If you’re like me, you set aside time at the end of last year to review your 2015 goals and set new ones. It’s now February, and you’re either moving closer to your goals or you’re discouraged and wondering: What am I doing wrong?
I understand, because I used to find it hard to achieve my goals. That’s until I stumbled across a strategy that transformed the way I think about my life—and work. I call it the “Power of Three.”
It all began when I started looking for a new day planner. My old one was okay, but I didn’t use it consistently. I wanted one that would not only keep me on track, but also be fun to use.
That’s when I ran across Donald Miller’s Storyline Productivity Schedule (a free, downloadable PDF). Like me, Miller struggled with procrastination and focus and had difficulty sustaining mental energy.
“I went from writing a book in six months, to writing a book in a year and then it began to take two years then three years and so on. I thought for a long time the problem was me, in my inability to write. But in researching writers block and procrastination, I realized the problem was in how I was structuring my day.”
– Donald Miller, NY Times bestselling author and founder of Storyline
After he had created the productivity schedule, he finished his next book in four months. Yeah, that got my attention, too.
I downloaded the schedule and used it for 30 days. In the process I realized what I’d been doing wrong. I’d been making “to do” lists with more tasks than I could possibly accomplish in 24 hours. This new schedule allowed for just three goals a day, with a separate “to do” list. The goals were my biggies—working on my book, blogging, daily social media posts—non-negotiables. My “to do” list consisted of just, well, things I needed to get done if I had the time after my top three.
This new method was revolutionary. After three days of focusing on just three goals, I was working in a new way. I was happier, more rested, and more productive. I quickly came to believe that setting just three goals a day was the key to a more productive life.
Action Point #1: Write down your goals
Platform author Michael Hyatt says, “A goal without a deadline is little more than a dream.” He also say the reason so many people fail to reach their goals is because they fail to write them down.
If you haven’t already written down your top three goals for 2016, take time to do so. If you’ve already written down your goals, take a moment to review them. Are you making progress? What’s working? What could you do differently?
A written plan is essential. But you also need to be specific.
Action Point #2: Be specific
Instead of setting a vague goal like “finish my memoir” why not say “work three hours a day on my memoir or write 1,000 words a day?” Specific objectives are measurable, so there’s a greater probability you’ll actually finish what you set out to do.
Action Point #3: Set a deadline
Lastly, make sure you set a deadline. Without an endpoint, there’s less likelihood you’ll accomplish your goal.
I know I work more efficiently when I have a self-imposed deadline. Whether it’s a smaller period of time like “walk 20 minutes each day” or a larger time frame like “run a 5K by May 1,” having a deadline minimizes procrastination and keeps me on task.
Keep track of how much time you spend on your goals each day. That way, even if you don’t meet your daily goal, you’ll know you made progress. And that counts for something.
What tools have you discovered to increase your productivity? Please feel free to share in the comment section, below.
Author’s Note: A big thank you to Michael Hyatt and Don Miller for introducing me to these tools and inspiring this post.