7 Tips for Conquering Your Goals

7 Tips for Conquering Your Goals

Beat procrastination and be more productive with these 7 techniques.



By: Helen Jane Hearn

It’s such a strange dichotomy, being both a notorious procrastinator and notorious for getting more things done in a day than most people. With a full-time job, a husband and plenty of side projects and social activities, I have a lot going on. This means I have had to develop several strategies to get ahead of my natural inclination to stay put. So, as you can probably imagine, it takes a lot of self-motivating to complete daily to-do lists.

Here are seven of my most prized strategies for getting ahead of my inherent laziness and preparing to make things happen in the world.

1. Find Real Reasons
Every time I motivate myself to get something done, it’s because I want to get it done. This sounds elementary, but finding the real motivation behind the action I need to take makes it easier to take the next step.

The reason I workout is not necessarily because I want to stay healthy, it’s because I want to have a great holiday photo this year. Yes, that sounds silly, but really, I want to have a great holiday photo. This means that it’s easier for me to get out of bed at 5 a.m. to go on my run. Finding out what I really want and using that as motivation makes it easier for me to take action.

2. Truly Prioritize
By asking myself what task I want to do the least, I can complete the less desirable stuff later: a true procrastinator’s strategy. There is always something I want to do less than the next thing I need to get done. I want to renew my driver's license less than I want to renew my passport. I want to file my expenses less than I want to get my laundry done. Weeding out the tolerable from the terrible is a strategy that can get a surprising amount of tasks completed.

3. Do the Worst First
An opposite but equally effective strategy is to take care of the most loathsome task on your list first. If “calling the insurance company to question lack of coverage” is the worst thing on your list, take care of it first instead of dreading it all day.

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4. Shun Internet Distractions
Social media sites are amazing tools for keeping up with the loved ones in my life, but they do have a tricky way of sucking up time. In fact, I checked one particular site 15 times during the writing of this article. There are sites out there that can offer a productivity boost far beyond what I expect — some programs even go so far as blocking you from the Internet!

5. Make a List (List-making 101)
Perfecting my to-do list tactics can help me get much more done during the day. My list of tricks includes the following:

  • Adding everything at its most granular — flossing, bed-making and dishes all go on the list
  • Include personal as well as work items. If it needs to get done, it goes on the list
  • Using the list in conjunction with a calendar allows for maximum efficiency

6. Enlist Personal Cheerleaders
By letting the people I love help me, I can get a huge amount done. I can do this both by making my goals public and by asking loved ones to check in on me. A simple, “How’s that exercise plan coming?” can get me far more motivated than if I had relied on my own willpower.

Also, the internal social pressure of knowing that other people are expecting you to do certain things can make a significant and positive impact.

7. If All Else Fails, Try the 15-Minute Rule
You can do anything for 15 minutes: jump rope, squats, fold laundry, wash dishes, answer five emails, make another list, get gas, write three thank-you notes — the list goes on and on. When I set a timer for fifteen minutes, I get the most out of it.

Getting as much done as possible doesn’t need to be a slog — there’s joy in completion. By adopting a do-something attitude, you can get more done in a day and live a fuller life.



Napa Valley-based Helen Jane Hearn has written about Internet culture and home entertaining at helenjane.com since 1998. She is a certified specialist of wine and founder of Cheesewhizzes, a nationwide cheese tasting club. She also captains her bocce team, Joanie Loves Bocce.

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