I like to pride myself on being an equal part dreamer and equal part doer, a trait that mostly bodes well for me. But not the case when it comes to making progress on big dreams. Give me a to-do list full of the mundane and I’m the most efficient taskmaster you’ve seen. Calls are returned, emails sent, research done, appointments made, and on and on. But my bigger dreams and goals? Those things are s-l-o-w progress. Because in the busyness of the day-to-day, I forget to focus on the business of building a life.
At the start of 2019, I committed to a new process. One of simplifying my goals for the year by breaking them down monthly and revisiting them at the beginning of each week. This ensures I’m making progress and letting go of any unnecessary work and to-dos. It is a game-changer for me, helping me to make progress on my business, my health, and my overall intentions for the year. This practice takes me anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour on Sunday night, depending on the week ahead.
Below are the best tips I’ve learned from this process so far:
Build in time for review + calendar maintenance.
Prior to 2018, I’d set my goals, write them down, pin them to a wall, and go back to daily life, stopping only to review progress at big milestones—usually my birthday and year’s end. These days, I start each week with some goal + calendar review time. I look back over my goals for the year + the month, consider how I fared last week against those goals, and determine what tasks need to be added to this week’s list—looking ahead to the week and slotting in the times to get work done. This simple, reflective start to the week helps to connect me to my bigger purpose and ensures my daily to-dos are never too disconnected from the bigger picture.
Be smarter with the to-do list.
Give me a list full of the mundane and I’m a machine—busy, busy, busy, but not necessarily productive. This year, I’m still using my beloved to-do list, but I’m breaking down bigger life goals into manageable monthly + weekly tasks. These smaller steps toward my bigger goals fill my to-do list alongside the must-do tasks of life—bill paying, doctor’s appointments, work to-dos. Making sure that something small, yet tangible from my yearly goals shows up on my weekly task list ensures I’m making steady progress throughout the year.
Don’t be afraid to change your goals.
In the past, I’ve set my goals at the beginning of the year and cruised through a year never revisiting or updating them. With more frequent check-ins on annual goals, I’m able to adapt my expectations as I move through the year. Something I might have been super excited about in January may not hold my interest in March. Or I may learn something new in June that shapes the back half of the year and shifts my focus completely. With more time to reflect comes time to revise—a good thing in my book, as I love change, and learning and adopting new thinking. I find myself tweaking goals more frequently, dropping goals that no longer fit, and adding items to the list.
Celebrate the small steps.
One of my favorite parts of this new approach is the wins you note along the way. Setting aside time to consider your goals weekly or monthly and review the progress you’ve made gives you the perfect excuse for a celebration! Marking even the smallest milestones along the way to a bigger goal helps me to feel progress, momentum, and stay focused for the long haul.
So far, this new process is keeping me focused on my bigger intentions. It’s a work in progress, for sure, and something I’ll continue to refine throughout the year. Tell me, what are your best tips for being intentional with your time?
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Jill Elliott is a creative consultant, strategist, and thinker constantly seeking inspiration and balance. As a writer, artist, and founder of The Color Kind she seeks to inspire others to live creatively every day. She can often be found making art and messes alongside her 7-year-old daughter and Goldendoodle puppy.