Creative commons photo credit: Angie Nan
“A dream without a plan is just a wish.” Katherine Paterson
When I left the corner office of a high-growth tech company to work for myself, my biggest fear was that without external deadline pressure, I would never complete tasks again. Not one. Ever.
What I discovered was that checking items off of my “to do” list was still relatively easy…even with the distraction of social media.
The bigger challenge was ensuring that when all those completed tasks were strung together, I reached a meaningful goal – a dream even. There are an abundance of tech tools and sophisticated systems available to help you manage your time. But if after checking off all your tasks for the day, you feel no closer to reaching your goal, try this really simple method that has worked for me.
- Start with your no limits list. Write down your biggest dreams and aspirations. Make them as measurable as possible and write down as many as you want.
- Pick your one big meaningful thing. Really just one. Not saying that you won’t work on others, but many of us fail to reach our goal because we are trying to work on too many directions at once. Good goals distract great goals. So pick one. Really, just one.
- Have a place for all your other brilliance. Creative and entrepreneurial types tend to have an abundance of amazing ideas. Have a place (one spot) to save all those brainstorms for the future.
- Create a space for your one big thing. Get a box or clean out one drawer or empty a shelf to keep that one goal you just wrote down. This space is sacred so only items related to your goal are allowed in your box. Nothing else. Ever.
- Underwhelm yourself with easy actions. Break your “big thing” into small actions until there is one step that feels easy. Make one phone call. Write 100 words. Some days, when you can, do a little more.
- Dedicate a day a month to your dream. One day a month – blow it out of the park. Devote a whole day to working on your one meaningful thing. Every day, but especially on this day, get prepared the night before. Make a list of what you would like to accomplish. Even set out your clothes. Research shows that we have limited decision making capital everyday so take care of all the insignificant decisions.
- Set a deadline. Only after working on your goal for about a month, set a deadline. Then multiple it times two.
- Don’t dream (or write or make art or..) alone. Join or create a closed Facebook or face-to-face group meet up. Not negotiable.
Distractions will still happen, but they won’t derail you. (Though when you are writing a blog on time management, it is not advisable to begin your day by studying a tobacco body infographic – particularly if you don’t smoke.) Tasks will be hard, but not insurmountable.
Basic systems work. Save the complexity and sophistication for your dream – not the tools to manage it.
In the comments, tell us how you make your time count for what really matters.
Take 5 for Your Dreams. She is co-founder of What’s Your Brave?, a writing and media project that empowers girls and their parents to be brave, dream big, and take bold action.
Her work has been featured in: The Boston Globe, Online Christian Science Monitor, Tinybuddha, The Good Men Project, SheHeroes, and She Can’t What. It matters deeply to me that every person — that means you — on this planet has the opportunity to be who they really are and live what deep-down matters to them.
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