I stumbled across this picture while scrolling through Instagram this week, and it really resonated with me. I am the kind of person who always has to be moving. I start each and every day with a plan, and I have a million things to do. If plans fall through, there is always a backup plan, or something that I could cross of my to-do list with the extra time I now have in my schedule. If I follow through on my plans for the day, I crawl into bed at night feeling accomplished. If I’ve crossed things off of my to-do list, I feel as though I have had a productive day. After all, there are only so many hours in the day, and I just hate wasting time!

After 24 years of having “busy, productive” days, I’ve finally realized that there is a difference. I have a bad habit of picking up extra responsibilities or activities, because I look at my schedule and decide that I can make free time for them, because they might be worthwhile. Yes, they may take a little work, and a little extra time here and there, but who doesn’t like a challenge? What I often forget to consider, is whether or not this particular activity is going to take away from time and energy I could be spending doing something that will get me closer to reaching my goals.

Yeah, coaching cheerleading is fun, and I’m good at it, plus it makes me money! I need money, therefore, I coach cheerleading on weekends. Yes, money is important when it comes to paying bills and saving up for a farm, but I don’t want to open a gym in the future; I want to start a horseback riding stable. So the time and energy I spend each week teaching kids how to do cartwheels, could instead be spent teaching kids how to get their horse to trot over poles. It may require a bit more effort to establish a clientele for riding, when the cheerleading gym already has a clientele ready to be taught, but it’s worth the effort and it’s more productive when it comes to reaching my personal goals.

In the example above, it’s not that I’m being unproductive. I am making money, I’m enjoying what I do, and I am promoting my teaching abilities and building my brand with each class I teach. I’m just lacking direction. Coaching makes me feel productive at the end of the day. The paycheque I earn makes me feel accomplished at the end of the week. But at the end of the month, I’m no closer to reaching my goals. I look back on a busy and seemingly productive month, and I can’t shake the feeling that I’m running in place. Always moving, always busy. I’m not necessarily moving backwards, but I also don’t feel as though I’m moving forwards…

So here is my solution. I love writing down my goals at the beginning of the year, the beginning of the month, and at the beginning of each day. I love crossing them off of my list even more! I am going to add to this goal-setting routine by including how each new activity or responsibility I take on contributes to my goals. If it doesn’t contribute to my goals or my happiness, it has to go. Productivity is key!

Do you keep a journal, or a write a daily to-do list? I’d love to hear how you keep on track with your goals, while managing a million other activities/priorities in your life.

Tell me about it in the comments!