It may seem like a trivial practise, but planning ahead and keeping track of your daily activities can help you achieve any goal.
If you are like me and hate schedules of any kind, keep reading. If you are already familiar with terms like colour coding, you might want to keep reading, too. Because I’m going to give you a little secret:
You can achieve any goal with one simple calendar.
That’s right! Just one.
Contrary to your instincts, you don’t need separate calendars for work, personal schedule, family activities, and so on. Unless, of course, you take great pleasure in juggling between designer notebooks that each have a different purpose (cue in stationery porn).
According to the Time magazine, some of the most productive people on the planet use a single calendar to reach the optimal work/life balance. How do they manage that, I hear you ask? By combining their personal and work to-do lists, they develop what experts call a ‘deliberate intention’.
In simple terms, instead of getting overwhelmed by the sea of work-related tasks, they see the entire picture. A single calendar gives them a clear overview of what they want to accomplish that day, both at home and at the office, so they prioritise accordingly.
That’s right. It all comes down to prioritisation.
The key is to be intentional about how you spend your time and eliminate time-wasters. Also, you can break down your plans to the smallest of tasks you would never think to schedule otherwise (well, maybe except toilet breaks).
For instance, you may decide to track your commuting times. This would give you a more realistic picture of how long it takes you to complete a particular activity. It also allows you to set healthy boundaries and avoid overbooking yourself with jobs that never get finished.
You might even schedule the time it takes you to have lunch or a coffee break. After all, taking a pause is easily as important as the other entries in your calendar. Ask any highly productive individual, and they will stress the importance of slowing down before you accelerate into accomplishment.
Journalling as a self-growth strategy
Unsurprisingly, this method can be applied to your self-growth goals as well. If you write something down — or type it, if you prefer to go digital — your dream suddenly starts to materialise. By noting it down, the most magical thing happens: you make yourself accountable for turning it into reality.
Journalling can also be a wonderful tool to keep your mental health in check, which I discussed recently in my post at HealthyPlace.
So go ahead and schedule that language course, fitness training, or the book you wanted to read for ages. Then, once it’s black-on-white and official, you keep to it as if it was an important meeting with a client.
Actually — it is an important meeting, and it is a super important client: you!
Tools to get you started (and achieve any goal)
You will be amazed at how much you can achieve if you stay consistent with this simple scheduling practice. You don’t need anything fancy to get started. For instance, you might want to use Google Calendar and the colour blocking functionality for ease of reference. Or, you might prefer a more physical experience, which is where a traditional calendar, pen, and highlighter come in handy.
Then, once your scheduled activity has commenced, stay focused! I recommend using a productivity app such as Forest or the Pomodoro technique, where you set a timer to work uninterrupted for a certain amount of time. It’s a little mind trick, and it can work wonders, especially if you’re easily distracted (hello, Instagram!).
I personally use a simple week planner, where I can note down my to-do tasks every day. I’ve also set up a ‘focus mode’ on my phone, which blocks all the sneaky, time-stealing apps during my working hours.
Whatever you choose to stay concentrated, make sure to pat yourself on the back each week as you see all the little things you have accomplished. Even if they are only trivial tasks, they all bring you closer towards your big goal.
Do you use a calendar to achieve your goals? Let me know in the comments section!