I resolve to sit on my bum and watch movies all day long. I resolve to eat chocolate and not get fat. I resolve to let the laundry sit in the hamper until it overflows. I resolve to…..not resolve to do any of the above silliness, although eating chocolate and not getting fat is really appealing. Oh well, let’s get back to reality.
Resolutions are the essence of the new year beginnings. We all sit down and pledge to exercise more, and read more, and learn a new skill, and make our beds every day, and save more and spend less, and not lose our cool as often, and on and on and on. The intentions are real, but the goals are often difficult and sometimes impossible to achieve. This leads to disappointment in ourselves, in others, backsliding, blaming and a host of other unnecessary issues: we have once again failed. But what if we could avoid all of those disappointing feelings and set ourselves up for success?
Well, let’s start with simpler resolutions. Easier goals. A smaller TO-DO list. I often tell clients that a list comprised of only two or three things will provide more success in terms of goal completion and resolution achievement. I think if you create a current week to-do list (consisting of two or three items which will rotate out when completed), a future month to-do list (a few of these items can be added slowly to the current list), and a long term (yearly) goal list, those big, scary resolutions and goals become easier to tackle and actualize and less likely to be ditched by January’s end.
A well known time management expert, Dave Crenshaw, says that actually you should throw out the TO DO list all-together, and use a Calendar List. After thinking about this a bit, I think it makes a lot of sense. If you have a list that has start and finish dates, you know exactly how much time you have to get a specific chore completed. That doesn’t mean you have to throw away your long-term goal list that I mentioned above, but time-blocking your tasks in your calendar allows you to break those big goals down into smaller chunks and gives you concrete deadlines to complete or achieve them by.
If you go get a calendar today before the new year, whether it be a large desk calendar, a journal calendar, or even an online Google or iCalendar, you can start putting in important events in advance (i.e. doctors’ and dentists’ appointments, birthdates, dinner, lunch or playdates (both adult and kid), haircut appointments, school assignment due dates). You can see where I am going with this. With these items on the calendar now, before the new year, you can start off the new year without the stress and overwhelming feelings often realized around forgotten (important!) events.
Now getting back to how to be realistic in prioritizing what should be on this list! I don’t think climbing Mt. Everest should come before getting all of the bathrooms cleaned and the laundry done. Just sayin’. But that is not to say that you shouldn’t pick a few BIG yearly goals like traveling to somewhere new or trying a sport that has always seemed beyond your ability. These are the areas that, in the long term, help us grow and mold into the people we want to be and often, get ditched in favor of the daily grind tasks that keep life moving. To make sure I stick to these, I break them down by the quarter. Ninety day chunks of time are a lot easier to manage than one, big 365-day chunk. Ask yourself what benchmarks you want to hit for your goal within the next 90 days and make sure they’re S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely)! Once you have those benchmarks you can then start tasking out the things you’ll need to do on a daily and weekly basis to make sure you hit them.
After you’ve broken down and planned out your BIG goals for the year, it’s time to fill the calendar with those daily, necessary chores that keep us and our lives moving forward. When filling in these time blocks ask yourself: What are the things that need to get done this week? What are the things that need to get done today? House care? Finances? Exercise? Groceries? There will be some things on the daily to-do list that must happen each day or are time sensitive, so they start the list. Chores that don’t have time restrictions but should get done in a timely fashion can be added in after.
After all of this, you might be sitting here wondering whether or not this woman (me!) does anything fun at all. And I will let you in on a little secret: because I keep a calendar, and a LONG TERM journal, I resolved this year to start taking Glass Blowing classes which start in January, and take up French lessons again. I also went back to Pilates and am working online with a trainer. I also promised myself that even though I see clients four days a week, I would make sure that I exercised each of those days before I saw clients, and on the days I wasn’t with clients I would see friends, and indulge in one of my favorite things, going to movies. Today is a day off from clients, so the short list comes out: laundry, bills, cleaners, return to Pottery Barn, update my TO DO monthly file in my office, and starting to tackle my closet. And yes, I was at Pilates bright an early this morning and it was on the calendar.
Happy organized 2019!
And remember, if you can’t do it on your own, don’t be afraid to hire someone to help you. The Organizer offers digital and in-person coaching to help you declutter, organize, prioritize, and spend more time doing what you love. Contact me at (202)253-9619 or firstname.lastname@example.org.