You've written your daily goals and tasks in your diary the night before. You've thought carefully about everything you need to accomplish and you're ready to steamroll your to-do list.

But you get sidetracked as the day progresses. You're focusing on one task while 5 others eat away at you in the back of your mind. How long have you been working? Surely it's break time now?

Before long, your to-do list is abandoned and you tell yourself tomorrow will be different. Instead of building momentum and shaping positive habits, you end up deflated and disappointed.

As a compulsive procrastinator who is easily distracted, these problems are all too familiar. Motivated and ambitious people often suffer from this form of self-sabotage. We have many goals to improve our body, mind, career, finances, and skills. However, there's often something missing from our goal setting and time tracking that's holding us back from success.

Let's dive deeper into the strategies, psychology, tools and habits you must utilize to reach your goals.

Assessing and Prioritizing Goals

If you're in the 88% who rely on a calendar or simple to-do list, your daily planning probably looks like a homogenous blob. Accomplishing minor tasks can create an illusion of success, while your most important tasks get buried and ignored.

Let's be honest, how often do you blitz through the 8 easy tasks while the 2 outside your comfort zone get left by the wayside? When each task looks equally important your brain opts for the path of least resistance to get its dopamine hit.

The effectiveness of Llama Life lies in its simplicity. Instead of staring at a rigid list of tasks, you can easily rearrange tasks based on their importance. You're empowered by determining the amount of time you'll allocate to a particular task.

As I write this post I don't have any anxiety about other tasks pulling my focus in a million directions. I know exactly how long I'm spending on this task before moving to my next objective.

When the time is up, a pleasant Alarm will sound in the background. This signals I've stayed focused for the allotted time and I can progress.

If you're a visual thinker like me, you'll love the ability to color code your to-do list. I put my health related tasks in blue, anything to do with business in orange, self-development in yellow etc. This also assures me that the day is going to propel me forward in all areas. Choose a specific color for your most critical tasks and you will know exactly what you need to do today.

One way to categorize tasks is by using the Eisenhower Matrix. This method involves color-coding your tasks based on their urgency and importance. You can mark your most urgent and important tasks in green, tasks that are important but not urgent in orange, and so on. By the end of the day, you will know exactly how much progress you've made on your crucial items.

The visual factor in planning is essential but often ignored.

You still have plenty of flexibility with your planning. If a new critical task emerges, you can slide it to the top and knock it out before getting back to your original agenda. Similarly, add or reduce time from your task and have it reflected in your List and End time.

Time Management Strategies

Goals that fit the SMART framework (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) are crucial for success. What management apps and regular to-do lists often don't help with are the achievable and time-bound aspects.

The List and End time features of Llama Life ensure your to-do list is manageable and realistic by letting you know exactly what time in the day your list will end.

You can thereby decide how long it will take to finish your list instead of leaving things to chance. Rather than make lofty plans that might fail, you can build confidence and momentum with realistic planning that considers how long each task should take.

Llama Life also has a feature which uses AI to break down your tasks for you. For example, if you input a larger task like "create influencer marketing strategy", Llama Life can quickly offer a list of smaller relevant sub-tasks. These smaller tasks will then appear in your to-do list where you can modify the description or allocated time. You can also save these tasks as a Preset List, which you can load again in the future. 

Llama Life also has a simple Overview (report) feature. What’s awesome about this feature is that it enables you to accurately track your productivity on a regular basis. You can view it like going to the gym and applying slightly more weight to the bench press or a few extra miles each week. Slight incremental increases over time beat a random and sporadic approach.

This principle applies equally to developing skills, your business, health, or career. Personally, I enjoy keeping track of exactly how much time I spend on the goals I set each week. I get clarity on the areas of my life which might need more effort. I compare this to when I used Excel or a diary and largely ignored the amount of time spent on each task.

Unfocused effort is more damaging than we think. 32% of people are constantly looking at email at work. Without a system, you're always going to have a rationalization for pausing the important work you're doing to check your email, "Maybe someone has sent me an urgent email!"

When you use Llama Life you're able to schedule a few minutes throughout the day for checking emails. By preempting these excuses and depriving them of oxygen you enable maximum focus on the work that truly matters.

The Time Divider function helps you craft your day by only showing the tasks above it in the List and End times. For example, you want to finish your time sensitive work tasks by 5 pm. But you also want to schedule Spanish study and meditation in the evening.

Put the Time Divider below your professional tasks and voilà, you know exactly when you're done with work and how much time you spent without any confusion. If you're in flow and want to enter Overtime you can easily do so and track the extra time spent.

Balancing Multiple Goals Effectively

Focusing on 3 core tasks per day is optimal for staying on track. Each of these tasks will encompass a number of smaller components. By breaking large tasks into small actionable items you're far more likely to be productive.

A majority of people do not intentionally plan their day. As a result, they waste over an hour each day on tasks that are not important. With 260 working days per year, this wasted time is significant.

Imagine what ambitious goal you could accomplish with 260 hours. To put things in perspective, it takes roughly 600-750 hours to reach conversational proficiency in Spanish.

Don't mistake me for saying breaks are unnecessary. I'll be covering how Llama Life integrates breaks seamlessly into your daily agenda. However, refreshing or browsing through your inbox doesn't count as work or as taking a break.

Setting aside 10 minutes in the morning, or the night before, to think about your most essential tasks and their component parts will stop you from aimlessly working on things that don't advance your life.

As a successful person, you undoubtedly have to balance a number of important goals in different areas of life. You need an elegant system that helps you stay focused on your plans instead of being distracted by the urge to constantly jump between tasks. By gently guiding you through a carefully crafted list of tasks Llama Life propels you forward.

When you have a lot to do, it can be tempting to skip between different tasks. The problem with this is the cognitive overload that results from overwhelming your brain with information. When you have a well-defined and time bound list to get through, you enable focused effort.

Breaking intimidating tasks into smaller steps with time limits helps you stay calm and get things done. Instead of wasting time working on things irrelevant to your agenda, you focus on a deliberate list without having to rely solely on discipline.

To succeed, you must connect your large goals to your daily tasks. Just like a successful general needs both strategy and tactics, or an architect needs a blueprint and construction materials. Your daily tasks should align with your long-term goals. By linking the two, you can make progress towards achieving your dreams.

Llama Life integrates with Todoist where you can house your macro-level annual goals. Llama Life's strength lies in empowering you to get through tasks that need to be done today so you can achieve your larger goals.

Your likelihood of accomplishing numerous large goals rests on your ability to not get overwhelmed or demoralized and to remain consistent. You remain consistent by creating systems that remove the guesswork and enable momentum.

Overcoming Challenges and Staying Motivated

When I look at a monotonous and bland to-do lists my motivation tanks. Having an elegant and fun system with practical value makes scheduling and planning fun, rather than a chore.

This isn't purely aesthetic either. You can highlight the urgency of a given task with an emoji and give it a clear visual marker. You thereby get a quick and clear view of the nature of the tasks and how important they are.

Preventing yourself from getting overwhelmed by your agenda is equally important.

People often overlook scheduling small breaks in their routine when planning. Neglecting to do this will lead to burn-out. You'll also give yourself an easy excuse for slacking off and wasting time.

Likewise, you don't want your 5 minute break to morph into a 30 minute siesta. When Llama Life's chime sounds you know it's time to return to powering through your agenda. Similarly, when you're deeply focused on your task and your phone starts vibrating you can ignore it without feeling anxious.

The single biggest obstacle you face is protecting your ability to focus. In the past 20 years the average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. This isn't surprising when you consider the devices and tools competing for our attention.

You urgently need a way to safeguard and reclaim your focus to accomplish your goals in life.

You also need to keep the experience of working through your list fun and up-lifting. Seeing confetti rain down after I've finished a monstrous task is extremely gratifying. 

There's a reason therapists use soothing background sounds during meditation sessions. Hearing blissful sounds of waves ebbing on the beach calms your nerves. Once more, Llama Life has you covered.

Getting started is often the hardest part of the battle. Llama Life has an incredible array of preset templates to choose from. You can easily customize them according to your specific needs and use them for inspiration. Give the different routines a try to find a style that works best for you. You can also create your own Preset List for your routines, habits and recurring tasks. 

Most people never find a workflow most suited for their personality. Sadly, this leads to untapped potential and a lot of your goals never being achieved. Staying motivated for a long time is easier when you have a system tailored to your personality and preferences.

Let's explore the 'eat the frog' method as an example. Llama Life guides you through the steps involved so you have clarity on the task itself while weaving in steps that provoke motivation. Compare this to having to research a litany of time-management methodologies and trying to decipher the steps involved.

Llama Life provides you with a template, helps you customize it, and guides you through the process of completing tasks.

The magic happens when you get into a state of deep focus. Sadly, most people rarely, if ever, experience what this is like because their attention is being constantly sabotaged. You want to set yourself up for success by using a system that works for you and is fun. Instead of using a generic and dull management software, take advantage of a system that clicks with your unique personality.      

Similarly, you want to approach time management and setting goals in a way that is approachable. Rather than being a source of anxiety, you should feel relaxed and excited when planning and executing your to-do list.

By creating an intuitive and personalized experience you'll be flying through your agenda and be well on your way to accomplishing multiple goals that enrich your life.

Written by: Erik Livingston

Erik Livingston graduated from the University of Sydney and founded Profound Tutors to help Hong Kong students succeed academically