Its that time of the year again, classes are back in session! It’s important to take steps to ensure all of our responsibilities are being fulfilled. But how does one stay organized with their college classes, work schedule, family life, and any other obligations they may have? We all have the same 24 hours in the day, but how do some people seem to be more productive than others…It comes down to one aspect of organization; time management. And the single most powerful tactic to help you organize your time, is goal setting. I’m not talking about using your smartphone calendar either. Scheduling apps on your smartphone definitely come in handy but you don’t get the benefits of having a paper calendar in front of you. Let me explain. If you utilize technology to help you maintain your schedule, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, you will have to deal with constant notifications, beeps, alerts, and messages. You’ll be having to open another tab, fire up another piece of software, or launch another app to access calendars that will amount to one more on-screen thing beggin for my attention. With so much of my work and personal life already dedicated to a computer, sometimes the most helpful thing can be to take a breath and walk away. When it comes to creating and setting goals for ourselves, whether short term or long term, it can sometimes be easy to forget about them over time. Sure we start the new year off with grand intentions. Some of the to write our goals down, step by step. We even give them a deadline. We are feeling pumped and full of energy, bursting with possibilities. And then the days start slipping by as we move on with real life, and the next thing we know it’s June and that feeling of “Yes! I can do this!” has faded into “I’ll get to that later.” You see, setting our goals is the easy part. What so often gets forgotten is that we have to check in with our goals. We need to review them often. We need to make sure we’re moving forward on them. We need to create a reward system. The good news is that we already have the perfect tool to help us with this one. The Planner. Let us give you a few tips on how to utilize it to its maximum potential. It boils down to Goals, Milestones, Habits, and Rewards. It only takes a little bit of time each week and month, but the results are so worth it. Check them out.
WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS
Robin Sharma, a well known author and leadership speaker, once said, ‘Writing down the brave acts and bold dreams you intend to accomplish will provide the spark to get it done.” This is absolutely true. Many of the most successful leaders, businessmen, and innovators start by visualizing their goals. The make weekly, monthly, and yearly goals and then they break them down into smaller goals. This would be a great time to bring up S.M.A.R.T. goals. This is an acronym used to help one define their goals. It stands for; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely. Your goal should be clear and specific, otherwise you won’t be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it. When drafting your goal, try to answer the five “W” questions: What do I want to accomplish? Why is this goal important? Who is involved? Where is it located? Which resources or limits are involved? This is the first step to getting your thoughts organized. Use this system to help you organize your thoughts into measurable and achievable goals both short term and long term.
MARK YOUR DEADLINES
Whenever you set a goal, it is always important to give it a deadline. Short term goals are easier than long term goals since you might not know an actual date for the completion of a long term project. However, you can set supportive small term goals or steps to take to get to reach that long-term goal, and give those a deadline. Here at SnapWeb, we call them milestones. Once you have a deadline for your goal, write down your milestones on how to get their in your planner. I personally use my monthly calendar pages for this, but you could enter them into your weekly or daily planner if you want too. The monthly view will give you an overview of the major milestones for the month. But this milestone system will give you a measuring tool to see if you are actually progressing towards your goal, and to help you adjust if you are not. Marking your deadlines is a crucial part of achieving your goals. It is a tangible reminder that this is something you really want to do, and having that deadline in your calendar will help you create your plan of attack for moving forward with it.
PLAN TO CHECK IN ON YOUR PROGRESS
Now that you have your milestones marked down, it’s time to set some check-in dates. Scheduling time to go take account of where you are on your journey to achieving your goals is a great way to help keep yourself on track. These sessions don’t have to take a lot of time, they’re just meant to be a way to check your progress. Think of them as pauses in your journey to double check your map and compass to make sure you’re really on the right path. I like to break my timeline into quarters, so if one of my goals has a deadline of December 31st, I’ll schedule check-ins on March 31st, June 30th, and September 30th. For each check in, have a reward system attached to it. For example, the same way bodybuilders set a weekly cheat meal after a week of strict dieting. Or hanging out with loved ones after a month of working hard. You can get as specific as taking a break to relax after several hours of studying. The reward system. Very effective tool.
SCHEDULE RECURRING TASKS
The next step is scheduling in recurring tasks. Creating habits that will help set your routine. These are those things you need to do on an ongoing basis to meet your goal. This could be something as simple as go to the gym 5 times a week. Write it very big across the top of your weekly view in your planner. Maybe one of you goals is to make more healthy eating choices, and one of the ways you’re going to do this is by choosing to have one meatless meal a week. Pick a day each week, and write a note in your calendar to remind yourself of that. Maybe your goal is to finish creating your personal brand and one of your steps is to spend a certain amount of time on the weekend writing blogs. Write it down, for EVERY WEEK until your deadline.
Smaller recurring tasks will eventually lead to the completion of the bigger on. That’s the key, schedule these tasks from now until your deadline. I know it takes time, but taking that time now, means you don’t have to worry about it later. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle
SET ASIDE TIME FOR EVALUATION
Let’s face it, life changes, and with it, so do our priorities, ambitions and dreams. So it’s important to set aside some time to evaluate your goals. This step alone has been such a crucial one for helping me achieve my goals. Most people are scared of change, don’t be! In order to succeed, we have to be able to adapt! Working for something that no longer matters to us can be really draining. Never be afraid to change your goals. They should be things that matter to you or hold importance in your life. If they no longer meet that criteria, it’s time to change things up. There are a few questions you can ask yourself as you evaluate your goals.
is this something that still matters to me?
is this something I still want or need to do?
is this a supportive goal for my long-term goals? If so, is it crucial, or just something I thought I needed to do?
is this helping me get where I want to go?
do I really want this or is this something I felt like I should do?
Use your answers to decide if you’re going to keep on moving forward with your original plan, if you’re going to make changes to you original plan, if you’re going to put that goal on hold for a little bit, or if you’re going to completely change or even ditch your goal. Use these evaluation times to make course corrections on your journey to achieving your goals. If your goals aren’t going to be moving you in the direction you want to go in, change them or set them aside. Remember it is absolutely ok to let go of a goal.
Goals are supposed to the road maps that lead us to where we want to go, don’t let yourself be led astray by ones that no longer make sense to you. And don’t allow your journey to take longer or be harder than it needs to be. Use your planner or whatever works for you, to keep them from being lost in the everyday shuffle of life. These simple steps have made a world of difference on my own journey to achieving my goals. I hope it does the same for you
Remember a goal without a plan is just a wish. Set your goals and crush them. Good luck!