How to prepare for a great 2018
It is important to make time for planning, thinking and organising. There is a misconception that taking time out to think and plan is unproductive when you have a mile-long task list. However, getting in the habit of being organised and making plans will make your life easier, more successful and more enjoyable plus you will feel in control of life, not the other way around!
Sit down and re-evaluate what has happened over the past 12 months or so. A simple grid like the one below is a good starting point to help you reflect back in order to feed forward.
What inspired me
What worked well
BIGGER & BETTER
What was ok but could’ve been even better
What didn’t happen & why didn’t it
With a clearer idea of where we are now and how we got there, we are better placed to ascertain where we want to go and what we want to achieve moving forward.
Setting goals & objectives
It often helps to start with 3 (no more than 5) big goals that you want to achieve for the coming year – either personal and/or professional. Once you have set your goals you need to think about what is needed in order to achieve them – these are objectives. The mnemonic SMART can be useful when setting objectives:
- S– Specific (or Significant)
- M– Measurable (or Meaningful)
- A– Attainable (or Action-Oriented)
- R– Relevant (or Rewarding)
- T– Time-bound (or Trackable)
Then from these objectives, tasks can be set. It is always tempting to jump straight into creating task lists but it can be tempting to create endless to-do-lists of seemingly ‘quick-win’ tasks to make you feel busy but that won’t actually help you achieve your bigger picture goals.
Write it down
As mentioned earlier, a written goal provides a constant reminder of the direction you want to be heading. They provide clarity and focus and will help in your decision-making process – will this help me achieve my goals?
Keeping on track
Progress is a continual journey made up of small accomplishments. Check in with how you’re progressing weekly. Don’t give up on a goal completely just because you’ve had a bad day/week – pick back up from where you left off. And remember to celebrate the achievements along the way!
Eat well, stay hydrated, exercise, relax & sleep - looking after yourself has to be your first priority. Keeping your mind and body healthy is the most important thing.
Focus – multi-tasking is counter-productive. Being ‘busy’ is not the same thing as being productive. We often choose to procrastinate on the important jobs that need doing in favour of feeling that we’re being busy doing all the unimportant tasks! Prioritise on what needs to be done first.
Block time – set aside specific blocks of time to deal with emails, phone calls and any other forms of distraction such as colleagues interrupting you – this will help you focus!
Write it down – writing things down brings clarity of thought and proves very useful if your memory sometimes fails you! It is also proven that a written down goal/task is more likely to be achieved.
Top and tail your day– spending ten minutes at the start of your day to plan your priorities and ten minutes at the end of the day to assess, reflect and re-prioritise for the coming day will put you in much better control of your life.
Here is a round-up of our favourite apps to help keep you organised and on track:
Evernote - https://evernote.com/
This app takes note taking to a new level! You can take notes, capture images, clip articles from the internet, sync them across all of your devices and use tag & search to quickly find what you’re looking for. Evernote also integrates with many other apps to further improve your productivity.
Storing, sharing and collaborating files with colleagues is made easy with Dropbox – much easier than attaching files via email
There are many ‘to-do-list’ apps out there but we think these two are the best. Once you get in the habit of using them we promise you will see and feel the benefits – less stress, more productivity, clarity of thought.
It is up to you how organised you want to be – creating sub categories, colour-coding – the capabilities are all there to help you.