Let’s face it: Who doesn’t want to be more efficient in pursuing their goals? Like that one friend we all have (you know, the one who makes getting things done look sickeningly easy), being more efficient means more time left over for the fun things in life.
But what if pursuing a goal could be fun, too? In fact, it can. Research shows you’re more motivated and more likely to reach your goals when you care about them and find them enjoyable.
The good news is that you, too, can become a person who gets things done by setting short-term, achievable goals and finding fun ways to track them. That way, you won’t just become more efficient, but more enthusiastic about the task overall.
To get you started, we’ve rounded up a few fun goal-tracking ideas. Try them out, fine-tune them to your specific needs, and watch your goals come to life.
Aim for consistency, not perfection
Achieving your goals starts with establishing good habits. And good habits are easier to build when you can see the progress you’re making. Focusing on the steps of the journey instead of the finish line helps you take bite-sized, progressive steps to reach your goals in a way that’s easy to start and easy to maintain.
One famous method for achieving this is known as “Seinfeld’s Calendar.” Named for comedian Jerry Seinfeld, it involves choosing a small, measurable habit you can attend to on a daily basis. For every day you maintain this new habit, make a clear mark on your monthly or yearly planner. As you watch your streak build from days into weeks, then weeks into months, it will give you the extra incentive you need to maintain your habit in order to avoid “breaking the chain.”
By thinking of habits as steps to reach your goal—instead of focusing on the final accomplishment—you can maintain them more readily. It can also help you with subsequent goals, making it easier to get into the… ahem, habit of making good habits.
Power tip: If the visual appeal of seeing your streak build isn’t quite enough to help you maintain your new habit, try a more concrete reward: For every week (or month, it’s up to you) that you maintain the habit, reward yourself with a treat. It could be small like a piece of candy, or large like a fancy dinner or that new outfit you’ve had your eye on. No matter what, find the reward that best keeps you motivated.
Turn ideas into colorful notes
Checklists are a good way to ensure you stay on top of your to-do list, but they can also be inefficient. Bullet journaling is a fun and easy-to-use color-coded system that improves upon basic lists and helps build effective goal-tracking. It also makes a terrific tool for burgeoning efficiency whizzes.
The system traditionally entails keeping a pen and notebook handy and organizing your tasks under a daily or weekly template. Different colored pens denote different subjects or topics, providing visual distinction that lets you keep track of all your goals.
Traditional notebooks can be cumbersome, however, as can color-coded pens. Digital bullet journaling is much easier and can bring fun goal-tracking ideas to life by enhancing the visuals. With the right tool, you can make a solid habit out of bullet journaling and find the best way to track goals that works for you.
Power tip: Tasks in Evernote is the perfect partner to your digital bullet journal. As ideas and goals arise, add the tasks necessary for achieving them to the bottom of your journal template. If you’re on a paid Evernote plan, you can see all of these tasks in one place, so goal tracking becomes a snap and you can streamline your efforts to reach your goals sooner.
Remember the fun you had as a kid, pretending to be a life-saving doctor or a world-famous entertainer? That game doesn’t have to stop now that you’ve grown up, although now you can bring your goals within reach by pretending to be a project manager!
Why a project manager? Because they’re skilled at tackling challenging goals and seeing them through to the end. The same principles they use to maximize efficiency can be transposed to personal goal tracking. This not only makes it easier to implement fun goal-tracking ideas, but it also improves the efficiency of your goal-tracking in general.
Project managers are often efficiency whizzes because they know how to keep track of goals and break them down into smaller tasks to accomplish them more efficiently. The same process works with any conceivable goal. The smaller tasks should be actionable—with clear steps outlined to accomplish them—and have a reasonable timetable for completion.
Digital tools like Evernote are a terrific way to use project management tactics to organize your life better, allowing you to create, assign, and monitor various tasks. You can also track the progress of each task as you get closer to accomplishing your goals.
Power tip: Start off on the right foot with Evernote’s Goal Setting and Eisenhower Matrix templates. Both are made to help you establish good habits immediately, without having to figure out a structure or format to follow. And when you find fun goal-tracking ideas of your own, you can customize either template to suit your specific needs.
Find your ideal method
Reaching your goals starts with strong organization and a habit of applying yourself to pertinent tasks. But desire alone is not enough. The methods above can help you turn goal-tracking into a game, rather than a chore, so it’s easier to stay organized and on track. By helping you break down big goals into smaller tasks, you can increase efficiency—and have fun doing it—to the point where reaching for the stars no longer feels like work. And that’s when the magic really starts to happen.