We left off ‘What to do When You’re Stuck in a Rut and How to Move Forward’, with a deep dive into your goals, fleshing out the steps of how to get from A to B.
Next, we’ll look at how to organize your goals through clear, trackable, and schedule-able steps.
Let’s Start With a Clear Path
Can you see the path to reach your goal? Imagine walking through the process step-by-step. Is there anything you’re missing? Anything you have not accounted for?
Your list can include ‘research’ if you’re unsure how to move forward. State how and where you will get your answers. The following step can be, ‘once you have completed your research, update your steps and schedule accordingly.’
Ask yourself, ‘What will move the needle THE MOST to achieve my goal’?
I find this brings the traction creating actions to the front and can remove any that don’t make a significant change.
What does done look like?
This simple question I learned from Brene Brown’s book, Dare To Lead, keeps my perfectionist self from overworking a task and defines when to move to the next step. The goal could be a numerical (‘wrote 500 lines’) or a target (‘document has been spellchecked’).
Tracking your goals
I have tried a few different ways to track my goals; it’s just a matter of finding what works for you. A standard excel sheet is the easiest way to list your goals and subsequent steps. I have also tried the software Things 3. It’s incredible for organizing of any sized project, daily to-do lists, reminders, and deadlines. You can sync your digital devices, so you always have access to your to-dos (Apple devices only).
Things 3 is based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done productivity method. If you are looking to do a deep dive into project management, I highly recommend his book by the same name. Not only will you get the most out of the Things 3 software, but you’ll learn how to prioritize your tasks effectively, streamline your inbox, deal with interruptions, and overall planning. This book has forever changed how I work.
In the last couple of years, I have found a daily, weekly, and monthly schedule works best. It sounds like overkill, but hear me out. It prevents overwhelm, tracks progress, and stops tasks from falling through the cracks.
I create an Excel spreadsheet with 12 sections, one for each month of the year. I drop into each month what actions I will take towards my goals. I am as realistic as possible, often doubling the time I think the activity will take to make sure it gets done. I print this list to keep with my daily notes.
At the beginning of each month, I review what I’ve committed to completing then add those actions to my weekly action plan. I pencil into a printed calendar what I need to do, check if I am realistic with my time while accounting for other events and meetings. I complete this process every Monday morning. At the beginning of each day, I have no question what I will jump into, and when I need to get it done by.
If this isn’t for you, perhaps try a production schedule approach. Keep adjusting until you find what is second nature.
To keep yourself motivated, track your progress by striking things from your monthly to-do list once they are complete.
Every week I record what I got done the previous week, I can quickly feel a sense of pride for what I’ve completed, or if I have been slacking, make adjustments to improve how I use my time.
Keep it simple, make it a part of your daily life, have it visible, and a little flexible; over time, you will discover the best way to keep yourself on track.
NEXT BLOG, we will look at the most crucial step, changing your habits.
Nothing new comes from repeating your current actions. Change your practices to make sure your goals and schedule come to life.