My Secrets to Accomplishing Long-Term Goals in Real Time

How I use my energy and what I choose to focus on determines how much I'll accomplish each day.

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Now, in the days of social media and the Internet, it’s easy to get sucked in, consumed by what everyone else is doing and with whom, trying to follow every piece of news that appears on our phones, in our e-mails, through our computers. While life without screens would be easier, time management depends on you and how much you’re willing to accomplish to turn a dream into reality. It also depends on how (and what) you want to spend your energy and focus on.

When I look back just on the previous few years of my life, I sometimes feel the need to pinch myself. I say this because people are constantly asking me how I manage to have a life, deal with my health, and have a career. If you think of all we have to do in a day: eat right, exercise, work, maybe take care of children (if you’ve got them), balance a family, marriage, take care of pets. That’s a lot. To me, the Internet is almost an inconvenience (as well as a blessing), but I’ve got a love-hate relationship with it (as many of us probably do). 

As a writer, I find it’s best to disconnect but not completely, of course. I like seeing what my family is up to on social media, pictures of my nieces and nephews (all of which are growing up way too darn fast), and keeping up with friends. But I have a set period during the day (mostly between 5:00 and 7:00 at night) where I’ll be on the phone, playing some mind numbing game or responding to emails. 

Recently, I was at a gathering with friends and when I let them know that I’ve written a novel, a friend of mine leaned forward and said something along the lines of: “So, you just sat down, wrote an 82,000-word novel, and finished it?” The response made me laugh, and I just said, “Yeah…” Then, a series of questions followed, of which touched on the topic of time management. I didn’t write the book in a day, but I finished the first draft in real time. I dedicated myself to writing between 3,000 and 5,000 words daily (still do this) but, on most days, I can write even more. The night before, I set my intentions and jot down three goals I wish to reach by 5:00 P.M the next day, one way I take control and ownership of my life. 

One of my secrets to accomplishing long-term goals: keep your phone out of the room entirely while working. I focus only on what’s in front of me. I even go to the extremes and unplug the Internet. I used to have problems with keeping my attention on one task, but not anymore. It’s because I’ve put a system in place that never fails me. I’m most creative in the morning hours and sometimes in the early afternoon. I’ve used this project as an example because writing a book is a lot, and it’s a long-term goal. I am dedicated to this work. If you’re passionate about something, give it 100% and be wowed by the outcome. Everyone has different approaches to managing time, but it’s about what works for you. It took me a couple of months to get into a groove. In fact, I don’t schedule appointments or anything in the morning hours anymore (unless I absolutely need to). My brain and fingers want me to write!

Time management can be difficult with the Internet, and social media. It robs us of many things, productivity being one. If you work from home (which can be challenging), it’s important to establish a reliable system.  Your phone will always be there. Distractions will always be there. Sometimes, a little self-discipline and pep talks are necessary. Discuss your goals with your partner or a friend if it helps. Own the time you’ve got. Value it. I simply make the most of every day. 

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