If you’ve taken any time to set your goals or manage your goals you may have found that you’ve created too many goals! Is it possible to have too many goals? Yes, it is. Especially if you’re trying to work on them all at once. This article will help you pare down your list of goals to a manageable amount so that you can focus, have peace of mind, and actually accomplish your goals.
Paring Down Your List of Goals
Take your list of goals that you set using the Life Goals Worksheet. (For instructions check the Goal Setting Guide.) Go through each of your goals and ask yourself, “Can I live without this goal or must I have it right now?” A helpful way to do this is to take all your goals and write each one on a yellow sticky. You want to get your list down to your top 10, then top 5, then top 3 goals. The top 3 goals will be your list to work on. And if this adds too much to your plate, then simply work on one of these at a time.
What to Do with the Other Goals
The goals that are not in your top 5-10 goals, can be placed in a “maybe” or “someday” category. If you find ones that are not that important, you might want to delete them. If they are still a dream you want to hold onto, then leave them on your list, but note that they are a “someday/maybe” category. When you do periodic reviews of your goal list they’ll be there if it’s time for them to graduate to your top list. For the purposes of clearing your mind and establishing focus, leave them behind mentally while you focus on your top goals.
Top 3 Goals as Time Management Tool
When you have your goal list pared down and de-cluttered, you are now ready to handle the dizzying amount of demands for your attention, time, and energy. Your top 3 goals list becomes a time management tool. It becomes a filter through which every request must pass. If a new request doesn’t relate to your top 3 goals, then it must wait in line behind all tasks that do relate to your top 3 goals.
I’m “Too Busy”
Contrast this with how most of us operate daily: wake up, dress, eat while commuting or just drink coffee, arrive work, check email, respond to emails as we read them regardless of priority, get caught up in someone else’s “firedrill” simply because it seemed easier than figuring out the best plan for our own day, late lunch, post lunch slump, no energy to tackle anything big, dive into email again, more busy work, 4pm think to self “I’m never going to get anything done today. Why does this always happen to me?” 5pm still working on low priority tasks, 6pm leave work exhausted, get take out, eat, watch the news, watch TV until too late, fall asleep wishing you had time to write that novel. Oh well.
Less “Busy,” More Productive
If you use your top 3 goals as a time management filter then you will gain more control of your time. You’ll be more focused and less “busy.” You can then spend larger chunks of time working towards the things that are most important to you.
To do this successfully, you must be disciplined and make the tasks associated with your top 3 goals your first priority of the day each day. This means not even looking at email in the morning unless it relates to your top 3 goals. And if you do look at email you should only open those that relate to moving your top 3 goals forward.
After you have accomplished your big tasks for the day, then you can move onto lesser priority tasks and feel good about what you’ve accomplished for the day. What you’ll notice is that “firedrills” get handled by other people if you’re not available. Also, you need to learn to say “No” to certain requests, ignore others, and delegate tasks that are more appropriately or more cost-effectively handled by someone else.
Small Investment, Big Return
Simplifying your goals, planning your day, and being disciplined in your implementation doesn’t take a lot of time. It just takes focus. And it actually frees up time for what you really want. That’s the big return. You will feel so good about your accomplishments. What are you waiting for? Start today!
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