If you haven't had a task that you’ve put off for weeks on end, then you’re an alien and I’d like you to bring me back to your planet. For all my fellow earthlings out there, that feeling of dread that surrounds ticking to-do list off tasks won’t be a foreign one. From putting off mailing a package to making excuses over completing a massive work project, it’s like we actually enjoy being haunted by repetitive chores and daunting mega-goals.
I stumbled across Self Journal some time last year, thanks to the Smarter Living newsletter by The New York Times. Usually when I encounter recommendations from writers (aka fellow scatter brains), I throw it straight to the top of my list - not that being on a list means ever meant much to me - until now. Unbeknownst at the time, this journal totally altered my productivity and habit forming - which for an ENFP on the Myers Briggs is HUGE.
THE PRODUCTIVITY TOOL FOR PEOPLE WHO HATE PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS
While I tend to be a sporadic idea leaper, the Self Journal helped me to focus on the little things, while ultimately working towards a bigger end goal. The thinking is simple yet sophisticated, providing just enough structure without swallowing you whole. For thirteen weeks, the Self Journal focuses all the way down to time management in 30 minute spurts (which I usually don’t use effectively but that’s besides the point.)
The idea is that the more mindful YOU ARE ABOUT HOW YOU SPEND YOUR TIME, the more you can accomplish.
There are five sections in each planner: goals, monthly, weekly, daily, and notes. At the beginning and end of each day, there are spaces to give gratitude and reflect. Of course, there were tens of blank pages I didn’t manage to make it to due to traveling, weekends, and so on. But ultimately, this thought process transformed how I track my efficiency and hold myself accountable. Your daily and weekly goals serve as a written reminder to where you should be in the process and what you might be choosing to push aside.
To get started, spend a bit of time thinking about up to three goals you’d like to commit to over the course of the 13 weeks. What’s with the 13 weeks anyway? It’s enough time to create effective habits, but short enough to feel rewarded and accomplished. Here’s a quick peek at my accomplishments and goals from last quarter as an example of my excellence and shortcomings ( and how that happened.)
Big Win List:
Personally redesigned Tales of Exploration into a more professional layout (that I’m proud of!)
Wrote six freelance articles - two pieces per month.
Read seven books.
Joined two organizations that will helpful to career growth and community relations.
Went to my first therapy session!
Traveled to California, Connecticut, South Texas, Nevada, and Utah.
Nearly doubled Tales of Exploration’s social follows.
Ultimately, I wanted to better my morning routine and write more. In the weekly habit tracking section, I focused on stretching more, going for morning walks, writing daily, reading before bedtime, and brainstorming pitch topics. I felt like all of those habits would contribute towards my overall goals.
LESSONS LEARNED & TAKE AWAYS
Did I manage to wake up at 7:30 am routinely? No. Far from it. I blame the dreary winter weather - also my idiot brain. Did I manage to get to bed earlier than usual? Sure, by a few minutes maybe. But, what I really realized I wanted out of my morning routine goal is less about bedtimes and alarms and more about taking advantage of my day and beginning the day fresh and fulfilled. The earlier you get things done, the more likely it is to happen.
Last year, I made it a goal to read more for a few reasons. The first is because frequent readers make for better writers. The second is because I realized I spent so much time wasted on social media instead of growing my brain. The third was as an aid to sleeping better at night.
My goal of reading more has being HIGHLY effective. Perhaps, the largest lifestyle change I’ve seen since beginning to use the Self Journal. As a daily goal, I was able to cross off every day that I read, making it a fun challenge and accomplishment in my day to day life. Over the course of the 13 weeks, I was able to complete 7 books. That is HUGE for me.
In terms of writing, I’ve created the time to focus on contributing articles to publications that I stand behind. In the past, I struggled to find the motivation to sit down and write when I needed to. By placing article completion on my weekly goals list, it made it less overwhelming and daunting. I had an entire week to pull it together whenever inspiration struck.
This isn’t an ad. This isn’t sponsored. This is a love letter to Self Journal for truly transforming my day to day life. I’m always skeptical of productivity tools and despise over-planning, but I needed some sort of structure in my life. Self Journal will help you be more productive or your money back! Kidding, plz don’t trust me.
It is a little pricey for a planner ($31.99 plus shipping) but after buying one and feeling confident in its capabilities, I went for the four pack that lasts a year (and hits you with a minor discount.) Bonus points: for every order placed, Self Journal donates 10 meals to families in need.
Go for it - your goals have been waiting for like, ever.