Tools to get stuff done
How are those New Year’s resolutions going? Have you achieved the often advertised, and hard to achieve, “New year, new you”?
If so, congrats! If not, don’t sweat it. A new year is the beginning of a new year, and it is also just the day after December 31st. It is as important or insignificant as you make it. Tomorrow can be the day everything changes for you. Next week can be the week you seize the moment to build new habits, routines, or tackle that big ass project.
Since any day can have meaning or not and any day can be the beginning or end of the chapter, I wanted to share a few ways to plan, hold yourself accountable, grow. There is no right or wrong way, and I’d love to hear how you plan, build, aspire, and grow. Let’s make this a conversation.
A few years ago, I began to explore what it would mean to build a foundation of strong habits. Nearly 18 months later, I have both a morning and evening routine that creates efficiencies, reduces friction from making decisions, and sets me up for success.
Think of habits like training for a marathon, learning to play an instrument, or learning a new language. The first steps aren’t actually that hard. You point to a North Star and make that a goal. If it is learning a new langue, the steps might be: Step 1) I want to learn Spanish; Step 2) download service; Step 3) Hope. Now turn that into a habit.
A habit would be much different looking and at first, much harder.
Step 1) Decide the language you want to learn
Step 2) Develop a purpose statement on why you want to learn that language
Step 3) Identify when you learn best
Step 4) Carve out time to study every day at the same time
Step 5) Maintain habit
Step 6) Be ready for a set back and when you have it, go back to step 1 to re-evaluate
Habits are powerful because this routine prevents friction and empowers the change you want to see. But how do you stay within the habit and accountable?
Ever year, I do two things — plan and read.
To maintain habits and grow, I re-read a few key books — Designing Your Life, The One Thing, and (when needed) The Power of Habit. I come back to these books because they reset the way I think about things, refocus my thoughts on productivity, and re-affirm how habits can and should work.
It is one thing to know conceptually what or why you want to do something. It is a far bigger issue to track how you get there and have a tool to hold you accountable. I am in love with the Volt Planner for this reason. For the past 4 year I have used this planner to give me a space to plan annually, monthly, and weekly. To set ambitious goals, track successes, and journal. I consider this a tool for annual planning since you start broad and work backwards. If my daily goals don’t flow up to weekly goals and then to monthly goals, I am spending too much time on things that either don’t matter or aren’t real priorities. Or. I am not making the things that really matter to me priorities and I need to make them true north stars.
Monthly Rewards and Tools
Every month is a check in and an opportunity for self care. Months are bridges for planning and be answerable to both my North Star (annual goals) and evaluate my weekly goals. This is also a time to play and treat yo self.
The first thing I recommend is a process called Comprehensive Calendar. Monthly might be too frequent for some thought efficiencies you create are incredible. We all have wasted time on our calendars. Meetings that should be calls. Calls that should be emails. Events without purpose. Taking just a little time to evaluate your calendar could create dozens or hundreds of hours.
It isn’t all about work. I have subscribed to two services that just bring me joy — Movie Pass and Vinyl Me, Please. These are two services that bring art and fun into my life. By making them a monthly subscription, it automates self care. Whether it is a cooking service or toys or things for pets, I highly recommend finding one or two services that bring you joy, break up the work, and are easy. Share your favorites and remember, being the best version of yourself doesn’t require working 100% of the time!
There are four things I am going to break down here. One is a 13-week planner, two programs I use, and the last piece of self care.
Let’s start with the Best Self planner (pssst if you want to try, you can save $10 using this link). This is a 13-week planner focused on habit forming, daily gratitudes, and evaluating daily goals. For someone who doesn’t want a blank canvas or page to stare at, this is essential. Yes, this means having two planners. What I do though is on Sunday afternoon or evening, I sit down with both my Volt and Best Self planners and plan my week or month accordingly. I am synced up and ready to tweak habits and crush my week.
Going through that process, I have also started using Duolingo and Headspace every morning. Duolingo takes about 15 minutes a day and I am slowly learning Spanish and re-learning French. This is easy, fun, and a habit. I use Headspace to clear my head and work out the brain. I have gone from fast paced job to fast paced job. Taking 5, 10, 15 minutes to just let go is critical and helps start the day on my terms.
Finally, I joined a running group. Here in Austin I am a part of Rogue Running. This again is about rest and mindfulness and also about health and longevity. My group runs and training runs are highlights of my week. It is a group of people who I don’t work with. There are no politics or games. It is people with a common interest, working together. Whether it is a running group or something else, find an unrelated outlet you can enjoy and look forward to. Find your passion and it will trickle into your work life. If you are like my running group, it will even help you excel by forcing you to grow and push yourself beyond your limits.
I hope this was helpful. My goal was to share what I do and why. I believe we are all stronger when we are all stronger. Please share the tools you use and let’s lean on each other to be successful. I hope your year is going well and here is to many more continued successes along the way!
If you like this, I hope you will recommend the story. If you have other tips and tricks, please share your best practices in the comments and help me grow as person and professional. Let’s build a community together!