New year’s resolutions cause anxiety for a lot of people. That’s because waiting until the new year to happen for a magical “reset” or eraser of your problematic behaviours and habits that took months and even years to create isn’t how it works. Habits take time and daily intention to build or break. It doesn’t just happen with the wave of a magic “midnight” wand.
But all is not lost, my friend. We’re going to take full advantage of it so you can set some awesome goals for yourself and actually achieve them this season!
Are you with me?
As we head into a new chapter, a new season, and enter into the final month of the year, it’s important to align your intentions, actions + goals so you can close out 2019 feeling proud of what you’ve done and who you’ve become.
This doesn’t have to be an overwhelming or dreaded task. It can be fun, light and super rewarding. And I’m going to show you how.
The following is a helpful list of the TOP TEN action items that you can take TODAY to set yourself up for organizational success this September as you set and crush your goals and get more organized in your life.
Define your priorities: John C Maxwell says “two things are difficult to get people to do. The first is to do things in order of importance, and the second is to continue doing things in the order of importance.” What are your top priorities right now in this season? Are you more focused on improving your health and relationships? Work and finances? Becoming a morning person? Consistently meditating? Pro tip: setting ONE main priority HABIT to focus on for each category of health, wealth, relationships, work and fun.This takes out the overwhelm and can keep you feeling more balanced as you pursue your goals. Plus, how easy is it to carry around a little note in your pocket or on your phone that reminds you of what your main priorities you set for yourself in each category are? For example, in this season of my life, I’m focusing on these habits that serve my overall goals in health, wealth, work, relationships and fun:
Being consistent with my morning and evening routines (especially around getting my workout in before noon and turning my phone off by 9pm).
Waiting until the end of the month to purchase “fun things” so I hit my budget goals and savings goals first.
Prepping healthy food at the beginning of the week so I eat in regular intervals.
Scheduling in quality hang out time with my family and friends on the weekends.
Batching/scheduling my social media content so I’m not always in creation mode
Using a daily checklist for my work tasks so I can get them done more quickly and efficiently.
2) Schedule your priorities in your calendar:
Once you know what your priorities for this season are, you can then place them in your calendar. Too often we say we’re going to do xyz and then we fail to actually plan the activity into our daily and weekly schedules. Like, write it down, don’t just think about it. You wouldn’t set a dentist appointment and then casually miss it. So set your daily and weekly habits and tasks and then actually show up for them. Isn’t it kind of funny when you hear it put like that?
Then we wonder why the goals we set don’t get achieved...
Write it down IN YOUR DAILY PLANNER and even better, SHARE your priorities/goals with a friend for extra accountability. Don’t have a friend to share with? Tag me @mariebarkerwellness on social media and I’ll shout you out and celebrate you!
3. Allow a Little Time For the Unexpected.
The kind of work you do will determine the amount of time you set aside for interruptions. For example, the more you interact with people, the more time you must set aside. And the more you use social media for your work, the more diligent you need to be with not getting distracted in your tasks. This is something I’m WORKING on. I’m prone to over-scheduling myself each day and not giving myself a chance to breathe between tasks. But what I’ve learned (and again, am working on) is allowing time for the unexpected. Doing this creates SPACE and leaves your schedule much less stressful because hey, life happens. So set aside a couple hours each week or weekend to “catch up” with work related projects, with your team, clients, etc. or finish up any “last minute” details so it doesn’t get dragged into the next week’s tasks.
4. Do one task at a time.
Do you often find yourself feeling overwhelmed at how much work you have to do and then paralyzed when it comes to taking action to start on those tasks?? The feeling of being overwhelmed is the result of too many tasks clamoring for your attention. Plain and simple. And I am way too guilty of this for the record. I have all these ideas and want to do ALL THE THINGS, NOW. But I’ve learned that when I focus on one task and one project at a time, not only is that project more enjoyable during the task, but my sense of satisfaction afterwards is totally heightened.
This can be anything from doing the dishes to writing a blog post to posting on social media, watching a short training video, writing an email or going to get groceries. When we try to do too many things at once, our brain gets fried from switching back and forth from each task constantly. And just in case you weren’t aware, multitasking isn’t a real thing. What happens when you multi-task is your brain opens “tabs” for each item and then “fires” off neurons for each one, one at a time, switching back and forth and back and forth. So if you’re wondering why you’re feeling FRAZZLED and TIRED AF all the time and you find yourself trying to do all the things all at once, this can explain why.
Here’s a simple process to use:
Itemize everything that needs to be done on an actual list.
Prioritize things in order of importance. Use numbers, highlighters, go wild lol
Organize each project by tasks needed, deadlines, etc.
Work on only one task/project at a time until it’s completed.
Move on to the next thing and repeat.
5. Organize Your Work Space.
My workspace is organized in two places: administrative and creative. My administrative space is my desk in our shared office room. Before I had an office space at home, I worked from the kitchen table. And then a $40 desk that I found on kijiji that I put in the corner of the living room. Make your space work for you. In my office space, I have my computer, work notebook, journal, a cork board with my calendar, monthly goals and reminders. It is a great space for me to plug my headphones in and get shit done. My other workspace is my creative space, and that is the couch. Yes, the couch. This is where I read, edit photos, create templates for trainings, and sometimes write. This was written on my patio, which is my third work space that is available to me in the summer season. By having the option of switching between the two spaces (that are kept in an organized and tidy manner by the way), I am able to be more productive than I would be otherwise. Make what you have, where you are, work for you, not against you. And the most important key here?? If you’re a hoarder and your work space is cluttered and overwhelming, take an hour or two and CLEAN IT UP. Your mental health and sanity are worth the effort to keep it organized and clean, I promise. Marie Kondo that shit and thank me later.
6. Work According to Your Tendencies.
If you are a morning person, organize your most important work for the morning hours. Obviously, if you are a late starter, do the opposite. However, be sure NOT to allow the weaknesses of your tendencies to excuse you from what you know you need to do to work most effectively. For example, I am definitely a morning person. I’m more likely to be at my best creatively, my focus is more intense and I find it easier to get more done in less time. But if I leave the load of my work for the afternoon, I am tired, distracted and start making excuses for myself. The tasks that would have taken me 20 minutes in the morning end up taking me 1-2 hours in the evening. For example, if I let myself go on my phone to “start working” aka check notifications and start answering my inbox messages before I’ve meditated, journalled, worked out and crushed my most important business building work tasks, I feel off, distracted and drained. So it’s really important for me to crush my most important work before noon, or at the very latest 2pm. The key here is KNOWING yourself well enough to understand your tendencies. What are your tendencies? How can you improve them to feel more calm and organized?
7. Use Your Driving Time for Light Work and Growth.
John Maxwell says: “I estimate that the average person could achieve eight additional hours of personal growth and work in each week by using driving time wisely.”
What are you listening to while driving? The radio? An old CD? Why not push play on a meaningful podcast or audiobook so you can fill your brain with positivity and learn while you drive? The average person spends WAY too much time in a car (on a bus or other commute) and the majority of people do not take advantage of this prime learning time. Whatever it is that suits your fancy, using your driving time for light work and growth is an excellent use of time and I’ve found, actually increases my pleasure of driving places!
Similarly, do you have any one-off phone calls that need to be made during the day? Using a hands-free phone while driving to get those calls done can save you time and make driving more enjoyable.
8. Develop Systems That Work for You, not against you.
Systems help you do things better and more quickly. When you improve the systems in your life, you decrease your time and energy expenses and increase your results and enjoyment. For example, setting up a morning routine “system” of wake up, meditate, journal, go for a walk can set you up for success with your day and when done over the course of a few weeks or months can become a really helpful “system” that serves you.
Similarly, if you find yourself checking email or social media throughout the day, why not dedicate a specific 20 minutes in the afternoon with a nice tea to check and respond to emails instead of continuously checking your phone and draining your mental battery. Something you can look forward to, and once it’s over, you can wait until the next day to do it again.
One of the “systems” Brandon and I have implemented that works really well for us is our Sunday Funday three. On sundays, we do our money love date (which is a quick budgeting session where we tally up all our receipts from the previous week and note what’s in each account, what’s left in each category, what’s coming up, etc) we clean the house (split the tasks, put on some good music and get it done) and we reflect on our week and plan the upcoming one in our journals. These 3 tasks done in whatever order on sundays have become our system for setting ourselves up for success for the following week.
9. Have a Plan for your pockets of time.
Listen. You can literally save yourself hours by making the best use of the pockets in your day. A great idea is to keep a note in your phone or an actual sticky note checklist of small tasks that you’d like to get done that can be done anywhere in very short amounts of time. There are calls to make, memos to reply to or send, reports to scan, thank-you notes to write, social media graphics to make, and emails to send. Keep a short list of ongoing small tasks that you can turn to when you’re stuck in a waiting room, in a traffic jam, etc. And hey, it doesn’t all have to be about doing! If you know you have a 15 minute pocket in your day between meetings, clients, driving, etc. go for a walk around the block or use a timer and do a quick meditation to center yourself. The point is that you’re not wasting a bunch of time mindlessly scrolling social media or watching TV. Your time is your most valued resource. This is how you respect it.
10. Focus on each activity, with the outcome in mind.
This is going to sound a bit backwards, but stay with me here. Instead of just focusing on THE GOAL all the time and then getting frustrated when it doesn’t happen, I’ve found a more efficient and productive thing to do is to set your “to-dos”, work on one activity at a time, and so long as you’re going in the direction of your goals, trust that they will happen.
When you stick to the previous 9 steps of:
defining your priorities
scheduling them into your calendar
leaving some room for “life” to happen
working on one task at a time
organizing your workspace
working according to your personal tendencies
using your driving time for learning and growth
develop weekly systems that work for you
and use your pockets of time wisely
the outcomes happen all on their own. Yes, for real. And when you focus on doing each activity mindfully and to the best of your ability, ONE THING AT A TIME, not only do your stress levels decrease, but your productivity goes up, you will start to achieve the priorities you set out for yourself and you’ll experience more joy in your life. When we mindlessly go through each day, doing our tasks on autopilot, we might as well be sleep walking. WAKE UP. Your life is now and when you focus on being awake for each task as well as recognizing what a gift it is to be able to DO WHATEVER THING YOU’RE DOING, your outlook on life will shift.
So, I hope you found those 10 steps to organizing your life helpful. If you did, I’d love to hear about it on the gram! Put up a post about your key takeaways and feel free to tag me @mariebarkerwellness so I can celebrate you for taking action on improving your life this new season. Make sure you tune into my podcast as well!
All my best,