Hi all! This past year has been an awesome one for me so far. I got a new job, hit some milestones in my blogging career, and managed to meet a huge goal of mine: publishing a short story. I’m so proud of my insane work ethic this year, and I know we all struggle to stay focused, work hard, and meet goals. I know there is literally nothing I like better than sitting on my couch with a huge bowl of popcorn watching Food Network, but most of the time I’m working, even after hours!
I thought I’d share with you some of the ways I’ve learned to organize my life and start to work efficiently to meet goals—because at the end of the day, isn’t that what our lives are all about? Making our dreams come true? Here’s what I’ve learned.
Have a Dedicated Workspace
When I’m home working you’ll usually find me at my desk. I can’t always promise it’s clean and neat, but it’s there and I use it. I dress it up with pretty things and photos and it’s become a safe work haven.
Use A Planner Religiously & Make Weekly Lists
And stick to them! My preferred journal brand is the Moleskine weekly planner because it has a weekly calendar on the left side and a ruled sheet on the right. On the left I plan my daily activities (out to dinner with friends, dates, etc.) and on the right I make exhaustive lists of things to do during my week. I also add payment info in there too, like my bi-weekly work paycheck, payments from brands, or rebate info so I know when to check my bank accounts.
Sometimes I’ll even break down my to-do lists by day. I keep this planner open throughout my workday, and I’ve become so beholden to my to-do lists that it may border on addiction. 😉 The feeling of checking off something you’ve done is so satisfying that the chore itself won’t seem like such a burden!
I make sure to hold myself to these lists and hardly a week goes by where I don’t complete most, if not all, the items on the list. This week, my list includes things like “swap out summer closet for winter” and “finalize Halloween plans” as well as everything I do for this blog. It can all go on one list. I’ll use colored pens to dress it all up and make it look inviting. I’m not a fan of bullet journaling because there seems to be a lot of extra work just to create the templates you need, and I like to keep it all simple. Colored pens and check marks are all I need.
Manage Your Time & Make Schedules
If you have a LOT to do, like I do, then you really do have to plan your time by the hour. I blog an hour before and after work, and schedule time at night and on weekends to work on my fiction writing, especially during the fall when I’m spurred to work on NaNoWriMo. Other to-do items like errands and chores also should be scheduled! Or at least have a rough time when you know you can get them done, like during a lunch break or during commercials.
Set Daily Goals
My daily goals often include things like “cycle one hour” or “walk 10,000 steps” or even “spend an hour researching x for novel.” These are things I don’t necessarily keep on my to-do list, but rather, in a journal. Which brings me to…
Practicing mindfulness sounds like one of those stupid trendy buzzwords, but journaling is one of the healthiest habits you can form for your emotional well-being. I’ve been keeping a journal since I was 13 (half my life) and the knowledge that I have a safe space to vent my feelings and really figure out what’s going on in my brain is invaluable to me. I really can’t imagine not doing it!
Set Achievable Yearly Goals
This year, my goals were to learn ballet, learn how to cook, hit 10k followers on Instagram, and publish. I’m not a professional dancer or a gourmet chef, nor do I have 10k followers (yet) but I have taken ballet classes and I’ve become more adventurous with what I make in the kitchen. I’ve also published one piece of flash fiction and am working on more!
Setting achievable goals is key, goals that build on themselves, goals that are specific. “Make money from blogging” or “publishing a novel” are either too vague or too lofty. Rather, next year maybe my goal can be “finishing a novel” and then the next year can be “learn how to query agents.” Taking small, achievable steps is so important to long-term goal-setting and achieving!
Make Random Lists
To organize your headspace, make random lists. My lists include: Blog Post Ideas, Things To Save For, Books To Buy, Books To Read, Christmas Wish List, etc. Whenever I need to refer back to this information I have it all handy in my planner.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Be cheesy. Tell yourself you can do this and make yourself believe it. It’s a small step toward building more confidence in your ability to get shit done. 🙂
Lastly, Take Breaks
NO ONE can work all the time, and something I learned the hard way last year was that if you work too hard, the things you love end up becoming the things you hate. Work/life balance is necessary. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Take breaks. Make mistakes. Watch TV. Let yourself relax a bit. And enjoy the ride.