10 Quick Work Tasks to Make Sure 2020 Starts off Right

Mercer Smith-Looper Mercer Smith-Looper · 5 min read

Remember to focus on the things that allow you to refill your cup, instead of things that constantly deplete you

Every New Year is a clean slate. Gyms see their highest incoming new clients (also known as “resolution-ers”), planner sales skyrocket, fast food joints see a dip in sales, and overall people just try to be better. Whether it lasts for a month or lasts all year, your New Year planning is a great time to take stock of your personal life and clean up your habits. But it doesn’t have to stop there.

Here are ten quick things you can put in practice to get your 2020 work-life off to a good start, too.

Get your planner planned

If you aren’t already using a planner, it’s time to get on board. Using a planner allows you to organize your day at a glance, prioritize time to take care of yourself, and even see a historical record of the things that you’ve accomplished. There are so many planners for business out there, here are a few of our favorites to get you started:

  • EVO Planner
  • Panda Planner Pro
  • Simple Elephant
  • Bullet Journal
  • The Mastery Journal

Pick the best planner for you by deciding what you would like to focus on in the coming year. Do you just need better help organizing your day-to-day? Are you looking for deeper insights into your productivity and habits? A good planner can help with all of it, and will specifically cater to specific individual work tasks and goals.

Mind Map

Along with getting a new planner, mind mapping can help set your personal and professional goals for the next three months, year, and three years.

If you’re not familiar with mind mapping, it’s the process of writing out all of your dream professional and personal goals, and then timelining them in the order that you’d like to accomplish them. From there, you break them down into smaller, digestible segments and define the work tasks you’ll need to accomplish to get there. Check out this awesome guide from IQMatrix to get started.

Clean up your workspace

Those who work in a clutter-free workspace are able to work steadily for 7.5 minutes longer than those in a cluttered workspace. The same study concluded that an untidy workspace can “undermine people’s persistence in completing work tasks.” Not only will it be harder to find things, but you’ll actually get less done.

Beyond just feeling better about having a nice space to look at, having a clean workspace helps keep you healthy. Check out the statistics below about the number of health complications that can occur from having a messy desk:

work tasks

Organize your team goals

We’ve already talked about planning out things for yourself, so it should come as no surprise that the next step is planning things out for your team. Take the last few days of Q4 to assess your team’s performance over the past year and do a bit of a retrospective. Were there any goals that you missed? If so, why?

You can take these learnings and bake them into your planning for the next year. For example, if you failed to reach some of your goals because your team didn’t have enough time, try to give longer deadlines in the coming year. You want to set your team up for success

Disconnect from the internet

For at least a few days before diving into a new year, take some time to disconnect. A recent study in the Netherlands uncovered that, after just a few days of distance from work and work-related apps, sites and blogs, people were much more cognitively and emotionally available to the people around them.

Take a break. It doesn’t have to be a full vacation and you don’t have to go anywhere, but take the time to delete Slack off of your phone and really disconnect from your work responsibilities. When you come back, both your work and your self will be better for it.

Refresh your network

When was the last time that you checked LinkedIn? If you’re not actively looking for a job, it might not have been recently. Take some time to login and approve all those requested connections, and glance through your existing ones.

In the new year, your company or team might be doing some hiring. By having a full understanding of your up-to-date and fleshed-out professional network, you’ll be able to recommend ideal candidates for newly opened roles.

You’ll also do double-duty and ensure that, in the event that you do start looking for a job, your network knows that you’re available. Refresh those connections!

Email filters

The first time that I set up email filters and got to true inbox zero was a miraculous day.

work tasks

Email filters help you get a bird’s eye view of all of the stuff in your inbox and allow you to organize and prioritize it as needed. If you haven’t set up appropriate filters in your personal and professional inboxes, you are missing out. Here’s a great guide on ten email filters that you can set up to change the way you think about your inbox.

Figure out a morning routine that works

It’s really easy to fall into the trap of idealizing your future plans. Of course, you want a green juice and 30 minutes of exercise before you start your workday. Unfortunately, though, for many of us, that isn’t feasible or practical.

Create a morning routine that takes into consideration things like your commute, your kids, varying train schedules, or early morning meetings. Some other important things to keep in mind are: is there a gym in your office building, are there any special services that might make the process easier for you, or can you commute with a colleague or partner?

If there’s a gym at your office, you can work out on your lunch. If there’s a specialty service that would make meal prepping (even if just for breakfast) easier for you and your family, consider the cost of that versus just buying regular groceries.

It’s okay to take shortcuts if they set you up for success every day.

Schedule meetings with yourself and breaks

Atlassian recently did a study and found that, at their company, each person spent 31 hours in unproductive meetings each month. Similarly, Hubspot released a study where they listed some of the side effects of losing this “heads down” time. It includes a slew of lost productivity issues and $37 billion in lost time.

While it might be an endemic issue at some of these larger companies, regaining some of your heads downtime doesn’t need to be such a fight.

Start 2020 off right by scheduling regular meetings with yourself and breaks on your calendar. Setting these regularly and marking them as busy will keep people from overbooking your time, and give you the opportunity to work on other projects as the year progresses.

Find an opportunity for your company to give back

Not everything needs to be about increased work productivity. There are a few things that you can do to kick off your business in 2020 that don’t necessarily boost your team’s output but give positive inputs instead.

Find a way for your team or company to regularly give back to the community around you. This could be by proposing a quarterly “Gives Back” day where everyone is able to go and work for a charity of their choice in lieu of work, or even a group activity like working in a soup kitchen. Small acts like these add up and will leave your team feeling reinvigorated and connected.


There’s no true hack for living a full life, but these ten tips should get your new year kicked off with a bang.

Remember to focus on the things that allow you to refill your cup, instead of things that constantly deplete you. Just because you are focused on work does not mean that you need to pour everything that you have into it. Find times to recharge, reset, give back and find perspective in order to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

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Mercer Smith-Looper Mercer Smith-Looper

Mercer is the Head of Support at Appcues, a yoga fanatic, and strives to make the world a little bit happier one customer at a time. You can find her at mercenator.com and on Twitter at @mercenator.

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