Most of us start the new year with big hopes, some extra energy and… well, a backlog which soon weakens that fresh hope and energy! As a year draws to a close, we tend to leave things “for later” as we feel tired and overburdened or simply too ready to party! However, “later” (AKA the new year) always comes with a decent measure of its own obligations and to-do lists. I thus want to pose a revolutionary idea: instead of beginning a new year with an old pile, why not begin it with a head-start on productivity?

Taking charge in advance will mean more resilience, flexibility and calmness when you need to hit the ground running after the holidays. Imagine if you could be a few steps into the race already when others are merely starting out – you are bound to be in the lead!

Here are four ways to kick start your year (and be your own hero come January!)

1. December decluttering

The state of your physical space affects your mental state and productivity. End the year with thorough spring cleaning to start off the new term with order. Clean out your house (yes, all the cupboards!). Be ruthless about what you throw out – it is after all the season for charity. Clean out your office and desk. Clean out your car (when was the last time you did a stock-take of the cubby hole, anyways?) Delete all unnecessary files, photos and apps from your computer and phone.

2. Proactive planning for productivity

Prepare for your next season in advance! Fix dates for necessary meetings (e.g. with clients, service providers, mentors, committee members, etc.) or have them in December already if possible. Everybody’s diaries fill out quickly as soon as the holidays are over, so make sure you book them first! Start to-do lists for January – this will help you feel more orientated and less overwhelmed in the rush of the new year. Allocate times in your diary to accomplish some of these tasks.

Financial planning is also crucial. Set up a budget or revisit your current one. This will prevent overspending on all the necessities of a new year and finding yourself in a tight spot before you are even used to the new digit in the date.

Furthermore, take time to think of your personal or career goals for the upcoming year and how you envision to achieve them. Write down your dreams and ambitions.

3. Healthy head-start

Our health frequently takes a knock during December. This is often the time when we set aside good eating habits, give up exercise routines, get sunburnt, mess up sleeping patterns and take up all kinds of bad habits – all with the attitude that we will get back onto track in the following year. However, extra weight and new addictions (including sugar!) are not that easy to shake off. We often start the new season with a harmed and depleted body, rather than a ready and revitalised one.

Being proactive with your health does not mean you cannot have fun! Only, do so while being mindful of your body that will soon need to carry you through another year. Eat lots of yummy but nourishing foods, keep your inhibitions intact, sleep well, work pleasant exercise into your recreational time (think: beach walks, mountain biking, a swim in the lake, etc.). And be sun smart. Always.

Timely Tips

You might be reading this advice and think: ‘’Great ideas, but I really do not have the time!’’ Well, here is how you can make time (even during the crazy month of December):

Be practical about presents

Save time and energy by buying Christmas gifts online – if they come wrapped, even better! Speaking of clever gifts – why not ask somebody close to you to pay for a cleaner to help you, rather than buying you a Christmas gift?

Clever cooking

Lots of hours in December can go into planning and preparing party food. Have a standard, quick-and-easy plan in your pocket for when you need to contribute a platter (e.g. rye bread with cheese and store-bought hummus) or host at your place (e.g. fill-a-wrap night).

Have a handy holiday

Use the first few days of your holiday to spring clean and plan.At first this might sound like a horrendous idea, but do give it a fair chance. You will have a more restful and pleasant holiday knowing that you are well prepared for the first day back to reality.

Social media strike

Actively decide to use down time for planning instead of browsing social media. (Funny quotations and photos of others’ Christmas parties will really not benefit you in January!) You can still do this on your phone while lying on the couch in your pyjamas!

Lean on a life coach

This is a great time to utilise the expertise of a life coach! A coaching session or two can be highly beneficial in helping you visualise and achieve your goals for the new year.

Let me know  how I can help you!

You will not regret proper preparation for the new year, even if it means making some compromises in the final stretch of the year.

Be smart, get that head-start!

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