Goal Setting: Is It Working?
A couple of weeks, I posted about trying to use goal-setting to push myself to get more done.
As usual, I’m getting mixed results. On the one hand, making a list of weekly goals does help move tasks that have been languishing on my long to-do list. I have, for instance, mended a purse that’s been on the list for months. On the other hand, making a list of tasks does not, by itself, create more hours in the day. What it does do is help select a task to fill a certain period of time. Right now, for instance, I am on hold with my health insurance company (current length of call, 54 minutes 25 seconds) and have already crossed a few small items off the list while waiting. The pre-curated list helps me just pick something.
This is my general procedure:
- I have a designated time every week (Monday afternoons; I tend to think of a week being Monday-Sunday) when I make up a new list of goals.
- I put 10-15 items on it in a mix of difficulty levels/time taken. Some are tiny, specific items, like signing up for CreditKarma, while others are more long-term, like how much money I’d like to make.
- I keep a master to-do list of items that I would like to get to eventually, and I draw my 10-15 items from that list.
- I never add to my weekly list after I’ve made it unless there is something truly time-sensitive; this week, for instance, I landed a job interview to prepare for. If necessary, I then take something else off the weekly list. If something comes up that’s not urgent–for instance, my aunt sent me a present this week and I need to write her a thank-you note–I add it to my master list.
- I never look at the master list except when I am preparing my weekly list. This forces me to concentrate on the items on my weekly list.
- I don’t put normal chores on the list. I know I need to make a grocery list and shop, no need to write it down.
- When I have several hours to work, I will sometimes make a mini-list of tasks to accomplish during those hours.
As I’ve been doing this for a few weeks, I’ve made a few refinements in how I allocate tasks. I’ve been separating them more. For instance, I wrote “write two blog entries” the first week, but I wrote just one. One goal failed, zero goals met. But if I make those two separate tasks, and write just one, then I have missed a goal but also met one.
I’m also changing how I make goals for earning money. I was setting just one lofty goal, and frankly I haven’t even gotten close. From now on, I’m going to make one low goal, say to earn $200 pr $225 depending on what else is going on that week, and a second goal, say to earn $250. Then if I earn $221, I’ve met one goal and failed at another. Otherwise, no matter how little I earn, I’ve only missed one goal. That should keep me motivated even if I know I won’t make my “top” goal.
Readers, any advice-setting goals for me? How do you keep yourself motivated to get things done?