If you’re reading this, you’re an ambitious person. You have a lot of things you’d like to get done: from starting a business, writing your novel, getting your yoga certification, and traveling the world.
Not to mention all the everyday things you need to do to keep your Internet bill paid and your friends and family happy. You’ve got a lot on your plate, and trying to balance it all with your big goals and dreams can be overwhelming.
I’ve been where you are, and I’ve found a few techniques to help me manage everything I want out of life, without losing a drop of beauty sleep over it.
The Notecard Method To Prioritizing
The first step is to figure out exactly what you want to do. This is the fun part! You get to dream, strategize, and finally nail down all those things that you’ve been saying you’d do someday. I recommend you write down everything you’ve ever wanted to do, preferably things that you’d like to do in the next 5 years or so.
Once you have everything out on a piece of paper or two, it’s time to break these things down onto notecards or post-it notes. Use what you have: I did mine on the back of business cards, because that’s what I had on hand.
The focus here is to write just one thing you’d like to accomplish – big or small – on each card. You might find that some of the things you wrote down don’t make it to a notecard, either because you don’t want it all that much or you realize that the other things are just that much cooler.
This is where prioritizing comes in. I want you to spread out all the notecards, and choose the top 5-10 cards. Depending on how big these goals are, you might be able to take on more cards, and if they’re really big ones like “write a book” or “get married” then you’ll take less.
Prioritize the cards based on what you think is possible to do within the next year. Then keep the rest of the cards for what you’ll plan to do the following year, and in the next 3-5 years.
This method works wonders because it allows you to see everything you want visually, and it also forces you to pick just a handful of things that are doable at one time. I suggest you keep the ones that didn’t make the cut for this year into a “next year” box, for safe keeping. It’s not that these other goals and dreams aren’t going to happen, it’s just that they need their own dedicated time.
Your Wall Calendar Will Keep You Sane
Now the critical piece of the puzzle: it’s time to write down when you’re going to do each of these things on your calendar. I recommend you get a large wall calendar so you can see your whole year at a glance.
Again it’s time to be really honest with yourself about what you can accomplish in a specific amount of time. You might block out three months to work on a particular project. Maybe you’ll take one week to do a training course abroad, and that might mean doing a little research before you pick the dates.
Pin down any other time-bound items on your calendar, so you’re working with a realistic “free time” expectation. For example if you know you’re going to be visiting family for Thanksgiving, or taking a vacation with your sweetie in the summer, put it on the calendar. Once it’s on the calendar, you’ll be able to make more realistic time estimates.
I recommend that each month you have a focus, if possible. It depends on the types of goals you have, but if your goal is travel around Europe then a few months before your trip, you should dedicate that month to travel research, planning, and booking. Then the following month you can focus on getting your finances in order, and the one after that can be for outlining your book.
Sleep Soundly And Watch Your Dreams Unfold For You
Now we’re down to the day to day implementation of your plans. In order to get everything done, you need to have your calendar close at hand and to break down the big goals into smaller action steps that you can actually accomplish.
This means translating the big calendar items into smaller due dates for yourself on your calendar. Humans work better with deadlines and due dates, so give yourself a chance to achieve everything by sticking to them.
Now hopefully you’ve chosen a manageable number of goals to accomplish this coming year, and you’ve taken some of the pressure off yourself to do everything right now.
The easy part is taking each small step that adds up to the big results you’re looking for. It helps a lot if you get the necessary amount of sleep, because then you can keep taking action toward your goals knowing that everything is happening as it should be.
What are the 3 big or small goals that you’ve narrowed down for this year? Leave a comment below, I want to know!
Nathalie Lussier is an online business triple threat, serving up digital strategy with integration and do-it-yourself training programs to turn your website into the asset you know it should be. She’s the creator of The Website Checkup Tool, and she loves getting techy with it, martial arts, and drinking green juice.
Photo credit: ‘Beauty Sleep‘ by Big Stock