Accomplish More and Reach Your Goals: Three Simple Techniques by Pat Esden
The keys to accomplishing more and achieving goals are consistency, accountability, and rewards. There are all kinds of apps and programs that can help a writer do this. But I’m going to talk about three low or zero-tech options.
Technique #1–One of the easiest ways is to use a physical calendar and stickers to keep track of daily progress and achievements. This is the technique I use. As a visual learner, having a real life calendar hanging next to my desk is harder to ignore than one on a computer or phone. It’s a constant but quiet reminder of whether I’m moving forward or have been slacking off.
I note deadlines, long-range goals, releases, and events on the calendar. At the end of every day, I add stickers to note my daily achievements. In my case, I use sparkly animal and flower stickers—a rose for 500 words drafted, an animal for completing a chapter. Making the initial goals fairly easy to achieve will lead to a sense of accomplishment and encourage consistency. Other daily achievements can be added depending on personal needs: blog posts written, marketing endeavors, time spent at a standing or treadmill desk instead of sitting . . . Here is a video of author Victoria Schwab talking about how she uses her calendar and the success she’s had by using this simple technique. https://veschwab.wordpress.com/2013/09/08/star-stickers-and-calendars-oh-my-aka-the-best-writing-trick-i-know/
Technique #2–I haven’t used a bullet journal, but it may be my next step. It’s more complicated and takes a lot more time to set up than a standard calendar, but bullet journaling is a fantastic way to prioritize goals, discover where time is being wasted, and increase overall productivity. There are premade journals you can buy or you can satisfy your creative side by making your own. Here’s a link to children’s author Kate Messner’s blog and a post about bullet journaling. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Kate, she’s is an amazingly productive and active writer. If your life is particularly hectic and you constantly feel behind, then bullet journaling may be exactly what you need. http://www.katemessner.com/bullet-journaling-childrens-author-version/
Here’s another link about bullet journaling from Marie Claire that shows a couple of variations. http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/news/health/548949/wtf-is-a-bullet-journal-and-will-it-change-my-life.html
Technique #3–Using either a calendar or a bullet journal will set you on the path to accomplishing more. But if you prefer something interactive, then try joining a Twitter chat group where you report your achievements daily and take part in challenges. Look at #amwriting to discover what groups are currently active. These sort of chat and challenge groups work well because they focus on consistently writing for short blocks of time. Here’s a Publishers Weekly article about how well #30Mdare work for a group of authors.
As a bonus, here’s another tip I picked up while doing #30Mdare last winter—namely, using an egg timer to accomplish more. Sit down at your keyboard and set the timer for fifteen minute or, better yet, a half hour. While the time is running, don’t do anything other than work on the project in front of you. You’ll be surprised by how much more you can accomplish in a day, when you divide it into smaller but undisturbed blocks of writing time. Plus, those solid minutes of focused work are also likely to get you in the zone and make you feel like going on.
These are only a few of many techniques that can help you achieve more by working consistently. They are easy, inexpensive, and well worth giving a try. Happy goal setting—and achieving.