Aug 6, 2014

My weekly goals system

I believe in juggling many interests and not focus on ONE single thing the whole day. It might sound contradicting from a productivity standpoint but experience has taught me that this is how I prefer my ideal day to be. While I was working full time, my time was spent in 9-10 hours of work in office and 2-3 hours of commute. I didn't make much time for hobbies/activities/interests except I used to blog occasionally and cook new dishes during the weekends.

Now that I work from home, manage a toddler and the household chores, nurture my new found interests towards baking and healthy eating, keep up with fitness, writing and reading, my mind often gets bombarded with a lot of things to do. I used to practice GTD diligently a while back but have stopped completely. I wanted a simpler system to keep myself sane and ensure I make progress in all my areas of interest every week.

"Necessity is the mother of Invention" - I hacked up a simple weekly goals system and I'm seeing progress in the last 3 months ever since I started it.

Being a big fan of Evernote, my goals system resides there. I have a separate notebook named "Self-Development".

Every Monday morning, I sit down for around 30 minutes, thinking about what I want to accomplish that week. I create a separate "note", listing down the tasks in no specific order. The size of this list used to be around 10 items when I started. Now it has grown to 20.

1) I ensure there is atleast 1-2 tasks covering each area of my interest. This way, I don't feel like I'm spending too much time on one and not giving importance to the other. So the list would have "bake a <x> dish", "read 100 pages of a book <y>", "complete competitive landscape analysis presentation for <z>" and so on.

2) The tasks are quantified or measurable. For e.g., one of my tasks is to "go to the gym for 30 minutes, 2 times this week". The task definition is clear and I either achieve it or not. There is no confusion around what I need to do.

3) I add a couple of small tasks that doesn't take more than 10-15 minutes of my time and that I can check them off easily on Monday morning. It's based on one of the motivation theories, the "endowed progress" effect. It gives the required motivation to progress further in the week. For e.g., I need to call up a specific school to enquire about the timelines of their admission process for my daughter. It took me just 5 min to look up their number and call them.

4) Everyday, I go through my list in the morning and make a mental note of the tasks I want to focus on today.  At the end of the day, I go over the list again and check off a few items (thanks to the "checkbox" feature in Evernote!). Writing this post was one of my tasks for this week and I'm checking it off today!

5) At the end of the week, I look at the number of tasks completed. It was never 100% complete but I'm glad the percentage is increasing week over week

This is a very simple system and it's working for me. Awareness, little planning and thoughtful execution result in sustained progress. How do you plan your day/week? Are you a list maker too? :-)

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