How to achieve anything you want?

It’s not that easy without inner drive.

On our way to achieving goals there are always so many obstacles that we easily get discouraged and lack of self-confidence creeps in. A negative emotional state can really ruin your day. Prolonged stress, depression, or anger are clearly not conducive to high levels of performance.

If you use our app Goalist you can clearly see if you archive your goals or not and how much time you spent on them. It is very important to know where you are, but this is just one ingredient to the path to success. There is another one equally important and a lot depends on it. Do you know what it is?

MOTIVATION!

You won’t get anywhere without it. We need tons of it, and the more we care about it the more we have it. And this is our fuel that will keep us going every day.

What can you do to boost your motivation and keep it high? What does work?

This might sound overly simplistic, but the best strategy we’ve found for staying motivated and positive is to maintain the daily habit of listening to motivational audio programs. We own quite a few of these programs, so we have hundreds of hours of audio at our disposal. Without the audiobooks and podcasts Goalist wouldn’t be created in a first place 😀 One of our favorite motivational speaker is Brian Tracy – time management and self-development guru.

While his programs are usually packed with great information and ideas, we find that the information itself isn’t what usually provides us with the greatest benefit. It’s the emotions that provide us with the biggest long-term payoff. We’ve listened to some of them dozens of times, so we’re not getting many new ideas out of them. But even though the information doesn’t change, the positive attitude behind the information reinvigorates us every time. We’ll often listen to these audio programs while exercising, driving or while doing other physical tasks like preparing meals or eating, so they don’t even take up any extra time.

This year Brian’s put together something truly special for Black Friday – his biggest sale ever!
There are MASSIVE savings on his best products – up to 84% and EXCLUSIVE Black Friday Bundles – these deals are only available for a limited time.

Go to the “Procrastination and Time Management” section and choose one of his best products like:

  • Maximum Productivity
  • Goals!
  • Power of Personal Achievement

View Black Friday Deals
Those programs will get you all excited and ready to rock!!

Happy Black Friday!
Anna & Adam

The Meaning of Life

Most of us worry, at least at some point if life, about not having a goal or meaning in life.

But ‘Meaning of life’ is hard to define. When you think about something that’s hard to define your inner voice will lead you to worry sooner or later.

So we tried to find something less vague. We compared two opposite states that happen to us:

State 1) It’s hard to get up in the morning. It’s hard to focus and stay on any task. We have to force ourselves to do anything. We take many breaks. We think a lot about the meaning of life, so naturally we worry.

State 2) It’s hard to sleep because we can’t wait to get up and get to some task. It’s hard to take a break because we’re so focused and engaged in the task. We don’t worry because we’re thinking about the task all the time.

We identified that what we feel in State 2 is excitement about one or more tasks or objectives. Great, ‘excitement’ is much easier to define than ‘meaning of life’.

The book “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains nicely when we feel excited about a task. When we are in the state of flow, fully immersed in a specific task. When we have a seemingly inexhaustible amount of focus. It’s when we do something that’s slightly above our skill level but challenging. And the challenge must be achievable.

Not only the new things are excited. It’s often just a new angle. A new small discovery in a know space that requires upgrading your skills slightly. And poses a challenge that’s exciting but doable. Here are two examples. They are simple, but before you tackle a big thing in life you can practice on small things.

Example 1

Let’s imagine you feel like you don’t enjoy playing the guitar any more. Instead of looking for another instrument you can make the guitar more exciting. You can try to create a state of flow. You need to understand your skill level and find a challenge slightly above it. Maybe learn to play with a metronome or a drum machine (you can install one on your computer). Learn one pentatonic scale and start improvising.

Additionally you can make the environment more exciting. If you played in the living room before, now visit each room (even bathroom) and find out which one has the best acoustics. Or get a microphone and use it to play with headphones to hear more and add special effects. We got a Tascam DR-07 and use it with all our instruments. It improved the experience a lot.

Once you feel bored again – increase the challenge slightly. Then try to observe other areas of your life and do the same to them.

Example 2

I you jog google some tips to improve your technique. A good technique can significantly increase your capacity and lower the impact running has on your joints.

Take a different route each time you run. You can even turn your running into sightseeing (:

Get a GPS watch that tracks your pace and heart rate. Set a new (just slightly higher) speed or distance goal every time.

How to approach it

The easiest thing you can do is to set up blocks of time to think about excitement in your life.

You can analyze your day and write down all the major tasks. Then next to each task write:

  • Does it excite me or is it something I feel like I have to do or is boring?
  • Do I look forward to doing it?
  • Does the time fly when I do it?

Then for each task spend a few minutes trying to think: How can I make it more interesting? Can I substitute it with something more exciting of the same purpose? Do I really have to do it or can I eliminate it? Can I look at it differently to change my feelings about it?

Commuting to work may be a must you can’t avoid. But feeling negative about it is a result of your approach to it, your angle. And that’s something you can change.

And really set a time for doing this. Even 5 minutes per task. Use a stopwatch and force yourself to focus on thinking about it during the time. It will feel awkward first. Then very awkward 🙂 But it’s practically guaranteed that if you don’t give up you’ll find something. And once you do you’ll be amazed. And after some practice it will not feel awkward any more.

Finding something new

If you want something new set a separate time to explore new things. People didn’t find gold on the street. They were digging for it, sometimes for years. So dig. Edison didn’t happen to invent a light bulb as a result of a single idea. He tried 10,000 things before finding the one. So keep trying.

Some examples:

  • Buy an hour of ping-pong instruction.
  • Subscribe to Skillshare and watch a fragment of a different course each day.
  • Ask a friend to take you to his/her training next time.

How do you do it?

Please share how you approach adding meaning and excitement to your life!

(This post is part of Goalist Training)

Goalist Training 9

Use Tags to look at your time usage from an unlimited number of angles

Tags work like Gmail’s labels. You can tag something to make it a part of a virtual group. And you can create an unlimited number of such groups.

For instance, let’s take the following tasks:

1. Replying to emails from clients
2. Meditation
3. Browsing Facebook

Each of them can belong to a completely different Category or Value. But they have various aspects in common. Using Tags you can define, monitor and analyze statistics for an unlimited number of aspects. So:

  • #1 & #3 involve work with a computer. You can track the amount of time you use computers creating a tag “Work with computer”.
  • You sit when you perform any of the above tasks. When you spend too many hours sitting you get a sore lower back. You can create a tag “Sitting”. Using it you can determine your upper limit of sitting hours during the day before the pain appears. Then you can set up a monitor that will warn you when you spend too much sitting.
  • You could also tag some other tasks as “Walking” or “Physical activity”. Then you could compare it to “Sitting” to possibly get more motivation to become more active. Sometimes it may be as simple as deciding to walk to work, or get off the bus one stop earlier. If you already walk – you could decide to change the route regularly to a longer or more demanding one.

You don’t need to tag each Task separately thanks to inheritance

Tags may be assigned not only to a Task but also to a Task Group, Goal or Value. When they are assigned to a Task Group, Goal or Value, they are inherited by all the Tasks belonging to them.

Watch the video below to see how to:

  • create Tags
  • assign them to your Task structure
  • list all the elements the Tag is assigned to
  • generate and read statistics by Tag
  • create monitors based on Tags


Video transcript

Tags in Goalist are like virtual groups. You can put a Task in an unlimited number of such groups without moving it around between Goals or Categories.

Let’s say you’d like to monitor your physical activity.

Make sure you have the Tags module enabled in the Modules view.

Now go to the Tags screen, use menu > New Tag. Type in “Physical activity”, click OK.

You occasionally run, swim, practice karate and cycle. So you have 4 separate tasks defined for these activities. They may be located in separate Values, Goals or Task Groups. For example, let’s imagine you have the following structure:

Click to view an interactive version of this Value/Goal/Task structure

You could assign the Tag to each one of these Tasks separately. Or you can assign it only to the Value and all the Tasks that belong to it will inherit the Tag.

To do that go to Categories > Values & Goals > Healthy Body, click Tracking tags, plus button, select the Tag and click “Assign 1 selected”.

If you want to remove the Tag, long-press it and choose Remove.

Now you can analyze stats for the last week. Go to the Statistics view. Choose Tag as Stats basis and click Generate new.

You’re not happy seeing that during the last week your daily average was below 40 minutes. You decide to set a goal of being physically active for at least 90 minutes every day. You calculate that it means 630 minutes (90 * 7 = 630).

So you go back to the Value and create a new Goal: “I spend enough time on physical activities”.

Now define a monitor for it – click the image and configure the monitor as follows:

  • Monitor a tag
  • Physical activities
  • Success is when over the last 7 days
  • Durations sum up to at least 630 minutes
  • Click OK

The monitor is obviously in a failed state. Under the graph you can see that the state for today is 4h30m so there’s 6h missing to achieve your goal.

Now you realize that “Walking to work” is also a physical activity. So go find the task, click it, click MORE, edit, Tracking tags, plus button, assign.

Let’s check the statistics again. The daily average has increased to 1.5h after assigning the Tag.

Every time you notice that a given task involves physical activity – just assign the tag to it.

Checking Tag Usage

If you want to check where your Tag is used – go to the Tags view, long-press the Tag, and click Details.

Would you like to see more videos?

Please let us know how you like the video and what subjects would you like us to cover next. We value all suggestions and criticism. And we constantly improve the Training and the app based on them – so please write whatever comes to mind!

(This post is part of Goalist Training)

Goalist Training 8

Current Recommended Way of Editing Task Sets

Task Sets are a very important element of the planning process. They let you to add multiple tasks in one go. That way you can create repeating routines for entire days or blocks of time.

If you create a task set for every week of the day ahead, you also put a lot of thought into a higher level view of your plan – the weekly view. It allows you to plan out what you can afford, in terms of time, to do during a week.

On paper create a list of things you would wish to do during the week. Calculate how much time overall you have during the week for them. Then think how much time you’d have to spend on each task during the entire week to make any progress or achieve your objectives related to it. Make hard choices and eliminate what you cannot do. Split the rest between each day of the week.

Example

For instance, you try to learn to play an instrument. You do some guitar, harmonica and djembe now and then, but make little progress and feel frustration.

On your wish list you initially plan only an hour a week for this. But you doubt it’s enough to learn anything. You have a choice:

  • Decide you have more important things to do and eliminate playing from your schedule until you deal with them.
  • Stop beating yourself up for not making progress. Just spend an hour a week having fun with your instruments without any expectations of progress. And without remorse for not improving.
  • Eliminate or shorten another task from your wish list and add the time gained to playing instruments. Decide to focus only on one instrument until you make a specific progress with it. Eg: only learn guitar until you memorize your favorite song. After that switch to learning another instrument or set a new goal for the guitar.

Let yourself be flexible

You don’t need to plan all 24 hours in a Task Set. By all means leave yourself some room for unexpected events and to simply be more flexible. The key is to plan out all the important tasks you very much don’t want to miss.

Speed up your current activities

You can also use Task Sets to easily analyze an activity at a deeper level.
For instance, let’s say you see in Statistics that your task “Meal” takes up more time that you would like it to. You use this task when you prepare a meal, have it, do the dishes and brush your teeth after. You don’t like doing the dishes the most so it feels like they take the biggest amount of time.

But you can analyze it by splitting the task into subtasks:

Meal – preparation
Meal – eating
Meal – dishes
Meal – teeth

(After you analyze and improve your routine you’ll just get back to using a single task again).

Create a task set “Meal” and add all the above four tasks to it. Each time you have a meal you add the Task Set to the plan. It’s as easy as adding a single task. But you get more granular stats.

Analyze stats and make improvements

Using these stats after a few days you may discover that doing the dishes is actually not that time consuming. You may decide that getting a dishwasher is not that urgent any more. And you can even start feeling better towards doing dishes now that you know they are so time-friendly 😀

If the preparation takes the most of the time you can focus on speeding it up. You can get additional kitchen equipment or introduce simple adjustments. Coming up with ideas for adjustments can be an exercise in creativity (Work Smarter, Not Harder), a concrete subject to talk about, and in case of some tasks – even an adventure..

Getting back to our “Meal” example, one of the things you could speed up is the way you add herbs & spices to the food.

Instead of adding spice A, B, C, D separately – you can create your mix ahead. It will last over a longer period of time. That way you’ll reduce the time needed to add spices to the meal as many times as there are ingredients in the mix.

Additional benefits

But there’s more – for instance pure turmeric has low levels of bioavailability. Most of it gets metabolized before it can get absorbed. Pepper and paprika help make it more bioavailable (even 1,000 times). So using a mix is definitely the way to go. Adding all three spices separately every time would be more time consuming than adding a mix. Not adding some of them would impede the absorption.

And you can control the taste of your mixes easier. You could even use scales for precise proportions of the ingredients. That way you could create recipes that are easier to share and teach than using: “a pinch of this and a hint of that”.

As we’re on vegan diet we care a lot about correct and regular supplementation of various vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and stuff. And we know a lot about the health benefits of herbs and spices. So we have various mixes and some use many ingredients: herbs & spices, herbs for infusions, nuts & seeds, seeds for grounding, etc. Using these mixes saves us a lot of time and makes it easier to add a wide variety of important ingredients to our meals daily.

How to work with Task Sets

The current interface for editing Task Sets is not as convenient as the Day Plan’s any more. Before we improve it we’d like to show you how you can use the Day Plan’s interface already. Here’s a video explaining it:


Video transcript

Task Sets can be added to the schedule or to another Task Set. So it’s worth creating smaller Task Sets for blocks of time, and use them as building blocks for creating bigger Task Sets or daily schedules.

For instance, let’s say that every time you walk your dog you want to remember to give it a snack and water afterwards.

You can create this simple Task Set: “Walk the dog (short)”

But once a day you take it for a longer walk. Then you also need to remember to clean its paws, otherwise your better half makes you clean the carpet. And you need to give it a bigger meal. It makes sense to create another Task Set for it: “Walk the dog (long)”.

Then, when you create a Task Set for Monday, you can use the existing Task Sets as building blocks:

  • Create a new Task Set “Monday”
  • Add task set “Walk the dog (short)”
  • Add “Work”
  • Add “Walk the dog (long)”
  • And so on…

Modifying a Task Set

If you want to modify the Task Set slightly you can do it directly in this view.

For instance for the Winter you may need to extend the time needed for cleaning your dog’s paws to 15 minutes: tap the task, then the “+” button.

If you want to make more adjustments you may find the Day Plan’s view more convenient for it:

  • Choose any day without a schedule (Navigation > Goalist, then the right arrow next to the date)
  • Add the task set (add “Monday”)
  • And make adjustments: long-press “Work”, Split in the middle, insert “Gym” 1h, Add “Visit parents”, long-press “Walk”, Insert before: “Visit parents”

If you want, you can see more meaningful start and end times of your tasks during the editing. You can simply add a placeholder, like a “No plan” task to the beginning of the list.

Let’s say your Monday starts at 8am. Then you can add “No plan” and make it 8h long. Now, as you see the start and end times, it may be easier to adjust the durations of all tasks.

Once you’re done editing you can export your changes back into the Task Set. You can use “Menu > Select All”, unmark the placeholder (“No plan”), MORE, Convert into Task Set, Overwrite existing, choose Monday, OK.

Now if on Thursday you start work at a different time, you can go back, cancel the selection (using the top-left “X”), move the longer “Walk” to the beginning of the day, move the shorter “Walk” after “Work” (cancel the selection, mark the last two tasks, move them after the second “Work”), add an hour of “Playing Guitar”.

And now Menu > Select all again, exclude the placeholder (“No plan”), MORE, Convert into Task Set, Create New, type in “Thursday”, OK.

Would you like to see more videos?

Please let us know how you like the video and what subjects would you like us to cover next. We value all suggestions and criticism. And we constantly improve the Training and the app based on them – so please write whatever comes to mind!

(This post is part of Goalist Training)

Goalist Training 7

Various flavors of Split

Today we’ll look at one of the fanciest options in the Day Plan view – the Split

It’s useful particularly if you like planning by:

1) first scheduling fixed time events and filling up the space between them with a “No plan” task
2) then filling in the “No plan” space with tasks

But it’s handy also in various other situations. For instance, if you want to go for a “Coffee break” in the middle of “Work” then you could:

1) Mark “Work” as done + shorten its duration (to end now)
2) Use “Add before” to add “Coffee break” to the top of the plan
3) Use “Add before” to add “Work” again under “Coffee break” + usually adjust its duration

Or instead you could use Split to do it in one operation. First, “Add before” doesn’t work (yet) when you have any “Fixed start” tasks following. Second, Split provides an additional benefit – none of the tasks that follow “Work” move after this operation.

See this video for details:


Video transcript

The Split option in Goalist is very handy as it can split a task into two or three tasks. And the total duration of the tasks after split stays the same as the original task’s duration. So none of the start times change after this operation. It makes it very useful when some other operations are blocked by Fixed Start tasks.

To use this option select a task, click: MORE > More options > Split

or:

long-press a task and choose the scissors icon from the top toolbar.

Both the MENU option and the toolbar icon can be enabled, disabled or moved to the MAIN menu using settings in:

  • Settings > Day plan context menu options
  • and Modules > Select Multiple Tasks > Settings

When you click the Split option the system first asks you which task you want to add. Let’s choose “Reading”. And next the system asks you how much time it should give to the new task. So this is the duration of Reading: let’s give it 1 hour.

Then the system asks you where you want to place the new task. So we can read it: Place it before “No plan”. When I click OK, “Reading” appears before “No plan”,
it’s 1h long, and “No plan” is now 1 hour shorter.

Invoke Split again, choose “after”, OK – and you see another “Reading” is now added after “No plan”, and it’s again 1h shorter.

Split in the Middle

The last, most interesting option will place the new task somewhere inside the current one (as there’s a rounding to the nearest 5 minutes performed). In a simplest case it will be exactly in the middle.

Let’s put a 1 hour “Break” in the middle of “Reading”, click OK. Now the “Break” appears between two equal “Reading” blocks. And their total duration is still 5 hours.

Additional options for Split in the Middle

The most interesting case is available when you split the active task (that is: a task that’s at the top of the list), and its end time is ahead in the future.

When you split such task, you see additional options appear:

First: you can make the system insert the task not in the exact middle, but almost at about the current time. So if you tick “Set its start time to now” and untick the second option for now, and click OK, you see that it starts at about now. Not always exactly now, as the start time must be again rounded to the nearest 5 minutes.

And because of this splitting method the first “Reading” is not equal to the second one. That way the total duration was preserved.

Let’s do Split again to demonstrate the second checkbox. I tick “Mark the first one as done”, click OK. And you see that:

  • the task starts about now,
  • total duration is still 22h,
  • and the first “Reading” task was marked as done

Very special case

The last, very special case, is a way to split a task in a way that:

  • the current task ends now,
  • it is marked as done,
  • and the new task takes up all its remaining time slot

 
I make sure both bottom checkboxes are ticked, “In the middle” option is selected, and I move the duration slider to the very end. That way I will force the system to select the right start time and to fill up all the remaining space with the new task.

And you see that although I used the “In the middle” option, there are two tasks (not three), their total duration is still 22h, and the new task starts about now.

Would you like to see more videos?

Please let us know how you like the video and what subjects would you like us to cover next. We value all suggestions and criticism. And we constantly improve the Training and the app based on them – so please write whatever comes to mind!

(This post is part of Goalist Training)

Goalist Training 6

Operations on Multiple Tasks

In this lesson we continue presenting features that help you work with your Day Plan.

Watch this video to learn what operations you can perform on more than one task at a time. And how you can fine-tune the menus and toolbars. And the behavior of options that they provide.


Video transcript

The “Select Multiple Tasks” module lets you select, and perform various operations, on more than one task at a time.

When you tap a task you can see various buttons appear at the top and the bottom of the screen. We call them the top and the bottom toolbar respectively.

Now when you long-press a task, or in other words: you touch and hold a task for two seconds, a different set of buttons appears.

After one task is long-pressed you enter a multi-selection mode. To add more tasks to the selection, just tap them shortly.

You can see that as the selection changes, also the available options change. For instance: now you can move this group of tasks down, and up (a continuous selection is made). But when the selection is not continuous this action wouldn’t make sense, so the arrows are hidden.

For the same reason the “Mark as done” button disappears when the selection is not continuous, and appears when it’s continuous. And it disappears again if the very first task is not included in the selection.

More options are available under the MORE button:

  • You can move all the selected tasks to another day
  • Fix the durations of all of them
  • Convert them into a Task Set
  • Or replace

In case of the “Replace” option there are two cases:

  1. First, if the selection is not continuous and we replace the selection with, let’s say, “Break” – we see that each one of the selected tasks was replaced separately with the “Break” task.
  2. Now if we replace a continuous selection with, let’s say, “Cycling” – the “Replace” option merges the entire selection, and then replaces it with one bigger “Cycling” task. Its duration is equal to the duration of the entire selection.

    Configuring the Module

    To enable or disable the module that controls the selection go to the “Modules” screen and use the switch next to the “Select Multiple Tasks” name. It has its own Settings. Here you can configure which options and buttons appear:

    • on the bottom toolbar when a single tasks is selected (scroll down to see other sections)
    • on the bottom toolbar when at least two tasks are selected
    • in the additional MORE menu that we saw on the bottom toolbar when several tasks are selected
    • and finally on the top toolbar

     
    Additionally you can choose whether some options, like “Remove” or “Mark done”, should ask for confirmation. If you happen to delete multiple tasks accidentally – you can untick this option and Goalist will always ask if you are sure that you want to delete tasks before deleting them. If you untick “No confirmation”, select multiple tasks and click the trash icon on the bottom toolbar a confirmation dialog appears.

    Would you like to see more videos?

    Please let us know how you like the video and what subjects would you like us to cover next. We value all suggestions and criticism. And we constantly improve the Training and the app based on them – so please write whatever comes to mind!

    (This post is part of Goalist Training)

Case Study: Judy the Gardener

This time we’ve prepared a fictitious case study for you. It illustrates how a person could track her time, analyze statistics and draw conclusions from them to set goals and create useful plans.


 


Judy has a day job and various hobbies and interests. She likes jogging, reads about scientific discoveries, keeps contact with friends and family and loves her little garden where she grows flowers and vegetables, etc…

But she also dreams about changing jobs. To get a better one she would like to pass a professional exam. But somehow she cannot find enough time to study. Recently the situation in her company started to change dramatically and looks like changing jobs is not only a dream any more. It can soon be a necessity.

She decides to act before she’s forced to. She installs Goalist to manage her time differently and make time for studying. She enrolls into the Training. She doesn’t have much hope though, after all she’s already well organized.

Tracking time and analyzing stats

First she tracks her time to collect some data. After a week she analyzes her statistics.

Judy notices that gardening takes up 2 hours a day on average. She didn’t expect that because gardening is so nice and time flies when she’s with her plants. And she forced herself to study every day but it turns out that she managed to do it only 30 minutes a day on average?! That’s impossible, she could swear she spent much more time on it! There must be a bug in the app.

She goes back to browse her Day Plans to do some manual calculations. Only now she recalls that on Tuesday evening just before the study time her mother paid her an unexpected visit. And then those vicious snails attacked her salad on Thursday, she had to fight them after all, it couldn’t wait. Damn.. there’s no bug in the app, the stats are correct.

She was so happy she’d have an excuse to give up jogging but she has a gorgeous park next to her house, no need to commute so jogging doesn’t take up too much time.

Focusing on facts

Anyway, she decides to focus on facts:

Fact #1: Unexpected events seriously changed her evening plans twice. She decides to move her “Preparation to the exam” task to the very beginning of her evenings and not do anything else until she spends an hour studying. If The Unexpected hits again she wants to sacrifice other tasks, not studying.

Fact #2: Reading about scientific discoveries and contacting friends and family take the same amount of time. And it’s substantial. Family is her important value. But the discoveries are just fun. “For Cat’s sake I really need to pass this exam! No more discoveries until I pass the exam!” she decides.

Fact #3: Gardening took the most time. But she’s not going to just ditch it! And gardening consists of various activities like watering, weeding, collecting crops and a few other things. She decides to do more detailed time tracking to see which activity is actually the most time consuming. “It must be weeding, I hate it! But what can I do about it, what must be done must be done.” she thinks.

She creates subtasks:

  • Gardening: weeding
  • Gardening: watering
  • Gardening: other

And patiently she gets back to her daily routines and tracking time to collect new data. She doesn’t read about the discoveries any more and after a few days she realizes she actually doesn’t miss it. She was reading about them on Facebook and it’s so full of distractions and all these notifications and silly photos… addictive like tobacco but so cool to quit 😀

After another week

Judy analyzes her statistics again. Oops, it’s not weeding but watering that takes the most time. She still doesn’t have an idea on how to get rid of weeding (doesn’t want to use pesticides). But she planned so many times in the past to automate the watering…

A quick research in the Internet shows that it wouldn’t actually be so expensive. There are many articles about creating a watering system with cheap parts and connecting the pipes seems a no-brainer. And the pictures of the crops are amazing – automatic watering is not just handy, it’s much more efficient.

Additionally – 6 hours of studying! Not even 1 missed, ha! Thanks to moving her study time to the beginning of her afternoon she managed to avoid the damages of The Unexpected, cool!

A new, improved plan

Judy develops a new plan:

  1. Continue studying at the beginning of each afternoon
  2. Automate the watering

Then, on paper, she splits #2 into smaller steps to make the project more manageable:

Monday: Do a research on what parts are needed
Tuesday: Design the system (what goes where)
Wednesday: Buy the parts (on the way home from work)
Thursday: Prepare the garden
Friday: Distribute the parts around the garden (pipes, etc)
Saturday: Connect the parts, start the system, celebrate!

The watering project becomes her second most important thing (after studying) so she decides to put it as the second in her plan before everything else.

Additionally she’ll also split the learning sessions into 2 shorter parts as she read it improves recall.

So her plan for Monday afternoon looks like this:
12:00am-05:00pm No plan
05:00pm-05:30pm Study for the exam (with a Daily note: “Finish the third chapter and score at least 70% in the self-assessment test)
05:30pm-05:40pm Break
05:40pm-06:10pm Study for the exam (with a Daily note: “Finish the third chapter and score at least 70% in the self-assessment test)
06:10pm-06:30pm Break
06:30pm-07:30pm Gardening: improvements (with a Daily note: “Research on what parts are needed for the watering system”)
07:30pm-08:00pm Jogging
08:00pm-08:15pm Shower
08:15pm-08:55pm Meal
08:55pm-09:40pm Chatting with friends
09:40pm-10:10pm House cleaning, dishes

Handling the unexpected

Judy jogs only on Mondays and Thursdays, so will do additional garden work that still needs to be done on the remaining days.

If her mother or friends want to meet up during the week she’ll tell them she’s busy and set up meetings for Saturday afternoon and any time Sunday. It’s not a big sacrifice as it only needs to last until she passes the exam.

She doesn’t work on Saturdays so will have time till the afternoon to finish the watering system even if something unexpected pops up during the week.

The plan seems doable and the goal exciting enough to provide enough motivation to stick to the plan.

After 2 weeks

Judy managed to construct her watering system. So she had more time for studying and did a great progress.

To make more improvements in the garden she decided to track her time differently. She stopped tracking watering and weeding and created new tasks to look at her garden work from a different angle:

  • Gardening: tomatoes
  • Gardening: salad
  • Gardening: other

It turned out that work with the salad was taking up the biggest amount of time. Frequent problems with snails were one of the reasons. Stats in Goalist showed that working with salad was taking up about 7 hours a month.

She calculated that the salad from organic food store would cost her $14 a month. That is her work on it was worth $2 an hour if she didn’t take into account the cost of snail repellents. It wasn’t worth it.

Happy end


Judy has passed the exam and already started studying for another, more challenging one.

Plants are growing much better. She has more tomatoes in place of the salad. Her neighbor is happy to buy the surplus from her as her tomatoes look really good thanks to the automated watering.

Another neighbor asked her to create a similar system in his garden – a paid gig! She’s excited about it as she’s never earned such a good coin from her gardening work. Who knows, maybe it’ll turn into a business?

Would you like to read more examples like this? How about a podcast?

If you like this study and find it useful – please let us know your thoughts about it in a comment below. If we get some feedback from you we’ll be more than happy to create more case studies. Was the study helpful in general, as a whole – showing the way of thinking and adjusting plans in a longer period of time? Or did some part(s) give you an actionable insight?

We’re also thinking about starting a podcast which would be easier to digest than articles. And you could listen to it in your car or while commuting. We’re still gathering ideas for topics that could be covered – so any suggestions would be great.

We’d like to talk about subjects broader than the app – time management and self development supported by modern tools.

(This post is part of Goalist Training)

Goalist Training 5

Plasticity & Stepping Stones

So far into the Training and using Goalist you may have one of these two problems:

1) You struggle with a bad habit or cannot keep to your plan every day. It’s absolutely OK. The fact that you keep trying places you in the top 1% of people!

2) The progress you’ve made encouraged you to set a bold goal. And now you feel overwhelmed by it. Just don’t think about its finish. You don’t even need to split it into steps and sub-goals. All you need to do is to decide what could be the next smallest step in its direction and to take that step.

And you don’t even have to make the right decision on what this step is. Overthinking it may paralyze you and cause procrastination. It’s like with crossing a mountain stream stepping on stones. You may stand there trying to figure out all the stones you need to step on. Or you can step on the first stone and have a better view from it to decide which should be the second one.

Examples:

  • Want to start jogging? Open Google Maps and locate a nice park or any kind of green area close to your house.
  • Want to write a book? Just create a Word document for it on your laptop and place a link to it in the middle of your desktop.
  • Want to clean your garage? Just check the prices of dumpsters / bagsters.

The practical part

Here’s a few videos explaining automatic plan adjustments in Goalist, and how to fix the durations and start times of tasks. In the next lesson we’ll discuss more functions related to the Planner view.

Day Plan Auto Adjustments in Goalist

Part 1 – Settings


Video transcript

A lot of effort is put into making Goalist flexible. One of such efforts is the Day Plan Auto Adjustments module. You can turn it on and off in the Modules view. Most modules have their own, separate Settings. This one has only 1 setting so far. I’ll explain it later.

So when you have this module enabled you will see several additional options when working with your Day Plan.

First, when you mark a task as done earlier or later than planned, Goalist will propose automatic corrections of its length. You can see it when you long-press the task.

The green icon means: “Mark as done without adjustments”.
The button to the left from it will offer automatic adjustment – in this case – extending the length. When I tap it the task is extended and marked as done. It’s 1h long now. I tap “extend” and now it’s extended to end at the current time. The end time is rounded up or down to the nearest 5 minutes interval. Or to the nearest 1 minute interval if you have 1 minute precision enabled in Settings > Minimum task duration.

You can configure the icons and their behavior in the Settings of the module named “Select Multiple Tasks”. Here you can choose:

  • whether the “Mark done” button should be displayed
  • whether it should propose duration adjustments
  • and whether the additional buttons for duration adjustments should be shown when the task is marked as done too early or too late

Add another task to see more adjustments in action. When the task is selected choose MORE, Mark done. Here you can see how much late the task is. You can also see the same icons as on the toolbar, together with their descriptions.


 

Part 2 – Affecting other tasks


Video transcript

The adjustments may affect also other tasks in multiple other situations.

For instance, when your plan is full and you want to extend the length of the task being marked as done, all other tasks will be shrinked. Here you can see that the first task is 1h long and the next 23h long – so the list is full. Now when I lengthen the first one it’s longer and the second one is shorter. The total list duration is the same.

The adjustments are performed also when you manually change the length of a task.

When I extend Sleep now, Leisure is automatically shrinked to accommodate that. You can see that when I tap “plus” the duration of Sleep increases and the duration of Leisure decreases at the same time.


 

Part 3 – Fixed Duration


Video transcript

If there is any task which duration should never be adjusted automatically, you can fix its duration. Tap it, tap MORE > More options > Fix duration. You can see a blue anchor here that indicates fixed duration.

Now when you increase the duration of the first task the system skips the fixed one and shortens only the tasks that are not fixed. If I mark Sleep and click “plus” twice you can see that the “TV” task stays 30 minutes long and the “Breakfast” task is now 20 minutes long.

If you want the “TV” task to always have fixed duration edit it, configure its duration, and tick the “Fix duration by default” checkbox. From now on each time you add this task to the schedule it will have fixed duration.

There is an option to fix durations of all the tasks currently scheduled in Menu > Fix all durations. Now the anchor icon is on in all tasks.

If you want to change the duration of a task now, the system will remind you that its duration is fixed. You can unfix it, adjust the duration and fix again. Or you can configure the module to protect fixed tasks only against automatic adjustments and allow manual adjustments.

Go to Modules > Day PLan Auto Adjustments > Settings, check the “Allow…” option, click OK, back – and now you can change the duration of “TV”. But the system will not change it automatically.

So if I unfix “Sleep” and try to increase its duration the system will say that the plan is full and not try to adjust any duration because all other tasks are fixed.


 

Part 4 – Fixed Start Time


Video transcript

If you want to start any task at an exact time you can fix its start time so that it doesn’t move during manual or automatic adjustments of the plan.

Let’s say you go to the cinema at 5pm and want to leave home half an hour earlier. Click “Cinema” > MORE > More options > Fix Start and Duration. Now you see an anchor active also next to the start time.

Its start time will remain fixed when I adjust the durations of previous tasks. So when I increase the duration of “Dinner” the duration of “TV” is decreased as much as possible. When it’s not possible the system displays this message that further adjustments are not possible because of the Fixed Start task.

But a behavior you haven’t seen yet is that when I decrease the duration of “Dinner” the duration of “TV” is increased automatically to preserve the start time of “Cinema”.

Would you like to see more videos?

Please let us know how you like the videos and what subjects would you like us to cover next. We value all suggestions and criticism. And we constantly improve the Training and the app based on them – so please write whatever comes to mind!

(This post is part of Goalist Training)

Goalist Training 4

Grow your planning superpower

We hope your time tracking is going well and you managed to create your first afternoon plan. And we hope you see first positive results! The fact that you’re reading this is a proof for us that you’re taking things seriously so you just must succeed. It’s just a matter of time.

In this lesson we’re going to show you tools that make the planning process much easier and faster than adding each task one by one.

Whatever means of planning you choose however, please always devote at least a few minutes to analyze the previous day. Did you manage to keep to the plan?

If so – what can you do a bit more ambitiously? Is there a task you could simplify, automate or eliminate to free up some time for another task?

If you haven’t managed to keep to the plan – what went wrong? Maybe it was actually too ambitious? Start small, achieve a small success and build on it. Don’t burn out! The challenge should be just slightly above the skill level as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes in the “Flow”.

Tools that speed up the planning process

Here’s a video that will show you several ways to speed up creating and scheduling tasks:


Video transcript

You know how to add tasks to your plan one by one using the Search feature on the Day Plan (click the Search&Add icon – magnifying glass in the top-right corner, type in a new task name, click “New task” or “New 5m task”).

Now I’ll show you how to add multiple tasks at once.

So first still from the Day Plan view you can create and schedule multiple tasks at once. For instance I start typing “Cycling”, click “New Task”. Now I’ll enter several task names and enter after each name (Cycling, enter, Swimming, enter, Crunches). Make sure you have this option ticked: “Create a separate task from each line of text”.

Let’s place it in Values & Goals > Healthy Body > I do sports. And change their default durations to 15 minutes. Now when I click OK the tasks are created and scheduled.

Let’s clear the plan using Menu > Clear list > OK.

Another way to schedule already existing tasks is to navigate to a Category (go to Fun & Recreation), manually select several tasks (select Facebook, Listening to music, Playing games) and click “Schedule 3 selected”. The selected tasks were added to your Day Plan.

It works exactly the same for valuable tasks when you navigate to a Value and Goal and select tasks from there.

Now let’s say you do these tasks every Sunday evening. If you have the Task Sets module turned on you can create a Task Set from them and then on Sundays schedule the entire Set with 1 click.

You can convert the entire plan into a task set clicking Menu > Convert into Task Set. Or you can convert only selected few (if you have the Select Multiple Tasks module turned on):

  • First make the selection – long-press one of them, then just click others you want included
  • click MORE on the bottom toolbar
  • click Convert into Task Set
  • type in the name of this set (type in: “Sunday relax”), click OK

You can see all the tasks you selected in the same order as on the Plan, same durations, etc.

Now go back to the Plan and clear the list. Click Search, start typing “Sunday” and you should see your task set in search suggestions. Tap it and all three tasks are scheduled at once.

The last option is to copy an entire plan from another day. Clear the list again. Press “Copy another day”, choose which one and all the tasks from it are copied to the current day.

Would you like to see more videos?

Please let us know how you like the video and what subjects would you like us to cover next. We value all suggestions and criticism. And we constantly improve the Training and the app based on them – so please write whatever comes to mind!

(This post is part of Goalist Training)

Goalist Training 3

Let’s start planning

Congrats on getting so far into the training! You now have collected some data so you can start taking control over your time usage.

Think what’s the one thing that you would like to accomplish to feel that this evening was not wasted?

For example: “I’ll spend 1 hour learning Spanish” is not as good as “I’ll finish the first chapter of the Spanish course and score at least 70% in the self-assessment test” is way better. That’s because you may spend an hour staring into the book thinking about something else. You will realize your plan but you’ll not achieve anything.

There’s a possibility that you’ll honestly try to accomplish the objective but find out that it actually requires much more than 1 hour. It will be a success too. Because you’ll practice your time estimation skills. Next time you’ll estimate better and look for ways to execute your plan more efficiently.

Also “The one thing” will evolve over time as you accomplish goals and gain confidence in your capabilities. So you don’t need to make the very best decision now. But make a decision.

It’s more about the act of planning than the plan itself

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless,
but planning is indispensable.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

The act of planning is a process of conscious management of your resources, particularly time and energy.

That’s why Goalist is a “stacking” plan where you can’t set the start times of tasks directly. You have to work with real 24 hours. You divide them into into blocks of time represented by Tasks. Then you see that if you want to do more of one thing you need to do less of another thing. You need to choose.

A traditional to-do list lets you schedule even 20 tasks, 2 hours each for one evening. That’s impossible to execute. Even if you don’t schedule all 20 directly you may end up with that amount – because of direct scheduling and postponing of other tasks during the week.

The act of planning in Goalist forces you to choose the most important things to do that day. You surely have a ton of important things. But only when you see your limited resources are you forced to choose the MOST important of them.

Of course life happens and your initial plan will often change, at least slightly. And that’s OK. The important thing is to keep your priority in mind and be flexible.

So in Goalist a lot of effort was put into making the plan highly flexible, eg:

  • When you change the duration of a task the subsequent tasks are moved and their notifications are rescheduled automatically.
  • If you have the Day Plan Auto Adjustments module turned on and your list is full, Goalist will make room for lengthening one task automatically shrinking other tasks. You can block this behavior for selected tasks with Fixed Duration and Fixed Start options.

The act of planning also improves your flexibility

The act of planning helps you react to unexpected events faster and better. It helps you stay truly flexible and create more effective “plans B” in a more efficient way.

That’s because you can make important decisions ahead. That is – during planning, when you have time to think. Otherwise you often need to make them when you have much less time to think and feel the pressure of a situation. The urgent things usually win in such situations – instead of the important ones!

At least at the beginning do not worry about pushing tasks up or down the list. So that the plan does not feel like a trap or an obligation. Let it be a flexible way that helps you – not forces you – to get things done. Over time you’ll need fewer and fewer changes because you’ll learn:

  • to better estimate how much time you really need to carry out various tasks
  • what your priorities are

How to approach your first planning

The only data you have so far comes from the time tracking. So for now the idea is:

  • First analyze the data collected. Find the biggest time wasters. Remember: everything may seem important, you need to identify the least important here.
  • Decide what can be shortened or eliminated to make room for the one thing you want to accomplish today. What can be done a bit differently to save time? What can be simplified? Where does good enough suffice?
  • Create a plan for tomorrow’s afternoon. You create the plan in the exact same way as you were tracking your time. You just do it in advance for the next day. Just remember to put the most important tasks at the beginning and the least important at the end.

In the next lesson we’ll show you tools that make the planning process much easier and faster than adding each task one by one. But for today it’s good enough.

Care about your limited resources

Research shows that our mental energy and strong will are limited resources and deplete quickly. You need to manage them.

What seems like laziness is often exhaustion. I.e.: strong will and mental energy depleted. That’s why you need to look for the best order of tasks.

What seems like procrastination is often confusion about what you should do. That’s why you need planning and an initial plan. And a flexible tool that will guide you through it and collect data in the process that will feed your future decisions.

Video instructions

You’ve collected some data tracking your time so can analyze statistics now:

Analyzing statistics


Video transcript:

You can view statistics in two places.

The first one is the Day Plan screen under the list of tasks. It displays data only for this day.

The second place is the Statistics screen. It displays the same data but lets you choose an arbitrary period of time.

Stats may be generated by Task, Tag, Value, Goal, Task group or Category. That way you can look at your data from various angles.

Using the second parameter you can decide whether you’d like to view your data in proportion to 24 hours. When it’s on the system displays in gray color “Time without plan”. That is: the time for which you haven’t added any task. Or it displays “Other” if you choose Value, Goal or Task Group as the basis. “Other” here means: time without plan PLUS time when non-valuable tasks were scheduled. When you generate stats by Task Group the “Other” means: time without plan PLUS time when non-valuable tasks were scheduled PLUS time when tasks belonging to no Task Group were scheduled.

If you disable this option you’ll be able to compare the proportions of everything that WAS scheduled. That is – everything else is excluded from the display. For instance now I see that I’ve spent only a tiny percentage of my time on valuable stuff. And when I untick “In proportion to 24 hours” I can see that in case of the valuable stuff I focused primarily on “Healthy Body” and a little bit on the “Time” Value. In the previous view it was too small to be visible.

Let’s switch to “Stats by Task” again and scroll down. The same data is displayed below the Pie Chart in a table.

The Time column displays the total duration of this task during the selected period of time and how many percent of the whole it is. The blue line below the name depicts the same data in proportion to the remaining elements. The “x” column shows repetitions – how many times this task was scheduled during this period.

Identify tasks that took up the biggest amount of time. Try to think if you can perform any of them faster in the future.

You can gain the most if you shorten long tasks. For instance here if I slept just 15 minutes shorter each day during this period I would gain 2 hours (8 * 15m = 2h).

But I could also gain a lot of time if I shortened just slightly a task that I perform often. That’s because the time difference would multiply. For instance “Checking emails” could be such task as it appeared 48 times. Shortening each of its occurrences by 5 minutes would save me 4 hours in total (48 * 5m = 240m = 4h).

Another approach that could help me save time on this particular task could be to do it only once or twice a day instead of so many times. That’s because there is always some time needed to start and finish the task. And some time and mental energy is always used for switching between tasks (context switching).


 

When you choose the one most important thing you want to focus on as discussed in the intro to the lesson, you may want to move the related task to the “Values & Goals” category. You already know from the previous lesson how to create a Value. And here’s how to create a Goal, move the task to it and set up monitoring:

Creating and editing Goals


Video transcript:

Goals can be created inside Values. A Goal is like a folder which can contain Tasks, Task Groups and a Monitor. To create a Goal enter the Value (tap it) and use the plus button or Menu > New goal.

You may also look at a Goal as an element of a checklist created to control a Value. For instance: you value Healthy Body. And you can tell from your experience that one of the things you need to do to keep your body healthy is to do various sports.

So you say: “Because I value Healthy Body I have to make sure that I do sports” (type in: “I do sports”, tap OK).

In another video I’ll show you how to create a monitor for this Goal that will display green state when you do enough sports and red state when you don’t.

Go back.

The color of this Goal is gray because it has no monitor yet. It will turn red or green when you define a monitor. Then this list of goals will look like a checklist. And you will be able to say that you’re doing your best when all the checklist elements are green.

Every time you discover something else is needed too, you just add it to the checklist. Over time you create a valuable asset – based on observation and data, with monitoring limits tuned to your unique body.

For instance, another checklist item may be “I drink enough water”. Click +, enter: “I drink enough water”, OK. Go back and your checklist has 2 elements.

What “enough” means will change and evolve over time as you observe yourself and tune the system. That’s why we didn’t add specifics in the goal name, like: “I drink at least 8 glasses of water every day”. You will see over time how many glasses your body really needs and will be able to tune the monitor without editing the goal name.

To edit a Goal click it, then click its name. To delete a Goal use Menu > Delete or go back to the list of goals, long-press a goal and choose Delete.


 

Creating a Goal Monitor


Video transcript:

In the previous video I said that the list of Goals is like a Checklist. Checklist elements are marked as red or green by Monitors. To create a Monitor click the Goal, then click the graph image.

The easiest monitor to define is one that monitors all its tasks. Initially you assume that you need to do at least 3 sessions of sports and each one should last at least 30 minutes. So: the Success is when over the last 7 days there are at least 3 records, each during at least 30 minutes. Click OK to save the Monitor.

There are no tasks in this Goal so the monitor’s state is failed. Let’s say you jogged several times recently and tracked your time throughout the last week. But you created the “Jogging” task in the “Unassigned” category. Now you can move it to this Goal. Go to Categories > Unassigned, find the “Jogging” task, long-press it, choose Move or Edit. I choose Edit to also show you something else.

At the top of the screen there is a Path. When you click it you can see this task is in the Unassigned category. Now use Menu > Move. Choose Values & Goals > Healthy Body > I do sports and click Move. You can see in the Path that it now belongs to this Goal which belongs to this Value. Click the Goal to check the monitor again. The system now found Jogging in your schedules and calculated that you have achieved your desired state.

Click Path and Value. You can see that the first Goal is now green here too. In other words the first checklist element is checked.

Would you like to see more videos?

Please let us know how you like the videos and what subjects would you like us to cover next. We value all suggestions and critique. And we constantly improve the Training and the app based on them – so please write whatever comes to mind!

(This post is part of Goalist Training)