My December Experiment
“When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.”
― Napoleon Hill
Goal setting is hard.
Actually, goal setting isn’t hard. Goals achievement is hard.
If I want to hit my goals, I need to integrate them better into my planning. So once again, here is how I’m experimenting with the upcoming month.
I’m starting with the SMART goal breakdown I described up in my Smarter Faster Better post. By writing down each goal and thinking about how to integrate it into my schedule, I make fewer decisions about how/when/where to work on it when it’s time to buckle down. By choosing how I’ll work on this goal ahead of time, I’m more likely to just start rather than fussing over details or procrastinating.
For example, I’m finishing up a python class on Udacity. My plan is to work on it after my morning routine each day. I’ll work on it for at least ten minutes. The night before, to prepare, I’ll set up my laptop on my desk and close all other browser tabs except for the course website. I won’t go on the internet before working on this class, and I have to work for at least ten minutes. If necessary, I’ll use Cold Turkey to isolate this time period from social media. Here’s my SMART goal page for Python:
I’ve also started breaking down my SMART goals into my calendars. Last month, I started using a traditional monthly calendar, and it’s been working for me. On the right side of the calendar, I’m listing out two goals I have for the month. These can be the SMART goal itself (depending on its size) or it can be a subtask of the SMART goal.
Then, on my weekly page, I write out how I’m going to work on the goal each day. For example, on Wednesday I’ll be at an all day hackathon. I’m not going to have time before or after work to focus on the python course. So I’ve planned to spend either Saturday or Sunday morning working on it for at least ten minutes. I can then carry the plan over to my dailies. I also write down the goal I’m trying to hit for the week.
I set up my daily pages the night before. I picked up a Chronodex stamp recently, and that’s what I’ve been using as a time tracker. After I stamp out the Chronodex, I write out any appointments and tasks I know I need to do under the it. This is also when I schedule my day. I typically know the night before what work meetings I’ll have the next day and what appointments I’ll need to attend. I block out the appointment and meeting times along with time for commuting. Then, I schedule my goals, and then all the rest of my work. Sometimes I do this on a post-it first if I’m afraid my schedule will change dramatically.
Here’s an example of my dailies from last month:
Breaking down goals makes them less intimidating and easier to hit. I’ve struggled for a while with prioritizing big goals in favor of checking things off a list. Scheduling out time to do the important work seems to be working best for me.
I’ll be doing a mid-month checkin with how this system is working. Look for it on December 15th!