Tools for success – how to organize your goals better

It’s quite likely you’ve figured out by now a clear vision about what you want from life. If that’s the case then you must have more than few goals ready. When these are just a couple then managing them is a cake walk. However, when you expect to cross many more finish lines in your life then things get trickier.

So, when we consider consistent performance in goal setting and achieving more than couple of them then it’s a good idea to employ some form of management.

There are two issues to be addressed first: how to organize your objectives and how to handle their dynamics.

In today’s article we will showcase the instruments for doing that. Some of them were successfully used by us, some of them we created ourselves. We wonder which you will like better!

“Goal Buddy”

Let’s begin with a quick review.

There are three fundamental concepts at work. First is the vision which is our guiding light towards long term dreams and how we expect these to be realized. Next are the 90-day goals which are stepping stones towards our vision. The most important thing about them is that they require actions which depend entirely on us and not on anyone or anything else. Third are the weekly steps – these actions of ours we do every single week in order to get done what we committed to. The rule is – one weekly step for every one of our 90-day goals.

This system is highly effective when applied together with a set of tools. Which are those that you can benefit from for an easy and smooth ride?

How to use it

There are several ways to organize your priorities in such a manner that you will stay focused and motivated. It is essential that you can find out what works best for you. It must be a simple and unproblematic approach when working in accordance with the rules of our system.

We will walk you down the road of our own experience – starting with the simplest technique and all the way to the most advanced. It was back and forth for us till we got what was the optimal one. Our hope is that you will find a perfect fit amongst these.

Memory is not always the best gadget available

In the very beginning when we created and first started using “Goal Buddy” we relied on our brain cells to memorize the goals as well as how much progress we were making. It is such a common mistake.

You don’t believe us?

Our mind functions in such a way that it is better at generating ideas than holding onto them. To put it in a different way – don’t overestimate your capabilities! It is unlikely that you will be able to remember what steps you need to make every week. You will need something better.

Write it down!

We decided to do as in the Chinese proverb, “The palest ink is better than the best memory ”. Ivan started putting his ideas in a notebook, while Niki did it on sticky notes. It isn’t hard to guess which way is the better “written history”, the one that allows you to go back for analysis and decisions on the fly.

The pocket notebook

It is so easy to stay organized with your objectives if you do it as Ivan does. It’s a weekly routine. You draw up a two column table: first one is for your 90-day action goal, the second is for the corresponding weekly step. Don’t forget to indicate what vision each goal belongs to. In doing so you will have a constant reminder of what your “Holy Grail” is about. This, in turn, will instill a stronger sense of purpose as well as confidence that you are actually getting there.

How is this approach helpful?

First, you will have everything right in front of you. The other good thing about it is that when you re-write it every Monday on a new page it is impossible to slip out of your mind.

Let’s move to the next level.

Stickies on the desktop

Instead of paper stickies you can start using a note-taking application on your computer. It is almost impossible to forget about something if it pops up before you each time you turn on the device. Why not take advantage in this if you are going to spend great deal of time at the computer!

Google already have a ready-made solution for us

Another favorite method of ours is Google Docs and Google Sheets. This is straight out of our “know-how” and you can apply it in its entirety if you want. Or feel free to make any adjustments that suit you better. You create a table with 5 columns:

Checkbox 90-day action goal Deadline Why Next steps
If the objective is achieved then you mark it and that’s a great feeling to do so. If you failed then write down any valuable lessons, mistakes, etc.  Those can be of future help to you.

 

You put here the well formulated action goal and the actions that depend entirely on you. This column is optional. You use it to specify the date of completion if different from the end of the quarter. The answer to the question “why I want it done” will keep you emotionally attached to your vision and thus will prevent you from quitting. You also give a brief description of your vision. You write down in this column the weekly steps and comments regarding them and how to make all work better.

 

A big plus of Google Docs and Sheets is that you easily share it with your “Buddy” so that they can review it real-time. If there is anything problematic their help will be to point it out and to assist in solving it.

We continue with the even more technology-oriented resources.

Digital solutions

There was a time when we strongly believed in the overreaching power of digital solutions. It was something like an article of faith for us that once we manage to organize everything in a desktop app or mobile one then that would be it – a done deal. We tried out pretty much all of the popular task management software like Trello, Wunderlist, Asana, Todoist, JIRA and what not. We also tested the GTD (Getting Things Done) – the book of the same title and workshop program of David Allen. But there was no effect whatsoever. On the contrary, it was almost detrimental to the whole process.

Practice proved the following. When most of your effort goes into how to organize it all in one and only one structure then the whole thing becomes too much trouble. The mere complexity of the process suggested something quite simpler. At this point we had to remind ourselves what the purpose was:

A good strategy will be one that becomes part of your weekly routine – you first open your goals for review and then you plan what the next step should be.

Going back to the basics

You must be already asking what would be best then!

If that’s so then allow us to list the advantages of paper over task management software:

  • Its look is exactly the way you intended it to be – visually as well as structure and logic.
  • A piece of paper may not be as flashy but it is easier to organize and maintain.
  • It is exactly what you need because software is oriented towards many more tasks, those of the “to do list” types. While in our system you deal with only a few at a time which, on top of that, can change from week to week.
  • When you write them down, you always stay focused on the 90-day goal and the corresponding weekly steps. A typical “to do list” tool gives you control over a whole bunch of tasks neither of which takes precedence over the rest. The great idea behind Goal Buddy is that you can prioritize these action steps which get you across the finish line.
  • You put a limit on the number of steps and that’s not an easy thing to do.

“One step per week” is the hardest rule to follow. And that’s understandable, it is only human to get carried away when things start going your way and you want to do more and more till you reach the desired result.

“Do it yourself”

At some point we found ourselves trying to work with two quite opposite approaches. One, the simplest, was the notebook. The other, a customized JIRA solution adjusted to fit “Goal Buddy”, was a lot more complex. But we needed something in the middle, a “golden ratio of the two” if you wish – something simple, easy to use and yet powerful enough to get us going with focus and drive.

At the end we didn’t find what we were looking for. Ergo, we developed our own! We managed to combine seamlessly the two approaches and the result was a great mobile application. It has everything needed so that you can apply our system with minimal effort.

The mobile application “GoalBuddy”

We have to admit that it wasn’t created to meet just our needs. Moreover, it plays a significant role in the system – our vision requires that we provide the best and most useful means and instruments to the user. Apart from free our mobile app is also a pretty good one. Here is why:

  • The vision, the 90-day goal as well as the current weekly step are all placed on one screen which allows for an excellent visualization.
  • It permits only few steps which is great for your focus and is in agreement with the rules of the system.
  • As a digital resource it is perfect to have a written history of objectives as well as to manage and analyze them.
  • It sends reminders so that you don’t forget to review the steps on a regular basis.
  • You and your “Buddy” have shared access to it and thus you can exercise oversight and help each other.
  • Last but not least, it forces you to keep in mind the answer to the question “Why?” which is quite motivational all by itself.

During the 90-day goals you will go through tough times, some moments of discouragement. You will be tempted to throw the towel in thinking something like, “This isn’t my thing. I wish I had chosen something else.” But in our system the rule is not to give up till the 3 months are over. The answer to the question “Why?” is the positive force that will carry you forward.

Do what you have to do

All comes down to this that you pick your own way, what is practical, which is efficient. If you prefer the old-fashioned piece of paper then that’s great. Just try to open up your notebook as often as possible.

But if you are a fan of the digital then this is okay too. Still, be careful to get things organized in a way that’s your own and not as the software dictates. Otherwise, you may fail to differentiate between the 90-day goal and its weekly steps. This will cost you focus as well as clarity.

And finally, if you chose to try out our app then we will be more than happy. We hope you will give us some feedback too.

In the end all tools are just that – tools. It doesn’t matter which one you have in hand or how you use it. What matters is to get things done. It is you who fills your dreams with meaning and brings them to life. All of this is entirely under your control. All we are here for is to help along.

There are more topics to come. Sign up with email and you won’t miss any of them!

See you later!

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