Goal-setting is the most powerful tool for productivity, whether on a daily basis, or for lifelong planning.
A goal may be something as simple as organizing your desk, as ambitious as devising a new marketing strategy, or as significant as envisioning a retirement plan. But the way you go about accomplishing your goals is by far the most important factor for achieving success.
Goals may be divided into three basic categories: those for which accomplishing a simple task is the goal itself; more complex goals that require several sequential steps; and those with a number of individual components that together complete a larger goal. For simple goals, the task is easy: Just do it! But the more complex goals, or those with many components are best achieved by the divide-and-conquer method.
The most important tool for goal-setting success is a basic to-do list. Your to-do list may be composed on sticky notes, in a day-planner, or in a computer software program. Microsoft Outlook has an excellent feature that allows you to create an ongoing to-do list, but there are also many other programs that may have a similar feature. Regardless of the medium, every day's work should start with a to-do list, and each day's to-do list should contain simple tasks, as well as the components of larger goals. The larger goals can also be divided into a series of simple tasks, wherein lie the keys to success. Check out my other article: Get Organized with Microsoft Outlook
Simple goals on your to-do list may include such quick tasks as paying a bill or scheduling an appointment. One of the best morale boosters is to tackle these simple things first, which allows you to quickly check off several items from your to-do list, thus giving you a feeling of accomplishment early on, and ridding you of minor distractions from your larger, more important goals.
For the best chance at successfully accomplishing these more complex goals, they should be divided into individual tasks. For example, if the goal is to write a report by the end of the day, it's not a good idea to put "write report" on your to-do list, as this just sets you up for procrastination and ultimately, for failure. Instead, that large task can be divided into several simple steps, which can then be completed as individual tasks with breaks in between as needed. Your to-do list might look something like this:
- Open the software and set up your document template.
- Gather your resource material and import it into the document.
- Create a plan or outline for your report based on the source material.
- Write a strong opening paragraph.
- Write the body of the report in small sections (listed as separate goals) until it is complete.
- Proofread and spell-check.
- Print out the finished document.
As simplistic as it may seem, no task is too small to include as a goal on your to-do list. If each of these elements is treated as a separate goal, they will be far less daunting than the looming prospect of writing a lengthy report. And as you complete each mini-goal, check it off your to-do list and take a break. At the end of the day, they will all add up to a fully-completed goal, and a satisfying feeling of accomplishment.