I’ve always struggled with breaking goals down into specific action steps. Instead I often have a general idea and just keep “working on it.” The key breakthrough for me was when I read a book called “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda” by Arthur M Freeman that really isn’t about setting goals or time management at all. It just goes to show: you can look in all the logical places, but you just never know where you’re going to find the information you need. It’s all about pasta! 🙂 The steps involved in making pasta you would not believe!
A motivational water bottle like this one from uncommon goods is a great way to see a goal broken down into smaller steps.
I’ll use another example here.
Example goal with action steps
Goal: I will get organized by setting up files for paperwork and filing incoming papers every day.
- Buy filing cabinet and files
- Label files
- Arrange files
That’s a good start, now think in more detail:
- Go to the office supply store after work tomorrow.
- Find the section with filing supplies.
- Decide what kind of system I want.
- Buy supplies.
- Decide where I want to set up files.
- Take supplies to the area I chose.
- Set up file cabinet.
- Fill cabinet with file folders.
- Decide on headings and color codings to use.
- Make label for each file. (Oops! out of label tape-go back to the store.)
- Put files in proper order.
- Put papers in the proper folders.
- Locate paper retention guidelines.
- Purge un-needed papers.
- Shred purged papers that include personal information.
- Maintain system by filing incoming papers daily.
- Review and purge files in February each year.
Wow! That was a lot more involved than I thought at first. No wonder I kept putting off this project! When you think about the action steps involved, it becomes more manageable. Rather than attempting to do it all at once, the different steps can be scheduled into your calendar. This is a part of weekly planning.
To determine action steps, ask: What projects will accomplish this goal? What actions will accomplish the project? What can be done today? First list action steps without worrying about the order. Evaluate the first list, add more detail and then prioritize. For each step, estimate the time for completion, set a target date, and select a mini reward.
Another example from the Goal Shift Chart at Choosing Goals. Perhaps you want to create simplicity in the area of organization by decluttering. Decluttering is a big goal that needs to be broken down into smaller steps with a decluttering checklist.
Read more about Next Actions
- Chunking Your Projects Down Helps Get Them Done from Productive Flourishing
- 43 Folders – Next Action Verbs
- Productivity501 – Behance’s Action Method Process
Read more about setting up files.