I define myself as a “goal-achiever”.
I love achieving goals because that gives sense to my life:
- I know why I get up every morning.
- I go to bed with that fantastic sensation of feeling the day was worthwhile.
- That takes me to many states of happiness.
- Finally, that drives me to HAPPINESS in capital letters.
That’s why I invest much time looking for procedures, techniques, tools, AND people who improve my goal achievement process.
In this article, I will share with you 3 “stupid” techniques that, for me, represent critical steps towards my goal achievement process.
Along with my life, I’ve learned that nothing significant is done by focusing on it. It’s the sum of many little/stupid/silly/tiny things that will drive you towards that big goal.
That’s why it’s always recommended to break big tasks into small tasks.
We think we have evolved a lot, but we’re not very far away from the spear and the mammoth.
We are complicated but, at the same time, very simple.
We cannot accomplish big things just by going straight to them.
To achieve our goals, we need:
- Break them into small tasks.
- Execute them sequentially.
As a goal achiever, my procedure is always the same (very simple, as you can see):
- Defining strategy.
- Defining high-level goals.
- Defining low-level goals.
- Defining tasks (if a lot of them are inside a similar or higher-level concept, I group them using a project).
When it comes to “doing”, I’ve concluded something. Nothing works better as a short and simple to-do list:
- It’s clear.
- You can quickly move items up and down.
- You can easily decide when you will do each task (if the list is short enough).
- It informs you about reality. Time is what it is. You have the time you have. You never should lie to yourself. You can see clearly what is approachable and what’s not in a short to-do list.
Recently I’ve moved all my productivity software framework to Notion (by the way, I’m delighted with it). On my main screen, I have these 3 different areas:
- Highlight of the day.
1. Highlight of the day
Every day I define what my great goal will be.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a “stupid” thing I can manage in a minute, or it’s something I need a 12-hour day to have it done.
It’s THE thing that, whenever I go to bed, I will feel proud because I accomplished it.
You want to make it, so you will dedicate enough time when your day begins to be sure you will write something that:
- You can achieve.
- It’s important to you because it will move you a little bit closer to your goals.
This “highlight idea” is something I learned in Year Zero, August Bradley’s online community, from I guy named “Anike” (he’s an awesome guy!).
This is that type of thing that could seem stupid initially, but it could be life-changing if you think deeply about it.
As I said above, you will never succeed because you did 1 great thing. You’ll succeed because you do hundreds or thousands of small things.
This is one of them.
As you can see, here I got 3 toggle sections: morning, afternoon, and tomorrow.
Each of them is just a to-do list. I can’t show them because of privacy issues, but you can get the idea.
I have one rule: I cannot have more than 3 items in the two first ones (morning and afternoon).
Apart from that, I have what I call “Batches”. They are 3 different documents (Notion’s pages):
- Daily Batch.
- Weekly Batch.
- Monthly Batch.
Each of these documents above contains a to-do list, having all of them different sections based on the four areas of my life. One area for each of my 3 companies and another one for my personal issues.
Whenever I have something to do, my first question is always the same: when do I need to do this thing?
- As soon as possible? Then it’ll go to the Daily Batch document within its corresponding section.
- This week? Then it’ll go to the Weekly Batch document within its corresponding section.
- This month? Then it’ll go to the Monthly Batch document within its corresponding section.
I check my daily batch document at the beginning of the day and select only 6 items (3 go to my “morning section”, and the other 3 go to my “afternoon section”).
If I see something’s important and urgent, I put it in the “tomorrow section”, just to have it there, in the spotlight.
If something unexpected happens during the day (don’t lie to yourself. That’s always going to happen), it’s effortless for me to see where I can fit it, moving items from the “morning section” to the “afternoon section” if needed, or to the “tomorrow section” if I see I won’t have enough time today.
Using a toggle is critical because whenever I have planned my day, I close all toggles but the “morning section” one.
Focusing on just 3 items is, for me, one of the most critical actions to be productive.
Whenever I decide what task I will do, I even close the “morning section” because I don’t want any distractions surrounding me.
Using to-do’s lists allows me to prioritize things in a very comfortable way.
- It’s easy to move items up and down.
- It’s easy to see the sequential process you need to be productive.
- A to-do list shows you the way: start for the first task and, when it’s done, go to the next one.
To-do’s lists have something great too. You can check them as done, seeing the task crossed out.
This is another “stupid” thing, but it motivates me a lot. It gives me the sensation of dynamism, of moving forward towards my goals.
When you finish a day and see 6 crossed-out tasks, you feel like a hero. You did it. You left things behind. You know tomorrow will be the same. You know compounding efforts will take you further. It’s just a matter of time.
You sleep well every night because YOU HAVE DONE THINGS, and you have felt it.
You’re also sure you’ve done the things you should do because you thought about them, you selected them, you prioritized them, and, finally, you did them.
Every Friday, I do a weekly review.
Basically, it is “to bring order to the house”. I will just explain what affects this article, which is the week’s goals.
Every week I define what my week’s goals will be.
I call them goals, but they’re really TASKS I want to do.
They’re very specific, clear, and direct to the point. They are essential tasks that will drive me to accomplish my goals.
No matter how long they will take me, I always try to create 2–3 hours tasks. If a task should take me 6 hours, I always try to break it into 2–3 tasks of 2–3 hours each at the most.
I can see these tasks all week long because, as you can see, they’re on my main screen, so that:
- When I’m planning my daily tasks, I always look at my week’s goals.
- When I prioritize any of my to-do’s lists, I look at my week’s goals.
That gives me the functionality of always be doing what I’m supposed to do on my way to accomplish my goals.
At the end of the week, I check the list during my weekly review, and I measure Goals Achieved vs. Total Goals.
Every month, I do a monthly review and check those percentages.
This is what’s telling me if I’m procrastinating too much or not, if I’m moving towards my goals or not, if I’m doing what I’m supposed to do or not.
Every week, when I see the percentage, I set the goals for the next week.
- If the percentage is very low, it motivates me to work harder towards a better percentage for the next week.
- If the percentage is high, I find my motivation to keep my streak.
I always find a positive motivational way to encourage me, no matter what the percentage is.
As you can see, the combination of lots of little tiny things is what drives you to:
- Define what is really important to accomplish your goals.
- Be focused on the most important things.
- Be doing those most important things.
- Create a fantastic productivity loop based on doing what you should at any moment mechanically, without even thinking.
- Create a system that is prepared to overcome unexpected events.
- Create a system that motivates you every day.
- Create a system to avoid procrastination because it is based on little/tiny/simple tasks.
- Create an anti-stress system because it’s simple to use.
And all that, with just 4 to-do’s lists.
Being productive shouldn’t be tough. Life is simple, as our systems should be.
Simplicity is the most productive tool in life. I always look for it.