We get it. The start of the year is tough; it’s freezing, the transport has reached almost farcical levels in price, and you can’t quite pull yourself out of that sugar-induced slump from December. And to make it worse, people (your boss/tutors) are expecting you to work? With even more enthusiasm than last year? Something has to change – it might as well be your habits. That way maybe everything will be a bit less painful.

Here are 13 small habits that can revolutionise your work flow, with minimal effort of course.

The Pomodoro technique

Can’t concentrate for longer than 15 minutes? You need the Pomodoro technique. The technique is simple; you estimate the time you need for some of your daily tasks, and break down the time required into 25 minute chunks, setting a timer on your phone or laptop for that. Each 25 minutes, when the alarm goes, you take a five or ten minute break and then get right back on it. The technique reduces the chances of you getting distracted and is proven to keep you focused for longer, as you know that you’ve got a break coming up after the set period of work.

Drink more water (from small containers)

Dehydrating yourself just to stay on top of your work load? Not in this economy. Invest in a medium-sized water bottle and replenish yourself every hour or so. A medium-sized bottle means that each time you need more water, you’ll also have to stand up to stretch your legs. Perfect.

The Eisenhower matrix

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In the 1950s, President Eisenhower gave a speech about sorting tasks into “urgent” and “important” principles to help with his priorities. After this, the Eisenhower matrix  was formed (see above) which helps you do the same thing.
If you struggle with prioritising, this method (best implemented in the morning or when you have a heavy work-load) could be for you.

Schedule/block your emails

Stop your emails from swamping your inbox? What sorcery is this, you ask? Well as The Muse reports, the Boomerang app for Gmail means you can organise your inbox until it’s the right time to deal with emails. “Schedule [emails] to arrive at the top of your inbox exactly when you need it top of mind” they say. There’s also a function which allows you to write emails in advance, and send it to someone the next day at whatever time you want. So no more late-night panic-pitching, then…

Eat the frog

Mark Twain once said “if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”  If you’re not into eating amphibians, don’t worry – there’s no literal frog-munching required. The frog is a metaphor and it represents that one thing you have on your to-do list that you have zero motivation for. Eating the frog means to just do it, otherwise the frog will eat you – meaning that you’ll end up procrastinating over it the whole day.

Putting tasks in your email calendar

It’s hard to find time to do your own tasks at work when things get busy and often, colleagues don’t respect your time. But if you schedule your tasks in your calendar like you would events and meetings, it signals to everyone that your time is precious, and they’ll be less likely to disrupt your plans.

Turn notifications off your phone for the day

Do any of us really need to know, exactly, what’s going on in our socials at every minute of the day? Turning your notifications off during the working day will help you get distracted less often, but it will probably also make you feel a bit less frantic/anxious when under pressure. Because we don’t need to be plugged in to everything all the time.

Invest time and money in your personal development

Work mojos come and go and if you find yourself in a rut, try investing in yourself. Search for some productivity podcasts, revamp your CV, pay for some life coaching, or check our round-up of the best online courses you can do for free.

Don’t sleep on your breaks

Well go for a nap if you want. But we mean, don’t neglect the mighty break. Total Jobs reported that going for breaks boosts productivity and leaves you feeling more relaxed, so whatever you do on your lunch, just make sure you take one.

Leave your laptop / phone downstairs at the end of the night

Put an end to late-night scrolling and leave your electronics downstairs. If you need to set an alarm for the morning you can charge your phone just outside of your room. No excuses.

Mind map things

When you need space to work things out, check  MindNode and Mind42 to help you organise your thoughts and boost your creativity.

Block your procrastination-faves

You need the internet to work, but you also can’t stop wasting time on Twitter and YouTube. So block your most distracting sites.  StayFocusd or Cold Turkey can be installed to prevent time wasting. And you’ll need to install them on ALL your browsers.

Exercise at lunch

The NHS recommends doing 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, which works out at about 20 minutes a day, but it’s hard to do even that, when we stick to the bed-to-bus-to-office routine. If you’ve got a cheap gym nearby your work,  you could try and squeeze in a quick workout to rejuvenate yourself when you hit a brick wall.

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