Time management Monday: Creating daily actions and tasks from your monthly goals

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We all know setting goals is very important. But the only way you will achieve your goals is if you translate those goals into daily actions and tasks.

September’s Month Theme was Looking Ahead, which encouraged you to visualize what your life will be like when you have achieved your goals. This motivational exercise gets you excited about the end result. But the real trick is how to get you to do all the small steps necessary to reach the big goals, day after day.

The key is to break your goals down into actions and tasks to be done on specific days. You plan your actions, then when the day comes, you know exactly what to do. These actions have a cumulate effect to moving you closer to your goals. At the end of each month you evaluate your progress and make any necessary adjustments.

I’ll show you step by step in this simplified example.

Here is the Month Forecast page in the Life Noted planner, where you set your goals for the upcoming month. (This was for September.)

At the top of the page is space for your goals. This is where you write what you want to achieve by the end of the month.

Notice the goals are specific and measurable: you want an A on your Bio exam, not just to “get a good grade.” You want to lose 5 pounds, and you want to save $150, both of which are measurable. This allows you to track your progress accurately. At the end of the month, you can measure exactly how much weight you’ve lost, money you saved, and what grade you got on the exam.

The bottom of the page is where you write the actions you need to do in order for you to reach these goals. I have color coded the actions the same as the goals, to make each type more visible: blue for Bio, black for weight loss, green for saving money.

You can see the actions are specific things to do. To get a good grade on the Bio test, you will go to scheduled study groups and do practice tests. To lose weight you will plan your meals, eat more fruit and veg, and run 3 times each week. To save money you will eat at home instead of out, bring packed lunches, and plan free or inexpensive nights out.

Next is the step that makes all the difference in the world: transfer these actions to your daily schedule and task lists. Work your goal tasks into your daily schedules to make sure they get done. Look at the sample Life Noted weekly page below for examples.

On Monday, you are working toward your goal of losing weight by doing strength exercises and your weekly meal planning (in black). In your schedule is the Bio study time at the library (in blue).

Tuesday you’ll do a 30 minute run and do the grocery shopping toward your weight loss goal (in black). You have set a budget for the groceries, to help with your money saving (in green). You have scheduled the Bio study group that evening (blue).

Etc. You can see how each day has tasks toward specific goals. You can use the monthly pages in the Life Noted planner to give you an overview of the month and see which weeks are better to hit certain goals hard.

It requires discipline to work your goal tasks into each day. But by paying attention, prioritizing your goals, and being consistent, you will be able to work toward each of your goals.

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