It’s amazing how much you can get done in a really short period of time when you break it into smaller pieces.
A big lesson I’ve learned relatively recently is that putting your goals into very small, very regular, and very intense time blocks works really well.
It’s natural to want to put our goals down in terms of milestones or accomplishments. “Clean the basement on Saturday.” Or maybe “Write a chapter this week.” Or even “lose 20 pounds by May.” We focus on the goal; the thing we want to be different in the world.
And then we never get there. The goals stay firmly wishes. We’re bad at estimating how long they’ll take – so we think we can clean the basement on Saturday, but even with the best of intentions we’re only a third of the way done by midnight and we’re not only exhausted, we feel guilty and down on ourselves. You try to write a chapter by the end of the week, but something keeps coming up and you never have enough time to sit down and write a whole chapter. And it turns out “until May” isn’t enough time to lose 20 pounds, so you’ve only lost half that by then and you feel horrible.
It doesn’t have to be like that!
Your goals need to exist in your daily life. They also need to not consume your daily life.
The way to balance those two needs is to focus on time, not on milestones. Don’t say you’ll clean the basement on Saturday. Say that every Saturday, you’ll clean the basement for 2 hours until it’s done. Don’t write a chapter a week; say that you’ll write for 30 minutes every day, regardless of how much or how little you write during that time. And don’t worry about losing any specific amount of weight by any specific time; set a daily diet plan and say that you’ll exercise for 15 minutes, twice daily.
When you commit to those, you can do them with tremendous intensity. You can block out other distractions for the amount of time needed, and be satisfied with yourself when their time is over for the day. You can reclaim your life, guilt-free, as you do whatever else you want. You’ll know you’ve moved towards you goals.
Instead of being mad at yourself for only partially accomplishing a goal, you’ll be proud of yourself every single day for moving closer. You’ll build habits and satisfaction.
These chunks can be well and truly bite sized. Even ten minutes of writing is more than zero. Even a dollar saved is more than no dollars. There is no increment towards your goal that is shameful, pointless, or “not worth it.”
No matter what your goal is, there is a bite you could take out of it today. If you’re not willing to, then it’s not really your goal – and that’s all there is to it.