Three (Productive) New Year’s Resolutions

Adrien Joly
3 min readDec 29, 2015

How is the end of the year going for you?

Did you receive gifts that pleased you? Or maybe you’ve put everything online for sale? ;-)

This time of year is a great opportunity for retrospective, for identifying things that you want to improve on, and also for hopeful thoughts for the year to come!

I take this opportunity to suggest a few methods that you may want to try in 2016!

1. Try the GTD technique to declutter your mind and improve your memory

Getting Things Done is the name of a technique that consists in:

  • capturing / writing down everything you have in mind,
  • doing quick tasks as soon as possible,
  • and classifying other tasks so that you can plan to do them at the right time, and in the right context.

You may have heard the phrase “Inbox Zero” before. Keeping your email inbox clean is one way of feeling less overwhelmed, and it’s one good application of the GTD technique.

2. Decide to beat procrastination

Do you feel like your mind has a mind of its own?
It wanders off, venturing into various directions, without your permission…
Or maybe, it sneakily gets you to agree to have ‘just one little look’ at your emails/FB account/or some other innocent and quick activity and then takes off and gets you lost for much longer than you indented to?
Do you feel like you’re juggling multiple ideas at the same time? […]

The lack of mental focus that results from it, not only gets in the way of our productivity, but also affect our happiness. […]
Wandering mind is an unhappy mind.

By putting the previous tip into practice, your mind should already feel lighter, less overwhelmed.

By capturing not only “tasks”, but also your free-range thoughts (e.g. ideas and other unrelated urges), you should feel even better, and more at peace for doing the tasks you wanted to do today.

Once you’ve reached that point, you can follow Joanna’s tricks to:

  • bring your wandering mind to here & now: identify/acknowledge/let go;
  • adopt (and adapt) ‘snap-me-out-of-it’ tricks to refocus.

cut through your mental noise/clutter with sensory input using your vision, hearing, touch, smell, taste and somatic receptors. We all have different sensory preferences, so again — see whatever works for you.

It’s as simple as looking around and naming 5 things you see, hear, smell, feel (touch) etc. around you. You can use your taste (e.g. make yourself a cup of tea/coffee and sip on it when you feel distracted; savour the taste) and physical activity (take a few deep breaths, stretch, wave your hand; wear a rubber band on your wrist and snap lightly when you want to refocus).

3. The quest of the Holy Flow

Now that we’ve talked about planning and focus, the most powerful way to be productive is to actually enjoy doing your tasks.

Wikipedia: Named by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, […] Flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.

Flow is best explained by the following picture:

When you do something that you are too skilled for, chances are that you will be bored. On the other hand, if a task is so challenging that you don’t know where to start, you’ll probably feel anxious. In both situations, you can easily fall in procrastination mode…

So, in order to avoid these situations, you have to find a way to execute your tasks while navigating between anxiety and boredom, by leveraging the right skills and adjusting the level of challenge you need to feel excited by the execution of your task.

I hope that these ideas will inspire you, and help you enjoy getting many interesting things done in 2016!

Please share what worked for you, by replying to this article!


Adrien Joly

Adrien Joly

👨‍💻 Software crafter @SHODO, legacy code / tech debt doctor ( 🥁 Drummer of “Harissa”, VR lover, music digger