By Julie Desmond
Finding a way to align activities with your priorities will ensure that daily goals are set - and met - even during the most hectic times. Sloshing around in two inches of water, I searched curiously for the source of the sudden flood in my basement. I quickly found the culprit: a leaking water heater. With the prospect of forty gallons of hot water spilling across my basement floor, it was a quick and easy decision to drop everything and take care of the problem.
Usually, in work and family life, priorities are not this evident. Especially during the holidays, people are pulled in so many directions that even simple, day-to-day objectives get lost in the fray. Finding a way to align activities with your priorities will ensure that daily goals are set - and met - even during the most hectic times.
Goal setting success always starts with a list. Spend a few minutes right now cataloging, on paper, the five or six tasks you need to accomplish today. Which errands are critical? Which responsibilities will take the most or least time to complete? Which tasks are dependent on first accomplishing something else? Add a few more items if you need to, but stop at ten or fewer, crossing off one item to make room for another as the list swells.
Finally, look at your list with an eye toward impact: what will have the most impact in the shortest period of time? Rewrite the list according to priorities, and tackle your tasks in order. List making is the oldest organizational trick in the world, but there's a reason it has been around so long. Simply - it works.
Well, it works until the phone rings, or a customer stops in or the water heater breaks. At every interruption, consider the list. Decide. Take the call? Or add "return call" to your task list? A task list keeps you focused, reminds you of what needs to happen next, and gives you permission to let something go for a while, knowing you will circle back to it later in the day.
Odds are good, really good, that you will not complete every task by the end of the day. If your calendar is filled with events and commitments, evening will find you tired and intensely aware of what you didn't get done. This is precisely the right time to write out a task list for tomorrow. Leave it where you can find it the next day and you can easily pick up where you left off.
As you work through a task list, you will experience the satisfaction of deliberately crossing something off; visually you will be able to see what you have accomplished. And by adding tasks throughout the day, you will begin to develop a rolling list of short term objectives to keep you moving toward your larger goals. Success - it starts with a list.