Inspiration, Productivity, Workspace

How To Hit The Ground Running This Year

By Paul Armstrong

Most people have good intentions when it comes to starting the year, but few actually follow through, even with the use of lists and reminders. Here are some things you can do today to increase your chances of sticking with good behaviours, be healthier, be more focused, get more work done and spend your time more productively. Here's to a great 2019!


Be healthier…

Whether at home or in the office, two simple things can help you lead a healthier and more productive life – an abundance of plants and smart use of natural cognitive performance enhancers, like nootropics. Plants aerate the air, get rid of toxins and make you feel better. An excellent service that helps you pick which plants are right for you is Patch. Plants, pots, soil and instructional videos – it’s the perfect service for those looking to breathe a little easier when things are tough. Cognitive performance supplements like nootropics can help you focus more when it really counts, and they can also help you sleep better, both important for a fully functional you. Motion Nutrition offer two new varieties for you; ‘Focus’ and ‘Unplug’ – one to boost your brain power and the other to help you achieve restful sleep – naturally. After using them for one month my ability to get into flow state has doubled.

Be more… anything.

Matt Mower from ‘The Art of Navigation‘ introduced me to Streaks after he nailed several goals from blogging more regularly to creating a better sleep regime. The simple user interface and notification system make the app easy to follow and works with you to create the best chance of success. The statistics page and progress bars enable quick serotonin-inducing blasts to keep you on track for up to 12 goals. Sadly iPhone user only for now will get the benefit.

Be more productive…

Your phone can be a huge distraction, but it can also alert you to significant problems. Deciding when to be notified is key, but it’s unlikely that you ever need to have the ping of interruption from Cineworld or Evernote for example. ‘Notification Zero’ is a growing movement where people turn off all notifications and then slowly add them back as and when they need them. There are two methods; one is simply using airplane mode off and on, but the other involves taking time to decide how each app is allowed to alert you with the proviso that you deactivate at least 50% of them to no alerts. Does my Dyson fan need to have alerts enabled? Did you get enough value from BBC alerts in the last three months to warrant the dread that follows the ‘bum-bum’ interruptions? Unlikely. Make 2019 the year you take back your phone and become a more focused human being.

Be more discerning…

Another way of being more productive is to get your newsletter consumption under control. Most newsletters are either deleted or never actually read but stay subscribed, isn’t it about time we stop wasting everyone’s time, the earth’s resources and commit to being honest with ourselves and newsletter editors? Stoop is a new app that helps you collect all your newsletters in one place. Discover, subscribe, search and unsubscribe, Stoop is a beautiful app to use that frees up your inbox and helps you gain control over when you read newsletters.

Be more well read…

Blinkist is the service for people who like to read the right business books but don’t have mountains of time. While some only use Blinkist as a way of reading fewer business books, more value may follow if you use Blinkist to find the right business books. The boiled-down audio and text into bullet points make it easier to decide which books are right for you. Great for execs at all levels.

Be more social…

January and February often see people entrench in old, comfortable behaviours as the weather is colder and workloads are more frantic. Make a point of getting out of the office and meet new people, ideas and opportunities – or perhaps invite them into the office? The New Year is the perfect time to learn a new skill, find a new tribe and experience new things. Make checking sites like Meetup, Universe and Eventbrite part of your weekly ritual (use Streaks!) to find and attend events in your area that stretch you, inspire you or challenge how you think about things.

Be more informed…

Time is precious and knowing what counts is key to focusing on what needs to change. Services like TNN (The New Normal) can help keep you informed on what matters and what is noise. Using a dedicated Slack channel, subscribers get access to topic deep-dives as well as reports, invites and exclusive subscriber-only content. There are also events and other benefits to take advantage of.


Paul Armstrong is a regular contributor to Forbes, Evening Standard, Cool Hunting and Courier.