You know when you’re falling behind and missing those important details? You’re continually making lists, and writing Post-it notes, and setting your digital alarm to remind you about things. Yet, you still feel you’re drowning and wasting valuable time while trying to figure it all out. No one’s perfect; we pause, skip and make excuses, but what we really need is to set goals, action items, and have an accountability system in place. One of the best tools to help you reach your goals while boosting productivity is learning how to use a planner effectively.
Not the generic ones but comprehensive life planners that help you pinpoint problem areas and encourage a transition. Motivation will get you started, but planning out your life by creating good habits keeps you going.
1. Jot Down Your Goals For The Week
“Experts say people that learn how to use a planner, and write down their goals are 42 percent more likely to achieve them than those who did not.”
It sounds like such a simple action, but it is powerful because all those ideas, wishes, and goals you have in your head usually get pushed to the back of our minds. A big reason why most people never reach their full potential is that they don’t have a plan to make their dreams become reality. ‘Time management’ is really always ‘task management’ or ‘action management’. It’s about creating, directing and focusing on tasks that produce the intended result. The result is what we call the goal.
Every day you have so many choices to make and details to take care of that you fall prey to decision fatigue. This is when important matters get pushed to the sidelines. To resolve this chaos, establish your ideal week. Start with your short-term goals and create action items that must be completed. You may need to make adjustments, however, even if you rearrange certain tasks, you can revisit your detailed planning to reflect on optimizing the next day or week.
2. Set And Track Long Term Goals
Setting long-term goals makes you a go-getter. It separates you from people that talk about what they want, yet never take the steps to turn those dreams into a reality. You have a much better chance of success if you can determine exactly what it is you want, then figuring out how to attain what you want. You’ll start by creating S.M.A.R.T. goals; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and have a Timeframe.
When your goals are SMART, they become easier to achieve. By making sure that each goal you have defined for yourself is explicit in its definition, can be tracked, is possible to achieve, and has a timeframe, you set yourself on the path to success. For example, saving a downpayment — $5,000 — for a new car in the next two years.
Is it specific, Yes.
Is it measurable, Yes, you can start saving and track that goal.
Is it attainable, Yes.
Is it realistic, Yes.
Does it have a timeframe, Yes.
Establish realistic steps to achieve each goal, which will progressively bring you closer to attaining success.
3. Organize Your Life
People are fond of saying they don’t have time, but is it really hectic schedules or disorganization? Sometimes with all the best intentions, we allow other things to get in the way, and our important items get left by the wayside. It’s not about how much time we have, but rather how we choose to spend it. To overcome this problem you simply organize and prioritize your days.
Most of us treat the day like a race; frazzled and distracted, and at the end of the day, we’ve only completed half our tasks. Making time isn’t about radically overhauling your lifestyle; it only requires small shifts that liberate you from distractions and help you focus on the things that matter. Create daily to-do lists and estimate the amount of time it takes to complete each task. Urgent: do it immediately. Important: plan for a specific time in your planner. Everything else needs a time slot or delegate it to a capable person.
4. Create Space For Reflection
As important as it is to create goals, it’s equally important to have a way of measuring your progress and tracking your achievements. Being able to see how far you have come, and how far you have left to go motivates your path of progression. Tracking also gives you a plan of where you are going next.
For example, if your goal is to change careers, or find a better job, reflecting on your action items, and accomplishments sheds light on the next step to take. Also, seeing your progression and success encourages and motivates you to keep going.
5. Increase Your Motivation
Keeping the momentum going on your path to reach your dreams can be tough. When you start your journey, you are full of enthusiasm about your plan; your dreams are at the forefront of your mind each day, and you make consistent progress. However, after a while, the passion you had at the beginning starts to wane, and the journey seems a bit longer, and you find yourself lacking in motivation. If this happens, you need to find your purpose.
What was the reason for setting the goals? Finding the purpose behind your dreams will help you keep on track and give you the motivation to continue. This is the reason you are passionate about the goals you have set for yourself. While the process of reaffirming exactly why you set the goal in the first place can be arduous at times, knowing that if you don’t continue to work towards success and complete those goals, it will ensure things stay exactly the same and that right there is a big motivating factor.
I hope these tips help you learn how to use a planner more effectively this year!