The majority of the population set their New Year resolutions on 31st December and usually – by the end of the first few weeks of the year – they’re already forgotten because work, real life and gritty reality have set back in.
But everybody who wants to get stuff done rather than letting life pass them by, needs to have the ruthless attitude of a Terminator towards goal setting because without it, no progress will be made.
This year I’ve focused particular attention on my goal setting because – having immersed myself in a lot of self development audios and books recently – I can no longer deny or ignore the compelling evidence that continually leaps out at me:
- Successful people get up earlier than everybody else
- Successful people make effective plans and set goals
- Successful people create productive routines and habits
- Successful people focus on tasks that benefit their bottom line (they’re proactive, not reactive)
(For more on this list, read anything on time management and planning by Brian Tracy!)
Put simply, good planning, productive habits and effective goal setting are essential … not just for New Year, but all year, every day, week and month.
Goal setting and planning should be an ongoing process, not a once-a-year, do-or-die, doomed-to-failure activity.
Don’t agree with me? Take a look at this article from i newspaper, titled ‘Poll reveals ‘Fail Friday’ as the day you are most likely to break your New Year’s resolution’: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/poll-reveals-fail-friday-as-the-day-you-are-most-likely-to-break-your-new-years-resolution-9034571.html
I have set and monitored annual goals for as long as I can remember, and anybody who ever worked with me will tell you about my plans, lists and strategies … they’ve driven many a person crazy 😉
But this year, I’m bringing together some great technology to bolt this into every part of my life, so that I can develop new, productive and highly focused habits … I’ve read enough evidence now to know that I can’t put certain elements of this strategy off any longer.
Step 1: Creating new habits
It takes a large number of small repetitions to create a new habit … numbers vary, but 28 days is the widely accepted number of days to repeat a task in order to turn it into a habit (although it does seem to depend on how ‘hard’ the new habit is).
(See this article for more on this: http://www.spring.org.uk/2009/09/how-long-to-form-a-habit.php)
I’m happy that I’ve developed some great exercise and self-education habits in the past year, but now I’m getting serious about this!
I have just installed a new app on my phone, after trying and ditching a few, called Goal Achiever (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=info.intrasoft.goalachiver) to monitor my progress on a weekly basis on my most desired goals.
This is what it looks like – I’ve blurred a couple of family related goals just for privacy reasons, and it’s actually based on Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret (see here: http://lifehacker.com/281626/jerry-seinfelds-productivity-secret)
There are others available – HabitFlow is great too – but Goal Achiever reminds me about my goals via the calendar alerts, and I can monitor, track and review my progress.
So this app will make sure that I spend a certain amount of my time on tasks that will be beneficial to my business, health and personal development … it’s there to support me in the creation of new habits.
Step 2: Using Time More Effectively
What about the many hours that I still have available that will not be designated for specific goals and habits? How do you stop the rest of your time just ‘drifting away’?
For that I’m using an amazing service called ‘RescueTime‘ which can be found at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rescuetime.android and https://www.rescuetime.com/.
In the words of the site ‘With so many distractions and possibilities in your digital life, it’s easy to get scattered. RescueTime helps you understand your daily habits so you can focus and be more productive.’
RescueTime is amazing!
It’s currently tracking everything that I do online, and it allows me to monitor and target unproductive activities.
I’ve installed it on my PC, it works quietly and unobtrusively in the background, and it creates ongoing reports about how I’m actually spending my time … not how I think I’m spending my time!
At the moment it’s in ‘learning mode’, so I’m having to tell RescueTime what is a productive activity and what is not.
For instance, it automatically assumes that Facebook is unproductive, but as a Facebook software creator, Facebook is very often productive time for me, so I have to re-categorise this activity in the settings.
Look at the wonderful details of these reports, and bear in mind, you can tune and tweak this so that you can do more of what’s productive for you in your particular business, and less of what wastes your time and effort:
Step 3: Becoming More Efficient
For years I have used a ‘pen and paper’ diary, but never quite made the shift to online diary planning, even though I love my gadgets and software.
I’ve never quite found the right way to do it … and I was thrown of the scent when a great service that I was using called ‘Tungle’ – was taken over by another company a few years ago.
So this year I’m using Google Calendar (which I can access on my phone) with http://www.scheduleonce.com/meetme.aspx so that I can manage my appointments and diary online, via PC and mobile phone.
3rd parties can also schedule their appointments with me at ‘free times’ to reduce diary to-ing and fro-ing, and my Google calendar is automatically updated when an appointment is set and created.
Schedule Once is very simple to use, as you can see from the image above, and it’s great to be able to offer this out to 3rd parties.
For instance, I’ve outsources some appointments booking this week, this gives the contractor full autonomy when setting up appointments for me without constant diary consultations.
The only drawback with this service is that they don’t have a mobile device app yet … I’m sure it will come soon though!
Step 4: Setting Small Goals And Tasks And Maintaining Focus And Priorities
Put simply, this is my ‘To Do’ list … short term and long term.
It’s where I record things that must be done, things I’d like to do and ideas which I don’t want to forget.
Once again, I’ve tried and failed with many online/app based systems, but I’ve finally settled on Trello which can be found at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.trello and https://trello.com/
Trello allows me to create multiple, labelled ‘to do’ lists, which I can manage via my phone/PC, set calendar alerts on and colour code to mark as ‘urgent’, ‘non urgent’ etc.
I’m finding Trello to be simple, sensible and practical, and having used it for a few months now, I think it’s where I’m going to settle.
One Extra Tip
I couldn’t write a blog post on Time Management for a digital marketing blog without mentioning one of the single biggest timesavers that I use every day in my own business.
With 25 WordPress installations to maintain, if you know anything about WordPress, you’ll know how much theme, version and plugin maintenance that requires!
So I must mention another wonderful discovery, ManageWP, which allows me to update and monitor all of my WordPress installations via one simple interface: http://paulteague.com/managewp
I can’t tell you how much time and hassle this has saved me over the past year and if you have multiple WordPress installations, or manage them for clients, do check this out!
Will You Be Setting Goals?
So this is my goal setting and task management strategy for the year ahead.
As I said earlier, I’ve always been pretty solid at time management, but now I’m shipping in some heavy artillery to make sure that I map out detailed plans and take the steps required to realise them.
I hope that you find these tools interesting and useful in your own business and please don’t hesitate to share your own in the comments area below.
Finally, if you’d like to discover even more time management tools, please read my earlier post here: http://paulteague.com/4-great-time-saving-tools/