Setting Goals: Time Management for The Rushed (Part 1)

Clock in GlenelgI know I've promised a time management series here of some kind, so I thought I'd deliver that bit by bit. As a few of you may have gathered before, some of the most common questions I get often relate to time management. In fact, Marjorie of My Inner French Girl (gotta love that title! ;-)) recently left this comment for me:

"You know, I would LOVE it if you were to post about how you manage your hectic, hectic schedule. I know you juggle motherhood, marriage, a job, your art, your writing, your blog, and God knows what else, so I would love to know how you manage it all. Time management is a constant issue with me -- I'm a freelance writer, journalist, wife, part-time library assistant, novelist, and playwright -- and one that I don't have all the answers to. Can you share some of your secrets? Or do you secretly mainline cocaine to handle it all?"

So now, I write this entry, with a confession. And nope, that confession doesn't involve cocaine (or any similar drug ;-)). It's a confession saying that I'm actually running way behind on my daily to do list... as in, right now. Yes, I'm first to admit that I'm no Super Woman when it comes to getting things done. Sometimes, I feel I manage to accomplish things just through sheer stubbornness. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Okay, now having said that, I believe that over the years I've learned to adapt my working habits to reflect my current needs. Some days need to be highly structured and planned. Some days, I just wing it. But, one thing that has always worked for me is: Setting Goals.

For as long as I can remember, I've been creating goals for myself on a yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily basis. Not to mention, creating "life goals". They can be grand goals (like, Go to Europe) - or mini goals (e.g., Plan & Cook Dinner tonight).

So, basically, things get done because I tell myself that I simply need to do them. End of story. Well, not quite, but you know...

Well now, goal-setting is a topic that I talk about a lot when I work with people. In fact, I've talked about this topic enough that I even have a workshop/ebook in the making once upon a time about goals and goal-setting. So yeah, I probably can go on about this for a long time. But, don't worry, I won't. ๐Ÿ˜‰

In any case, when I consulted in psychology/counselling (nope, not practicing as one right now), I often ask about what people's goals are all about. I like to encourage folks to create three-fold goals: Long-term, medium-term, and short-term.

Now, a book chapter can probably be written for each of those topics. So, I'll just stick to writing about something that occupies me the most lately - creating and achieving short-term goals.

Like I wrote here recently, I'm in major catching up mode right now. I'm soooo behind with so many things that I get exhausted just thinking about what I need to do.

Setting Weekly GoalsThat's why I decided that my iGTD just isn't cutting it right now. I needed something more primitive (but not easily lost on my pile of To Do stuff), more tactile than a computer app. Enter my small tabletop magnetic erasable board from Board Dudes (bought from Officeworks). I'm also using a set of 'Day' magnets to go with it (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc).

I decided to write down all my main goals/tasks for the week on the board. Set deadlines on some of them (either by writing the days/dates - or sticking a 'Day' magnet next to the goal). And now, I feel so much better - just looking at it... and marking things off as I go along.

Before this board came along, I just wrote stuff down on paper - and stuck it somewhere. Or, I just left my to do list on a GTD software. I still use those methods... But, I like this board idea right now because:

  • I can easily see my goals - and add/change/check them accordingly. I love that it's just there - in front of me. I can always glance at it whenever I'm procrastinating or getting sidetracked.
  • It's more readable than computer or paper lists.
  • I love that it's physical - I actually had to sit down at the beginning of my week, put the board on my lap, wrote, erased, checked, etc. Put the board back on the table. Then, every time I complete something or need to add something, I just grab and write again. And again.
  • Other than writing, I can stick stuff on it with the magnets - or Post It notes.

Reward-Goals-BoardAnd, one great bit about goal-setting? It's that nice thing called Break/Reward!

It's always a good idea to give yourself a nice break - or a reward - whenever you complete a goal in your list. And, if you're trying to find ways to do things that you love (instead of just completely doing nothing - or something similar), you might want to incorporate that in your goal-setting plan.

As you can see, I'm planning on rewarding myself with some Art/Creativity Time if I meet most/all of my goals of the week. I wanted to work that reward in because I haven't created much in the last 3 or 4 months - and I'm really feeling it. So, yes... this is one of the ways that I manage to squeeze in some time to do some stuff that I enjoy.

What about you? Do you tend to set goals for yourself? How do you get things done? How do you reward yourself when you accomplish your goals?

About the Author Shai Coggins (MTeach, MSoc Sci App Psych)

Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.

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