Last year my New Year's resolutions were to write shorter blogs and to twitter less than 3 times a day. Profound, I know.
Been thinking about New Years resolutions this week for 2010. Some of my main resolutions will be to continue to keep the resolutions I've had for years. Things like reading a book a week, keeping my daily coffee intake to a safe level, a regular devotional life, reading the Bible through in a year or less, saving money and giving money. These have essentially become habits for me. There are always habits that I'm working on developing, but many important ones I've got down pat.
Resolutions are extremely important, and not just at New Years. By making resolutions we are saying "This is where my life is now ... but this is where I want to go." By making resolutions we understand that our life is largely determined by small things like our daily habits and we heighten our chance for success and happiness in life by resolving to go in the right direction.
One the biggest reasons people don't get things done is because of the forgetfulness of our memory. The reality is that writing a resolution down on a piece of paper won't help us finish strong because we will probably forget within a short time. Here are three secrets to getting things done (whether at work, or life goals or New Years resolutions or even just remembering to call your friends back):
1. Do it Now - Whether a co-worker asks for you to do something for them or your spouse asks you to fix something .. why not do it right away? If you can, this is the best policy. Abraham Lincoln often said, "never save for tomorrow what can be done today."
2. Get Ruthlessly Practical - Be careful not to let your resolutions be too vague. For instance, a resolution like "Lose 15 pounds." What does this mean to anyone? Great, you want to lose weight, but how? Your resolution should instead be focused on how often you plan to exercise. Then couple that with setting painfully annoying alerts in your phone for the times of the week / reminders to go and actually exercise. Each resolution, if broad, needs to be broken down into practical daily & weekly habits.
3. Write it Down & Keep it in Front of You - Whether you think of a great idea, need to remember to call a friend back, are given an assignment at work or want to create a habit: either do it right away or write it down. Your memory will work against you, and many things will easily fall through the cracks in life's busyness. If you want to be someone of execution, who gets things done, you need to keep an ongoing to do list.
Keep a pen and moleskin with you (or your iPhone notepad) to write down "To Do" items as they come throughout the day, and keep a voice recorder in your car. These are great for To Do's and also for idea stewardship. So many great ideas are lost because we don't record them between the time they come to us and the time we forget the idea. I do this for blogs - when I think of an idea I immediately write it down in my iPhone notes app for future processing.
Writing it down is the first step, but we must keep our resolutions in front of us on a daily basis in order to keep our commitment fresh. Put your list(s) somewhere where you will be confronted by them on a daily basis and in a place where you will have time to do them.
This can also work for remembering to respond to emails. Develop a system of folders to file away emails you have already looked through or responded to. Important emails you need to respond to - keep in your inbox, "in front of you" on a daily basis until you have the chance to get back.