The Goal Action System
Has your to-do list turned into a monster? Is it driving you to despair? This post will get you back in the saddle. Show it who’s boss. Take the stress away.
I devised the Goal Action System during my career as a troubleshooter in UK high-tech industries. In my previous article in this series, I explain what it is and how it works. I take you through 10 quick and easy steps to define your goals, capture the tasks that matter, and get to work.
In this article, I show you how to use TaskAngel to turn that initial work into a productivity machine. It will always be available to help you keep control of your workload and make the right minute-by-minute decisions about how to use your time to best effect.
Getting Started With TaskAngel
TaskAngel runs on iPhone, iPad and Windows. This post shows you the iPhone and iPad versions. The same principles apply to Windows.
Download and install TaskAngel from the App Store. The first screen is an empty task list, waiting for your input.
The app is free, but with in-app purchases. To use the Goal Action System, you will need to purchase Goals. You can try it free of charge, then buy it on its own or as part of the Pro bundle. As soon as you try to use the Goals feature, you will get a popup prompting you.
TaskAngel has a wide range of tools to help you but in the Goal Action System we are going to be very focused. In your TaskAngel settings, Sort section, use 'Group Tasks By Priority Descending, then sort by Due Ascending, then sort by Added Descending.'
In the Defaults section set the default priority to Medium and switch on 'New Tasks Start Today.'
Defining Your Goals
To enter your goals into TaskAngel, tap the Filter icon then scroll down to Goals. To create a new goal, tap Edit then New Goal. After you have entered its title, tap Save then Done.
Put in between five and ten goals you want to achieve in the next month. Each must state an outcome so that after a month you can tell if you got there or not.
If it’s November, perhaps one of your goals might be ‘Happy Christmas.'
As an example, I help with my grandson’s soccer team, the Pumas. During the summer I had to organize recruitment of new players, order their kits, register the boys with the FA, and so on. My goal for this was ‘Pumas Season Ready.'
But you can also have ongoing goals. Every week, I have to get ready for Saturday’s match, liaise with the opposition, make sure we have a pitch and a referee, check which boys are available to play, and on and on. In TaskAngel, the goal is ‘Pumas Games Ready.'
Keep your goal titles short and snappy. Put a keyword at the beginning, so they sort conveniently in the goal lists, as I did with Pumas in my example.
Putting In Your Tasks
Go back to your goal list (tap Filter icon / Goals). Tap a goal, and you will see a list of tasks for it. Or an empty list until you put some in there.
To create a new task, tap the ‘+’ icon in the top right. Then type in the title. Short and snappy again, and describing something that you can do in one day or less. If it will take longer than a day, break it down into smaller steps.
The task will automatically get the goal you are filtering on, and if you set the default priority to Medium in settings, it will get that too.
If it is something you must do today, that makes an ‘Action Now,' so change its priority to High. Or if you need to do it in the next two weeks, make it an ‘Action Soon’ and leave it at Medium priority. But if it can wait a while, it’s an ‘Action Later’ so set the priority Low.
In the Goal Action System, priority doesn’t mean ‘importance,' it means ‘urgency.' Buying my wife a birthday present is as important as anything in this world, but her birthday is months away so I can set the priority Low for the moment.
If a task has a deadline, give it a due date. You can add a due time if you need to.
Don’t set a due date unless it is a commitment. You don’t need to use due dates for scheduling, because you are using priorities for that.
If you have a never-ending goal, you might want to set its tasks to repeat. For example, in my ‘Pumas Games Ready’ goal, one of my tasks is ‘Tell parents about Saturday’s game.' I send them a WhatsApp message on Sunday mornings. So in TaskAngel, I give the task a due date of Sunday and set it to repeat every week.
Keep working through all your goals, adding enough tasks to keep you moving forward. You don't need to develop a complete plan for each one. Just include what you need to do in the next week or two. You will be revisiting the list every Monday morning, so there is plenty of time to add anything you missed.
Go back to the filter, and this time choose ‘All Tasks.' If you have 'Group By Priority Descending' in Settings you will see your complete list of tasks, in three groups, with your Action Nows at the top. These are the ones that you must do today.
Try to have no more than five or six ‘Action Now’ tasks. You aren’t going to sleep until you’ve done them. If you have too many, you're never going to sleep! Demote some of them to Action Soon. Be ruthless.
In the same way, you only want 20 or so ‘Action Soon.' Push the rest down into ‘Action Later.'
Now it’s time to pick one of your ‘Action Now’ tasks, and get on with doing it!
To keep your to-do list safe while you work on it, sync it with Toodledo. Syncing lets you keep it alive across all your devices and PCs. To set it up, go to TaskAngel Settings and set Toodledo as your sync service.
Then tap the sync button at the bottom right of your to-do list in TaskAngel. The first time, it signs you in or creates you as a new user. Then your first sync starts.
If you can’t get online, TaskAngel works happily offline, then syncs with Toodledo as soon as you are connected again.
Every Monday morning, review your goals. Take them one by one. Are you making progress? Do you need to create new tasks to keep up the momentum? Are some tasks no longer relevant? If you can’t see one ever becoming ‘Action Now,' you might as well delete it right away.
You may have added some tasks in haste without assigning goals to them. Now is the time to make corrections. But of course, some tasks don’t have to be dignified by goals at all. For example, ‘Buy batteries’ doesn’t need one - just do it.
Eventually Later becomes Soon, and Soon becomes Now, so keep the priorities updated too. Birthdays have a way of creeping up on you.
Having reviewed every goal, filter on 'All Tasks' and look at the overall balance of your priorities. As before, aim for 5 Action Now, and 20 Action Soon, and make everything else Action Later.
You'll soon be achieving your goals. If you find you have no use for a goal, you can archive it. Then it will be hidden, along with all its tasks, unless you switch on 'Show Archived Goals' in TaskAngel Settings.
There are many other features in TaskAngel, for you to explore when you are ready. There’s a massive amount of help and advice on taskangel.com. But for now, you have everything you need. Just download TaskAngel and give the Goal Action System a try.