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Goal Setting 
2nd-Jun-2016 01:05 pm
talent, pencil
So, for the past few months, I've been experimenting with taking a little time on Sunday to set myself some goals for the week. Nothing terribly fancy: I just take a few minutes to jot down 3-4 things that I want to focus on during the week in a note on my phone, and then I glance at the note every morning to remind myself about my goals. I have two reasons for doing this. One is to try to increase the proportion of my work time spent on tasks that are truly important, rather than just urgent-seeming. The other is to reduce my anxiety about the fact that I can't get everything done all at once.

So far, it seems to be working. I won't say that it's life-changing, but I do feel like I'm spending my time a bit better.

The most challenging part, though, is picking the goals. Sometimes it's pretty obvious (like I've got a big deadline coming up), other times it's more nebulous. Sometimes I've found myself just jotting down something for the sake of having a goal.

At the beginning of this week, I hit on something that I think improved the quality of my goals substantially. Instead of asking, "What are my goals this week?" I asked myself, "If I imagine at the end of this week that I'm sitting down to a nice dinner with my friends and loved-ones, and one of them asks me, 'How was your week?', what would I like to be able to say?"

Thinking of things in terms of "Where do I want Future-Me to be?" really seems to help. I've got to set half-year goals at work soon, a task that I always find a bit tricky, and I might just approach it by writing the performance evaluation that I want to be able to write for myself at the end of the year. (That would have the additional bonus that if I followed through, I'd have a first draft of my performance self-evaluation, which I also hate writing.)
2nd-Jun-2016 09:56 pm (UTC)
Using Habitica has been like that for me. It made me finally keep a to-do list (which I've attempted in the past but always let slide), and when things got crazy this year, I started picking out a handful of things each day that were my to-dos for that day. They could be small (e.g. "call X doctor to schedule an appointment"), they could be things I was going to do anyway (e.g. going to that appointment), they could be checklist items on a larger to-do that was too big for me to kill off in a single day -- but at the end of the day, I could point to the items I was checking off and know I had accomplished some necessary stuff. As you say, it reduced a lot of the anxiety about how much I hadn't done.

Your approach to the half-year goals for work sounds eminently sensible.
2nd-Jun-2016 10:33 pm (UTC)
Habitica is pretty key to making the goal-setting work for me: I have a Daily due every Sunday to set the goals, and another due daily to review them. The previous times I've tried regular goal setting, I'd do it for a few weeks, then forget about it, and then six months later randomly come across a list of goals while clearing out files and think, "Hey, that goal-setting thing was a good idea."

Habitica...channeling my completist gamer tendencies for the win.
4th-Jun-2016 02:21 pm (UTC)
Habitica...channeling my completist gamer tendencies for the win.

That is exactly what it's built for! And for those of us who respond well to that approach, it's excellent. :-)
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