5 things you should do now to be more productive in 2018

5 tricks to make 2018 your most productive year yet
5 tricks to make 2018 your most productive year yet

The start of a new year is a great time to take stock of your goals and aspirations for how you want to elevate your life.

Are you aiming to be more organized at work? Do you want a new job or promotion? Are you looking to start a healthier lifestyle that includes working out and eating right? Regardless of what you want to accomplish, you don't have to wait until the new year to work towards your goals.

Below are five habits you can get into right now to set you up for success in 2018:

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1. Keep track of your commitments

If you're looking to gain more recognition on your job, then keeping track of the tasks, ideas and projects you committed to is important.

According to researchers David Maxfield and Justin Hale from the leadership training company VitalSmarts, the one thing top employees do that sets them apart from average employees is use "capture tools." Rather than running the risk of forgetting a task, top-performing employees use a sticky note, app or email to jot down the things that occupy their schedule.

"When someone gives you a to-do don't hold it in your head," Maxfield tells CNBC Make It. "Get it out of your head and write it down in two places."

According to a study by Wake Forest University professors E. J. Masicampo and Roy F. Baumeister, just writing down a plan for getting tasks done can easily free you from experiencing anxiety.

This is how Tesla CEO Elon Musk stays productive
This is how Tesla CEO Elon Musk stays productive

2. Check email only after you've completed something

Office workers now receive an average of more than 100 emails per day and spend 6.3 hours checking both their work and personal messages. Although experts have mixed opinions about whether you should check your emails first thing in the morning, Boomerang CEO and email productivity expert Alex Moore says he's found success by checking his messages only after he's completed a task.

"Right before I go home [from work] the last thing I do is look at the stuff I need to do and try to organize it by priority," he tells CNBC Make It. "I try to make sure as soon as I get to work, I make progress on those at least for an hour before I look at my emails."

Ashton Kutcher also lives by this habit.

In an interview with Arianna Huffington for "The Thrive Global Podcast," Kutcher referred to emails as "everyone else's to-do list for you." He said he sometimes found himself spending two hours of his morning answering messages.

"It became an impossible hole to get out of," he said. "Because then every response I had had three more responses. All I was doing was other people's work all day long, and I never actually got to the things that I wanted to accomplish on that given day."

Adopt these 3 habits to be productive every day
Adopt these 3 habits to be productive every day

3. Develop a strict morning routine

How you start your day often sets the tone for how you feel going into work, a meeting or even a job interview. That's why many successful business leaders stick to a strict morning routine.

For billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, his morning routine includes waking up at 5 a.m. every day to exercise, eat breakfast and spend time with his family. For self-made millionaire Tony Robbins, each morning starts with 10 minutes of meditation. For New York City's First Lady Chirlane McCray, the morning is only right when she wakes up between 6:30 and 7 a.m to have coffee and breakfast with her husband before going to the gym at the YMCA in Brooklyn.

According to Tom Corley, financial planner and author of "Change Your Habits, Change Your Life," adjusting your morning ritual can make you happier.

"Good daily habits enable you to focus every day on pursuing success," he writes. "They put success on autopilot."

OpenTable CEO on the secrets to insanely productive meetings
OpenTable CEO on the secrets to insanely productive meetings

4. Holding weekly meetings, with yourself

Setting aside alone time in a busy schedule can be difficult. But, according to Maxfield and Hale, many top employees set non-negotiable check-ins every week to refocus and align their to-do lists with their high-level priorities.

For people who are looking to follow this same practice, Maxfield suggest re-evaluating your to-do list and asking yourself during this meeting, "Is this task getting me towards where I want to go in my relationships, in my career and in my life?"

Here's why you should stop multitasking if you want to be productive
Here's why you should stop multitasking if you want to be productive

5. Implement the two-minute rule

If your goal for 2018 is to get better at maximizing your time and managing your schedule, then implementing the two-minute rule is a habit you'll want to adopt now.

With this rule, any action that can be carried out in two minutes or less is completed right away. Maxfield and Hale say it's a practice that many top employees implement as it allows them to quickly finish small tasks before they pile up and take more mental space than they deserve.

Video produced by Jon Fazio

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