I think that most people would agree that the people who have goals are more successful than those who do not have any.
I often talk about leadership and management. Leadership is about doing the right things while management is about doing things right. Often when we study time management, we study efficiency (doing things right) and make the assumption that we have the effectiveness (leadership) solved.
The first step in any time management system should be to work on goals and as such, I use the following 60 Minute Goal Setting Exercise.
Step 1: at the top of a blank piece of paper write down "values" and then spend 10 to 15 minutes writing down everything that you value. There is a great website: www.stevepavlina.com/ that has a list of several hundred values to start your mind thinking in the right direction. After the time is up, stop doing this and move to Step 2.
Step 2: at the top of a blank piece of paper write down "lifetime goals". This is where you can dream; for example, what places would you like to visit; what experiences would you like to have; what would you like to accomplish within your lifetime. This might include traveling to Australia; getting a university degree; living in an X square foot house, etc. There are no rules to this brainstorming -- simply make a list.
I have done this goal setting exercise many times and I tend to use the same list of lifetime goals and add to the list each time I do the exercise.
Step 3: at the top of a blank piece of paper write down what you would do if you had six months to live. This part of the exercise really came home to me this week when one of my close friends died at 36 years old. Some of us may have only six months to live; however, we may not know it yet. List everything that you would do if you had only six months to live. Part of the purpose of this exercise that I found works well for me is that it brings the truly important into focus. Often I find things that I would do if I had only six months to live that are not listed on my life time goals.
Step 4: at the top of a blank piece of paper write down your goals for this year. After doing the first three steps, you will find this step much easier than the others. These are the goals to focus on NOW.
This total exercise will only take an hour. An hour spent clarifying your goals can save you hundreds of hours.