Usually, after the third month of the year your crisp new running gear and fitbit has been designated to the back of the closet as a guilty reminder, and you are counting your steps to the subway station as your day’s exercise. You are not the only one. In fact, according to U.S. News, nearly 80% of resolutions fall short by the second week of February
While Millennials are better than their parent’s generation at sticking to new year’s resolutions, their frantic work and social lives make it hard to stick to plans on the long term. Millennials are ‘experience motivated’ and take up new hobbies and regimes with great intentions, but according to Statistic Brain only 8% achieve their resolutions and roughly 25% give up in the first week.
We need to realize that every minute is precious and that we shouldn’t waste another second of our remaining time on earth on an intention. If you want to lose weight, download 50 recipes to choose from, program weekly grocery orders online, and block off time on Sunday nights to prepare lunches. If you want to learn coding sign up for the course now, pay for the entire year, and set time in your calendar to practice. Intentions don’t get things done, actions do.
So, how can you – the millennial – stay on track with your resolutions?
Here are 3 productivity hacks that can turn intentions into real positive changes in your private, social and work lives. So don’t wait another year to make changes, get started now.
Being more proactive in networking, learning a new skill, or trying a vegan diet sound great in theory, but chuck in a not so nine to five work schedule, demands from family and friends and the occasional full night’s sleep and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Or so it seems.
Before you can find free time, it is important to assess how you are spending your time currently. Look back at your calendar or diary for the last few weeks and try and highlight days and times where you have gaps. Using a tool like Google Calendar, Calendly or ScheduleOnce pick any day Monday to Friday and block out the essential tasks and commitments you have on that day.
Then write down the things you would like to achieve and assess how much time you need for each. Are we talking ten hours or two? Be realistic about the real amount of time you need for each task, as if you only designate 20 minutes per week to learning French, then you will be retired by the time you make your trip to the Eiffel tower.
Once you have a better idea of how much free time you really have, and how much time you will need to achieve your aims, you can take a bird’s eye view of your week and block off hours for new activities. Try to spread them out evenly, and set realistic limits, the chances are you won’t feel much like studying a marketing module online at 11pm on a weeknight.
Use your calendar tools –outlined above– to nudge you in the right direction with push notifications via your computer and smartphone, and also consider investing in a virtual assistant tool as a backup. Consider adding your calendar link to your email signature so that personal and professional contacts can make appointments which work for you.
It is best to leave one day per week with some empty slots to re-collect on the week past, and plan for the week ahead. Sunday seems like a solid choice.
Create the following Sunday ritual using your calendar apps. Ask yourself:
If you didn’t achieve your goals the last week, assess whether you need to change the set time. For example, if you had set a gym session for directly after work when your energy levels are low, why not change for a morning workout? Assess what outstanding issues you have from the last week, and where they fit into the week ahead. Prioritize ‘extras’ but try not to sub-out your big aims. Maybe you could change the lunch date for a smoothie and still make the yoga class?
When you are juggling a million tasks, it can be easy to ignore relationships and let contacts drop off. Making positive changes doesn’t need to be a solo mission. Whether it be for work or play, assess which of your contacts can help you meet your goals, and then reach out for them. The chances are that it will be beneficial on both sides of the table.
When setting yourself life goals, leveraging intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are both important. Intrinsic motivation is when we motivate ourselves, whereas extrinsic is when we are motivated by other people. If you put yourself in a position where in failing at your new hobby or regime, you’re letting someone else down, you are much more likely to push yourself to succeed.
This could be as simple as signing up to a gym or class with a friend. If you both arrange to go at the same time or to the same class, you are less likely to quit if you know your partner will be disappointed, or maybe won’t go either. Take up activities where a partner or group is necessary, that way you continue because you become part of something bigger, not only self reliant. The same goes for academic or work aims. If you get someone else involved, you are more likely to stick to deadlines and can motivate your partner when they are flagging too.
That said, if you prefer to try things on your own, keeping up with relationships is equally important. Block off one hour at least once if not a few times a week, and use this time to build on your relationships. This will be your personal “Power Hour” in which you should aim to :
Whether it be for work or leisure, it is important to widen your network, but fitting new people into a busy schedule means getting tactical. It might sound cold, but prioritize new contacts, and make nurturing relationships with them a part of your next week’s goals. Identify how and where you meet valuable and interesting people and then try to spend a little extra time in these places.
Occasionally life throws us an ace card, but normally making positive chances requires patience, planning and effort. Don’t make false resolutions, start as you mean to continue, download the tools and make the changes now so that you keep increase your productivity and stay on track with that resolution well into 2017 and beyond!
Andy Dunn has spent the past ten years building Bonobos. He’s funded about 15 other ecommerce companies, advises even more, and serves on the board of three others. In this interview, he shares his thoughts on better fitting pants, 100M in capital, and why men should embrace a world run by women.