What are the best ways to manage my time to stay motivated?
In part 2 of my series of articles on motivation, I talk about the importance of goal setting, time management and using a structure to help you stay motivated.
Set time aside in your diary daily dedicated to your work.
It’s always hard finding time to get work done. This can be anything from learning a new skill like an instrument, to cooking or maybe even a language. There are always more pressing things that need to be done, but unless you prioritise what you want to do and take it seriously, it will never get done.
In my previous article I talked about the importance of allocating blocks of time of time in your calendar to it so that both you and those around you begin to take what you are doing seriously. You need to give yourself the best chance of succeeding and by having a structure in place you stand a much better chance of achieving you goals as you will be regular and consistent steps towards them.
It’s important to be positive and celebrate every little goal along the way. These small victories will feed into each other and the success from one will provide the motivation to start the next session.
Set goals then reverse engineer them into actionable steps
When setting a goal it can seem daunting. How can I ever achieve that?! Well, as the saying goes…
“How do you eat an elephant? Once mouthful at a time”
Choose a goal, then reverse engineer how to get there. Take these steps and break them down further until they are more actionable. I touched on this in an article I wrote about getting noticed, but here is an example.
My goal is to work for X (business, restaurant, person)
- I want to work for X
- How do I get in?
- I will need to impress Y
- How do I impress them?
- I will need these skills:
- How do I get those skills?
- Which is the most important skill to learn?
- How long will it take me?
- Who will teach me?
So it would go like this:
1) Learn the most important skill - find a teacher or learn online
- Repeat for other skills. Test my skills with other in the industry. Once I have the skills.
2) Impress X?
- Get to know them
- Can someone introduce me?
- What’s the best way of approaching them?
3) Meet with them
- Follow their advice
- Work on weaknesses
4) Go back to see them
- Work with them at Y
It will take time to achieve your goals so you need to firstly be realistic, but by setting small but achievable goals you are setting yourself up for a greater chance of being successful. This constant reviewing of your progress also makes you flexible in case circumstances change.
You need a road map to make sure you stay on track. This reassures you that you are heading in the right direction no matter what the task is at the time.
For example, if we take the timeline above:
Your goal is to get a job in a top agency, so you need to improve you portfolio and impress the person who arranges the work placements. This is all fairly straightforward and so when you have honed your skills and developed a good portfolio of work, the next step is to get to know the person in charge of placements.
So spending 2 hours of your day reading and studying all of their social media posts is valuable research, even if on the face of it, it has nothing to do with improving your portfolio. It’s is another piece of the puzzle and it’s important to remember that each piece plays a vital role in achieving success.
Set Daily, Weekly and Monthly Goals to stay on track.
- Daily goals help you make small improvements
- Weekly goals give you the chance to change your direction
- Monthly goals show genuine process toward your main goal.
By outlining the process step by step, it makes it easier to achieve. This is what Nick Saban calls ‘The Process’ - Instead of focussing on the outcome, instead focus on each single stage of journey toward the desired outcome. In that moment you give 100% to the job at hand and then move on to the next job.
To be champions you need to take each game as it comes and within each game you focus on each play one at a time. If you give 100% to each play, you’ll probably win the game. If you win every game, you’ll win the championship.
Identifying tasks - ‘I need to do’ vs 'I would like to do’ tasks
One of the most significant ways to stay motivated is to be aware of your progress. It is like a positive cycle with each ‘win’ giving you the fuel to take on the next challenge. You have to be able to distinguish between goals that are ‘essential’ from the ones that are ‘nice to have accomplished'.
Quite often these tasks will switch between the two categories based on what is most important at the time. Here is an example schedule.
- I need to: write the article
- I would like to: design the graphics, design the mail-out.
- I need to: design the graphics
- I would like to: design the mail-out.
- I need to: design the mail-out.
- I would like to:
As you can see, I set a realistic deadline of 3 days to get the article done. During those 3 days I spaced it out so I was able to achieve everything with plenty of flexibility, depending how I got on. The easiest way to determine which category they fall into is usually dictated by the deadline and their ease of completion.
Another way of getting more done (which makes you feel good and frees up time for building your business) is to batch smaller tasks so that they get done at the same time.
How does batching work? - Collect up a group of similar activities and do them all at the same time. This is the main principle behind batching. You could collect up all your e-mail answering, household chores, reading assignments or phone calls and do them at one time.
Develop a bucket system.
The flip side of setting and achieving goals that doesn’t get talked about, is to get comfortable with the fact that some days will be more productive than others.
Sometimes you will even achieve nothing!
But this is fine. As long as you are progressing toward your goals along a mapped out route. Stop worrying about it or feeling bad about it. Take time off to do something else and come back fresh tomorrow.
This attitude can be played out by using, What Tim Ferris describes as a bucket system.
The Bucket System
It’s a system where you have a section of activities than you plan on doing. If you are stalling on one (filling that bucket), move to another (fill another bucket).
Try and find other productive tasks that you could use as backup plans when your primary goals can't be achieved one of reason. These could include doing exercise, seeing a friend, cooking a meal, Reading a book etc.
For example - “I was really struggling to write me latest article, so I went for a run. It cleared my mind and I came back fresh and was able to get over half of the article written.”
By having this set up, you can still gain satisfaction of making improvements towards something, even if it wasn’t what you initially intended to work on.
Acknowledge your success so far
It’s so important to celebrate just how far you've come and how well your doing.
Many people drift through life wondering why they never get anywhere. By planning out your goals you are already on the path to achieving more than them.
“You can't steer a parked car” - Sean McCabe
Make sure you take time to go back over your steps and feel good about the progress you’ve made. By being proud of yourself and how far you come, will give you the motivation to keep going.
You must also learn from your experiences so far and be open to potentially adjusting your course of direction. Build a Feedback Loop (above) into your workflow. This will prove invaluable when it comes to working as effectively as possible.
To sum up:
- Set time aside in your diary daily dedicated to this work.
- Reverse engineer goals into actionable steps (eating an elephant)
- Set Daily, Weekly, Monthly Goals to stay on track.
- Identifying urgency of tasks
- Batch tasks for speed
- Accept lack of progress - Develop a bucket system
- Acknowledge your success so far.
In order to offer as much value as possible in my articles, it would be really helpful if I know a little more about your situation.