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Survey—mastering your productivity in 2017

January is all about making resolutions and being an even better version of yourself in the new year. Since so many of us pledge to be more productive, we teamed up with Levo—the network for millennials in the workplace—to sponsor the “Mastering your productivity in 2017” survey. We polled 1,500 Levo community members and asked them about their productivity habits and challenges.*

Mastering your productivity in 2017—interactive survey results

What’s the #1 challenge to being productive? What’s most helpful when it comes to productivity? Are happiness and productivity related? We looked at all this and more. Explore the results from the survey in the interactive Power BI data visualizations to see what we discovered. Simply click the forward > or < back arrows at the bottom of the report to display results of a question and then click the different age filters to find out how attitudes about productivity change by age. (Since some respondents didn’t provide their age, we included a filter to represent this group.) To clear the filters and see all responses, click the button twice. Click the icons in the lower right-hand corner to share the report or view it in full screen. To see a larger version of this report, click here.

How can you achieve more this year?

Based on the survey results, here are five tech tips to help you work smarter in 2017:

#1—make your tech work for you (not against you)

Technology should help you be more productive instead of getting in the way. When information comes at you from every angle and every device, it’s distracting. It is not surprising that people under 30 found distractions—like social media—to be their #1 challenge to productivity.

Instead of letting distractions slow you down, let technology help keep you focused. Work can be overwhelming (especially with that overflowing post-holiday break inbox), but organizing and prioritizing go a long way. Don’t try to tackle everything at once—use the Focused Inbox in Outlook to separate your inbox into two tabs. Emails that matter most to you will be in your Focused tab, while the rest will be close by—but out of the way—in the Other tab. As you move email in or out of your Focused Inbox, Outlook becomes even better at knowing your priorities over time. This helps you manage the tasks that matter most and organize your time.

A clear inbox is great, but a clear mind is even better. Meditating daily can reduce stress and anxiety, and improve sleep and cognition—all of which can help you work smarter. With Meditation apps like Headspace, it’s easy to find time for a daily practice. Try making meditation a part of your day by blocking off time on your Outlook calendar.

#2—tally accomplishments, not just to-dos

Rethink how you use and incorporate to-do lists. To-do lists remain ubiquitous because they’re a simple and personal way to organize our thoughts. Ninety-two percent of survey respondents found that creating to-do lists is most helpful when it comes to being productive. But making a list for the sake of it won’t accomplish much. Prioritizing your to-dos can help you learn what you care about, what your purpose is and what you want to accomplish in your career or your life.

OneNote makes it easier than ever to keep track of your to-dos, projects and goals. By integrating your project list directly into your OneNote notebook using the “to-do” tag, Office makes it easy to keep your daily tasks, ongoing work and long-term goals all in one place.

#3—rise and grind

As saying goes, “The early bird gets the worm.” In fact, everyone claiming to be a “night owl” might just be fooling themselves. Believe it or not, 69 percent of respondents say their mornings are their most productive time of the day. We know it can be tough to get going in the morning, so try easing into the day by meeting over coffee. With the Starbucks for Outlook add-in, it’s easy to schedule meetings at your favorite Starbucks.

#4—lighten the lift

Having trouble getting started on the first drafts of your projects and presentations?

Conquer the blank canvas with QuickStarter—a new intelligent service that lets you go from the blank canvas to a great working outline in seconds. Just type your presentation topic into PowerPoint or Sway and watch the magic as QuickStarter brings your presentation to life by pulling in carefully curated outlines for any topic, including recommendations on information to include, categories to consider and associated images.**

Need help with your research paper?

Researcher in Word helps find reliable sources and incorporate content from the web right within your document. Plus, it properly formats citations, which means no more hours spent manually formatting the bibliography. Thanks to Editor, you now have your own digital writing assistant to help you with the finishing touches. Going beyond basic spelling and grammar checks, Editor uses machine learning and natural language processing to make suggestions to help you improve your writing—so you can spend less time reviewing and more time creating.

#5—perfect your productivity habits

Create better work habits with the help of Microsoft MyAnalytics for Office 365 Enterprise E5, which gives you the insights you need to focus on what matters most. Understand where you spend your time across people, meetings, email, focus time, after hours and adjust for higher impact. Gain insights into how you engage with your network to stay up to date on your most important relationships and priorities.

Why work on being more productive? Because becoming a more productive person can make you happier. Our research revealed that 93 percent of respondents feel that productivity is important to their happiness. A productive day is a happy day, which is why our goal is to give you the tools you need to make accomplishing your goals a little bit easier.

*Survey of Levo community members conducted online, commissioned by Microsoft Office, 1,500 participants, October 2016, actual percent at +/- 2.3 percent at 99 percent confidence level.
**QuickStarter is available today in Sway on the web, in English within the U.S., U.K. and Canada. Education customers using Sway have a slightly modified version to meet the needs of educators. QuickStarter in PowerPoint on Windows desktop is coming to Insiders this winter and to Office 365 subscribers in 2017.

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