Most people have fizzled out on their resolutions by mid-year. Even if you’re in that group, it’s never too late to turn things around and get motivated. Here are five tips to help you achieve your goals and have an overall, more productive life.
Write It Down
Make your goals concrete by writing them down. You’re more likely to do them if they’re ‘in writing’ and seem more official. You can announce them publicly if that helps keep you accountable, but studies have shown that telling people makes you less likely to follow through. So keep yourself accountable by both writing down your overall goals and keeping track of your progress. Here are a few methods:
Planners come in all shapes and sizes with many different layouts to help you keep on track. If you have jam-packed days with many obligations, try a planner that allows you to schedule your day by the hour. If you have less going on, try a more simple one that provides room on each day to write down appointments and to-do lists.
The bullet journal is the ultimate do-it-yourself planner. If you have an empty notebook lying around, you can create your own planner for free, perfectly tailored to your needs and goals. The pros of a bullet journal are that you don’t have to start it on a specific date. You can simply write the day’s date and start from there. They’re great for creative types, giving tons of room for doodling and planning, or for the minimalist who simply needs a running to-do list.
A staple of planners everywhere, it’s crucial to write down everything you want to get done. Here’s a tip to make the most of your to-do lists, so you don’t feel overwhelmed: Make a master list of everything that needs to get done. Then, write down your three biggest priorities from that list on your daily list. If you get nothing else done, at least the three most important things are more likely to be finished and didn’t get buried behind everything else.
If you’re more tech-savvy, there are dozens of productivity apps. Try out a few different ones and make sure whichever one you use has notifications turned on, so you can’t use the excuse, “I forgot.”
The benefit of paper planners over apps is that writing things down includes muscle memory. You’re more likely to complete your to-do list if you physically take the time to write it down.
Use stopwatches and timers to be your most productive self.
The “Two Minute” Rule
This rule is simple: avoid procrastinating the little things by using the two-minute rule. If it can be done in two minutes, such as clearing your plate and putting it in the dishwasher instead of throwing it in the sink, do it right now while you’re thinking about it. This saves a ton of time later as you won’t have a sink full of dishes to do, and the food won’t be caked on and harder to remove.
How Long Does It Really Take?
If you put off doing tasks because you feel like they will take forever, such as those dishes, time yourself to see how long it takes. When you realize that your dinner dishes only take ten minutes to do, why prolong it by putting them off?
For much longer tasks, such as work assignments or homework, tell yourself you will only do twenty minutes of work. Then you can procrastinate again. You can complete it in twenty minutes, or at least get into the groove of working on it so that you’re more motivated to finish it. If not, you’ve done some work, so you’re farther along than you were before.
Another great way to spend only twenty minutes: try the Pomodoro technique. Set a timer for 20 to 25 minutes, break for five when the timer goes off, and give yourself a more extended break of up to half an hour after four work sessions. This is also an excellent time to stop for the day after four sets. Use your five-minute breaks to stand up, stretch, use the bathroom, get a snack, jog in place, or do some squats.
Incentivize your motivation: set milestones for your goals and plan rewards for each milestone. Lost ten pounds towards your goal of fifty? Treat yourself to something fun like an outing, a manicure, or a special dessert you’ve avoided on your diet.
Pay Someone Else
If negative motivation works better for you, try paying out every time you fail your goals. If you make a resolution to eat out less, put money in a jar every time you go out, similar to a swear jar. Then at a time you plan on when you don’t reach your goal, donate it to charity, preferably one you don’t agree with.
Plan a big reward for reaching your end goal. For weight loss, buy yourself a new wardrobe. Not eating out? Splurge on a lovely fine dining experience. Having a tangible reward when you complete your resolution (or kept it up for a certain amount of time) will help you stay motivated.
Watch Your Progress
Using a calendar, mark off every day you work at your resolution. Bullet journals are great for this, as you can make a habit tracker to check off. Mark every day you don’t eat out, don’t go shopping, brush your teeth, or track anything. Try not to break the chain.
What to track? Make sure your goals have actionable steps. Instead of a vague ‘Get Healthy’ resolution, tell yourself you will go to the gym every day, or eat a vegetable every day. Then mark it down.
Keep Your Goals in Sight
We keep using weight loss as an example because it is so familiar and easy to use as an example for these tips. In your planner or bullet journal, write down the weight you want to be at, and mark down every time you lose another five pounds. You can see your progress in real-time.
If you have a picture of yourself at your ideal weight, stick it to your fridge to remind yourself every time you go for a snack. Got that fantastic dress or skinny jeans you can’t fit into? Hang them prominently in your room for you to look at every day until they fit again.
Take a corkboard and pin-up everything that relates to your goal. If you want to be a better musician, pin up pictures of people you look up to, and the awards you want to win. Visualize your goal and never forget it.