Adriana Zoder: New year's resolutions don't work, so why make them?

Dec. 28, 2013 @ 11:54 PM

Scientific fact: new year's resolutions do not work. They fizzle out by April, to be precise. So why make them? Instead, please allow me to mention a couple of books that will set you off on a path to productivity and goal-achieving bliss, not only in business, but in your personal life, as well.

“Getting Things Done” by David Allen will teach you not only how to get organized, but also how to think about the things you must accomplish in your life.

This is not your run-of-the-mill organizational book with the same old, same old advice packaged differently. This book promises to completely revolutionize your life not just by raising your productivity level, but also by relieving you of stress.

Take the two-minute rule, for instance. When you sort through your inbox, if the task required of you takes less than two minutes, do it right then and there. If it doesn't, decide whether to defer or delegate it.

Another neat tip is to ask yourself “why?”, every time you consider starting a new project. If you are already in the middle of some projects, ask yourself the same question. So many people get trapped into activities they have completely lost a reason for. I know I do.

Allen defines “project” as “any outcome that requires more than one step.” To push a project forward, always ask yourself, “What is the next actionable step?”

In the middle of a project, we get overwhelmed with not seeing results because we look at the end result, which is yet to come. To avoid stress, think of only the next step. Take it. Then, relax and wait for the action you just set in motion to come to completion.

All this, coupled with an organizing system that will take information out of your head and into manila folders, will give you the kind of stress-free productivity you have craved for years. At least, that is the promise of this national best-selling book.

The other book I wanted to recommend to you all is “The 12-Week Year” by Brian Moran. There even is a free course you can take online, at

The book takes a concept from athletic training, called periodization, and applies it to productivity and goal-setting. Everybody can benefit from it, from home makers to CEOs.

We all get complacent about projects in our lives, especially those that are not urgent and immediate. If it's January, we push something for spring because of the weather, for instance. But once spring comes, we are busy with other things, so that particular project gets bumped to August. By August, of course, we think October would be a better month to start it. If we waited this far, what's a few more months, right?

Moran's book proposes you take the idea of annual goals and plans down to a 12-week cycle. Set your goals and due dates for the next 12 weeks, not the next 12 months. You will be amazed by how much you get done simply because you have the urgency of a deadline approaching.

Here's to a great 2014, full of stress-free productivity! Happy new year!

Adriana Zoder, a Gatlinburg resident, is a writer and homeschooling mom. She and her husband have two children. She maintains the blog