“It’s not about having time, it’s about making time.”
At the end of the day, if you sat down and wrote a list of everything you did for the entire day, I feel confident your list would be really long because you were probably busy as soon as your feet hit the floor in the morning. It’s easy for the good intentions of meeting new goals to get lost in the hustle and bustle of our day-to-day activities. But, if we want to up our game personally and professionally, we can’t let busyness be an excuse for lack of results in reaching our goals.
You’re still going to be busy because life isn’t going to stop and wait for you to hit a new milestone. So, it’s up to you to find a way to keep up with the daily grind and keep those goals going strong with forward momentum leading the way to your success.
Follow these strategies to help you fit working on your goals into your schedule regularly:
Write down specific goals. The first step to meeting your goals is to know what they are-simple! You have to know exactly what you’re setting out to do by being very deliberate and specific from the get go, no vague goals allowed here. When you’re specific from the outset, it will allow you to create a road map to your destination and break big goals into small steps.
Example of a vague goal: Write a book.
Example of a specific goal: Write a twenty-five chapter book on focus management.
Create small steps. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be able to sit down and hammer out a twenty-five chapter book on focus management in one shot. In order to reach your goal, you would need to break it down into small, manageable steps that can easily be worked into your busy schedule.
Your small steps may look something like this: Each morning get up at 6:00 a.m., make a cup of coffee and then write for thirty minutes Monday through Friday. Not so bad, right?
Look for time wasters. You may feel like there isn’t enough time in the day while, in reality, you’re actually wasting time. You may very well have places where you can recapture some time to help you reach those goals. Be honest with yourself and start looking for areas where you may be wasting time. Activities you want to be aware of:
- Social media time looking at photos, recipes, videos and jokes. There’s nothing wrong with doing this, but it will better serve you as a treat at the end of the day when you know you’ve worked on your goals for the day.
- Watching TV, movies or Netflix marathons.
- Meetings that could be handled by a quick phone call, video conferencing or an email instead of in person.
- Socializing excessively throughout the day through instant messaging, email, texting or chatting on the phone.
- Taking a break work during the day to take care of personal tasks like errands, cooking or chores. Of course a quick break is okay, but complete distraction taking you away from your work or goals is not okay.
Embrace the word, “No.” Every time you say yes to something, you’re saying no to something else. Are you saying no to your goals by saying yes to every volunteer activity or social opportunity that comes along? Make sure you strike a balance in your life so you aren’t stretched so thin that you have to let your goals go.
Decrease distractions. Phones, people and interruptions can all be focus breakers that pull us away from making progress toward our goals. It’s important to work with laser focus during our most important tasks by eliminating or at least minimizing distractions as much as we can.
Look for time pockets. Create a list of small tasks that you can complete when you have unexpected time on your hands. Often, the fall back activity for many of us is to engage with our cell phones when we’re in waiting mode. But playing a game on your phone isn’t going to help you reach your goals. You might find you have enough time to cross something off your to do list that frees up time to work on your goals later. It might be while you’re waiting in your office for a phone call, waiting for a meeting to start or while you’re waiting in your car prior to an appointment.
What are some tasks that you could add to your list now? Here are a few ideas to get you started on your list:
- Read-be sure to bring your book or electronic device with you
- Make phone calls
- Listen to voicemail messages
- Brainstorm blog post topics
- Respond to emails
If you want to reach your goals, it’s up to you to manage your time and manage your focus so you can do the work needed to get to the finish line. The time is there, you just have to capture it.
Monika Kristofferson is a professional organizer, productivity consultant, author and founder of Efficient Organization in Lake Stevens. Reach her at 425-220-8905. (Courtesy of my efficiency column in the Everett Herald Business Journal).