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Four Ways to Focus on Your Goals During Lockdown

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

Do you feel overwhelmed by all the “helpful” content all over social media and the internet? I know I do. Everyone is sharing information on the positive things we can do during quarantine. 

From baking bread to learning new yoga routines, it seems like tips for being more productive and learning new skills are everywhere you look. 

Lots of people are feeling the urge to use this time to do something new and productive. But sometimes it just feels like there’s too many options. The pressure of all those things to do can be really stressful!

And you definitely don’t need more stress in your life — especially not during a pandemic. From adjusting to working from home to figuring out how to maintain healthy relationships with roommates or family members, everyone is figuring out how to stay sane and productive. 

That’s why it’s especially important to be mindful about what kinds of content you’re engaging with right now. 

I filmed a video with my four tips for clearing the clutter and making time for what you really want to do.

Make a list of the things you wanted to do before quarantine. 

If all this content is causing you stress, think about whether you’d have wanted to try these hobbies and tips before lockdown. If the answer is no, try to remember what you always wished you had time to do. Give yourself some a few minutes to brainstorm, and then see which of those goals is still viable with the restrictions of the pandemic. From there, you can decide which couple of things you want to try first. This isn’t just something that will help you during this time of crisis — it’ll be crucial as you design your post-pandemic life.

Find themes. 

Once you have a list of things you’d like to try, think about what themes show up. Are multiple items on your list related to getting involved in your community? Do you want to work on mindfulness? Are you hoping to be a more adventurous cook? Identifying these categories is a helpful trick for seeing which pandemic trends actually align with your existing interests. 

This is something I talk about in Listful Living. If you’re feeling overextended or burned out, it’s time to start thinking about which commitments and activities fit with your priorities. And what was a priority pre-pandemic might not be anymore. 

Cut down on screen time.

If you’re in the habit of spending your free time scrolling through social media, you’re probably seeing all kinds of ideas on how to introduce more positivity and productivity into your quarantine routine. All those options might make you feel pretty anxious. 

If this sounds like you, maybe it’s time to cap your screen time. When you find yourself mindlessly reaching for your phone, think about whether you’d feel better using the time to work on one of the projects you’ve already written down. Seeing lots of new ideas can distract you from what you already know you want to do. If you need help thinking of ideas, give yourself a set amount of time to search the internet for inspiration.

Keep track of the content you connect with. 

Lots of the positive content that’s out there can be helpful — but only if you have a way to interact with it that doesn’t cause more stress. If you do see something online that you think sounds interesting, keep a list of ideas. That way, you can keep track of things without feeling like you need to do it all right now. Maybe you saw a productivity hack that would make sense for you in a few weeks. Maybe a friend told you about a yoga routine she loves, but you’re just not feeling up to it right now.

Whether it’s a notebook or an app, keeping a running brainstorming list of all the best tips and ideas you come across will help you unload and focus on what you want to be doing right now. It’s key to think about what you need in your life today, not a week from now. If there’s an idea you love but aren’t ready to try, put it on hold until it makes sense for you and your life. 

Everyone is experiencing the pandemic differently, so what’s helpful for other people right now might not fit with your needs. Acknowledging this will help you prioritize the things that do fit. 

By spending less mindless time online and creating a system for keeping track of the interesting tips and new hobbies you come across, you can start taking control of your time. 

Do you have any tips for prioritizing your goals during lockdown? I’d love to hear about them in the comments. 

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

Why You Didn’t Get Everything Done Last Year and How to Change That

The new year brings with it hope for the future but also a little guilt as well. Guilt because we look back at the previous year and think “oh I didn’t get to do as much as I set out to do.”

It happens and it’s disappointing.  And nothing reminds us more of this than looking at that unfulfilled bucket list.  Or starting yet another day with the best of intentions only to get sucked into your old roommate’s vacation photos on Facebook and then getting nothing done. We all promise ourselves that next year will be different.

However that’s quite statistically unlikely, given that only 8% of people achieve their resolutions!

So how do you break out of the vicious cycle? It’s all starts with how you make these goals. Here’ are the steps you need to finally cross off some of the most difficult tasks on your list!

Imagine next year’s Christmas letter – Every year people will send out Christmas letters detailingall the exciting trips they’ve been on t and all their new jobs/houses/kids/etc.  Whether or not you regularly write one of these, productivity guru and author Laura Vanderkam explains in her TED talk about  time management how you can use them to focus your goals. Laura suggests you imagine what you would write on next year’s letter today.  That vision includes the 3-5 key things that would have to happen for it to be a successful year. Once you have picked those things you have goals for the next year – now you just need an action plan.

Prioritize – Once you’ve picked your goals you don’t need to roar ahead, all guns blazing trying to achieve everything at once. Write out the steps you will need to take to achieve each goal and create a priority list of what is more urgent. Things that need to be started on right away, like training for a marathon, take top priority. You will need to start carving out time in your calendar for training and book your place in the race. Less important things like cleaning out the garage can wait until a later date (but this doesn’t mean you should ignore them altogether!) For an easy way to figure out how to prioritize your new goals, sign up for the FREE PDF I created for you called “Prioritize Like a Pro.”

Find the why – I wrote recently about a talk Julie Morgenstern gave, where she explained how she always used to hoard cookbooks.  And she couldn’t throw them away until she understood why she kept them. The reason — she kept them because they represented the mother she wanted to be. (Isn’t that heartbreaking?)  Similarly you can’t successfully do-over your goals from last year until you understand why you failed. Perhaps they were too big, or you didn’t give yourself enough time to do any of them or any research that would have helped. Sometimes you have to realize that maybe you won’t ever do it and toss the goal all together. We’re not all perfect, sometimes you have to let go of those goals you’ve never quite gotten around to and be OK with it. I, for instance will never learn to speak French. That’s one goal checked off by default!

What are some of your goals for 2017?

Free Up Time Now For a Fabulous Summer

summer-still-life-783347_640The days are starting to get longer, the weather’s a bit warmer – summer is on it’s way! I always love summer not just because of of the vacations, slower pace and sunshine — but I’m a summer baby. My birthday is in the summer so it’s always a fun time.

Are you ready for the summer? If you want to make sure you have the best summer possible you need to start planning now! I know it sounds ridiculous but I’m a firm believer in planning for vacations, events and fun in advance. It’s why I start my Christmas shopping in August!

Here’s how to guarantee that you have a fantastic Summer 2016! Read more

Productivity Tricks We Can Learn From Politicians

elephant donkeyI always try to find productivity inspiration wherever possible.  And the race for the presidency is no exception.

Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio recently announced a bid for the White House.  And the usual eye rolling about non-stop campaigning is starting right along with it.

Now, without getting political, we should be asking why, if the election isn’t until late 2016, are they even bothering to start campaigning now? What do they gain from it? What does starting a major project early do for them? Does it actually help?

The simple answer is yes. A lot.

Using these candidates as a template, we can break down the different stages of getting a long-term project done:

Goal setting: Undoubtedly, long before they announced, these candidates and their team mapped out a pretty solid plan for the campaign. You need to have a hyper specific end goal in mind for any project.

What would that look like for any of these candidates? Surely not “Be elected president.” That is much too vague. More likely it would be something like “Achieve X number of votes”, or “Win states A, B, and C in the election.”

When you are setting your own long-term goals, remember to keep them as specific as possible. For example, if your goal is to lose weight you should have a specific number in mind. Be honest with yourself about what you really want.

Plan of action: Not only do you need a firm goal, but you need to understand how to break it down into manageable subgoals. For the Democratic presidential candidates, this might mean swaying certain swing states such as Ohio, while not spending very much time in liberal California. Likewise for the Republicans, states such as Texas are pretty “safe”, so they might try and spend more time winning over Florida’s votes.

Your own plan of action should have an equally well-defined path. Think about the day to day – what would be a realistic way to achieve your goals? For example, if you want to exercise more, would you do something every day, or on specific days of the week.

Prepare contingencies: If each candidate doesn’t win the state they deemed as most pivotal — then what?  How do they regroup and refocus their attention? That’s the key — this is all predetermined with “if/then” scenarios laid out in advance.

In your own planning, you need to prepare for unforeseen consequences. I firmly believe in always having a backup plan.

Set things in motion: Perhaps strangely, this step is last on the list. The beauty in planning out for long-term goals is that it takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process. While we are only hearing about these candidates’ plans recently, they’ve probably known about this for months or even years. They certainly weren’t going to start campaigning until plans were set in stone. That gives them the freedom to dictate how the campaign will go, and not have the campaign dictate to them how it will go. The same thing should apply to your own goals.

How do you prepare for your own long-term goals?

A List For Your 2015 Goals

2015The New Year is always the busiest time for list makers. Every new year seems so full of possibilities, and sometimes we can be overzealous and try to cram too much in. So before you steam ahead with planning your 2015 goals, I would encourage you to take a look back at your goals for 2014.

Did you achieve all of them? What got left behind?

For example, one of your goals might have been to do more exercise. If you didn’t achieve this goal then maybe it’s time to re-think it for 2015. I think the more specific a goal is the more you likely you are to achieve it.

Make It Attainable 

So if you want to do more exercise, instead you can commit to going running twice a week. Or do what I did a few years ago — commit to doing yoga just 10 minutes a day.  I’ve actually kept to that. With a more defined goal it’s easier to make it happen.

Sharing is Caring

I also suggest sharing your goals with your friends.  It’s always good to be held accountable for them. Also you might find someone with similar goals and then you can work together to achieve them. For instance you could sign up for a work out class together.

Need Some Ideas?

I have a private Facebook group set up for my VIP launch team for my book Listful Thinking and we’ve been sharing our resolutions the past few days.  Some times it’s fun to see what other people are working on and it can give you a boost.

Some of the team members have some great goals:

“Plan an amazing trip to Napa Valley to celebrate my 35th birthday and my 10 year anniversary.” – Arianny

“I have an overall goal to simply NOT BE AFRAID to go after the things I have been putting off for too long. Life’s too short!” – Laura

“I’m really feeling the good vibes from making a commitment to the random opportunities in my life. Here is to 2015 being a garden of surprises and growth.” – Garette

Another great idea is to have a theme.  Sandra, one of my VIP members, said her theme is “More” — love that!  Abundance is an amazing goal to set for yourself.

I was also reading this article that Gretchen Rubin put together about making your resolutions into themes.  She suggests using words like “upgrade” “bigger” and “free time”.  I like this idea.  I think it is more fun to think of your life as a whole and how you can make it better throughout the entire year.

For my own New Year’s Resolution I think it will be to “go with the flow.”  I tend to be pretty rigid and set in my ways as many list makers can be.  But this year I will try to be more laid back.  So I guess my theme will be “spontaneity.”

What are some of your goals for 2015?

LISTFUL THINKING UPDATE

I am giving away a limited number of AquaNotes Waterproof Notepads! Use them for when you have brilliant ideas in the shower. For a chance to win, here’s what you need to do:

1.  Pre-order the paperback version of Listful Thinking by January 12th.

2.  Send a picture of your receipt or forward the email confirmation to my intern Matthew at matthew@listproducer.com.   

3.  Don’t forget to include the address (US only) where you’d like your notepad sent.