Earlier this week I was at a meeting where the discussion topic was goal setting. Specifically we were each supposed to commit to one goal that if realized would make a meaningful difference in our lives. Despite the fact that this was a business meeting almost all of the goals were related to being better organized. It's amazing how organization plays such a huge role across the board – work, home, play – organization really does make a difference!
Everyone was fairly excited to share what they wanted to work on, but not everyone was sure they would be able to attain their goal. Quite frankly, I wasn't too sure they would either. And not because I didn't have faith in their abilities, but because I was hearing really broad, super general goals – I want to organize my office, I want to manage my time better, I want to reduce my stress. Yes, they are all technically goals, but they are lacking any kind of specificity. Without specificity it's nearly impossible to know when you have actually reached your goal and it's equally hard to decide what steps you need to take to in order make the goal a reality.
To make it easier to reach your goals, organizing and otherwise, here are five steps that will help you sail through the process:
Create a Vision
Let's say your goal is to organize your home office. What does that look like to you? How will feel to have an organized office? How will it change your life? Create a mind picture – fill it with details, really imagine how it will be to walk into your home office when it has been transformed into your envisioned space.
Get It On Paper
This step is incredibly powerful, but sadly it's often overlooked . Don't make the mistake of underestimating the influence it has. Writing down your vision will 'cement' it in your mind. And when you find yourself overwhelmed, all you need to do is reread it – it will remind you why you are are exerting the effort. In a nutshell – your vision is your motivation, getting it on paper is the tool you use to stay motivated.
Break It Down
So let's continue to use office organizing as our example. An office is a complex space. What are the individual steps that need to happen? Most likely you will have paperwork to sort and categorize. A file system to set up, a desk to organize, and probably much more. Each of those becomes a sub-goal. What are the steps you need to take in order to reach each sub-goal? Maybe step one in the sorting of paperwork is to gather the paperwork, step two might be spend 15 minutes a day purging and so on. Can you see how breaking it down will allow you to make progress? When you list the individual steps it's so much easier to focus. It's similar to a recipe. Recipes break down a complex product, say a layer cake, into very specific steps. No matter how complicated a dish is, with a good recipe almost anyone can create the end product.
Create a Timeline
Decide when you would like to reach your goal, then work backwards. For example if you set a done by date that's six months out, when would each of your sub-goals need to be completed? Document this timeline by marking these dates in your calendar. Please, please, please be realistic. Don't sabotage yourself by thinking you can get it done faster than humanly possible. Remember, getting organized is a process – one that takes time.
Schedule Your Tasks
If you want reach your goal, you're going to have to make time for the associated tasks. It's that simple. Unscheduled tasks rarely get done. If reaching your goal is important, you must dedicate time for it just as you would for anything else that was important. I cannot stress this step enough.
As you move through the process of reaching your goal be sure to give yourself recognition for your efforts. Sometimes it's hard to see progress. One trick I use when working with clients is to take photos during and after each organizing session. It allows us see how much work has actually been done.
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