In a recent meeting, one of my team members described an experience that I think will resonate with a lot of people at this time of year. She had recently been reviewing her weekly planner and noticed a troubling trend. One of the goals she had set for this year was to walk six days a week.
Because our True Focus team tries to “walk the walk” around planning as a part of good time management and productivity, she had kept track of her daily progress. When she was looking back at the previous six weeks, she noticed that she had walked six days during the first week of January. Five days during the second week. Four days during the third week, and so on.
By mid-February, she would have lost track of that goal entirely.
Sure, she would still have gotten out for walks sometimes but with kids and a packed schedule and uncooperative weather, taking a walk nearly every day wasn’t just going to happen for her without intentional planning.
Fortunately, my colleague had three things going for her:
- She was tracking her progress toward this particular goal.
- She used a planning method that made it easy to visualize her progress and notice trends.
- She was conscientious about reviewing her planner to look back at recent weeks and assess how things were going with this goal.
So, she noticed that she had been gradually dropping her daily-walk habit. She was able to recommit to building that walk into her schedule and she’s back on track now.
Are you still planning your goals?
By the middle of February, a lot of people have really lost their momentum and enthusiasm for their yearly goals. Like my colleague, maybe you started out strong in the first few weeks of January but your progress has petered out by now.
The good news is, we’re still SO early in the year. Even if you haven’t yet taken a single step toward a goal you set back at New Year’s, it’s absolutely not too late to start now—but you’re going to need a plan.
Planning time to focus on your goals is how you create the roadmap that takes you to the life you crave. Having a plan lets you take control of your time so you’re able to get all the most important things done and can finish each day with a sense of peace about what you got done. Without a clear plan for how you’re going to accomplish your goals from a time management perspective, all you have are good intentions without action.
3 Tips for Jumpstarting Progress on Your Work and Personal Goals
1 – Give yourself permission to start from wherever you are.
A lot of complicated emotions can get wrapped up around goals, time management and productivity challenges. If you feel shame or dread because you “should” have made more progress on your goals before now, that’s not going to be productive. It might help to think about what you’d say to support a friend or colleague who was in your position and feeling discouraged about it, then say that to yourself.
2 – Focus on small, clear actions that let you get started in the right direction, rather than focusing on the end goal.
Let’s say you set a goal to train for a half-marathon this year but so far you’ve only gone for three short jogs. Deciding that you’re now going to start running 5 miles every day is probably not going to happen and will only make you more discouraged. So instead, maybe you build three 20-minute jogs into your weekly plan. Start small and build on the momentum you create by accomplishing those small steps. Maybe next month you’ll be able to jog for 25 minutes at a time, then 30 minutes the month after that.
The same strategies apply to work goals. For instance, if you need to improve your prospective client outreach, instead of a day of cold calling – break it down into smaller manageable chunks like a half-hour 3 times a week and then consider increasing the time as you gain confidence in your ability to do smaller bouts. It’s amazing how those half-hour blocks can create momentum.
3 – Assess how well your time management tools are working for tracking your progress.
My colleague was able to quickly pivot and adjust her habits because she was using time management tools that let her visualize those habits and see the pattern that was developing. This is why I often suggest using physical tools like a paper planner and full-year wall calendar, but digital tools might work better for your life and your brain. Everyone’s different—just make sure that you’re using some kind of system for planning and tracking your goals that lets you see where you’re going and what you’ve already accomplished.
Need more support? There’s still time to join me for Time Matters Boot Camp 90 Day Virtual Program. If you’re sick and tired of feeling like your time controls you (instead of you being in control of your time), TMBC might be the jumpstart you need. We start on March 6th. Get details and schedule time to talk with Dr. Sarah to see if this program is for you by clicking here.