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.