One of the most common challenges to staying focused and feeling effective that I see my clients face is that they chronically underestimate how much time tasks will take. Most people expect themselves to get things done with super-human speed, but unfortunately, change usually doesn’t happen as quickly as we want it to.

When you set goals that are too big or that compete with one another, you spend more time ruminating about how to get them done and less time actually getting them done. When you can’t accomplish what you set out to accomplish, you lower your confidence and increase your stress, and this can slow you down over time. The task is not to lower your vision or persist less, but it is to pace yourself for a marathon, instead of expecting to sprint to the finish line.

To grow self-trust and build momentum, you need to set expectations that realistically match the amount of time you have.

Here’s the process that I use to set realistic goals each month—

  1. Estimate how much time each of your action steps will take. If you’re not sure, overestimate.
  2. Add up the total amount of time you expect all your tasks to take.
  3. Look at your calendar, and figure out how much time you have available. Make sure to safeguard time for rest, practice, and connection.
  4. Compare the two numbers—1)  how much time your action steps will require and 2) how much time you have to dedicate to them.
  5. If the time you need in order to accomplish your goals is greater than the time you actually have, edit your goals to make them accomplishable.
  6. Block time in your calendar to focus on your goals. Don’t actually write your to-do list on your calendar. Instead, create blocks of time for projects or types of activities such as “To-Do List Time,” “Writing Time,” “Supervisory Time,” etc.
  7. If there’s anything that you don’t have time for this month, move it to your Later List, get the support you need, or cross it off your list.
  8. Throughout the month, add small, timely tasks to your list, but don’t take on another big project unless you consciously decide to move one of your monthly goals to your Later List.

I invite you to try on this practice now. Take your goals for this month, and then edit them following the steps above.

I’d love to hear how this goes for you!

What questions do you have about estimating how much time your goals will take?

Please share your questions below, and I will make sure to respond!


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