Productive Learning (Pt 3 of 4): Goal Setting


This blog is designed to help you take control of your life. Are you ready?

A quick reminder about Part 2: “Students who are interrupted while studying take longer to learn the material, and feel more stressed.” - Larry Rosen, “Take a Break”, HBR, 2018

This series is designed to help you or your children be productive learners. Having looked at what causes mental clutter and some easy fixes for that in Parts 1 and 2, this post examines how important it is to set goals to make the most of your learning.

Setting learning goals

I hope we can agree that goals are important: they give you direction – if you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know how to get there.

Identifying or re-evaluating your learning goals helps you determine your priorities and the tasks associated with each priority. When a goal feels relevant and in line with your values, you improve the odds for success in achieving the goal. Having goals that are relevant also makes it easier to create a to-do list that makes sense and is manageable, rather than being overwhelming. (See the to-do list section below.)

A word of advice. Write your goals on paper. If you attempt to do everything in your head or even on a screen then every possibility will create additional stress, as your brain tries to focus on so many things at once. Putting everything on paper helps you see, and think, more clearly.

Two guidelines for writing your goals:

•       Start with the end in mind and work backwards – what’s your ultimate goal, and what medium- and short-term goals will get you there?

•       For the first draft of your goal sheet, work fast – just write down what comes to you without over-thinking it.

I developed the Goals Pyramid, a framework I use with my productivity clients. The Pyramid contains your values, your long-term goal, and the medium- and short-term goals that will get you there. Although the process is too detailed to go into here, it’s worth mentioning in case you want to take a crack at creating this pyramid for yourself. Or you can write to me for a free Goals Pyramid template.

Determining your priorities

Having established your learning goals, the best way to achieve them is to determine the steps that will get you there, and how and when you’re going to take those steps. That takes planning.

Choose the goals that have the highest priority for the next two weeks. How do you know which are the highest priority? 1) There’s a clear deadline, or 2) this task has to be done before the next high priority step can be taken.

Creating your learning to-do list

1.     I use a 6”x8” notebook that’s just for to-do lists: one week per page, broken down into days. You could also use a dedicated planner book or digital planning tool.

2.     Either enter the tasks on your calendar, or use the calendar to work out how much time you have for working on your tasks. Set aside chunks of time for bigger projects like research or writing a paper.

3.     You can also schedule review time (more on effective reviewing in Part 4).

There you have it! By practicing mindful goal-setting, you’ll be able to organize your day, week, month, and year more effectively, and be a more productive learner!

I can help you identify your learning goals and priorities in a free consult if you have difficulty doing this on your own. Write to me at Ellia@MindfulOrganizing.NET to book a call or schedule a time online. You can also write to me for a free Goals Pyramid template. 

Coming up in Part 4: How to stay focused, effective reviewing, and other resources

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How else can I help?

- Messy home, smothered by clutter?
- A never-ending to-do list?
- Scatterbrained and trouble focusing?

My clients want to be organized, but have difficulty clearing the clutter in their home or their head on their own. I help them achieve the goals they’ve set for themselves for a clutter-free home and mind.

If you, too, are ready to get organized and be more productive, I can help:
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Not sure which option is best for you? Contact me to arrange a free phone consultation: Ellia@MindfulOrganizing.NET or Click here to learn about my organizing and productivity coaching services.