Who Wouldn’t Want to be Happier and More Productive in 2020?

Chances are no one.

So this year, instead of setting the standard, short-lived New Year’s resolutions — you know the ones — why not be resolute in amplifying your happiness and productivity with some simple practices.

Here are 20 such ones, not to attempt all at once, but instead to try a few at a time. This way, you can discover the ones that really resonate and then turn them into productive, lasting habits.

1. Have the courage to do less. In our overachieving culture, it’s counterintuitive, but you’ll get more done.

2. Do your email in three 30-minute blocks, not incessantly throughout the day.

3. Take a half-hour lunch, always away from your desk and devices.

4. Make your goals SMART: specific, meaningful, actionable, realistic, and trackable.

5. Have no more than five active projects at a time.

6. Put start dates and completion dates on every project.

7. Use time-blocking rather than traditional scheduling.

8. Carve out two hours a day to do critical work with no interruptions or distractions.

9. Know your chronotype to discern the best time to do heavy lifting. Are you a morning lark, a night owl, or a midday emu?

10. At the end of every day, spend 15 minutes planning the next day.

11. Every morning, spend 10 minutes reviewing the plan you made the previous night. Do this before you check email and social media.

12. As you make weekly plans, skip the things that you’re just thinking about, hanging on to with no real reason, or sticking with simply because you started them.

13. Situate yourself wisely. Do admin stuff at your desk and more creative or challenging work in hideouts like conference rooms or offsite spaces.

14. Negotiate ‘Do Not Disturb’ time with your boss and coworkers to avert unnecessary distractions. (And remember it works both ways.)

15. Place new ideas on hold for three days before pursuing them.

16. Beware bright shiny objects. Some may have merit, but most will just distract you.

17. As you wrap up major projects, do a 15-minute CAT: clean up, archive, and trash. (Just imagine your tidy desk and files.)

18. Make your off-the-clock time with family and friends truly count. No devices. No multitasking. No exceptions.

19. Go dark digitally at least an hour before bedtime. That includes not only silencing your smartphone, but also setting it out of reach.

20. Pursue a passion project. It’ll make you surprisingly more productive and engaged in your real work.

And finally, make this your mantra: How many projects I finish is more important than how many I start.

Such wisdom, along with some of these 20 simple practices, will amplify your happiness and productivity in 2020 and beyond.  

Charlie Gilkey is an author, entrepreneur, philosopher, Army veteran, and renowned productivity expert. Founder of Productive Flourishing, Gilkey helps professional creatives, leaders, and changemakers take meaningful action on work that matters. His new book is Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done. Learn more at startfinishingbook.com


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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