Before You Set New Goals, Think About What You’re Going to Stop Doing



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Tim Robberts/Getty Images

Remember your new year’s resolutions? Are you still doing them?

If the answer is “no,” best likely you fell into the trap that stops best individuals from accomplishing their resolutions: not consciously taking long-established activities out of their schedule to make room for the new. It’s the equivalent of trying to stuff more papers into a file drawer that’s already full tight or going into debt to cover additional purchases. You can take the pinch for a little while, but soon you’re went too thin and require to recalibrate to get back to a sustainable lifestyle (or filing system).

Pausing to consider what needs to be removed from your schedule takes time. But it makes all the difference between being busy and being effective. Here are a few strategies that can help you streamline your schedule and build in room to complete your new goals and resolutions.

Question all of your work commitments. In multiple work environments, tasks and projects get piled on without any clear sense of priorities or time capacity. The beginning of a new year marks the perfect time to clean house and reevaluate what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.

Start by reviewing your current projects and ask yourself a few questions: Does completing this project still make sense? Am I the correct individual to work on this project? Would it be more realistic to move this project to a dissimilar quarter? Depending on your position, you may or may not have the ability to make unilateral decisions. But if you’ve taken the time to step back and consider the fantastic picture, you at least have the opportunity to discuss the possibilities with your boss and your team. One of the fastest ways to complete a project is to decide it’s not getting done.

If you’re struggling with evaluating your work commitments, it may be helpful to chart your professional commitments. For instance, in my book The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment, I recommend a chart that includes columns for activity name, type (i.e. constant or varied), hours/month, professional importance, personal satisfaction, optional, and length of term. You can come up with a similar chart with column headings tailored to your situation to evaluate your professional commitments. Then use this data to determine what is the highest financial worth to hold on to and what’s best let go.

Once you’ve determined what you might want to carve out of your schedule, begin to make the shifts in what you’re doing. It may take time to get buy-in to eliminate, delay, or delegate projects, but over the course of a few weeks or months you can see your schedule begin to open up.

Reassess your work style. After assessing the “what,” angle your attention approaching “how” you accomplish work. Reducing meetings can be a powerful force to create space for focused work. Question whether you require meetings for certain projects as well as their length and frequency. For example, going from a weekly 60-minute meeting to a biweekly 45-minute meeting can save each meeting attendee 2.5 hours a month. Multiply that over multiple meetings, and you can get days of your workweek back.

On the other hand, if you find yourself delayed throughout the day by drive-by questions, consider setting office hours or standing one-on-one sessions where you make yourself intentionally available. Then define other times where you shut your door — or as one of my time management coaching clients found to be effective, have it mostly shut. It signals to people to not come in unless it’s truly urgent. This lessens the time you spend dealing with interruptions and transitioning back to the task at hand.


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    Finally, consider if there are ways that you can interact less with messaging technology. Decreasing the amount of time funded on e-mail, social media, or other communication channels can dramatically increase the amount of time you have to get work done as well as the speed at that you can complete it. For me, I’ve found it helpful to limit the amount of time I can spend on e-mail each day. I further check social news notifications about once a day, strictly limit notifications to my phone, and purposely avoid adopting every new technology. When you’re not on something, you don’t require to check it.

    Add new goals strategically. Once you intentionally create space, you can strategically include in the activities that you want in your life. Sometimes that means simply having the ability to take a break concurrently the day and not work at a frenetic pace, or it may mean moving in front on an important project you’ve neglected for months. Or it may mean being able to reduce your hours so instead of working the second shift at night, you’re hitting the gym or spending time with people or friends.

    To assert “yes” to the new, you should assert “no” to a few of the old. By eliminating a few of the activities in your calendar that are no longer the best use of your time, you can finally move in front on your resolutions. Follow the tips above to make space and intentionally include in what’s truly important to you.


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