I have a lot of posts about how to set big goals and on the best ways to manage competing priorities. (You can check out a quick round up in this month’s post.)
But as we start a new year, I thought it might be helpful for you to get a peek behind the scenes to see how I’m navigating my way through my own goals (which happen to be more ambiguous than ever) and how I am using some of my favorite tools to help me get more done.
If you’ve been reading for a while or following me on IG, you know that I love me some apps and tools to help get stuff done.
But here’s a very important reminder: tools aren’t miracle workers. They can provide support and structure, but they can rarely do the work for you.
You need to have, or develop, some habits in place to help you get some traction towards your goals.
So here’s a quick run down on some of my current goals and what’s work well to help me achieve them.
(Please note: Some of these links are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you decide to purchase them!)
Goals: Don’t eat my paycheck $15 at a time.
This is the first time in several years that I don’t have a really clear financial goal. I’ve met or exceed my savings goal for each of the last few years, and while of course I hope to continue to do that, I’m more interested in fine tuning my budget and paying attention to my spending choices.
As I’ve become better at tracking my income and spending (more on that in a minute), I’ve come to realize that I am very capable of eating my paycheck $15 at a time.
Look, I love to eat. Delicious restaurants and gourmet grocery stores can take my money.
It’s a priority for us to eat well!
But one thing I hate is logging into my bank account and realizing that I’ve eaten away at my paycheck $15 a time, usually by grabbing lunch out of the office or grabbing a quick dinner on my way to an event.
There are two things that I am doing to combat this.
One, I have re-committed to food preparation and two, I’ve become a total devotee of YNAB, a budgeting app that helps me track my spending.
I’ve been spending some time on Sundays food prepping for the last few years. I love to cook so theoretically this isn’t a problem. But working full time, landing a new job, teaching and having Work Wonders have its busiest year meant I often had very little energy to actually plan out my grocery list, much less get the meals cooked and packed for the week.
I spent some time researching new recipes, creating some standard grocery lists and have been protecting my time (and energy) to food prep on Sundays.
Not only does this help both me and James save money on lunch, but it means we’re way less tempted to order delivery in the evenings, because our meals usually just need to be re-heated!
A bit more on YNAB: I started using this app to track my spending last year and, while there was a little bit of a learning curve, it’s helped me tremendously.
What helps me the most is assigning each dollar to a spending category and being able to easily move money around between these lines.
I’m not a great budgeter – it makes me feel too constrained – but this app makes it really easy to see where my money is going, set goals, pay off debt, etc. If you decide to test it out, make sure you plan to check out one of their super helpful webinars, too.
Goals: Write every week.
Between weekly newsletters, blog posts and preparing for workshops and Livestreams, almost half of my work for Work Wonders involves writing.
Getting busy with clients has left with me with way less time to spend creating blog posts and planning out emails. I decided to try an app called FlowState – and I haven’t looked back since.
FlowState is an app where you set yourself a period of time to write.
And if you stop writing for more than 7 seconds – your work disappears.
Pretty intense, right?
I am totally into it. It’s cut the time it takes to write a newsletter down by nearly 75%, and just this morning, I was able to draft a guest blog post in less than 15 minutes.
Because I can’t click away to Facebook, Twitter or site I get the need to urgently check while I’m supposed to be writing.
Even though I need to edit things very carefully afterwards, it’s totally worth it to me. I make sure to just use for 15 minutes a time. It’s perfect for people who want or need to write something (a cover letter, perhaps?!) and just need to get started.
Although this isn’t a tool, here’s what else has helped me to write more: making time to write even when there are a million other things to do.
I spent nearly all of January getting organized and streamlining my business processes. I even hired a couple of amazing contractors to help me get more done.
But I realized that no matter how much I delegated or how productive I was, writing time was always scrapped to get other, more urgent items done.
If you’re waiting for the perfect time to indulge in your creative pursuit, I don’t think you’ll find it.
You have to create it!
Goals: Get more physical
Hey, office workers, you totally know what I’m talking about.
I am sitting. All. The. Time.
I try to take breaks, I try to move around during the day, but by my calculation, I am sitting for nearly 10 hours a day. Not good.
And the frigid winter weather? It doesn’t help.
After a very inspiring thread in the Making Life Work Facebook group where so many shared their fitness goals and routines with me, I’ve come up with a few new ways to squeeze in workouts including purchasing a 3 pack of dance fitness classes, this at-home workout, and my usual gym time.
Having some options, especially an at-home option, means there’s always something that I can do to squeeze in a workout.
Goals: Grow Work Wonders
This is my career goal for 2018.
I’ve been speaking at career related events for a while now, but it’s been super exciting for me to also start speaking about running a profitable business (like this one from earlier this month).
While I’m far from being a business expert, some things have really worked to help me grow the Work Wonders community, like collaborations and partnerships, referrals from my amazing clients, and live workshops and events.
This year, I’m doubling down on all of those things, which I hope will be great for business but I know will be a ton of fun to produce so I’m looking forward to it.
I’ve also learned that I can’t do everything myself, especially with a day job, so I’ve been really lucky that I’ve found some contractors to help me manage social media, this website, and some behind the scenes stuff for my clients. I spent a not insignificant amount of time setting up Trello so that we could collaborate seamlessly (or at least fairly, seamlessly).
Shout out, also, to QuickBooks, which I’ve been using for the last year. I used to be pretty bad at managing receipts and expenses, but QuickBooks has made it so easy. If you have a little side hustle you’d like to take to the next level, consider investing in QuickBooks or some other financial software to help you take control of your business finances. It was a great investment for me. Here’s a link for 50% off your first six months for you.
Goals: Have more fun
I’ve made a commitment to do one outrageously fun thing a week.
This year, I am all about “filling up the tank” and taking great care of myself so that I can serve my clients and business at my best.
That means learning to set better boundaries around my work and prioritize having fun.
What’s been great about this experiment is that it’s helping me focus on where I’m already having a lot of fun. It’s definitely happening way more than once a week, but it’s also been a great excuse to take a day trip to Salem, set up the new dining room table that I’ve wanted for the last two years, and catch up with friends over margaritas and churros.
I’d love to hear from you!
What’s working well? Where can you see a difference being made? Let me know in the comments below!