How to Set Mini (and Achievable) Goals for Yourself: 4 Steps for Being More Successful with Your To-Do List

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Think back. How often have you filled your to-do list with tasks you knew were unattainable but tried to go for it anyway?

How many times have you had a list of twenty things to do – and maybe accomplished three or four – but felt awful for not getting the rest done?

With all this talk about journaling – and simply because we have extraordinarily busy lives – it’s easy to fill up your daily or weekly to-do list with too many tasks. Really, I applaud you for trying. (And I’ve done it too, so I know your pain.)

The problem with too many tasks is: where does an incomplete to-do list leave us? More often than not: frustrated, unaccomplished, and overwhelmed.

It’s time to take control of our to-do list and (actually) accomplish our goals. Here are a few ways to set mini (and achievable) goals or to-do items for yourself.

1. Make a list for the week.

If you’re not already making a weekly to-do list, start now.

Getting everything out of your head and down on paper is one of the best ways to feel focused with what you’re doing, rather than thinking about all you have to do.

A weekly list is great, as it can help you hone in on what is important to get done for today, as well as what needs to get done for the week.

2. Do part of (a whole) project

Because of my job, I tend to have large projects over the course of several weeks or months. (In other words, there’s no way any one project is getting completed in a single day.) I used to write a project down as a to-do item, check it off (because I did work on it), but then felt frustrated when it wasn’t technically completed.

I changed the way I do this, so that I not only feel gratification in checking off an item, but I actually did accomplish the task.

The secret? I split large projects into bite-size pieces. It’s not rocket science, but it did take me a while to connect the dots.

In general, many of my projects have similar steps, so I was able to easily break up the pieces to give me items that made sense for daily tasks. (In fact, my project steps would be a great entry for my journal!)

So, no matter what large project (whether work, home, or play) you have going on, consider breaking it up into actionable steps that make more sense and feel more accomplishable.

3. Define (2) daily goals.

One of the other things I was finding was that I overloaded my daily to-do lists with so many items that I completely overwhelmed myself. I gave myself far more to do than any one person could accomplish in 24 hours, let alone 16 waking hours. Of course I felt unproductive!

So, if you’re feeling the same way, try this new practice I’ve put into place: define two attainable goals you must accomplish today.

Just two, and no if’s, and’s, or but’s that they need to get done. (These are often items I feel I’ve been putting off…or must be accomplished due to an upcoming deadline.)

This way, when you check off those two items, you’ll feel accomplished and productive. Plus, more often than not, I find that once I complete my two items, I actually check off a few more…bonus!

4. Start with the tough goals.

Since the two goals you chose for the day were likely things you’ve been putting off…start with them! (After all, those are your two main priorities for the day…so don’t put them off.)

How good will it feel to accomplish your two goals before the end of the day? Maybe before lunchtime?!

“Eating the frog” will ensure that you get your two goals accomplished, and then you can move on to bigger, better, or more fun!

How do you accomplish your goals?

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