You are looking for a career in instructional design. You look for ways to break into this industry. You look for ways to establish credibility as an instructional designer, and you come across IDOL Courses Academy. You take the leap of faith and enroll. You log into IDOL Courses that first day and you see the format of the #DoItMessy challenge.
For those of you new to IDOL Courses Academy, #DoItMessy is the first section of the academy. It is a 14-step program in which you dedicate one day to a particular asset of your portfolio. You can choose to complete the program in exactly 14 days to correspond with the number of steps, or you can pace it in a way that works for your schedule. This can be completed at a slow or accelerated rate. The way you choose to pace your #DoItMessy experience, or any of your IDOL courses is up to you. Remember, there is no such thing as behind in the academy!
Realistically, IDOL Courses is not the only obligation in your life. What do you do when all these obligations get in the way? You need to come up with a plan. You need to set short-term and long-term goals.
How do you do this? Some of you may choose to “wing it,” and that’s fine. After all, our lives do not operate on a straight and narrow path. However, that’s not how I operate, and I’m sure that’s not how some of you operate, either. I will share with you my daily and weekly planning method while completing my Learning Designer badge for IDOL Courses Academy. I not only use this method of planning for IDOL Academy but all facets of my life.
When it comes to planning, it is important to have your tasks written down somewhere. This can be hand-written or on a computer. It can be as simple as writing it down in a notebook or an electronic document, or you can use a planner or project management tool. Personally, I use a Clever Fox planner. I like these planners because they are geared toward goal setting and reflection. I use this format to set the stage for the rest of my planning process. To see what the Clever Fox planner format looks like, check out their website.
#DoItMessy is broken up into a 14-step format with each step focusing on a new portfolio asset. You can certainly break each step into a day. This is what I did as an IDOL Academy student. Thus, I made it my weekly goal to complete steps 1 through 7 in my first week. Now, this does not have to be your initial weekly goal. It is important to keep your weekly goal within the realm of realism. You might want to set your goal to complete steps 1 through 4. You can also accelerate the rate at which you complete each step. During this first week, I completed two lessons in one day just because I wanted a break on the weekends. Tailor your weekly goal to your schedule.
Your initial weekly goal is not set in stone. To keep your weekly goal within the realm of realism, you may have to adjust your goal. Due to unforeseen circumstances, your weekly goal may become unrealistic. This is where you need to decrease the demand for your weekly goal. I had to do this for my second week of #DoItMessy. I completed steps 1 through 7 during the first week, so I thought I would do the same for steps 8 through 14. However, I spent more than one day on steps 8 and 9. Because I could not realistically complete steps 8 through 14 that week, I had to adjust my weekly goal to just complete steps 8 and 9. I completed and even surpassed that goal by getting to step 10. You can never hold yourself to unrealistic expectations.
You can adjust the goalpost when it seems unrealistic, but adjusting the goalpost is not the same as giving yourself less work. By design, reaching goals requires work. You should only ever adjust the goalpost if you cannot realistically achieve your weekly goal. Don’t adjust the goalpost just because you “don’t feel like doing something.” If you don’t feel like doing something, that’s fine. Just make sure you make up for that workload another day.
Don’t worry. Not meeting your weekly goal is not the end of the world. You just need to pick up the slack next week. If you are committed to IDOL Courses Academy, you’ll find a way to achieve the overall goal.
Your weekly goal should be broken down into smaller daily goals. Setting daily goals is especially compatible with #DoItMessy since it is broken up over the course of 14 steps. To set daily goals, I don’t sit down every Sunday and map out my entire week. You can certainly do that, but I find it easier to plan my daily goals on a day-by-day basis. I tried to map out my daily goals for the week, and I find that it doesn’t take into account the unpredictability of life.
To plan my daily goals, I sit down every night to determine my goals for the next day. This way, I can reflect on the course of my day and evaluate how the actions I took today will impact the actions I need to take tomorrow. I write down three daily goals that I will complete before the day is over. However, if life gets in the way and you only have time to complete one or two, then just stick with that.
Another reason I take my daily goals day by day is that it makes it easier to compartmentalize. Reaching your goal of becoming an instructional designer is more than just IDOL Academy. There are other tasks you need to complete to achieve this goal. For example, you cannot get a job as an instructional designer without applying for jobs. Other than completing a day of #DoItMessy, add applying for jobs to one of your three daily goals.
What if there are other parts of your life that need your attention? This is why compartmentalizing is so important. If you have other tasks to do that don’t relate to becoming an instructional designer, you need to add those tasks to your daily goal. They may not be a part of your big goal, but they are important.
Are you really achieving your goals by going to group coaching and mentor sessions? Of course! You are enrolled in a course! Everything you do for IDOL Courses Academy matters! These are opportunities for people who have made it as instructional designers to pass their knowledge on to you. Hearing these sessions based on these people’s experiences gives you the opportunity to hear advice you can apply to your instructional design journey. If you know you have group coaching or a mentor session for a particular day, that should absolutely be one of your three daily goals.
As I said, if you have a goal in mind, you need to work hard for it. That being said, taking a break every once in a while is beneficial and even essential. It goes without saying that taking breaks reduces stress and prevents burnout. One week while I was working on #DoItMessy, I worked for a full week, and my brain was not functioning normally. I found myself getting stress-related stomach aches. This is where I discovered that I had to take breaks, or I was going to exhaust myself. When I made this discovery, I went back to implementing a break for two days out of the week to give my brain time to recover. I spent these days doing things I love, like reading or watching Netflix. As human beings, we naturally need breaks to restore our energy until we’re back to 100%.
This is my favorite part! If you met your weekly goal, reward yourself. In the spot where you write down your goal in your Clever Fox planner, there is a spot underneath that allows you to write down a reward for yourself if you meet that goal. If I feel like having a latte from Starbucks, I’ll write “Starbucks Latte” down in that spot. Other motivators I’ve used are movie days and buying a book I really want. This gives me the motivation to meet my goal.
Of course, you won’t always achieve your weekly goals. If you don’t achieve your goal, then you need to have the self-control not to reward yourself anyway. Rewarding yourself for achieving your goal is a way to hold yourself accountable.
Reaching your goal to become an instructional designer can seem like a daunting task. Hopefully, my daily and weekly goal-setting plan gave you an idea of how to plan your week while studying at IDOL Courses Academy.
Written By: Stephanie Nicole DiVito
I am a freelance instructional designer and teacher. My specialty is in reading, writing, and storytelling in eLearning. Check out my portfolio and connect with me on LinkedIn.