So, the New Year is upon us and you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve in 2012. You’ve written your goals, made your plans and to-do lists, and you’re ready to go; marching onwards to success armed with an unwavering sense of motivation and some useful productivity tools.

Once you’ve started, it’s important to ensure that you remain on course and the actions you take on a day-to-day basis are steering you towards to the ‘Promised Land’ known as Success.Writing down your achievements at the end of the day, rather than just crossing them off a to-do list as you go along has more benefits than you might think.

How to record your achievements

There are a number of ways you could do this; keeping a blog or paper journal , using a whiteboard of maybe a productivity app.

Alternatively, try using a week-to-view desk diary.

Why use a diary?

You easily glance over a week’s achievements and review your progress (more of which later).

More importantly, using a week-to-view, you’ll find that you only have a few lines per day to note down your key achievements, which helps you to focus only on the things that really matter.

What to do

To start, take the first page of your diary or inside cover and list your goals so you’ll be able to quickly refer to them whenever you need a reminder of what you’re trying to achieve.

If you’re breaking these big goals down into weekly goals, you could write these across the top of each week in your diary.

What to record

Whatever your goals for the year, only record the tasks you’ve done that relate specifically to those goals. My main goals this year include running a marathon and writing at least 300,000 words.

Each day I note how long I trained for, how many words I wrote and what I wrote them for (Lifehack or a blog post for example), along with anything else that supports those goals such as researching diet plans or brainstorming article ideas.

What not to record

You probably get through a lot of stuff during the course of an average day, but the idea of this exercise is to look at how much of that stuff is contributing to your goals. If you haven’t done much towards your goals, you may be tempted to fill your diary with other busy work to convince yourself that you’ve at least been productive.

Don’t, it doesn’t help.

You may feel really proud that you spent all day cleaning your house from top-to-bottom and having a really good de-clutter, but unless one of your goals is to win the “Tidiest House in the World 2012 Award,” again, don’t put it down.

What’s next?

At the end of each week it pays to look back through your diary and review your progress. It’s always nice to look back and see that you’ve had a productive week working towards your goals, but your review should help you find room for improvement.

If you haven’t written anything for a specific goal in a couple of days, is that a sign that maybe you need to work extra hard on that goal? Or maybe that goal wasn’t as important to you as you first thought and it’s time to reassess? If you notice that you haven’t been doing much goal-orientated work on a specific day each week, can you identify reasons for that and do something about it? If you’ve been cruising along nicely but haven’t seen much improvement, is now the time to think about taking things to the next level? Perhaps your training sessions for the last three weeks all ran to 30 minutes. Can you now maybe do 45 minutes?

If everything’s been going perfectly and you’ve been recording great progress with continual improvement, you can give yourself a firm pat on the back knowing that you’re well on course for great success in 2012.

(Photo credit: Male hand drawing a chart via Shutterstock)

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