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12 Tips For Getting Shit Done And Completely Owning 2017

Forget resolutions. Let's set real goals.

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We made it, y'all — it's officially 2017!

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And now everyone around you (maybe including you) is talking about New Year's resolutions. Maybe you're someone who officially makes a resolution every year. Or maybe you're someone who rejects the idea entirely because you can do what you want anytime of the year (💁) or because resolutions don't always pan out the way they should.

Either way, here's something pretty much all of us want this year: to get shit done. But that's obviously a lot easier said than done. So here's how to put all your big plans into action and actually stay motivated and productive along the way:

1. First, clearly define what you want to accomplish.

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A big reason why people don't accomplish something (whether it's missing a deadline or ditching a resolution) is because they're too general, like: "I'm going to exercise more" or "I'm going to save more money," Sharon Danzger, productivity consultant and founder of Control Chaos, tells BuzzFeed Health.

Setting vague goals can end up overwhelming you and setting you up for failure, because your focus is only on the end goal — rather than how to actually get there.

Instead, set specific goals like, "I'm going to go to the gym four times a week until October" or "I'm going to save 5% of my paycheck every month for a year" or "I'm going to write one chapter a day, three days a week."

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2. Break up big goals or assignments into little, actually doable chunks.

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Whether they take a few minutes or a few hours to get done, you just want to feel confident in your ability to finish them, Danzger says.

So if your goal is to save more money, write down all the smaller tasks that will help you get there, like: opening a savings account, researching money-saving apps, taking an afternoon to figure out your budget and how much you can realistically save each month, planning what amount you'll save each month, and when/how you'll move the money over, etc.

On that note, you should also get what's familiar done first, Dr. Amit Sood, professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic and author of The Mayo Clinic Handbook for Happiness, tells BuzzFeed Health. This helps you build confidence so you're not as intimidated by the task.

3. If you've got a lot you want or need to do, list it all in order of priority.

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Some might call this time management, but Sood and Danzger both agree that a more accurate term is "work management." If you have a lot of shit to get done, listing them out and prioritizing them is key.

The trick here is to not get caught up in the time it takes to get something done, but instead to make sure that the most important stuff gets done first, Sood says. Then, if you have time, you can get started on the rest.

4. Schedule your most important stuff early in the day.

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Though you might feel the groggiest in the morning, Danzger says it's still the best time to get shit done because you're somewhat well rested and you haven't made too many decisions yet, so your mind isn't all that tired.

5. Set some ground rules for when you check email, apps, and social media.

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Because we're already in too deep in this digital world, getting rid of social media simply isn't possible, Sood says — but digital discipline is. He recommends checking social media and emails only a couple of times a day. This way it'll work to enhance your life (by keeping you informed and connected to friends and family) instead of just taking up valuable time.

Even if your job requires you to be on email basically always, Danzger says it's best to designate a time each hour to do that, rather than relying on pop-up email alerts that are more distracting than helpful. If you need to, change your settings so only important people (like your boss) warrant an alert.

6. Politely say "no" more often.

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"It's nice to help somebody out, and if you see the benefit in helping somebody out then that's great," Danzger says. "But we also have to protect our time because it's so limited.

So while it might seem like turning down an assignment or an invitation means you're actually *not* being productive, it's really freeing you up to focus on the stuff that's already on your to-do list.

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7. Write stuff down all the time.

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A great way to stay on track and spot any time- or motivation-sucks is to put it in writing. Danzger suggests spending 10 minutes each night jotting down what you got done that day and what you have planned for tomorrow. That way, when you wake up, you're already ahead of the game. You can also write to-do lists, done lists, and even keep a bullet journal if that helps you.

If you're trying to start a new daily habit, like meditating or making your bed, Danzger says you should get a wall calendar and practice "not breaking the chain." Do this by crossing off each day with an "X" when you finish what you have to do. "Once you get to day four or five, you start to create a small chain, and then you don't want to break it." Genius.

8. Save some time for when ~shit happens~.

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Whatever can go wrong will go wrong, amirite? So when you plan your day, give yourself an hour or so to deal with any setbacks that come your way, says Danzger. "What that does is it changes your mindset so that you're not always pissed off when things change and your schedule gets messed up," she says.

9. Don't obsess over everything being perfect.

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Absolute perfection in everything we do would be fucking great. But let's be honest, no one will get it perfect every single time, and trying to will probably hinder your productivity more than anything else, Danzger says.

That's why it's important to remember the 80/20 rule, which states that about 20% of the effort you put into work is responsible for 80% of the results you see, she says. If you remember this, you won't stress so much over the smaller things — like whether an email is worded correctly or if it comes off as too aggressive or too vague — and put more effort into the bigger things, like that report your boss is waiting for. You really gotta pick your battles, says Danzger.

10. Find some role models that motivate you.

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Maybe it's the person posting workout tutorials on Instagram. Or maybe it's a CEO that always seems to have their shit so delicately together. Maybe it's a celebrity that gives you life goals; or it could be a friend/mentor/boss that you actually know IRL who gives amazing advice.

Sometimes it just helps to have a person in mind when you hit a roadblock and need some motivation, especially if they've gone through something similar, says Sood.

11. Take mindful breaks instead of just marathon-ing through a task.

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Even though you might think you can work straight through for eight hours, your brain can't — it needs time to recharge. But to make sure you don't get sidetracked by your breaks, Danzger suggests doing something short and mindful — like taking a quick meditation break, stretching, sipping a cup of coffee, or making a quick call to a friend.

The goal is to immerse yourself in the experience and try not to let thoughts about the past or future creep in, she says, noting that this will help reduce your stress and ultimately make you happier. "Just focusing on the task at hand and being totally present will help, so that you don’t contaminate that time."

You can read more about mindfulness here.

12. Reward yourself when you actually do the work.

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If that's the sort of thing that motivates you, then BY ALL MEANS go ahead and get yourself that ice cream cone or watch that movie — but only once you've done what needs to get done, Danzger says. "It also takes discipline, because there's nothing to stop you from just watching the movie anyway."

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