Like cilantro or horror movies, rollercoasters are one of those things that some people love and some people hate. But even if you’re Team Rollercoaster, you don’t want to feel like you’re on one all the time. Experiencing constant ups and downs and unforeseen twists that make you want to scream can be fun for a few minutes, but they aren’t the ideal conditions for good time management and productivity.  

Outside of the amusement park, you’d probably prefer that life felt more like just the very beginning part of the rollercoaster when you’re steadily climbing up an incline at a nice comfortable pace. Alas, we all know that life can throw you for a loop at any time. One day you can be chugging along, feeling great about the progress you’re making, and the next day you’re veering off in a different direction—or even coming to a sudden stop. And there’s no way to see what’s coming up ahead so you have to just hold on and hope that you’ll move into an upswing soon.    

No matter how good your time management strategies are, making progress on your goals isn’t linear—and that’s okay! 

The frustrating truth is that having stellar time management skills, a clear plan and the drive to succeed isn’t necessarily enough to actually move the needle on your most important goals. There are going to be phases where you’re on top of everything and absolutely crushing those goals. And there are also going to be times when it feels like you just can’t get on track and stay on track with those goals. 

And I’ll say it again: that’s okay. It’s so, so normal!  

No matter what your personal relationship with time management and productivity is like, you’re probably not going to be able to hit 100 percent of the targets you set in the timeframe you want.  

Here’s an example that might strike a chord with you:

I have several clients who are Realtors, and making phone calls to prospective clients and other contacts is a big part of what they need to do to generate new business. Let’s say one of these clients has a goal to make 30 calls a day. Some days they’re going to make 40 calls and feel like they’re hitting it out of the park. They might exceed that target every day for a week. But the next Monday, they might only manage to make 20 calls. And then 15 calls the next day. Some days they might not make any of the calls they intended to make.  

That client is probably going to come to me and say, I’m all over the place. My productivity is way down and I’m falling short of where I wanted to be this week. And one of the things I’m going to say is, let’s look at your overall progress. Let’s zoom out from the day-to-day picture, where you’re only noticing that you fell short of this goal X days this week, and look at the big picture. Are you moving in the right direction? Even if feel like you’re taking one step back for every two steps forward, you are still making that forward progress.  

That’s what we want to build on, because there’s no way to get off the rollercoaster. Ups and downs are always going to be a part of life. The rate at which you make progress on your goals isn’t always going to be completely within your control, and you’re not always going to feel great about what you’re accomplishing in the short term. Focusing on your long-term targets and your overall momentum toward them is probably going to feel a lot more motivational and energizing, which is what’s going to help pull you back on course. 

3 Action Steps for Riding the “Goal Rollercoaster” with Less Stress 

  1. Revisit your weekly plans and make sure you’re building in plenty of flexibility. If something goes crazy on Monday and you can’t get X, Y and Z done like you planned, is there enough flexibility in your calendar that you can shift those tasks to later in the week without throwing everything off? Creating that flexibility is a critical part of a working time management strategy!  
  1. Keep track of the actions that you’ve taken to move toward your goals. I’m talking about literally creating a list of the things you’ve already accomplished in pursuit of those goals, no matter how minor those things might seem. When you’re discouraged, I want you to be able to pull up that list and see how much you’ve truly accomplished so far.  
  1. Get clear about what the next right move is that’s going to pull you back into your goals when you have gotten off course. You know that the rollercoaster is going to keep zagging when you expect for it to zig, so what’s the plan for getting yourself back on course when that happens? Think about the specific kinds of strategies that you can use to “reset” yourself and get back into relationship with your goals. For example, certain kinds of tasks might help you ease yourself back in and reconnect with the activities you need move your goals forward.  

Need more support with time management and productivity?   

If you’re coming out of a curve and you’re ready to reset yourself and recommit to your goals, I can help! Join me this May for Jump Start Your Productivity LIVE Virtual Workshop. Register before May 1st to take advantage of the Super Early Bird price!  Click here for more information and registration.  

Enjoy the ride! 


Sarah Reiff-Hekking