1/24/2013

staying organized spreadsheet style

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Good afternoon! I hope all is well and you are having a great week. Lately I have been having a lot of conversations with people about staying organized whether it is in their small business or personal life. This is an important topic and one that I want to share my experience on as it is something I am currently improving in my life.

I mentioned in previous posts setting goals for the new year. We are more than halfway through the first month of 2013 and already you might be feeling lost or like you just can’t seem to get on track. Most of us set intentions for the new year but until we have a detailed course of action and a way to stay accountable to ourselves nothing really takes shape. It is easy to become overwhelmed and feel like you can’t seem to get things off the ground.

In this post I write about the importance of taking the time to write an action list that corresponds to your goals for the year. This is a key step in the process. If you haven’t done this yet spend an hour or so and write out what steps you need to take to reach your goals. For example, one of my goals this year is to launch a YouTube channel. Next to that goal I wrote down all of the things I need to do in order to make that happen such as contact the people that have offered to help, acquire a good camera and tripod, research channels I like and take notes, develop content, create a launch timeline, etc. If all of this sounds like a lot – it is. However, once you have these steps in place it will make achieving your goals that much easier.

Without an action plan we just have a bunch of intentions. Like I’ve said many times, intentions are awesome, but if they aren’t followed with direct action we turn into those people with lots of dreams that never really make them a reality. Over time this eats away at our self-esteem and self-worth. Once that sets in a host of all sorts of issues can arise which can lead us in circles not getting what we want out of life. We have to be willing to put in the effort and time.

Where we get this idea that things should always be easy is beyond me. Maybe it’s the media or movies? It’s like those people that say they want a relationship but aren’t willing to put themselves out there or do the work that meaningful relationships require. Yes it is scary! When we are truly going after what our hearts desire there is always some fear involved but it’s a good fear, the kind of fear that reminds us we are alive and pursuing our passions. If everything comes easy chances are it isn’t ultimately that fulfilling.

Ok. So you have your goals and corresponding actions. The next step is to create a spreadsheet for yourself. Yup. I went there. I know it sounds super nerdy but trust me it’s a fantastic way to keep track of what you are doing to reach your goals, a great tool to stay accountable and organized. I know lots of people that are very disorganized. They are not bad or unintelligent folks, in fact it is quite the opposite. Some of the most incredible, smart and talented people I know are seriously lacking in the organization department. Why? Well, most of us have a lazy streak. It’s just easier to watch one more episode of Downton Abbey than it is to take the time to create a spreadsheet and get our lives on track. The thing is, we will never be totally happy unless we are actively pursuing our passions. It’s seemingly easier to hide out in fear and distract ourselves than to really get in there and create the life we want.

In creating your spreadsheet make a column for all of the actions you need to take each day and week to reach your goals. In the following columns write the date at the top and go down the list each day checking off each task that you completed. At the end of each week look at your sheet and see what you accomplished and what still needs work. Many people, myself included have been writing to-do lists for years. Occasionally I will use a post-it and write out what I have to do that day but for the most part I check my spreadsheet and my calendar.

That brings me to the next step. Once a week go over your tasks in the spreadsheet and put them in your calendar. I use iCal which I can sync to my iPhone. This streamlined process is great for me. Each day I know exactly what I need to be doing for myself and at the end of the day I feel good that I have done something to reach my goals, even if all I needed to do that day was 30 min of marketing research – I did something. This is the deal, doing something. I know it sounds simple but how easy is it to go to work or do whatever we do during the day without spending anytime working on our goals? That is one of the main points I like to drive home with clients, each day we need to do an action to reach our goals, no matter how small we think it is. Trust me, all of those small actions add up and keep us focused on our dreams.

 

Quick recap:

1. Write a list of goals

2. For each goal write out the actions to make it happen

3. Put all of your actions in a spreadsheet and keep track of your progress

4. Each week list your actions in your calendar

5. At the end of the week look back over your spreadsheet and see how much you accomplished and/or what still needs work

 

Remember it is totally okay to make mistakes – this is all part of the process. What I want is for you to get organized and stay accountable in a way that works for you. Layout your spreadsheet in a way that you can understand. If digital calendars are not your thing, purchase a Moleskin or some other type of organizer to get you keeping track of your actions and progress. I have been working like this for months and have noticed dramatic changes in how much I am accomplishing and how much better overall I feel about myself. Taking actions each day towards my dreams is such a fun way to live. Putting all of this consistent energy out into the world has created even more opportunities for me than I could have anticipated. By working towards my dreams some of them are starting to come true in really cool ways, ways I never would have been open to had I not been taking daily actions.

I know this is a lot and it’s ok. We all have to start somewhere and once you get into a routine it will become second nature. Keep me posted on your progress and share your experiences in the comment section if you are so inclined.

I will be back tomorrow with a yummy new recipe!

xoa

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