I'm a big nerd when it comes to goal setting and making lists, so I was kind of excited about this month's topic. Yes, I'm one of those people who look forward to making New Year's resolutions. I also create very lofty 'to-do' lists each summer. And, come fall and the beginning of the school year, I re-organize my goals to line up with all my other commitments. You could say I'm a goal setting junkie.
There are tons of tools out there and even more pieces of advice on how to set and then actually reach your goals. You've probably seen the S.M.A.R.T. acronym which encourages the creation of goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Sensitive. This is good advice, but to be honest, I usually don't bother to work out the details in this way.
After coming at the topic from many different angles, I've come up with a simple plan that seems to work for me. It includes three different 'lists':
1. Yearly goals
2. Monthly 'to-dos'
3. Daily tasks
To start off, I keep a fluid list of things I wish to accomplish each year. It includes WIPs I plan to finish, publishing goals, marketing goals etc. I revisit this list often, adding and subtracting as I see fit. In fact, I have lists going all the way up to 2020. You could call it my 'five year plan'. The key to my system is the word 'fluid'. I stopped beating myself up a long time ago if I didn't get everything stroked off my list. I just roll it onto the next year's list and I'm back on track!
My monthly 'to-do' list is just as fluid, but I add such things as church and community commitments, Inscribe commitments, blog commitments, (like writing my post for this blog, for instance) and other things that I know need to happen in that particular month. My yearly list is never far from my mind, so items from that list get added to the monthly 'to-do' list when I see the opportunity. Once again, if it doesn't get done, it just gets rolled into the next month's list, guilt free.
Finally, I keep myself on track by having a list of daily tasks. For instance, I didn't get around to writing this post until the 14th (yesterday) because I was busy with the beginning of the school year. I usually try to schedule my posts further in advance to avoid any pressure. Somehow, this month slipped away. When I realized the date, I added 'IWO blog post!' it to my tasks for September 14 and voila - here I am!
I used to make written lists on paper and then switched to word documents. Now I don't bother with either. I use two amazing tools on my phone and/or tablet which sync so that it doesn't matter which device I'm using. My lists are always there! They are: Evernote and Wunderlist. Evernote is an app that has so many uses beyond writing lists which I won't go into here, but it is where I keep my yearly and monthly lists. I recently discovered another app called Wunderlist and it is a list maker's dream! I keep my 'daily tasks' list there as well as all my shopping lists.
This three step system may not be perfect, but it works for me. I've found it to be a very simple way to stay organized and productive.
Tracy Krauss is a secondary school teacher as well as an artist, author and playwright living and working in northern British Columbia. Visit her website: tracykrauss.com