Write that article!
Credit: J.Jensen

I’ll be honest, I had good intentions.  I had finished a long day of work, check.  I had some school work to finish, check.  I had about an hour left before bed.  I was tired and America’s Got Talent was on (with my son watching it).  I needed to get a blog entry finished.  I needed to work on setting up a class I was going to teach.  I needed to do a screencast for an idea I had.  What did I do instead?  I fired up a video game and played for an hour and then went to bed.

I don’t get done everything I want to.  I am usually successful in getting things done and starting new projects but occasionally, like last night, I ‘fall off the wagon’.  I do get a lot done between a full time job, family commitments, volunteer service and teaching.  I beat myself up when I’m not perfect but others ask me how I get it all done.  I can tell you that it isn’t by playing video games.  I have found things that do work to help me get things done.  I’d like to share that with you.

1)      Clearly define your goals.  A clearly defined goal is SMART.  SMART stands for:

  • Specific – ‘Be out of credit card debt’ is specific.  ‘Be rich’ isn’t.
  • Measurable – Can you measure the goal?  You know what your credit card debt amount is (you do don’t you?), if you start paying it down you can see the difference in the amounts and the progress. 
  • Achievable – Can you do it?  Last night it was possible for me to write this.  I had the time, the topic and the tools.  A major cause of failure in achieving goals is setting goals that are simply too lofty or unrealistic.
  • Relevant – Is the goal really that important to you?  Will it make a difference for you or someone else if you do it (or don’t do it)?  Make sure you are working towards goals that matter to you.
  • Time based – You need to have a time frame for completing your goal.  I will write this article today.  I will lose 20 pounds by the end of this year.  Have a deadline!

2)      Break your goal down into smaller goals and tasks you can schedule and achieve.  If you have a SMART goal you can break that goal down into smaller more manageable goals and tasks.  If the goal isn’t SMART it is hard to break it down.  I usually think of goals as things that are big and take anywhere from a month to several years to achieve.  If you don’t break that goal down and start working on parts of it today it is unlikely you will ever get it done.

3)      Manage your time – you have to turn off the distractions and make some hard choices.  When you are tired you need to do a little more.  Don’t try and create and consume at the same time.  Don’t watch TV while writing a blog post. 

4)      Get an accountability partner.  Don’t be afraid to share your goal with people who you respect and who will hold you accountable.  Ask them to hold you accountable.  Share your progress with them.  Schedule time to report your status.  When you have to report on your progress it is a motivator to help you keep working.

5)      Don’t be discouraged when you play video games instead of writing an article.  You still have time, you can get back on track.  Don’t let discouragement kill your motivation.

You can succeed in reaching your goals but you have to take steps today to move forward toward achieving them.  You only have a certain amount of time in your life.  You can spend that time many different ways.  Find what is most important to you, make a plan, and do it!