by Dr. Orlando Moreno
How to Accomplish Goals When you Have Too Much To Do
Whether you are employed and looking for a new opportunity or unemployed and looking for your next job, time management is going to be critical to accomplishing your goal of making a career transition. If you are recently unemployed then you have to deal with the lack of structure in your life that you previously had with your job. By managing your time, you can create this structure. If you are working and also have a family, then finding the time to perform your job search activities will be difficult. Sometimes you might feel so overwhelmed with a seemingly huge project that you donít know where to begin, become paralyzed and do nothing at all. Here are a few steps that can help you through these times.
1. Write down your goals
The best way to accomplish goals is to first put them down on paper, a palm pilot, or a word processing file. Find a system that works best for you and use it. A lot of mental energy can be spent trying to remember all the things you need to do. Save your energy and give your mind a break by writing down all of your goals and action items. This frees you to fully concentrate on the one task you choose to work on in the present moment.
2. Break your goals down into small tasks.
The goal of making a career transition is a pretty large undertaking. Make your goals more manageable by breaking them down into small tasks and then just concentrate on finishing one task at a time. For example, informational interviewing might be one of your tasks, but this task can be broken down further into a list such as the following:
- Make a list of people to contact for an informational interview
- Make a list of interview questions you want to be sure to ask
- Call the people on your contact list and set appointments
By breaking a large task down into several smaller tasks, the entire project is more manageable and not so overwhelming. Itís much easier to concentrate on one small item at a time.
3. Create Daily, Weekly and Long-term To-do lists and prioritize your action items.
One way to prioritize your activities is to have Long-term, Weekly, and Daily To-do lists. On your Long-term list, put all the things you would like to accomplish over the next few months or year. Then each week write a list of what you want to accomplish for that week. As you write your weekly list, decide which items from your Long-term list you want to accomplish. Then write a daily To-do list and put an asterisk or some other notation on the items that are most important for you to finish that day. Once you get the priority items completed, if you have time, you can then move on to the other items on your list. At the end of the day, write your To-do list for the next day and move all of the items that werenít completed that day to the next dayís list. And again prioritize each task. Look at your weekly list and see what you are ready to add to your daily list.
By following this procedure, action items that are the most important to complete are more likely to be completed on time, and the things that take a lower priority get put off. Eventually, the lower priority items will become a higher priority, or they will disappear entirely. By using your lists, you are in a better position to decide what to do when you are presented with a few minutes or hours you hadnít planned on. You can also determine what not to spend time on. By freeing yourself from nonessentials, youíll make more time for what really matters to you.
If you get really good at using lists and accomplishing your daily action items, you might become so focused on your goals that you find yourself not taking time for fun activities. If this becomes a problem, then also schedule your leisure time. Make sure you allow time to take care of your personal/emotional/spiritual needs, and give them the priority they deserve. It is also important to give yourself rewards for accomplishing your goals.
4. Keep a calendar
If you are working hard at your job search activities, you will be going to meetings and setting informational and job interviews. Keep track of all of your appointments, networking meetings, etc. in one calendar. Then every day when you write your daily To-do list, look at your calendar and see if you have any appointments for that day. If so, put it on your list.
Tricks and Tips to Consider
Do two things at once. For example, exercise while you watch television, file your nails while on the telephone, or pay your bills while waiting at the doctorís office.
Do the easy stuff first. If you have a long list, by completing and crossing off several easy activities right away, you can get a good psychological boost with feelings of accomplishment that will help you move on to the hard stuff.
Do the hard stuff first. If you have something that keeps getting put off because it a hard or a time-consuming project, try doing it first. The relief you feel after completion will aid you in sailing smoothly through the rest of your list.
Donít get discouraged. If you find managing your time difficult, remember that change happens gradually over time and not everything works the same way for all people. Experiment and decide what works best for you.
Remember the 80/20 rule. If you complete 20% of your top priority items each day, you are probably 80% effective.
Create other lists. You might consider creating other lists to help manage your time. For instance, your grocery list can be an ongoing list. At the very moment you realize you need something from the grocery store, write it on your grocery list. Then the next time you are ready to buy groceries, instead relying on memory, you will already have a list reminding you of all the things you need to get.