The 5 Best Productivity Tips We’ve Learned in the Past Decade to Get You Through 2020 (and Beyond)

Photo: Getty Images/Oscar Wong
As I write this, I'm fighting the urge to take advantage of one of the post-eggnog holiday sales and marathon-watch the latest season of You. In other words, my productivity isn't exactly spiking at the moment and I'm not alone. Research shows that people seriously lose their ability to do, well, most things in the very first month of the year.

A 2017 study found that come January only 7.2 percent of workers reported completing most of their tasks. And, like, same. So to make sure you start the decade off on a productive foot, we've rounded up the very best productivity tips we've collected over the past 10 years.

The productivity tips that are so good, we're taking them into 2020


Good productivity starts with your inbox. If you're hesitating about sending an email ("I just want to read it one more time!"), then this feature ensures you don't get too trigger-happy. Simply schedule it for tomorrow and let it haunt you overnight.

2. complain at work (no, really)

This advice may run counter to the usual "be positive" messaging that's par for the course these days, but complaining at work can actually work wonders for your productivity. A study published in the journal Organization Studies loooked at the habits of physicians and nurses to pharmacists and bereavement counselors—for longer than a year and found that “griping” at work can actually improve your mental health and your overall success in the office. (I just tried this tip myself, and I'm happy to report it works.)

3. Don't write your to-do list—draw it

Research suggests that drawing your to-do list instead of writing it out can actually help you get it done. If you need to answer emails, draw an envelope or doodle a little free weight for your time at the gym.

4. Schedule every single part of your day

You may think that filling your schedule to the brim would stress you out, but the opposite is actually true. Even if you're just penning in time for daydreaming, writing it down can help keep your brain organized (and your calendar really, really pretty).


Claire Wasserman, the CEO and founder of Ladies Get Paid, says that simply acknowledging when you've fallen out of a work flow can shift your mindset.“If I’m feeling sluggish or unproductive, I do other things like read the news or go for a walk,” she previously told Well+Good. “Worse comes to worst, I’ll call it a day and wake up early the next day to catch up on the work I missed. I’ve noticed I get more stuff done that way instead of powering through a time when I’m just not feeling it.”

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