Harnessing The Power of Time Chunking To Achieve Goals

Man creating schedule on digital calendar

General Goal Setting

One of the main aspects of coaching involves clarifying goals and then breaking those goals down into small, actions steps. Goals can often feel so big and overwhelming that you don’t know where to start … so you don’t do anything at all (action paralysis). Once the goals are broken down into much smaller steps, it becomes manageable and you’re much more likely to succeed when you just focus on “the next step” rather than the huge goal.

The power of small, consistent steps over time has been proven time and time again. In the financial realm, simply investing once a month allows the magic of compound interest to do its thing over the years. Exercising just several times per week yields enormous health benefits in the long term and lowers your risk for many undesired conditions. On the personal front, reading a bedtime story to your child each night or a making time for a date night each week with a significant other can prove immeasurable in terms of the quality of your relationships with your loved ones.  

You can check out my previous post on Mastering Daily Goals (from my 4-Part Goal-Setting Series) for tips and tricks that I teach to my career-coaching and life-coaching clients about how to maximize their time. However, sometimes we can lose motivation doing something day in and day out—it’s why auto-investing for retirement or exercising with a friend are so successful. Every goal does better with a little boost that makes the goal easier to accomplish.

This is where time chunking can make a big difference. Many people have daily to-do lists involving multiple goals but it can often feel like the more you cross off, the more things you’re adding to the list. You don’t always feel like you’re making progress in each area. So, the key isn’t just to break down goals into smaller steps; it’s also to break them down into more efficient time blocks.

Why you sometimes need a different type of goal-setting:

Many people set goals at the beginning of a year but a year is a long time. It’s difficult to sustain motivation for 12 months. Additionally, some goals aren’t long-term and are more time dependent or specific. It’s much easier to sustain energy toward a goal for a week, a month, or even a quarter. Three-month “sprints” toward goals are popular for a reason (I tend to write my fiction novels in 12-week sprints) and it’s why I offer several 12-week coaching packages to my life and career-coaching clients. The momentum tends to be stronger during shorter periods of time and you can accomplish a ton when you are laser-focused and excited.

What exactly is time chunking? Time chunking simply involves condensing several action items toward one specific goal into a “chunk” of time. So, rather than do tasks scattered throughout the day or week toward multiple goals, you schedule a larger block of time where you tackle 3-4 action items toward one desired goal. You dive deep into tasks related to that one goal and therefore make faster progress in that area. You are more focused and ultimately more productive.

How is that different than regular goal-setting? Say you have an overall goal of improving your health and fitness for the year. Rather than setting an overall goal of exercising three times per week for the next year (doesn’t that just sound long and boring?), you create a sprint goal such as your own personal Health & Wellness Month where you dedicate a chunk of time three mornings per week where you exercise, meditate for 5 minutes, and journal. Track your progress on a chart or planner to ensure success (Note: feel free to email me if you want a free tracking sheet you can customize). Yes, it may involve getting up a little earlier three mornings per week but again, you’re only committing to it for a month. You will notice a much bigger difference in one month by doing time chunking.

Why it Works? As mentioned earlier, you are dedicating a block of time to something and can make more progress faster by staying focused on that one goal. If you have your own business, you may set aside a weekly block of time for marketing or social media. You may have another time for writing blog posts or going over your business plan. Many of my clients swear by setting aside weekly or monthly chunks of time for strategic planning—that big-picture planning we often lose when we get caught up in day-to-day tasks. Finally, by making it a time-limited goal, you’re setting yourself up to succeed at it … and that feeling creates more motivation to tackle something else. You can then change things up and tackle a different goal the next week or month.

Make It Fun

It’s always easier to stay motivated when something is fun. Create a theme week or month around your goal and name it something creative or humorous. One of my clients had been putting off a lot of financial tasks that he had to do because they involved tedious things such as finding multiple documents and doing paperwork. He decided to create a Financial Freedom theme week, where he addressed multiple financial tasks each day in chunks of time after work, and even met with a financial planner at the end of it all (and subsequently found out he could retire much earlier than he’d thought!) That one week made a huge difference in his life. He told me he wished he’d done it years ago.

Use time-chunking to address your biggest desires. Been meaning to update your resume and cover letter because you’re ready to move on? Have a Take This Job & Shove It week. Need more work/life balance? Have a Find My Inner Zen month. Is your basement in desperate need of decluttering? Enjoy The Purge week. Need more quality time with your partner? Make it a Love, Lust, and Chocolate month. You get the idea. The key is then breaking your theme down into daily or weekly tasks that will allow you to accomplish your goals.

Time-Chunking Challenge

Think of a theme week around a goal you have in any area of your life. Then, apply time-chunking and schedule several blocks of time for the week (actually put in in your calendar!) where you get specific and list several tasks you will accomplish during each time. See how you feel at the end of the week and email me to let me know how it went!  

Want to work with Dr. Kristi on life or career goals? Email her today at drhelvig (at) yahoo.com to set up a free Career Breakthrough or Life Breakthrough session where you will learn about the coaching process and leave with an action step toward your goal, even if you decide that coaching isn’t for you.

Overcoming Obstacles to Reach Your Goals: The “Lack” Mindset

This series of posts addresses common obstacles that people encounter when trying to reach their desired goals. Last week, we addressed how to overcome negative thinking. This time, we will talk about the common perceived obstacle of “lack.”

When people have difficulty reaching their personal and professional goals, they often point to a lack of something as a reason. Lack of time. Lack of money. Lack of energy. Lack of knowledge. Lack of skills. Lack of resources. And so on. This obstacle is common because if reaching goals were easy, everyone would do it. If your common lack belief is something along the lines of “lack of smarts” or “lack of being good enough,” then I encourage you to go back and read the first post in this series about negative beliefs. Also, what you tell yourself matters, so if you tell yourself that you can’t succeed because of some “lack,” then that will be the case (see above quote). For the rest of you, here are some tips for 3 of the most common “lacks.”

  1. Lack of time. I can’t tell you how often I hear this one from my life coaching and career coaching clients (hint: it’s a lot.) Here’s the thing. Everyone has 24 hours in a day: you, your boss, your friends, and even Bill Gates, and Beyonce. Whenever someone begins describing this lack to me, it becomes evident that the issue is actually “lack of time management” rather than time. I will do an entire post on time management in the future but people take great pride in listing off all of their responsibilities and things they do in their day and why they can’t possibly find time for anything extra. You don’t find time. You make time. If something is important enough to you, you will make the time. One quick tip: schedule that thing in your calendar and you are way more likely to do it. I am also a published sci-fi author, and someone once said to me, “I wish I had time to fritter away to write a book.” As though the magical time fairy sprinkled me with extra time that she didn’t have. I get up at 4:30a on weekdays before my kids get ready for school so that I can make time for writing before my other work. Make time for what matters to you.
  2. Lack of money. Unless you are the aforementioned Bill Gates or Beyonce, you likely have some limitations with your money. I tell clients that the quickest way to determine what they really value in life is to look at every penny they spent in the past month that wasn’t for a roof over their heads and electricity. Then, look for any areas where you could shift even a few dollars toward your goal. There are a ton of posts out there on ways to save more money (a google search is great for this), but start a fund for that goal, no matter how small it is. Online accounts even let you name the account whatever you want so make it your goal name or something fun, such as Trip to Ireland account, Start My Own Catering Business account, Freedom from Corporate Enslavement account, etc. In the meantime, be creative. What can you do with the funds you have now? I guarantee you can start somewhere, even if it’s a small step. All big things start with smaller things that add up. I know someone who sold their blood plasma to pay for editing of their first book. How badly do you want that goal?
  3. Lack of knowledge. Most of us are knowledgeable in certain areas but we may have goals that stretch beyond our expertise. I encourage this because I strongly believe that all growth happens outside our comfort zones. I’ve had clients want to shift jobs into entirely new fields, clients who wanted to remodel a room in their home, and even one who wanted to build a motorcycle even though they’d never done it before. Luckily, we live in an age where a plethora of information is literally at our fingertips. I’ve had clients take online classes through places like Harvard X to learn new information, look up YouTube videos on how to install/repair/remodel various things, and send out the word on social media and email that they were interested in a new career field. Remember: knowledge can always be obtained. Plus, being a life-long learner is the key to continued growth and evolving as a human.

In Summary: Those are the top 3 “lacks” that I hear from clients though there are obviously more. I’ve said this before but if you try to view challenges more as “opportunities in disguise,” you will become more creative to your approach in solving them and future challenges won’t seem as daunting. You can absolutely achieve your goals. The key is believing it.

Make sure to like the Prosperity Facebook page if you’re not already following! Already know you’re ready to invest in making your ideal future a reality? Schedule a free coaching consultation today with Dr. Kristi to see if coaching is a good fit for you!  

Life Coaching Worksheet: Year End Goal Assessment

I have to admit that I love this time of year! Not just because of all the cooking, family time, and snuggling with my dogs by the fireplace. I love that it’s a perfect time to take stock of the year and then make plans for the next one. Whether or not you reached all of your career goals, personal goals, or other goals, it’s so important to focus your energy ahead on what you want rather than dwell on your perceived shortcoming. Give yourself credit for every win you had, no matter how small you think it is. One of my favorite quotes by Wayne Dyer is: “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

It’s your choice whether to see the glass as half-full versus half-empty! Did you have a goal to lose 10 pounds but “only” lost 5 pounds? Rejoice in losing 5 pounds. Have a goal to meditate daily or increase your income by a certain amount but didn’t quite reach it? Celebrate meditating at least several times a week or increasing your income at all. Then make a plan for 2020 where you set actionable and specific goals. Make the overall end of year goal big but make your daily action steps small and doable–even a marathon is only accomplished step by step.

Later, I will share a sheet for setting your monthly goals to set you up for success in 2020, but for now, here is a free year-end worksheet for you to download so you can take stock of 2019 (download below). I hope you all have a wonderful and relaxing holiday season!! Love and light, Kristi

5 Steps to Smart Goal-Setting in 2019

I’m not a fan of resolutions because they often don’t work—my husband tells me every year how crowded his gym gets in January but then empties out each February after people give up on their yearly gym resolution. However, I am a big believer in goal setting and the New Year is a great time to get started. Why set goals? Well, if you do the same thing you’ve always done, you will get the same results. Therefore, this year will look pretty much the same as last year if you don’t change anything, which is great as long as everything is already amazing for you. If not, decide what changes would feel good to you and make those your goals. I do an annual goal-setting session with all of my clients at the outset of each year and the following is the basic outline so you can set your own goals in order to make 2019 your best year ever!

 

  1. Begin at the end. Close your eyes and flash forward in your mind to the end of 2019 where you see yourself happy and satisfied with your year. I often use creative visualization with my clients as it helps to quickly clarify what they want out of life. The trick to visualization is to do it until you really feel the emotions of happiness, excitement, well-being, etc. Then evaluate what you just experienced in the visualization by asking “what was different than right now?” In that visualization, are you in a different, more rewarding job? Are you healthier or in better shape? Is your relationship with partner lighter and happier? Did you save more money? Does parenting feel easier and more enjoyable? Did you write that book? You get the idea. Jot down what would make the next year feel amazing to you.

 

  1. Use reverse engineering. After writing down some notes about what you would like to have happen in the next year, work backwards to see where you would need to start now. This can be tricky, especially if the difference between where you would like to be and where you are now feels huge to you. If you want to write a book but have written zero words, then pick the very first step—e.g. decide on a book topic. If you want to save more money, your first step might be exploring savings accounts or investment options. Starting a business and running your own company is a common goal I see with clients, so creating a business plan might be the first step for you before looking for office space, etc. Picturing the end goal and then breaking that down helps to see where to start.

 

  1. Start small. This may seem counter-intuitive to the “go big or go home” thinking that is prevalent in the U.S., but stick with me a minute. Too often, I have clients with a big goal and the amount they have to do to reach that goal can be overwhelming. If you want to get healthier, but your initial goals are “drink 8 glasses of water a day, give up sugar, exercise daily, master yoga, and become a vegetarian,” then you are likely setting yourself up to fail. When we cannot do everything, we often throw up our hands and say “oh well, I tried” and give up (hence the emptier gym in February). It is better to pick one thing until it becomes habit before adding another. If you currently exercise 0-1 time per week, then setting a goal of exercising 2 times per week is a realistic goal where you are setting yourself up to succeed—and then you can increase or add the next goal.

 

  1. Schedule regular check-ins. Too often, people set amazing goals…but then the whole year goes by before they revisit them and are disappointed when they didn’t reach them. Goals take time and energy to reach which is why it’s important to revisit them often. I have most of my clients do weekly assessments of their goals and it does not take much time at all. Schedule 10 minutes on a Sunday and assess where you are. Then decide what small step or steps you need to take the following week and write those down. If you do even 1-2 steps per week, think where you will be at the end of the year compared to doing nothing. Small steps add up to huge accomplishments when done consistently.

 

  1. Do it now. As in, right now. Stop and do one thing related to your goals you just created. Drink that first glass of water, open an online savings account, schedule your two weekly workouts into your planner, make plans for a date night with your spouse. Getting started is always the hardest part, but action begets action. You will feel better the sooner you take that first small step and the next steps become easier to take once you get started. Once you start making progress, the intrinsic motivation kicks in and the excitement level builds until you are well on your way to the amazing year you visualized for yourself.

 

Kristi Helvig is a Ph.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Certified Life Coach who helps clients reach their goals all over the world through the magic of Skype. If you would like more help reaching your goals or would like a free consultation to see if coaching is right for you, please email her at kristi@prosperitycoachingandconsulting.com.