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My Secret to Getting Things Done and Accomplishing Goals

Love this simple method for getting things done! I actually think I will end up reaching my goals with this! Click through to the post for details and free printables!

Click through to get access to my library of free organizational printables that can help you get your life in order! | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

Any fellow list-makers out there? If you love lists as much as I do, this may be your favorite post ever; it is packed with them! If you’re not a list maker, still bear with me because hopefully I can still give you some useful tools and ideas. 😉

Honestly, I’ve had a hard time writing this post. I keep asking myself, “But what if they think I’m ridiculous? What if it’s just too much? What if this method doesn’t make sense to anyone but me?” Some of you might think those things, and that’s okay. I decided to put this out there anyway, though, because it’s been a helpful way for me to think through things and be productive, so I’m thinking it might be helpful for a few other people too. Here we go!

This post is another installment of my month-long series: 31 Days to an Intentional Life! In case you missed the beginning of the series, you can check out the introduction and goal setting posts from last week. Basically, I was tired of the rat race– tired of chaos, tired of spending my time on things that weren’t priorities, tired of constantly feeling like there weren’t enough hours in the day. I wanted to take the month of October to go back to the basics and focus on creating habits and routines that would help our family slow down and be intentional about the way we spent our time (and money and gifts and resources, etc.).

31 Days to an Intentional Life | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

So on Thursday, we made a list of goals, things that were priorities in our lives that we wanted to accomplish. If you haven’t done that yet, head over to this post, get your free goal planning sheet, and fill it out because today’s post is going to build on that one. I have this kind of trickle-down system that I use to help me set my goals and implement them.

I don’t know where I first discovered the “plan your year at the beginning of the year, the month at the beginning of the month, the week at the beginning of the week, and the day at the beginning of the day” strategy, but it really stuck with me, and I’ve been using it in slightly different forms for a while now. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s what I mean:

Planning for Productivity | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

I actually created a printable planner based on my goal setting system that has space for setting long term, yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals as well as the standard monthly and weekly calendar pages! You can snag it here.

My Secret to Getting Things Done and Accomplishing Goals- Be more productive this year and achieve some of those big goals that you've been wanting to reach for a long time with this intentional goal setting system! | productivity, goals, goal setting, crush your goals, intentional, deliberate, planner, time blocking, productive, getting things done, get things done, accomplishments

If you’re not ready to jump into a whole planner, feel free to piece together the printables shown below.

Yearly

At the beginning of each year I make goals in categories like faith, health, finances, home, etc., similar to how we did in last week’s goals post. (This doesn’t necessarily have to be January 1st. You could make goals any day of the year for the following 12 months.) Though these goals are specific and measurable, they are also usually fairly large. For example, one of our “home” goals this year was to repaint the interior of the house. That’s a big project that certainly won’t be accomplished in a day, but we have the whole year to accomplish it, so it’s definitely do-able.

Intentional Living: Setting Goals | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

Monthly

After I have my goals in place, I want to start chipping away at them month by month. Whenever I get a monthly calendar, I always use the blank squares for goal setting so that I have a reminder of the projects and other items I want to work on that month. If you’re interested in using my monthly calendars, you can get the free download of the 2018 calendar in this post. Any monthly calendar with a little bit of extra space should work, though.

My Secret to Getting Things Done and Accomplishing Goals- Be more productive this year and achieve some of those big goals that you've been wanting to reach for a long time with this intentional goal setting system! | productivity, goals, goal setting, crush your goals, intentional, deliberate, planner, time blocking, productive, getting things done, get things done, accomplishments, 2018 Calendar printable

Looking at my goals sheet, I identify which specific areas or tasks I want to focus on for the month. I list them in the extra blank boxes, AND on the calendar I write in specific tasks that I will need to do to complete these items.

So using our “paint the house” example, the piece of that goal that we’re focusing on in October is to paint our stairwell and upstairs hallway, a task that we’ve been putting off for, oh, four months now. I scheduled in definite times to work on it so that when I go to make other plans, I see that on the calendar and know to plan around it. Thus, my huge goal of “paint the house” has been slightly narrowed to focus on “paint the stairwell and hallway” this month.

Click through to get access to my library of free organizational printables that can help you get your life in order! | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

Weekly

So then at the beginning of each week, I look at my monthly calendar and see which goals I’m going to be working on for this particular week. I plan which action steps I’ll take on which days– my goal gets broken down even further.

Going back to our paint example, maybe on Monday I would plan time to buy the paint. Tuesday I could prep the area and do the trim work. Then Wednesday, I would do all of the rolling and finish it up. I made a brand new sparkly printable to help us map this out:

Planning for Productivity | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

{Click here to download FREE weekly calendar printable!}

As you can see, there is room at the top to write down your goals and what you’re going to do to make them happen. Then each day on the calendar is broken down into three parts– morning, afternoon, and evening– so you can pencil in your commitments {think meetings, sporting events, church, time with friends, etc.} and see where you have room to fit in your goals for the week. There’s also room at the bottom to jot down notes to remind yourself what’s coming up in the next few weeks so you can think ahead. For example, as I’m painting, I might have a brilliant idea on what I want to do to decorate the space. I write that down and schedule it in on an upcoming week.

Planning for Productivity | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

Are you still with me? I know it’s a lot of lists, but stick around for just one more!

Daily

I am a big fan of time blocking, so each evening I use my handy dandy time blocking sheet to plan out what I’m going to do the next day. Basically, I write out my to-do list at the top of the page, which includes items from my weekly goals, and then I use that to make an hour-by-hour plan for the day.

Planning for Productivity | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

So again with the paint example, when I fill in my time blocking sheet for Monday, I may put in that from 3:00 to 4:00 I am going to Home Depot to buy the paint for my project. I’ve now gone all the way from my yearly goal of painting my house, to a monthly goal of painting the hall and stairwell to the weekly action steps of buying paint, prepping, and painting, to the daily task of going to the store to buy paint. Whew!

Now, before you go thinking I’m all organized and regimented 24/7, I will confess that my hour by hour time blocking thing almost never goes 100% according to plan. In fact, I’m not sure that it ever has. It is still helpful, though, because it gives me objectives for the day and keeps me moving. When I’m tempted to waste an hour reading “27 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Were Related” and “42 Celebrities Who Have Almost Died” (Seriously, do these types of articles pop up on Facebook all the time for anyone else?! They are always trying to reel me in!), instead I can remember what I need to accomplish that day and get back on track. You can read more about time blocking and snag the printable in this post.

I know this seems like a ton of planning and a ton of lists, and it is a lot to look at at one time, but you probably won’t ever have to fill them all out on the same day. It’s kind of like when you sit down and look at the syllabus on the first day of class. It seems like SO much to do that you’ll never be able to get everything finished. But then the semester goes on, you take one thing at a time, and before you know it, you’ve completed everything that has been assigned! {And you probably got an “A” because you’re awesome! 😉 }

Instead of having to remember to print new printables every month, week, day, etc., I just print off a stack of them at one time and keep them in my home binder so they’re there whenever I need them. I have found that when I do it this way, I’m a lot more likely to stay on track because sometimes it only takes something as little as being too lazy to print a piece of paper to throw me off!

You’re probably also thinking, “But Abby, I’m SOOOO busy. I don’t have time to sit down and plan out what I’m going to do with my month/week/day! I need to go go go!” Believe me, that is my natural instinct too. Who has time to sit when there are dishes to be done, bathrooms to be cleaned, children to be dropped off and picked up, deadlines to meet for work… the list goes on. I have found, though, that if I take just a few minutes at the beginning of each month, each week, and each day to get organized and plan out my time and my priorities, I end up crossing off many more things from my to-do list.

My Secret to Getting Things Done and Accomplishing Goals | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, congratulations! That was a lot of info! Hopefully, though, this system of planning will be helpful to someone other than just me, and we can all work on being more productive together!

What are your best tips for meeting your goals and staying organized?

Other Posts in This Series:

Introduction- 31 Days to An Intentional Life

Part 1- Intentional Living: Setting Goals

Part 2- My Secret to Getting Things Done and Accomplishing Goals {You’re here!}

Part 3- How My Morning Routine Changed Everything

Part 4- Sometimes Life Happens

Part 5- My Evening Routine: A Work in Progress

Part 6- My Cleaning Plan: The Struggle Is Real

Part 7- 10 Simple Habits that Will Help You Stay Organized

Part 8- The Month in Review

Click through to get access to my library of free organizational printables for newsletter subscribers! | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

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50 Comments

  1. Oh my gosh, I’m SUCH a list person, too! Hubby teases me often that I like to ‘find excuses to make lists’. LOL Probably true. I love this method, and it’s worked for me for quite awhile, also. I have NOT tried time-blocking, though, so perhaps I’m going to give that whirl this week to see how my productivity (and sanity) levels change 😀 Thanks for sharing…I’m glad you did!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks so much, Danielle! List addicts unite! 🙂 Hope you’re having a great week, girl!

      ~Abby =)

  2. HUGE List maker but I’m trying to be more green and digital. But the paper keeps coming back. Love the printables, may have to print some. 😉

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Sigh. I so want to be green and digital. I have tried so many times. My hubby is the king of paperless living. There is just something about holding the piece of paper in my hands and physically writing things down that seems to help! At least half of my family is doing their part for the environment, right? 😉 Hope you have a great day, Sarah!

      ~Abby =)

  3. Beth Anne says:

    I love your week at a glance printable! I find that one to be so helpful. I’ve tried time blocking and am not so great at it, but I may give it a try again soon.

    I do, however, completely agree that you’ve got to set those big picture goals, then break them up, then break them down even further into all those manageable tasks.

    Also, I’m super pumped that your book will be a fixed price. You are so worth it 🙂

    Keep up the good work, Abby!

  4. Emma Peake says:

    Haha you made me chuckle about reading “42 Celebs that have nearly died”. I totally read them all the time too and it wastes sooo much of my time!! Damn things haha. Great post and I am definitely going to be using your tips. I am also going to purchase your e-book too. Its been something I have been looking at doing for a while! Thanks Abby!!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you so much, Emma! Seriously, what is it about those articles that makes them so addicting?! 😉 Have a great week, girl!

      ~Abby =)

  5. This is fantastic! I am trying hard to organize my time better and love the time blocking idea. I lose focus so often that I have to have something in my face to remind me of my goals. I will be sharing!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks so much, Jenny! Hope you’re having a great week! Happy time blocking! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  6. Nicole @ simply Nicole says:

    I’m a huge list maker, so this is right up my alley! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Julie @ Dreaming Ginger says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I am definitely feeling like I’m constantly busy, yet at the same time, not accomplishing a lot of the things that I would like to. These steps you’ve outlined make goals much more realistic and achievable. I am definitely going to implement the trickle-down system (year-month-week-day) for goal planning! …when I have time, of course 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      If only there were more hours in the day, right?! Ugh! Hopefully the planning will help us stay on track! Have a great evening, Julie!

      ~Abby =)

  8. Abby,

    I read your time blocking post almost a month ago, and I found it at just the right moment. I wasn’t getting anything done (I kept getting sucked into those annoying Facebook stories you mentioned earlier or watching “just one episode” of TV, etc). So, I made my own time blocking and peek at the week printables (thanks for the how to through your newsletter sign-up–I’m totally hooked!). Things were clipping along fine, and I was getting stuff done, but then I started to feel like each day was just a series of getting it done and crossing it off. Something was missing. So, as I was reading this post, it hit me: I wasn’t seeing the big picture, the bigger goals that my daily and weekly to-do’s were connected to. Thanks for turning on that light bulb for me!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yay! So glad there was an “Aha!” moment! And good for you for creating your own printables! So fun! Hope you’re having a wonderful week, Tiffany!

      ~Abby =)

  9. Abby I have been using your time blocking printable for awhile now and I find it really useful! It really does keep me from getting sucked into my social media for hours and keeps me on track for the day. I don’t always follow it to a t but I feel like I get so much more done. Sometimes I even just use the to do list. But I have found that just getting it out on paper and checking things off helps me feel so much more productive than keeping it all in my head and forgetting what I was going to do next.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I totally agree with everything you said! It definitely keeps me from sitting around and wasting time, that’s for sure! Hope you’re having a wonderful week, Adrienne!

      ~Abby =)

  10. kim@NewlyWoodwards says:

    Lists keep me sane, big time. When I’m feeling stressed or anxious, the first thing I do is open my planner and just start listing. It calms me.

    I love having an overall focus for the year (because I get a little too detailed in my goals to be annually), and I love nailing down monthly goals that I put out there. I try to stick to monthly goals that are more personal improvement than true lists (so my goal would be to focus on making healthier meals for my family or limiting distractions while my daily list would be grocery shopping or scheduling computer time during naptime). Anyhow, I really enjoyed seeing how you break down your goals and achieve them.

  11. Abby, I just came across this post on Pinterest! I am so inspired now, thank you! We moved to our new home in Ohio a little over a year ago and I have so many home, hobby and career goals to accomplish… it’s a bit overwhelming at times. But your plan definitely speaks to me and I am going to start using it right away. Thank you!
    Sarah

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yay! So glad it was helpful. Happy goal setting! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  12. Yikes! This looks like if I just followed all these lists my life would be fabulous! But alas I am not a list maker or a scheduler and so that looks overwhelming to me.
    But everything happens for a reason so I am going to trust that I didn’t just happen to stumble upon this blog and waste an hour of my thanksgiving day off time reading your blog. I like the morning routine. I thank you for the encouragement to start the day with devo time and exercise.
    Then I have some large projects I want to complete. Perhaps, I mean maybe, there’s a possibility and a glimmer of hope that perhaps I can get them done if I break them down. Well here’s hoping.
    Thanks again!
    Deb

  13. Andrea @ This Pug Life says:

    I recently jumped into the Filofax/planner community (with a much cheaper faux-Filo planner). I’m still working out what works best for me, but I already feel more productive. I have learned that list making and writing things down that other people might find ridiculous helps me, so I can just look ridiculous.

    Going to go back and start at the beginning of the series. 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yes! I choose ridiculousness + productivity over coolness + non-productivity any day, lol! Happy planning, Andrea!

      ~Abby =)

    2. Brenda Nicholson says:

      I love this! I’ve been using planners in one form or another for years, always looking for the perfect one.

      My friends make fun of me for listing things like “clean the bathroom” but seriously, if I didn’t write it down, it wouldn’t get done!

      1. Abby Lawson says:

        Same! I write down everything!! Hope you’re having a great week, Brenda!

  14. Laura May says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE! It’s all about the lists!
    And this makes total sense – I love the concept of making yearly goals and then chopping then down into monthly, weekly and daily action points to achieve them!

  15. Goal setting and time blocking is something I teach to my college students.
    I am going to share this with them this week.
    I want them to see how it also applies to every day life.
    They really have a hard time with planning and getting things done.
    Thank you!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you so much for sharing, Gigi! Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  16. Kate Coleman says:

    You are INCREDIBLE! I am in college and working on getting myself and fellow students organized. I can safely say you just organized my whole school. This is perfect in every way. I can’t get over it. <33333

  17. Hi Abby. Message from England here. Recently discovered PintreSt and it’s changing my life. I’ve always been a list person and run a full time business and get overwhelmed about thinga on said lists not being achieved so I’m looking forward to attempting your suggestion. Thanks for all the freebie printable help. 🙂
    Amy 🙂

  18. Mary Adams says:

    Over the last five years I have moved twice (both times buying and selling a home) and in between had two boys. Clutter is a constant aggravation and finding the time to tackle another. I have reviewed your print outs and I am going to give them a try. I hope it works!
    Thank you!

  19. I just wrote on a similar topic last week to vent my frustration on not being able to manage my time and resources properly.
    I’m normally a list person anyway, but a lot of times I tend to make very simplistic, generalised lists like;
    – Learn to play the guitar
    – Lose 10 kgs in 3 months

    Which, needless to say, is never helpful.
    So now that I’ve seen your yearly / monthly / weekly and daily planners, I’m going to print a stack and start off with more organised, one-baby-step-at-a-time lists!
    It’s definitely a very neat trick. I just hope I stick to it!

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Rattz

  20. Thank you for taking the the time to share this along with free printables. This is very in line with Stephen Covey’s principle-centered life teachings. I’ve just begun reading his books and have been looking for some organizational tools like yours. Thank you, thank you!!

  21. Love, love, love this. So glad you chose to write it. I am so into list making that if I do something that wasn’t on my list to begin with, I will write it in so I can cross it off! My problem is that I keep every to-do I ever want to accomplish, be it pick up library books (current), or lose 10 pounds (long-term) on the same long list. This gets very overwhelming and discouraging as every time I cross something off, I am adding something new. You have spelled it out beautifully – thank you for that!

  22. Love this post. I have so many goals on behavior changing, adding routines to the house and as a self employed now, I need to get organized. Your lists and plan is amazing and I got all my prepared. Now I need to work on consistency. It is always the most difficult part. Thanks for posting.

  23. Hi, I just discovered your blog through pinterest and it was a really blessing for me! I’m trying to organize my life but it’s difficult. Before I get married (about a year ago) I was finishing my Doctoral Thesis and I didn’t have time to nothing, but after that, I haven’t gotten work and I feel like I’m throwing away a lot of time every day and I feel guilty. I’m going to follow your advice, thanks for sharing your experience! God continue blessing you 🙂 .. (sorry by my English, I’m Spanish speaking)

  24. Carey Kearney says:

    Hi, I have just found your advice and printables on pintrest and I am hugely grateful to you for putting all this invaluable information out there. I am a full time working mum with a husband and two boys who I constantly need to clean up after, cook for and entertain and I am going to be more assertive, more organised and less of a perfectionist from now on and your blog has really helped me. Thank you x

  25. I brought your 25 printable book and I having a wonderful time getting everything going. It will take some getting use to. But I do get more accomplish now. Thank you for the printable and this blog.

  26. Abby I just wanted to say, thank you!, for taking the time to write your blog, even though you have such a busy life, you have been blessed with wonderful parents, and a wonderful family, but you made it happen, the Lord has bless you just the way your are. You are an inspiration!, I read your page where you introduce your self, you are a fearless, wonderful person. Many blessings to you and your family.

    Ninette U.

  27. Sam @ DIY Just Cuz says:

    Hi Abby, this is really helpful. I was actually reading your book and stumbled across the fact that you do “time blocking” and I was interested in how you do it. Right now I’m on maternity leave so I’ve had plenty of time to blog, clean, work on my masters, hang out with my family…etc…but I am worried when I go back to work I won’t be able to fit everything in. I will definitely try this tactic, I’m sure I’ll be like you and not really be able to fit everything at the exact hour but it’s a good organizing tool. Do you print this and do it each day or just the days when you’re extra busy?

  28. I’m a huge fan of making lists as well. I don’t think I’d be able to sleep at night if I didn’t keep a running to do list. I usually keep all my lists in a small notebook that I can chuck in my purse. But, yours are really pretty and they look like they’d be satisfying to fill out. Good job on the design. Also, I love your blog, I found it through Pinterest.

  29. Hi Abby,
    I love your blog. Thanks to your wonderful blog, I am now getting more organized. You are amazing!!!

  30. Hi Abby,

    I just found this post via Pinterest. I don’t normally comment on these blogs, but I have to tell you that this is EXACTLY what I’ve been looking for. I knew that I wanted to plan out 5 years from now (I have big, fluffy dreams!), and I knew that I should break it down, but I couldn’t really wrap my head around it. It’s so straightforward, and I’m banging my head on the desk. This is a huge jumpstart for me. THANKS AGAIN!

  31. I love this. I just started a blog and want to make a serious go of it.

    Breaking it down year, month, week, day makes so much sense! Though my day would probably be broken into chunks. Early morning (exercises, urgent messages, kids moving), morning (household chores, homeschooling lessons), afternoon (prep lessons, class), after school (dinner, family time, homework), evening (blog).

    Ooh that helped. Now to figure out specific yearly monthly goals…

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Love that! Breaking up the day like that makes so much sense! Best of luck with your goal setting, Audrey!!

      ~Abby =)

  32. Abby, thank you for sharing your tips for organization. I’m getting really inspired by going through your 31 days to an Intentional Life post! I do have a question..and this may not be the best place to post, but here goes: you mentioned using a journal to help you uncover some of your big goals and even to further your spiritual side. I’m getting stuck with just how MANY journals one can keep? As a first time parent to a toddler…I started one to reflect on parenthood and jot down interesting tips I’ve come across. Then of course, the idea of keeping a journal for spiritual reflection or for goals is great too! Am I overthinking? I don’t want to journal in a binder with different tabbed sections…I love all those cute journals one can by at bookstores….but having multiple journals for different areas seems a bit scattered as well (and neither organized nor relaxing in the end). I’d appreciate your thoughts…

  33. Jeanna porter says:

    Oh, miss Abby, I wish you could see what an inspiration you are!! Truly, you do not need to preface your posts with, “I don’t know what you will think….” Or, “you may think I am crazy;” my dear friend, you are the best writer I have read on organizing (although I am fond of Emilie Barnes as well), and I honestly would much rather see your personal posts on my Pinterest feed than almost any others. Unless they are as clean and beautiful and elegantly simple as your photos are!! Please, gift us with your talent, and don’t apologize for your amazing skill!! God has blessed you with His Spirit in pondering problems and “solving hard riddles,” like Daniel in the Bible, and your divine insights are true and lovely!! Encore!! Encore!!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you for your sweet and encouraging note, Jeanna! You totally made my day! <3 Hope you're having a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  34. This post totally speaks to me! I’m a huge list maker and planner addict! Your printables are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing ?

  35. Crystal Barton says:

    You always do such a great job breaking things down into steps. I love following lists everyday. Definitely keeps things under control. Can’t wait to share this post!

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