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By Karyln Borysenko – Forbes

With the holiday upon us, vacation time scheduled, and a new year right around the corner, it’s not uncommon for productivity at work to take a nosedive at the end of the year. However, you can empower yourself to stay on track by making simple shifts in your day. Here are three easy ways to get started.

Make your goals tiny.

They say that success generates more success, but what happens when your goals don’t allow you to create that momentum? You can take control of your experience by breaking your goals down into their tiny parts, and working through them bit-by-bit.

Making your goals smaller has a ton of benefits:

  • They are easier to start. The toughest part of reaching a goal is to take the first step. When a goal is a large project that might seem overwhelming or unattainable, taking that first step will be a lot harder than if you choose a small target that looks like low hanging fruit.
  • They help you create a habit of success. Say you start your day with a big “to do” list, but at the end of the day you only have one or two things crossed off. You leave work feeling as though you haven’t accomplished much of anything. However, when you break your goals down into their tiny parts, you enable yourself to create a list of tasks that will take you much less time to accomplish, helping you to cross more items off your list. Do this consistently and you’ll create the habit of leaving work feeling happy with your contribution at the end of every day.
  • They set you up to reach the big goals. Say you have a goal of running a marathon but have never run a mile before. Instead of focusing on the big goal of 26.2 miles, you focus your attention on the tiny goal of 1 mile, which is much more attainable! The day you hit that mile for the first time, you let yourself feel a fantastic sense of accomplishment. Then you change your goal to 2 miles, and achieve that. Then you run your first 5K, and so forth. Every single goal you meet gets you one step closer to that marathon. The same is true at work – when you create your tiny goals they should lead up to the broader goals you have, but do so in a way that allows you to experience consistent progress and celebrate your victories.

Break out your headphones.

When you work in an office with an open floor plan, a nice big pair of headphones can be your best friend when you want to stay focused on your work. Research has shown that listening to music while you’re working will spur you to complete tasks more quickly. But be careful – not all forms of music are created equal! Generally speaking, you’ll want to look for music without lyrics and with a relatively simple structure to avoid it being a potential distraction. When in doubt, classical music is your best bet, but you could also experiment with nature sounds, ambient music, or even video game soundtracks.

However, you don’t need to be listening to music at all for your headphones to support your productivity! The more focused you are, the more you’ll produce, but it’s hard to maintain your flow when you have people coming up to your desk all the time to chat. The simple act of wearing headphones – whether you’re playing music or not – sends the message to co-workers that you are in “do not disturb” mode and can help you fend off folks from interrupting your work for an impromptu question or conversation.

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