ilana at work

Alright folks, strap yourselves in. Once the holiday rush is over, it’s time to set some resolutions for the new year. And while there are the usual suspects — getting in shape, buying less and saving more — there’s also the specter of productivity, of doing more of the things you love while also making time for the things you need to do. For many of us, it can mean everything from being on time more, hitting deadlines more, or simply carving out more space for actual, no distractions downtime. But, it’s also tricky: How do you, in fact, make more time?

As people who are constantly on the Internet, AKA the biggest time suck in the world, the HG staffers put our heads together to figure out what works for us. Below are some of the things that keep us focused on the work at hand, and which might work (sorry) for you:

1. Listen to music with no lyrics, or music in a language you don’t understand

For some people, the key to getting work done is total silence, but we’d argue that most of us like to have something going on in the background to keep us from feeling like we’re in an isolation chamber. But chances are, that new album you’ve been saving to check out is, firstly, better served with a proper listen, and secondly, keeping you from actually paying attention to whatever you’re doing, especially if you’re working with words at all. (How many of us have accidentally typed the lyrics to the song they’re listening to instead of their intended message?)

The solution: Instrumental music, or music with vocals that you can’t listen to and begin sussing out immediately. Whether it’s looping and electronic or classical and calming, productivity music isn’t supposed to make you feeeeel all the things, and instead keep your head in a pensive, productive space.

2. Keep a notebook

Beyond being the focus of a loving essay by Joan Didion, notebooks give you a space to organize your thoughts, physically lay out schedules, and, most importantly, they aren’t connected to any digital media. They can come in the form of larger planners or even just those little spiral notepads, which can be easily tucked away in a purse or a pocket. Chances are, you already know your note-taking style (messy and on tiny scraps of paper, or in meticulous lists you keep on our phone); now, go forth and write it out.

3. Dress up, no matter what your office/work culture is like

Not everyone works in a corporate office or customer service job with strict dress and beauty codes, so for most of us, we’d definitely trade that meticulous morning beauty routine for an extra 15 minutes in bed. But if you’re stuck in a productivity rut, one of the things that somehow gets us out is, weirdly enough, to spend some time dressing up your appearance. It seems counter-intuitive — after all, picking a more formal outfit and putting on makeup definitely take time — but there’s something to be said about dressing for success.

There’s also something weirdly satisfying about putting on a killer full face, but if that and swapping out your office outfit aren’t concessions you can or want to make, maybe pick one beauty thing to touch up; something that gets your mind off of your work just for a second, but that’ll make you feel like you’re getting a fresh start on the working day:

4. Drink water (or keep hydrated in general)

Staying hydrated isn’t just good general health advice — it has a direct impact on productivity. (See: This 2012 National Institutes of Health study.) There are a million reasons at any given moment why you’re feeling tired or low on energy, and all of those translate into things that take away from focusing on getting stuff done. If you aren’t into glugging away at water, get your hydration from snacking on fruits and veggies.

5. Limit the Internet

Let’s be real: The easiest way to improve your productivity is to just shut off all of your devices (sorry about using that word) and chucking them into an environmentally-sound recycling facility. But in lieu of destroying thousands of dollars of merchandise, and in light of the fact that most of us use the Internet or at least an Internet connection to actually do our work, use an app like SelfControl to block off specific websites for certain time periods and set reminders for you to take a break from your screen.

Images courtesy of Broad City, The Devil Wears Prada/Tumblr, Showtime/Giphy, Giphy.