I’ve written plenty before about planning and ways to get more done. So why was it at the end of the year that I found myself floundering and seeming to never have time to take a step forward?
I decided to observe my behaviour and see what I could learn about this problem. What I found was that on my days where I expected to make lots of progress, instead I was spending time dealing with a backlog – of post piled up in a tray, bank accounts unchecked, and a massive email inbox. By the time I had cleared even the most crucial parts of the backlog my enthusiasm for the day was long gone and I struggled to make even tiny pieces of progress.
I knew that something had to change if I was ever to achieve any of my goals for the year ahead, so I thought back to times when I had managed to make more progress. Planning was part of the answer, which is why I am revisiting the book Wishcraft. The other part was that when I was writing my first book I used a structure to keep me motivated. The term ‘structure’ is one I came across during my life coaching training, and it can mean anything that helps you keep accountable to what you have decided to do. In my case the structure I used before was a chart with boxes to colour in.
How can a colour-in chart help me this time? Well, I looked at all the activities that were getting backed up and decided to commit to doing them on a daily basis instead. For example not just opening the post, but dealing with every piece which arrives that day as far as I possibly can. Also not just opening my emails but replying, acting on, deleting or filing them as appropriate. I’ve included a picture of the chart this month. As you can see there are some blank spots. Some of these are weekends where not everything needs to be done each day (no post on Sundays!). Others are days that I just couldn’t do it all. Interestingly, on those occasions I have managed to catch up the next day. Another useful factor is that I have allocated myself a reward. So long as I am still sticking to the programme by the end of the month, I get to buy myself a small reward. Other treats would also work for future months, like an afternoon out or even a long bubble bath, but to get me started I wanted to spend some money on myself. I hope I’m going to keep on track until this is such a habit that maybe I won’t even need the chart or the reward.
This kind of structure works particularly well for me because I am a kinaesthetic person and this means I love bright colours. It might also work well for a visual person, whereas an auditory person might do better with a weekly check-in by phone with a friend who has agreed to keep you accountable. Is there anything you need to do that you keep sliding on? Could a structure be helpful to you with that? Or do you have other ways of keeping on track that you could share?