So you’ve survived December! What now? How about a January that’s prosperous, balanced and joyful? One in which you feel like you’re actually doing your best and getting the most important stuff done and moving your business forward? One in which your time management system is working so well that you’re able to get that most important stuff done and have time for everything that’s important on the personal side too? And if you could enjoy optimum physical and mental health throughout the typically dreary month of January, that would be great too.  

Sounds good, right? The great thing about the beginning of January is that it’s such an optimistic time. The slate feels wiped clean. You get to move into a new year with a list of goals that feel exciting and important and current for where you are in your life right now! Unfortunately… 

Optimism and excitement don’t automatically translate into action, or good time management.  

Without a really clear plan for the specific ways you’re going to create the life you want this January, you’re probably going to fall back into existing habits. And there’s a good chance your old time management system is going to feel rustier than ever when you try to get back into the groove at work after New Year’s. The transition from holiday mode to normal life mode can be a tough adjustment, especially in gloomy early January. 

Remember: the start of January is a moment of opportunity that’s yours for the taking. This really can be the year that your business explodes and your personal life is everything you want it to be. I don’t want you to slip into survival mode, where you let your goals fall by the wayside and feel like you’re just trying to get through the day.  

With that in mind, I’ve put together an eight-point list of the things you need to create the prosperous and productive January you crave, even when things don’t go according to plan. Everyone’s wired differently, so your toolkit might look a little different—take this list as a starting point! 

Eight Things You Need in Your January Toolkit 

1. A theme or general intention for the month ahead.

Imagine it’s the end of the month, and someone says, “Tell me about your January.” What are the few words you would most like to be able to use to describe it? Busy and productive? Restful? Full of family time? Lucrative? Being forced to boil down your hopes for the month ahead into a few words can help you clarify what an ideal January would really look for you right now.  

2. A clear idea of your peak priorities for January (and the rest of the year).

Whether you call these New Year’s resolutions or goals, this is the list of things you most want to accomplish in the near future. If you’re going to get the most important things done this year and this month, you need to be really clear about what those most important things are. (Check out this blog I wrote on my secret for creating goals!) 

3. An actionable plan for nurturing your mental health and physical health.  

What are the exact steps you’re going to take this month to minimize stress, protect your peace of mind and feel as physically healthy as you’re able to? Think about concrete ways you can preempt extreme stress, and things you can do now to set yourself up for a healthy and happy January. For example: 

  • Is now a good time to schedule a session with a therapist or other mental health professional, and/or schedule any medical appointments you’ve been putting off?  
  • If you have specific exercise or fitness goals for the new year, is there a friend with similar goals who would want to be accountability partners with you, or a trainer you could book to keep you on track? 
  • Can you schedule dinners and other activities with people you love throughout the month of January, so you’ll always have fun activities to look forward to? 
  • Can you make a short list of mood-boosting activities you’d like to try this month? If you’ve never tried meditation, or you’ve been meaning to get back to riding your bike, or want to take up a new crafty hobby, or get into a new podcast, jot those down. When stress is creeping in, or you’re feeling down, choose an activity to throw yourself into.  

4. A monthly plan that has the “big rocks” in place.

The big rocks include things like scheduled client meetings, deadlines, doctor’s appointments, continuing education classes, networking events, etc. A lot’s still up in the air for January, but these are all the important events that you know you’re going to need to plan around. Getting them all put down into your calendar lets you visualize your month at a glance. It’s also reassuring to know that none of those big, important events is going to sneak up on you, and looking at the full month can guide your planning around your yearly goals. You can say, “Okay, if I’m going to achieve X by November, I should achieve Y by the end of January,” and then break down those smaller monthly goals into even smaller, achievable weekly or daily goals. 

5. Flexible templates for every day.

Having a flexible template for every day is essentially like setting a GPS for your day, with the destination being whatever your most important tasks are for that particular day. Unexpected delays and roadblocks are going to come up during the day, but having a flexible plan lets you make adjustments in real time so you stay on course with those most important priorities.  

6. A physical work environment that supports peak productivity.

The beginning of a new season is always a good time to reevaluate your physical space and make sure it’s set up to help you do your best work. Small steps like rearranging furniture, throwing things away, removing distractions or swapping out your desk chair can do a lot to draw you into your work and help you stay comfortable and engaged with your most important tasks. Look beyond your desk, too. For example, for realtors and others who spend a lot of time out meeting clients: Are your car and work bags well-organized and well-stocked so everything you need is within reach while you’re on the go?   

7. A strategy to get back on track when necessary.

Life happens. Your plans are going to fall apart some days. You’ll get sick, or a client will have an emergency, or you’ll just have one of those days when you just can’t seem to get anything done. What’s the plan when you need to reset?  

8. A support team.

Who can you count on to pick up your slack, lend a supportive ear and offer tough-but-fair advice when you’ve gone astray? Your support team can include everyone from your partner and friends, to your work team and industry peers, to paid professionals like a therapist or time management coach. And support can take many forms! For some people, paying for house cleaning services or pricy takeout is worth the saved time and relief of coming home to a clean house or a delicious, balanced meal at the end of a long day. Think about what specific kinds of support you’re going to need to help make life easier and help you stay focused on your goals throughout January.  

Need help setting yourself up for a prosperous and productive new year?  

I want to help you carry the optimism and excitement of a fresh new year through January and beyond! My Jump Start Your Productivity self-study program is designed to help you break through your time management challenges and build a new time management system that’s customized to you, including those all-important flexible daily and weekly plans.  

The year-end special price expires soon, so if you’re ready to set yourself up for your most productive and personally fulfilling year yet, make sure to register by January 1st! 

Get more information about Jump Start and register here.  

Happy New Year! 


Sarah Reiff-Hekking