With the change of a new year often comes reflection and thoughtfulness for the year to come. Usually, the idea stems from a personal nature and not necessarily a combination of your personal life and work. One thing I have learned over the years is even though you may go to a job, your work life is never really separate from your home life and your home life is never really separate from your work life. You can’t separate who you are.

Here are 20 tips to help you start 2020 off on the right foot, and continue throughout the year.

1. Evaluate the last year.

Take the time to evaluate this past year. On a sheet of paper, write out the various areas, which may include work, health, home life, parenting, spouse, etc. Write out what went well and what can be done different in this upcoming year. If you don’t know what you have accomplished, you can’t plan for the future.

Estimated Time: 1 hour total

2. Choose One Area of Personal Development

Don’t choose 5 areas. Choose one. When you decide to only focus on one area, you are more likely to follow through on it.

Estimated Time: TBD (most likely an hour a week)

3. Clean up old computer files.

Odds are you have documents on your computer that are adding clutter to the important documents. Take 30 minutes and delete the unwanted documents. Then spend another 30 minutes putting documents into files so you can access them much faster in the future.

Estimated Time: 1 hour total

4. Make your health a priority.

If you are unhealthy, you cannot provide the type of leadership that is needed for yourself or the organization you work for. Choose to eat healthy. Choose to work out 15 minutes a day. Choose you. You will be surprised at how everything improves with your health.

Estimated Time: >30 minutes a day

5. Lead by example.

Stop thinking that you can do whatever you want because you are the boss. Your employees are watching you. You set the tone of the organization. Your character is what they will think is acceptable to emulate.

Estimated Time: Nada

6. Choose to schedule out your priorities.

No one else will ensure that you are living and working within your priorities but you. On Monday morning, before you open your email, open up your calendar and make sure the necessary personal and professional appointments are on the calendar. If you don’t know where to start, check out this post.

Estimated Time: 20 minutes on Monday morning

7. Default to trust.

Your team wants to know you believe they can and will do a good job. Trust until they do something that makes them not trustworthy. When you trust in them, they will often go the extra mile to make sure they don’t let you down.

Estimated Time: Nada

8. Learn to say no.

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” Warren Buffett

You have to guard your time and resources so that you can say yes to the areas that fit your priorities. Learn to say no to clients, opportunities, or events that don’t meet your criteria.

Estimated Time: 1 hour at the beginning of the year to figure out your priorities, and then it will pay dividends back to you. Every decision is then made through the filter of your priorities.

9. Unsubscribe.

Tired of getting all of those emails that you simply delete every day? Unsubscribe to the ones that don’t bring you value. If they don’t bring you value as a leader, if they are constantly trying to sell you something, opt out from receiving them. It will save you time in the end.

Estimated Time: 5 minutes daily until it’s all gone

10. Read a book.

Any book. A book on leadership, landscape, or on wine making. Choose a book of interest and read.

Estimated Time: 10 minutes a day

11. Delegate more.

Odds are there are people on your team that are good at the tasks you are not good at and would love to do them. Delegate those tasks to them! They will feel like a greater part of the team when they are using their strengths and you can focus on the areas that you are strong in. It’s a win-win.

Estimated Time: In the beginning, 2-5 hours a month, then it will save you time.

12. Recycle old technology.

Get rid of any old technology that you have lying around your office. Odds are there is an organization in your area that will come and pick it up for free. This is something I just did and it was great to have the space in my personal office as well as the mental space to have this off my list.

Estimated Time: 30 minutes…or no time if you don’t have old computers stored!

13. “5 Minutes or Less” Rule

If it takes less than 5 minutes to do, then do it now. Don’t set the file to the side, put it away in the filing cabinet. Need to make a quick phone call? Don’t put that on your to do list, just take care of it. When you get those tasks off of your plate, you can focus on the important matters.

Estimated Time: Nada

14. Minimize your time on social media.

Did you know there are apps that limit the amount of time you can be on a website or another app? This has been a game changer for me. I often find myself scrolling into the abyss. Stop it before it starts.

Estimated Time: 20 minutes to find the right app, then you will have more productive time

15. Keep learning.

The world is ever changing. If you don’t keep learning, reading, studying new methods, you will quickly fall behind.

Estimated Time: Use your taken back social media time to do keep learning.

16. Stop and smell the flowers.

Yes, we all have a to-do list a mile long. If you find a way to be present during your day, to notice the good things around you, to show gratitude, then your attitude will change.

Estimated Time: Nada

17. If it doesn’t serve you, stop doing it.

The idea that you have to do something because you have always done it is outdated. If a process or system doesn’t serve your priorities as a company anymore, then have the courage and freedom to change it. Shift your mindset. Let your employees share with you ways you can improve as a company. In the end, this will help with employee engagement.

This goes for your personal life as well.

Estimated Time: TBD but it is a gradual process

18. Make time to laugh as a team.

Employee engagement can make a huge difference in your organization. Find a time to bond as a team. Find a time to laugh together. You will be surprised at how something simple can bring your team back together to focus on the vision of the organization.

Estimated Time: TBD, could be half a day once a quarter, a fun Friday treat, or an office meeting turned into a minute to win it type competition. The possibilities are endless.

19. Develop your elevator pitch.

If you can’t tell an employee in 30 seconds how their job benefits the larger organization and why their position is important, then start working on that. If your employees know how their job affects the organization, odds are in your favor that they will

Estimated Time: Hopefully not more than 1 hour…

20. Goals

If you don’t have a plan, then you plan to fail. Take the time each month to establish personal and organizational goals. If you set aside the time to plan out a trajectory, odds are you will at least be heading in the right direction.

Estimated Time: 1 hour each month

The good news about the 20 items listed above is most don’t take time, just effort in some instances. Some will end up giving you more time back in your day. And the areas that need time will also help you to stay more focused on your priorities in the future.

If you hit a bump in the road, and you will, don’t let that detour you from starting fresh the next day or the next week. Every new day is an opportunity to start over.


If you are a leader or emerging leader who wants to lead with meaning and purpose, then let’s connect. I would love to help you become a leader worth following.

P.S.- Continue the conversation on Facebook! I would love to hear how I can help you on your journey. To receive up to date content, sign up to receive my free 7 Steps to a Prioritized Life on the home page and posts will be delivered right to your inbox.  If Facebook isn’t your favorite social media site, you can connect with me on TwitterPinterest, and LinkedIn.


Stephanie German is a leadership coach, adjunct professor, and dedicated work-from-home mom. She holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership and is the chair of the Red Shoe Society Central Valley (Ronald McDonald House guild). When she’s not coaching clients or writing about leadership, Stephanie is usually headed to the mountains or the beach with her family, drinking savory wine, or working on the latest project with her husband. Stephanie’s greatest desires are to nurture the next generation of leaders while raising her own children to be strong, independent, and brave. She lives in Fresno, California with her husband Blake and her three spunky daughters, Cara, Kinsey, and Peyton. She is the best-selling author of So Your Boss Can’t Lead?

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