Take 30 Minutes Every Week to Reach Your Ambitious Goals

2017-calendar

January 1 is quickly approaching. Are you ready?

Have you written your 2017 business goals? Yes, you say.

That’s great! Yes, you deserve a handshake while I say, “Good for you.”

I have a question.

When we turn the digital calendar page to December 2017, will you have accomplished the goals? If you’ve said anything but a definitive “Yesiree,” you may need help.

You get your goals out of your head and onto paper. You feel a sense of accomplishment and relief. You tell yourself, “Job well done,” and then you work on something else.

There the paper sits as the weeks roll by.

Does this sound familiar?

Remember the days when you’d write task lists, just general ditties, and add items to the list whenever a task came to mind? Moments in the day when you thought of an upcoming birthday or a friend you haven’t spoken to in ages. So you’d write the tasks down. When was the last time you talked to your mother? You’d write that down.

You were younger then and you felt like you had time to get all the things done. You had the satisfaction of checking off the item, even if it was inconsequential. Order business supplies – check! Do the report – check! Sign up for the training class – check!

But fast forward to now. You have greater responsibilities. If you’re an employee, your paycheck is depending on you. If you’re an owner, then clients, employees, and others are depending on you. ONE BIG RESPONSIBILITY is accomplishing the business goals you’ve set.

So how can you do this? Here’s one of the best nuggets of business management wisdom that’s helped me: Organize and execute your priorities on a weekly basis.

I use a system created by Stephen Covey, in his best-selling book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I’ve adapted his Quadrant II Manager weekly roles and goals planning to my business. Because of this action plan, I’ve launched a new website and gained new clients this year, while sleeping better at night because I have peace of mind.

Think of a Week Instead of One Day

Organize on a Weekly Basis

I’ve found organizing on a weekly basis is helpful. I don’t feel pressure to cram every item on my task list in one day. I enjoy the peace of mind of planning, and knowing what to expect in my schedule.

It also helps me focus on several areas of my life, and not only the work role. I wouldn’t say I’ve achieved work/life balance, but it does nudge me in that direction. Weekly planning encourages me to tap into my long-range vision. It also saves me time because I’ve already weighed my options and made decisions for the week. I can focus on pursuing my plan.

Sound appealing? Would you like to try it?

Organizing on a weekly basis involves six key activities:

Review Your Vision and Mission

The first step is to know what is meaningful and important to you. How do you want to contribute to your corner of the world? I begin by reviewing my mission statement. Don’t have one? You can ask yourself to list the things you think of as “first things.” Perhaps it’s health, spouse, children, hobbies and work. What’s most important? What talents do you enjoy using? How do you want to serve people?

Identify Roles

Next, you outline your roles for the week. Roles are areas you plan to invest time and energy during the week, such as responsibilities in the family, at work, in the community and other places. The role is more than a job title. Possible roles would be Personal Development, Husband or Wife, Father or Mother, Son or Daughter, Community Leader, and Business Owner. Sometimes, I split my work into different functions such as New Business Development, Professional Development and Writing roles to focus on these work responsibilities. Name the roles in whatever way makes sense to you.

Keeping roles under seven is more manageable in keeping track of goals and activities. To do so, you may need to combine roles such as Daughter/Sister or Husband/Father. An upper limit of seven also helps reinforce that you only have a time budget of 168 hours per week. Writing my roles keeps me aware of this, and paying more attention to the people and projects important to me.

List of My Roles for the Week:

  1. Individual
  2. Wife
  3. Mother
  4. Friend
  5. Professional
  6. Home

Select Goals

Think of two important results you feel you should accomplish in each role in the next seven days. For me, the weekly goals derive from my annual goals. Here are my week’s goals for my professional role:

Professional:

  1. Completed my blog post
  2. Contacted ten new businesses
  3. Created 2 page content for client’s direct mailing

An effective goal focuses primarily on results rather than activity.  Stephen R. Covey

Schedule

Do Time Blocks 

Schedule your goals to a specific day of the week either as a definite appointment, or at least as a priority task. Ideally, you should time block the appointment. Time blocks are large chunks of time set aside for clear-cut important activities. I time block an hour on Sunday evening for organizing the week and long-term planning. Also, check your calendar to see what appointments are already scheduled. If there’s a conflict, decide if you can plan around or reschedule it so the goals are established in the week’s plan.

When we only write down our goals, we think we’ve done the work of goal planning. If we stop there, realistically, we’re leaving the results to fate. Doing the scheduling activity is the genius of this framework. If the goal is important to you, you may need to choose work over play, family time over personal time, and rest over catching up with YouTube, but I never said the framework was easy. There’s peace of mind knowing I’ve organized my week with my most important goals scheduled.

Another benefit of planning the week is you will have set aside time for your important goals, instead of time being easily filled with other people’s agendas. Time blocks are also helpful so other people know when you’re available for meetings. For our home, I’m making dinner at 5:30 p.m., so our children know when I “clock out” of my home office and am available to them.

Stick with the Appointment You Made with Yourself

Real day-to-day life can throw many opportunities your way. Or should I say in your way? People may make urgent requests because they’re in crisis-mode. Sometimes, you choose to change your plans because of others. It’s reality. But when it’s a morning that no one’s interrupting you, it’s up to you to stick with the plan. Treat an appointment with yourself like you would if you were meeting with someone else.

Execute

What is the hardest struggle for me with this framework? Showing up and doing the plan. I’m highly vulnerable to all the distractions. I work at home, a place with plenty of distractions. I’m a mother, and I have responsibilities arise unexpectantly with our children that only I can do. It’s hard for me to say no to other worthwhile requests.

Some weeks, family and work roles are the only the goals I focus on for the week. You know, life can be busy.

Evaluate

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.  Albert Einstein

If you want to improve on completing your plan, then evaluate at week’s end. When I do this, I ask myself a few questions. Did I complete my goals? If not, why? What activities did I do instead? This is honest confession time.

I’ve noticed some goals are repeatedly written on my weekly sheet, week after week. A few things have appeared on a continuous chain of over six months. Joining a book club was one. I finally did and enjoy it. The book club get-together night requires juggling activities, but it’s worth it.

Another goal was signing up for a yoga class.

I never signed up for a yoga class. When I don’t do the goal, as in this case, I ask myself, “Why?” Excuses drill down to reasons, then eventually revealing answers closer to the truth. I never wanted to do yoga, but felt like I should.

In other cases of postponement (okay, procrastination), the reason could be the goal was too difficult, so I didn’t start. The goal was important to someone else. Maybe I did not want to overcome the obstacles to work towards the goal. Perhaps the answers were “all of the above.” I let go of the goal of doing a yoga class. I never liked how I looked in yoga pants anyway.

By evaluating the week’s results, I become aware of what I say is important to me and what my actions show is important. Difficult to excuse away hard evidence. Sometimes, I give up the goals. Maybe the goals were not truly how I wanted to spend my time. When I’ve found that, deep down, I truly do want to pursue the goal, I ask for my accountability partner’s help. I’ve also discovered a more realistic expectation of what can be accomplished in a week.

Plan Your Week Today

It may take 30 minutes to do weekly planning. If you accomplished even half of the weekly goals you set, what is that worth to you? Try scheduling 30 minutes to plan and schedule your week’s goals.

Set a 30 minute “weekly goal planning” today.

What is the best time management tip you would recommend? How has the tip helped you?

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