Ijeoma Kola sitting on living room floor with laptop and journal

5 Things I Did to Start The Year Right

Are you tired of hearing about all the things you should be doing differently this year? Although I’m not big on setting lofty goals and I haven’t set any 2021 resolutions, I do think it’s important to do some groundwork and lay the foundation for a successful year. Here are a few things that I did at the end of last year and the beginning of this year to get me started on the right foot.

1. Chose My Word for the Year

Even though I haven’t set any 2021 resolutions, I have chosen a word for the year. This year my word is FOCUS. I explain my thought process and how I came to that word a bit more in this post, but essentially, I decided that I wanted to only focus on work and opportunities that are aligned with my purpose. This will allow me to free up time and, in turn, allow me to focus on nurturing my personal relationships, including the most important one — the one I have with myself.

2. Cleaned Out My Email Inbox

In what was probably the most liberating thing I’ve done in a long time, I marked all my emails as read so I could start the year at inbox 0. I have 4 email accounts I check regularly, and 7 in total. I’m notorious for reading an email and leaving it for later, which means that I had “unread” emails from as far back as 2017 in my business inbox. Now starting at inbox zero might frighten you and make you feel like you’ll miss out on something. But I believe if something is truly important or meant for my life, it will circle back to me.

On the same email management train, I unsubscribed from most newsletters. I previously used UnrollMe to help consolidate my newsletters, which worked well, but I went on a huge unsubscribe train.

3. Got a Journal

I used to write all the time when I was younger. And I’ll be honest, I never completed the pages of a journal. But the journals I had before were all unlined, so this time I got a journal with prompts about self-development to keep me mindful of my thoughts and feelings. Sometimes I start off the day writing, other times I complete the prompt during my lunch break, and sometimes I do it right before bed. So far, I’ve enjoyed having dedicated time to write.

4. Prayed With My Family

Jonathan and I pray together regularly, but we started off the year praying for our family together. Although I have my own personal plans and hopes, we also have plans for our family, so we made sure to commit those plans together in prayer. We also made sure to say a prayer of thanksgiving for 2020, because we really were blessed and fortunate in so many ways.

5. Time Blocked My Calendar

I’ve heard about time blocking before but never gave it much thought. I have a tendency to get carried away spending hours working on (or usually researching) something that has little consequence, like what’s the best time of the day to upload YouTube videos. A 9am upload vs a 12pm upload isn’t worth the 4 hours I spent reading every conflicting article on the topic. Since this year is all about focus, I thought it was important to lay out everything I have going on in a week and create time blocks in my calendar for when I’ll be doing different tasks.

I scheduled when I’d eat meals, when I’d do blog work, Cohort Sistas work, and my own academic research and writing. I even scheduled rest and family time. Most importantly, I scheduled when I’d log off for my workday and go to bed. Sleep is something I’m really working on this year, so it’s important I maintain a bedtime routine that starts at the same time every day. So far, so good this week, but I’ll make adjustments and tweaks to the schedule as need be.

Are you committed to doing anything differently in your life this year? Or have you set any 2021 resolutions or words? Drop a comment below!

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  1. Think I’m going to try the block method this year because I do get lost doing very random things!

  2. Ijeoma your advice always helps and pushes me to get my shiiiiz together. please what calender is that? it looks soo good

  3. Ah blocking off the day to work: genius! I so much love it. It puts a lot of structure on my day. And that way I can schedule REST, which is my favorite part of the day. I’m still way too afraid to just clear out my inbox like that whew.