As we all know, time goes fast. It seems like it was only a moment ago that we were celebrating the start of 2015. To keep us on track in 2016, I'm asking you to be honest with yourself about your time management ability and the big picture of where you'd like to see your career twelve months from this exact moment.
Now, let's turn that big picture idea into twelve actionable steps. You may have two or three big picture ideas that you want to achieve and that's fine. Regardless, look at each month and set small, actionable steps that you can manage.
Here's the trick to staying on track and it's really easy. After you have your monthly steps, go to Follow-UpThen.com to set up monthly reminders that will be emailed directly to your inbox. I love this FREE service. I only started it a few months ago and it's been a lifesaver.
What you do is set up emails with your monthly goal in the subject line:
Jan1@followupthen.com (subject line with goals)
Feb1@followupthen.com (subject line with goals)
March1@followupthen.com (subject line with goals)
April1@followupthen.com (subject line with goals)
May1@followupthen.com (subject line with goals)
June1@followupthen.com (subject line with goals)
The service sends you an email containing your goals for the month on the selected date. Write as much or as little as you'd like. I often give myself a little motivational pep talk along with my goal checklist because I'm sensitive and need encouragement. For instance, I'll write, "Have you finished edits and submitted to publisher by now? If not, finish by the 7th, no excuses. You can do this! How is such-and-such marketing strategy going? If it isn't working, discard it now. Don't waste your time." I actually get more mushy than that, but I was too embarrassed to give a direct quote!
Receiving that email in the inbox is also good for snapping you to attention if you'd been feeling unmotivated or overwhelmed. It's a simple redirect to your path.
Why not use a calendar? Well, calendars get ignored--your inbox is in your face. Or you can use it in conjuction to the calendar if you're set on sticking to that, but I suggest at least trying it for a few months. I can't understate how effective this service is.
Also, when you're setting up the emails, you are taking the time to really think out where you want to be on that path to your big picture and articulating it to your future self as if saying, "Hey, are you on track? If not, let's refocus."
Time goes fast. Each day matters. Every month is another stepping stone toward realizing your goal. This is a tool that I've found to be very effective. I still use an editorial calendar for blog posts and things of that nature, but follow-up then is my "wake-up call" every first of the month to reassess where I am overall.
Happy 2016! May all your dreams come true and then some! Focus, focus, focus!
***as a disclaimer, I am not affiliated with FollowUpThen.com in any way. I receive no payment for endorsing them, I simply love the service for its ease and reliability.***
A L Easton
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.