One of the major tenets of any goal setting exercise is finding a block of time to accomplish the task. While this may sound easy at first, many goals or resolutions fail due to lack of available time. If you can’t schedule it on your calendar, you can’t do it. The more major the goal, the more important the time commitment.
Let’s take a common “Bucket List” goal that many people have of writing a book. To write a book, requires preparation, organization and a whole lot of creativity. Most writers that I know have a set time that they like to write. It may be the early morning, late evening, or just getting up and starting fresh after breakfast in the mid morning. The key thing is having a big enough block of time to let creativity flow.
Some writers like to write for an hour, other may write for a certain number of words, other write until the words stop flowing. The key thing is you won’t be able to write creatively if you just have little snippets of time throughout the day. You have to have a solid block of time. The same goes with Fitness goals, educational goals, etc.
In my experience, when planning out a major goal, I like to have at least a half hour, but preferably an hour, per day to accomplish it. This way I can block it out on my calendar and schedule time for it.
The best way to see if a goal can be accomplished is to overlay the time required for the new task on your present calendar. This is often eye opening. To do this you must have all of your present items put down on your calendar. Lets look at an example using Google Calendar.
First let’s put all the things we are currently doing on one calendar for a whole day over a weeks time. Be sure to include incidental items such as commute time.
Using Google Calendar, I created separate calendars for different tasks. Here is what I used for this example…
Since each calendar is a separate color, it’s easy to see common tasks. To see if a new goal fits, just create a new calendar. For this example I created a Book Calendar, for the time needed for writing a book.
As you can see, there isn’t much white space, but I do have time in the morning on certain days that will work. I just add the time to my book calendar and turn it on. Now I can easily see my new morning schedule.
If you find, like many people, that your present calendar is completely full, you’ll need to modify or give up some present activities. In the example above, I have a 2 hour block of time (4-6 am) that I regularly use for writing and responding to blog posts. At the encouragement of Chris Brogan, I decided sometime back to try and blog everyday. While this worked well for a short period of time, it soon became burdensome and I felt like I had to give up other activities that I enjoyed.
I reset my weekly calendar and now schedule 3 time spots a week for blogging (mon-wed-fri). This left three open spots for a different activity(tues-thurs-sat), which fiction writing fits nicely into.
In the near future, I’ll put together a step by step tutorial for creating a goal calendar using your Google Gmail calendar. If you regularly use a calendar (Google, Outlook, Apple, etc) take a look at your present activities and see if you have a consistent white space that you could add a strong goal to. If everything is filled up, try moving your activities around. If you can schedule at least an hour a day, three days a week, you can accomplish some amazing things.
The main key to this process is to fill in your present activities completely and be completely honest with yourself about taking on a new time commitment. You might be able to schedule it, but you may find you hate doing it. Be realistic.
Question: What type of Calendar do you use and how filled up is it?