14 September 2011

Setting (and Keeping) Daily Goals

There aren't a lot of things I do right, but one thing I do well is setting and keeping goals. I set goals for myself every day, and they are always realistic, tangible goals that I know can (and will) be accomplished.  I'm very much a I-get-what-I-want-sort-of-person, and part of that is simply because I work to make it happen.  I set goals...and I keep them.  Every day.

I also set lifelong goals, although I don't focus on these with as much intensity.  I keep these goals in the back of my mind, and I have a very clear vision of them.  I see myself sitting in the office of my dreams, a detached studio next to the home of my dreams, doing what I love.  I see myself happy, accomplished, and wealthy.  I verbalize these goals, and I let myself believe in them.  Sometimes, when I'm tired or feeling like I just can't edit another page, create another design, or write another article, I think of my goals, and they motivate me.

You haven't ever done this, you say?  Well, let me help you get started:
  1. Think of the most pertinent things that you need to accomplish by the end of the week.  For example, on Monday, I had: 124 pages to edit, an ad to create for my business, an article to write, and the final review of a magazine.  Everything had to be done by Saturday, with separate due dates (the article and ad were due Wednesday morning).
  2. Estimate how long each task will take.  In my case: editing , 30 hours; ad, 6 hours; article, 4 hours; and magazine, 6 hours.  
  3. Prioritize the tasks.  In my example, the editing wasn't due until Saturday, but it takes consistent work every day to get it done in time.  The article and ad was due the soonest, so I gave that priority.  The magazine wasn't on a timeline per say, but it still needed prompt attention.  (Of note: I'd already finished a draft ad and the start to the article before Monday.)  So, my priorities were: ad, article, manuscript, magazine.
  4. Divide it up.  Divide your work by how many days you have to get it accomplished.  I divided the manuscript into four days, with Friday devoted to checking a new section.  The ad and article were divided into a full draft of each Monday and final product Tuesday.  The magazine will wait until Friday, and I'll work on it Saturday, too.  So, my goals every day through Friday looked like this:  Monday, 30 pages of manuscript, ad draft, article draft; Tuesday, 30 pages of manuscript, final ad, final article; Wednesday, 30 pages of manuscript; Thursday, 30 pages of manuscript; Friday, 5 pages of manuscript, proofread new section (20 pages), start magazine check; Saturday, finish magazine check.
  5. Remind yourself.  Every day, think through your goals and remind yourself what you have to accomplish; also, add any new items that have come about since you first set the goal for the day.  next, set a time of day that you'd like to finish the goal(s) by.  For example, "Today, I will edit 30 pages by 4:00 p.m., and then I will go for a run."  As you work, set smaller goals, such as, "I will finish 20 pages by 12:30 p.m., and then I'll take a short break to eat."  Setting smaller, specific goals (and meeting them) helps keep me motivated.
  6. Let yourself feel a sense of accomplishment.  You completed your goals!  Go you!
Sometimes I don't meet my goals, but I don't let it get me down--at those times, I just add a little bit more to the next day's goal.  Other times, I over-accomplish; Tuesday, for example, I edited 35 pages instead of 30.

While setting daily goals doesn't include everything I will do that day, it does help me prioritize the big stuff and stay motivated.  It gets easier with time, and eventually it becomes a habit.


Adrienne said...

brilliant! reminds me a bit of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. thanks for this encouragement, Stacy!

Stacy Lynn said...

Thanks, Adrienne. Writing stuff like this helps to keep things in perspective for me sometimes.