Lose weight. Find a new job. Clean out closets. Learn Spanish….
Many people have these kinds of goals and more rolling around in their heads. But when it comes to actually making progress, their heads hit the pillow each night having caught up on their social media or news source of choice but not having actually made any progress on what really matters to them.
In the moments when they could make progress, they don’t. But in the moments when they’re in the middle of something else, they having a nagging sense that they’re falling behind or getting nowhere.
This stagnation bothers them. But they don’t know what to do about it. And often they try to shrug it off by saying, “I just don’t have enough time.”
As a time management coach and as someone who has goals that I want and need to accomplish in my own life, I’m constantly thinking about how it’s possible to move forward on items outside of the day-to-day without getting overwhelmed.
Here are some of my best tips for getting unstuck and keeping up momentum.
Accept That You Can’t Do Everything
One of the ways to ensure you get nothing completed is to try to do everything. So conversely, one of the ways to really help you get things done is to limit the number of goals that you pursue at any one time.
When you’re thinking about narrowing down your goals, consider where progress would be the most meaningful or highest impact in your life. For example, maybe you need to make health a top priority because your doctor said you’ll have a heart attack soon if you don’t improve your lifestyle. But you could wait on learning German because it’s an interest of yours but not something you plan to use in the near future.
In my life, I also think about narrowing my goals in terms of the season I believe I’m in. For example, when I was praying about 2023, I felt like God told me that my big theme for the year is to “establish my household.” As a newly married lady, that means prioritizing things like name changes, joint tax planning, and trying to buy a house. And some other goals that I’ve pursued in the past, I’m putting aside for now.
Set Monthly Goals
Once you’ve narrowed down the areas that you want to pursue, then I find it helpful to set monthly sub-goals. Why I find monthly planning helps is that it’s a long enough time to make some significant progress and gives you some flexibility. If you’re really busy on any particular week, you can choose to not work on your sub-goals but still make progress overall by the end of the month.
For example with the big goal my husband and I have of trying to buy a home, we had a sub-goal in December of getting pre-approved, in January of starting to look at homes, and in February of having a comprehensive view of our financial picture.
(We’re still looking so prayers appreciated a wonderful home for us at a wonderful price pops up soon.)
When I do my monthly goal setting, I write in a paper planner. On the first page of the month, I write down my big goals as headers and then write the sub-goals for the month under each one. So in our case, “Home” is one of the headers and making a financial plan was one of the tasks beneath it last month.
Plan Designated Times
Determining monthly goals is a great start. But it’s too easy in the swirl of life to blow them off if you don’t designate a specific time to get them done.
During my weekly planning process, which for me happens on Monday mornings, I review my monthly list and decide which specific items I’ll accomplish for the week.
Once I’ve selected them, then I put them into time slots on my Google Calendar. For example, I put in working on the financial planning for the home on a recent Saturday afternoon.
I do this process in my Google Calendar because I want to be really honest on how much time I actually have or don’t have in my schedule. If I can’t find a time to get something done, it’s not going to get done. This means I need to either drop the expectation I’ll make progress in a certain area for the week. Or I need to take something else off my schedule.
Does following this process mean that I get everything done for the month that I hoped to accomplish? No.
But it does mean that I’m making significant progress in each important area each 30 days.
If you find yourself stuck and overwhelmed, accept that you can’t do everything, set monthly goals, and then plan when you’ll move forward each week.
About Real Life E
Elizabeth Grace Saunders-Lukasik is the founder and CEO of Real Life E® a time coaching company that empowers individuals who feel guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished. She was named one of the World’s Top 30 Time Management Professionals by Global Gurus. The Christian division of her company focuses on a God-centered approach to time management through Divine Time Management.
McGraw Hill published her first book The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success with Less Stress. Harvard Business Review published her second book How to Invest Your Time Like Money. FaithWords published her third book Divine Time Management: The Joy of Trusting in God’s Loving Plans for You. Elizabeth contributes to blogs like Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Fast Company and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox.