I started out this week a small piece of the big picture – what I’m going to do on a daily basis to help me meet my monthly goals. I’ve developed some tools to help with my accountability, and I thought I’d share them here in case others may find them helpful.
Do you ever sit down at your desk to find that there are so many different things you can or should be doing that you have no idea where or how to start? Whenever I’m without a specific (paying) project I find myself in this situation, and if I’m not careful that’s when the distractions sneak in. At the end of December I made a list of all the things I felt would be productive uses of my time:
- Develop a daily writing practice
- Check my email
- Update my professional social media
- Learn and practice coding
- Learn and implement a new marketing strategy or practice
- Apply for contract/ freelance gigs
- Apply for full time or part time employment
After making the list, I prioritized it, giving thought to how often I should do each task, how important each one was to my ultimate goal, and how much effort each one would require. I then plotted out my work week, outlining the hours in each of my days, and distributed the work in a way that made sense. So, for example developing a daily writing practice is something that is both a personal and a professional goal, but doesn’t directly contribute to any of my goals. So, I spend only half an hour each day on it. Email is a necessity, but can also be a significant distraction, so I time box it at the beginning and end of the day. I’ve left myself a couple of empty windows in each day, because things come up, but I’m trying to stick to this plan and structure.
Daily Habit Tracker
I started a Bullet Journal over the summer, and I have really loved the creative freedom combined with structure. Additionally, I appreciate that I can use any blank book for my bullet journal, since I’ve never found a paper planner that truly works for my needs. I could write an entire post about my #bujo habit (and many, many bloggers have), but for now I want to focus on my Daily Habit Tracker.
At the beginning of each month I create a list of all the habits I would like to work on over the course of the month. Then I grid out the month, the habits listed along the Y axis, the days of the month across the X axis. Each morning I reflect on the prior day, and fill in a box for each habit I practiced the day before (or, in the case of when I wake up, for the current day) I maintain a specific color coding throughout my bullet journal, blue for things that are personal, green for things that are professional, and brown for things that are for my family.
The habits that I’ve listed are not necessarily things that I need to do every day, but keeping track of them in this manner helps me understand the trends and see whether my behavior is really changing. And if there’s a habit I never practice? Well, maybe that one needs to get taken off of the list for a little while.
How do you develop new habits? Do you have tools to help you with the process?