Every day, week, month, year, we think of these goals we want to set. Learn more about a certain subject. Take a professional development course. Eat better. Manage my time better. Read more classic books. Lose weight. Exercise more. And the list goes on and on. But do we ever really get around to seeing these goals to fruition?
This year, my goal was just to be more proactive. I have goals, projects, deadlines, and I wanted to see accomplishments and not accomplishments just being pushed off due to lack of time. Waiting until the last minute turns out to be more time-consuming than the original project. So here are a few tips to help be proactive.
Determine your Priorities
The first part is determining what is important and needs to be done. Some may create a list and place them in order, others use the quadrant system of using “Urgent” and “Not Urgent” on one axis and “Important” and “Not Important” along the other. Those in the “Urgent” and “Important” categories need to be managed first. Anything “Important but Not Urgent” is something to be focused on, and if possible, avoid those in the “Urgent but Not Important” and “Not Urgent and Not Important” so time is not wasted.
Create a plan
Not just any plan; old school plan. Get a daily planner and write your plan for the day in those time slots. Allocate each slot with the things needing to be completed. Mine includes duties as soon as I rise, so each morning includes a small chore to keep up with the housework, and throughout the day time is provided for emails, projects, etc. to remain focused on accomplishing tasks. This keeps me away from some of those “Not Urgent and Not Important” areas like Facebook or being distracted by emails. If you don’t finish it in the allotted time, make adjustments, or write it down for the next day. Schedule in time to research professional development courses, meal planning/shopping or exercising. You are more likely to do it if you know when you need to do it.
Make a list
The reason I like the daily planner is to mark things off the list as I accomplish them. The projects have their own lists. Some say they procrastinate on a project because they don’t know how or where to begin. Make a list! Start with the beginning until the end, and then tackle small parts of it on your list. Some of my smaller projects may be simply written on a post-it note, because it is a great feeling to mark the last item off and toss the list in the trash.
At the end of the day and week, evaluate how things worked out for you. Did you spend enough time in areas you needed to, or did you not allow enough time for some? Were you cramming the finishing touches on the project, or did you finish it before the deadline? Do you still have too many distractions and how can you overcome those? It’s important to understand what works and what doesn’t, so you know how to improve the next day. And you will always have hiccups along the way. It’s important to have a plan and be flexible to adjust it as needed.
And don’t forget, it’s also important to have some play-time in your schedule, so get outside during lunch or take those walks. It’s just as important to give our minds a break to be fresh as we start the next project.