Organizing thoughts, prioritizing tasks, and managing time and motivation can be tricky.
I always find that at the turn of the new year I have grand goals for myself. These goals are usually really big like writing a novel and running a marathon. These are not necessarily realistic accomplishments over the course of just one year’s time, especially considering I am not doing anything towards either at the moment.
It’s not to say that these grand goals cannot ever be met, it’s just to say that I would probably have a better chance at reaching these large goals if I set smaller more attainable goals for myself along the way. However, creating these baby steps is not necessarily easy. For me figuring out the small goals can be challenging, sometimes so much so that I find myself saying, “Eh, I’ll just do this next year when I have more time.”
Organizing thoughts, prioritizing tasks, and managing time and motivation can be tricky. For some people it’s not just a challenge when it comes to tackling writing a novel or becoming a marathoner, but a challenge with everyday tasks like getting to work on time, writing that report by the due date or paying bills in a timely fashion.
Over the past few years, one of the buzzwords in the world of learning has become executive functioning (EF). In laymen’s terms EF is the CEO of your brain, it’s what helps you get your act together. Executive functions include setting goals, prioritizing, managing time, separating the big picture from details, shifting from one task to another (often called flexibility), checking as you go and reflecting on your outcome. For some people this comes easily, for others, it’s not quite so intuitive.
There are many strategies that you can employ to help increase your executive function skills:
• Create checklists. Following a checklist minimizes the mental and emotional strain many people experience while trying to make decisions.
• Follow routines. Creating routines makes it easier to remember what comes next and keeps you from getting distracted doing something else (i.e. Have your child start homework at the same time every night).
• Break up big projects into smaller steps, prioritize the steps and then estimate how long each will take.
• Use a calendar to “backwards plan”, and allocate time to work on each step. If a project is due on a certain date, work back from that date filling in what needs to be done each day to have a completed project in the time frame given.
There are some people who, even with the best of intentions and implementation of strategies, still find themselves scattered and unorganized. When an individual feels like things are not working, it might be time to seek the help of experts.
As for me, my New Year’s resolution this year is to employ a couple of these strategies in order to be successful in completing all my other New Year’s resolutions. Instead of the goal of completing a novel, I’m going to write for a little each day. Instead of setting my sites on a marathon, I’m going to get out for a run at least three times a week. If anything, by this time next year I’ll be closer to completing those bigger goals and not just starting from scratch like I am right now.