What are they? How can we create them? Why are they effective? Actionable steps are tasks we have created for ourselves that are do-able, efficient and manageable. We all tell ourselves that we’re going to do something, but how many of those tasks actually get completed after we’ve noted them down? The ordinary to do list may be enough for some, but without creating an effective list filled with actionable steps, I know myself, like many, struggle to get those boxes checked off. Worry less though my friends, I’ve compiled below some tips (and actionable steps) to get you well on your way to completing that overflowing list of yours.
Is this task realistic right now?
We’ve all done it, put ‘learn a new language’, ‘study a new course’, ‘write a book’ or something of the sorts onto our to-do-lists. I think it is really cool that we as humans have the desire to lust after knowledge and creativity in such a way, but unfortunately it is not always practical to invest in these long term commitments. At least not without the correct steps in place for success and motivation. First, be realistic with yourself. Are you able to commit to this task, and is it something you want to start right now? Ask yourself the following questions.
- Is this something I can commit time to regularly?
- What are my expectations from this task and is this a priority right now?
- What resources do I need to achieve this goal?
- Who do I need to talk to about this task?
- What support will I need?
How much time do I need to complete this goal?
Okay, so you’re determined. Absolutely chuffed for you! Now let’s create a way for this goal to be achieved realistically and effectively. In order for this to work, you need to be brutally honest with yourself. If you are a slow learner, or you enjoy taking your time with things, you need to account for this. There is nothing wrong with working at a pace that works for you, it is only when you try to force yourself to work outside of that boundary that you will suffer for it. Is your schedule static, or does it change every week? You will need to consider this when figuring out if you can dedicate the appropriate time consistently to your task.
Be sure to give yourself buffer time. This is the time that it takes to set up your task, time to get up and make a snack halfway through, plus time to slack off a little bit etc. Usually adding fifteen to twenty minutes to your scheduled time frame will account for this. It is unreasonable to expect yourself to always be at one hundred percent.
Write out your plan of attack and create a schedule once you know how much time you need to allocate to your task. Remember, you have to be realistic. The last thing you want is to lose motivation early on because you have over exerted yourself and your expectations.
Have your resources ready
Be prepared to fire when the time comes. The more organised you can be before you sit down to begin your task, the more productive, motivated and efficient your energy will become. Ask yourself, what exactly do I need to achieve this goal? Make sure you cover all bases, and try to keep your resources organised, perhaps in a folder on the computer or in a binder. As you need to access them, they will be readily available that way. This may be links to sites, print outs, physical books, your notepads etc.
Being organised, you will find that your steps by default become more actionable. When you are writing down your tasks, be sure to reference your resources to assist. For example,
- Start learning Adobe Photoshop. Find tutorial link here: https://helpx.adobe.com/au/photoshop/tutorials.html
- Do some concept work. Use my A3 Mont Marte art book. Grab inspiration from my Pinterest folder, ‘Silent spaces’.
Become more descriptive with your tasks.
The more information you can give yourself when you are setting up your tasks, the better. For example,
- Do some concept work. Use my A3 Mont Marte art book. Grab inspiration from my Pinterest folder, ‘Silent spaces’. Include three body works with supporting statements for each.
By adding the last instruction on top of what we had before, we now have our resources, plus what exactly we need to do with them. Notice that the task still isn’t overwhelming, but gives us enough information to be productive. The more you practise this, the more you will get the hang of what you will need to include to be the most effective and give you the best detail.
The goal is to do the organisation and planning prior to sitting down to work on your task. It is easy to lose motivation and drive when you find yourself confused or overwhelmed by what is in front of you.
Making the decision to upskill, tackle a big challenge, or organise your ideas, is a rewarding and exciting one to make. Ensuring you are set for success on your journey is integral to reaching the outcomes you desire. Through critical thinking, preparation and description, you will be well on your way to smashing out those long term goals. What long term goal are you going to work on next?