way to start the day. Allow a little extra time, get in early and while the office is quiet, catch up on emails and plan your day. You’re likely to be more productive in the morning and you should then be able to get away on time.

Set realistic targets

Does your seemingly endless to-do list only ever get longer? Start by planning your week on a Monday morning. if you can, try and balance your meetings with your work load. Make an achievable list of daily actions from your weekly plan and you’ll soon feel as though you’re getting somewhere as you tick them off. Just accept that you’re not superhuman; you are never going to get everything done.

Focus on one thing at a time

Having 30 tabs open on your screen and responding to every phone notification as it pops up, is far from productive. It’s exhausting for your brain to constantly switch from one task to another. Turn off your notifications for a start. Set blocks of time throughout your day to focus on each one, and be strict with your time. If something needs your full concentration, put your phone out of sight to avoid distraction, just until it’s done. You can then check messages and social media in one hit.

Don’t get caught up in office dramas

One thing I miss about agency life is the office chat. Whether it was sharing work ideas, or weekend stories, the social interaction was a great relief, particulary during stressful times. But if you’re not careful, it can have the reverse effect. Step away from office dramas, or lengthy conversations, that will only drain and distract you. You’ll kick yourself if you end up stayng late because of it, whilst others are long gone.

You deserve a treat

We all need something to look forward to, even if that something is very simple. Try to make healthy food choices Monday to Thursday, and look forward to a Friday treat. This will help with productiviity, avoid the afternoon slump and give you a wel-earned reward at the end of the week.


Life should be about finding a balance that’s right for you. There will be times when the pressure is on, and you need to put the hours in. Just don’t make a habit of it. Check in with yourself regularly; you’ll know if the balance has tipped.

Your health and happiness should be right at the top of that to-do list. 

Joanne Howe

Talking about something you love comes naturally. When I write, I rarely struggle to find the right words. I am a highly experienced creative and versatile copywriter, specialising in the health and wellbeing industry. Health and happiness go hand in hand. I love to work with brands who believe in self-care. If you love what you do, it’s hard not to be happy.

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